Whether by design or by happenstance, Poland has played significant roles in nearly all of Europe’s major geopolitical acts over the last 100 years. Throughout much of the twentieth century, Poland found itself sandwiched between two major powers; Germany to the west and Russia to the east. World War II began with Hitler’s invasion and subsequent defeat of Poland. In the Cold War era Poland was a satellite of the Soviet Union and member of the Warsaw Pact. The first cracks in the Iron Curtain appeared in Poland with the birth of the Solidarity movement in 1980. Following the end of the Cold War and break up of the Soviet Union, Poland was once again a free nation-state, and as the twentieth century drew to a close the former Soviet satellite applied for, and war granted membership in the NATO alliance.
Eighteen years into the twenty first century and Poland is again playing an essential role in European geopolitics. The reemergence of the Russia as a threat to NATO places the nation squarely on the front line of what is potentially a new cold war. Along with the threat to the east, Poland is contending with another type of threat coming from the west. Warsaw and the European Union have locked horns an increasing number of times in recent months on a diverse range of issues. Poland’s independent streak is rubbing Brussels the wrong way. Whatever drama comes next, Poland will be in the middle of it.
With all of this in mind, the Spring 2018 project for this blog will be to produce a picture of what Poland will look like four years from now. Economic, political, military, and domestic factors will be explored. Questions will be formed and hopefully answered as well. The following are but two examples: Will Poland’s relationship with the EU mend, or continue to fray? How seriously do the Polish people take the possibility of a future war with Russia?
The project posts will be published weekly between mid-March and mid-April, 2018.
We’re getting towards the end of the list unfortunately. After this, only one set remains.
- LIBYAN ACTION– Think Gulf of Sidra in the 1980s. In 1981, US Navy F-14s shot down two Libyan fighters during a period of heightened tension. In 1986, US and Libyan air and naval forces mixed it up and later, USAF and US Navy aircraft bombed targets in Tripoli and Benghazi. In 1989, Navy F-14s shot down Libyan fighters again. Any of these incidents could’ve spilled over into a much larger conflict.
- PALESTINIAN TACTICAL– What if the First Intifada had gone beyond protests and riots? What if Syria had contributed equipment, weapons and advisors to the PLO and the uprising took the form of a more organized and deadly offensive against Israel?
- NATO ALTERNATE– Confusing title. A Soviet move against NATO using an alternative to its war plans or vice versa?
- CYPRUS MANEUVER– Cyprus was a bastion of instability from the 1974 coup onward into the 80s. If either Greece or Turkey had moved unilaterally to take over the island there it could have escalated quickly and gone in a direction that nobody had thought possible.
- EGYPT MISDIRECTION– An Egyptian move against Libya goes awry and brings in Soviet assistance for its Libyan allies.
- BANGLADESH THRUST– In the late 1970s, when this list was originally put together (years before the movie) Bangladesh was in a period of political disarray. Ziaur Rahman came to power in 1979 and was a popular president. It’s not inconceivable to imagine that Rahman, had he not been assassinated in 1981, could have prepared and executed an offensive against one of the nation’s South Asian neighbors.
- KENYA DEFENSE– Kenya finds itself under attack by an external or internal enemy.
- BANGLADESH CONTAINMENT– Unlike the Bangladesh scenario previous, this one revolves around containing an aggressive and outward looking Bangladesh.
- VIETNAMESE STRIKE– Vietnam moves against one of its neighbors.
- ALBANIAN CONTAINMENT– This one is a bit hard to swallow; Hoxa and Albania’s aspirations needing to be checked.
- GABON SURPRISE– Omar Bongo was unpredictable and deadly. He could have taken Gabon over the edge at any time.
- IRAQ SOVEREIGNTY– An internal uprising (Iranian backed?) against the Ba’ath party and Saddam Hussein.
- VIETNAMESE SUDDEN– Similar to STRIKE, only faster
- LEBANON INTERDICTION– This one actually became reality. Think Lebanon 1982-834
- TAIWAN DOMESTIC- Chinese backed opposition groups sew political chaos on Taiwan
- ALGERIAN SOVEREIGNTY– Social unrest was common in Algeria from the late 70s through the 80s. Libya or another outside nation-state player might have tried to turn the situation to its favor and chip away at Algeria’s status as a sovereign nation.
- ARABIAN STRIKE– A Soviet move into the Arabian Peninsula to seize the Saudi oil fields.
- ATLANTIC SUDDEN– The Soviets begin a war against NATO with a major, sudden effort to close the Atlantic.
- MONGOLIAN THRUST– Either Mongolia moving against China or the Soviet Union, or perhaps a Sino-Soviet encounter within the borders of Mongolia.
- POLISH DECOY– A Soviet gambit to take attention away from another region where it will be making moves in the near future.
I forgot how much I enjoy posting these scenario lists. Apologies for there being such a large gap in time between lists.
- Danish Paramilitary– The Danes sponsoring and training paramilitary groups in the East Bloc to carry out raids and strikes against Soviet targets.
- SEATO Takeover– Worst case result of the domino theory following Vietnam
- Hawaiian Escalation– Pearl Harbor II? A Soviet or Chinese attack on the US naval base leads to quick escalation.
- Iranian Maneuver– Back during the Cold War this scenario could’ve referred to a Soviet move against Iran to secure oil fields and/or a warm water port.
- NATO Containment– The Soviet Union moves to limit NATO power and expansion
- Swiss Incident– Swiss neutrality is breached in some form and it escalates
- Cuban Minimal– A situation similar to Operation Urgent Fury leads to the Caribbean exploding.
- Chad Alert– Back in the 80s Libya and Chad were involved in a conflict that led to French intervention three times. If the Soviets had decided to back their Libyan ally, the situation could have escalated significantly.
- Iceland Escalation– A Soviet military move to neutralize Iceland would have assured a clash between the superpowers.
- Vietnamese Retaliation– In the late 70s, China and Vietnam were not the best of friends. In fact, China even invaded Vietnam in 1979. There was a lot of animosity between the two former allies.
- Syrian Provocation– Bekka Valley, Lebanon, terrorism….choose your poison.
- Libyan Local– A clash between Libya and Egypt or another neighboring state draws in the Superpowers.
- Gabon takeover– Omar Bongo would never have gone quietly into the night. It would’ve gotten ugly quick.
- Romanian War– Nicolae Ceaușescu was something of an East Bloc maverick. If he had stepped out of line, the Soviets may have come down hard on him. A Western response might have enflamed the entire continent.
- Middle East Offensive– Soviet thrust to capture Saudi Arabia or Iran.
- Denmark Massive– Whoever controls Denmark controls the Baltic Sea. The Soviets had their eye on Jutland for much of the Cold War and any move against Western Europe would have begun with a large operation against Denmark.
- Chile Confrontation– Chile and Argentina clash.
- South African Subversion– Think back to the 80s. Apartheid was still enforced in South Africa, Pretoria had nuclear devices, and the Border War was underway. It could’ve ended very badly.
- USSR Alert– The Soviet Union prepares for military operations on a global scale. Their conventional and strategic forces go on alert. The US responds in kind………
- Nicaraguan Thrust– Ronald Reagan’s worst nightmare. Nicaragua, backed by war materials from Russia and possibly manpower from Cuba, takes to the offensive in Central America.