"I wouldn't be too worried about Poland's relations with the United States as long as Zbigniew Brzezinski advises Obama on the subject" claims Professor Peter Vaughan.
Vaughan is due in 2009 to publish the first authorised biography of Brzezinski who was National Security Advisor to President Carter at the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
Yet for the average Polish citizen curious as to why Polish troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001 the connection between Poland's interests and Afghanistan remains obscure.
Yet it was Brzezinski's decision to give covert aid to the mujahadeen that played a part in drawing the Soviet Union into Afghanistan to give it 'it's own Vietnam'.
With continued US military assistance to allow the mujahadeen to thwart the Soviet Union as the war went on for ten years causing huge losses to in both blood and money and making a major contribution to its collapse in 1991.
It was the collapse of Soviet power that crucially helped Solidarity win freedom and independence but the price of that support is only just becoming clear twenty years later as Afghanistan claims the lives of more Polish troops for no tangible gain.
For it was by arming the mujahadeen that played a major role in causing the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaida who went on, after the demise of Soviet power in Central Asia and the Middle East, to see the USA as the next Evil Empire it could bring crashing down.
The attacks of September 11 2001 were used to convince the West led by the USA that the chaos emanating from Afghanistan had to be stopped and former Solidarity dissidents like Adam Michnik were willing to offer gestures of unquestioned support.
Part of this was perhaps gratitude but it was also to do with the sense that Afghanistan's condition was a consequence of the very geopolitical strategy that had led to what some members of the CIA had conceded was 'blowback'.
None of this, however, has occasioned any searching criticism of the strategy nor any probing into the continuity in the search for geopolitical hegemony over Central Asia or why Poland ought to be part of it now.
On the contrary the mood with regards Brzezinski's strategy seems one of continued triumphalism. Brzezinski himself remains defiant in maintaining the position he took in 1998 when questioned by the French magazine Nouvel Observateur,
"What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"
Moreover it looks like Vaughan's authorised biography is not going to challenge very much on this score because he tends to share Brzezinski's geopolitical outlook.
In 1999 Vaughan published an article in the Polish Review looking at Brzezinski’s role in helping the Carter Administration deter a potential Soviet invasion of Poland in late 1980.
In response, Brzezinski has allowed only Vaughan access to his personal archives and to expand his article into a PhD Dissertation and now into the biography. Excerpts have appeared in the English language Krakow Post,none of which dealt with Brzezinski's backing of the mujahadeen.
This is perhaps because Vaughan's profile at the Wyższa Szkoła Europejska in Krakow states he is a specialist in analysing 'the use of "soft power" in bringing about U.S. foreign policy interests'. Something that can be critically analysed but not fundamentally challenged.
Hence the unpleasant parts perhaps would not fit his remit as a member of 'Peace and Development Studies' programme, his involvement at the Institute of American Studies and the postgraduate MA programme in 'Transatlatic Studies he offers at the Jagiellonian University.
It would be interesting to look further into how crucial a role Afghanistan has played a role in bringing US and Polish foreign policy interests together. For the 'The Eastern Card' was played by Polish politicians and diplomats throughout the twentieth century.
At the time of the Revolutions in 1905 the rival Polish leaders Jozef Pilsudski and Roman Dmowski were in Tokyo to convince Japan continue the war on Russia as a means of weakening the Tsarist Empire and gaining liberation.
Brzezinski has been in a long line of Polish diplomats who believed that building alliances in Central Asia that Russian influence could be contained and checked. With the liberation of Poland from Soviet domination the idea that the US could now dominate ex-Soviet space.
This underlies his thinking in The Grand Chessboard ( 1997) which calls for the projection of US power into what the British political geographer Sir Halford MacKinder termed 'the World Island' and formulated the terms of the Great Game in 1919 thus,
"Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World."
Controlling Afghanistan would allow the USA to block off Chinese interests there and potential pipeline routes through to Iran which to the north will be surrounded by states that can be brought over to the US side and thus block off Russia from exerting influence.
With permanent restriction on the power of China and Russia in place, the USA, Brzezinski argues, will be able to establish a chain of bases and pipeline routes linking Turkey through Georgia and Azerbaijan to 'the stans'.
"To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together." (p.40)
That's why Brzezinski flew in 1995 to Azerbaijan to negotiate the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline with President Heydar Aliev. The use of 'soft power' was not much in evidence here as Aliev is a ruthless authoritarian who climbed his way to the top by murder and 'disappearing' people.
Aliev had come to power through a coup organised by his mafioso and ex-KGB thugs in June 1993 followed by a fraudulent election the following October after which he commented "I was always a democrat. It’s just that you didn’t notice."
President Aliev won 98.9% of the votes without any complaint of the sort that usually greets election frauds when carried out by other ex-Soviet hardmen who are not as amenable to the designs of Brzezinski or others from Washington.
Brzezinski also gave key support for Georgia's 'Rose Revolutionary' Mikheil Saakashvili in 2004 which he saw as a triumph for freedom and democracy and a vindication of the soft power strategy supported by liberal NGO activists of the sort Professor Vaughan in Krakow likes.
That said Brzezinski is able to use the soft power jargon to good effect. As he commented at a dinner organized by the USACC (U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce) on February 15, 2000 to honor President Heydar Aliev's visit to the U.S.
This route reflects the shared strategic commitment to a concept of openness, pluralism and multiple participation in the promotion of prosperity and stability in the region.
Unfortunately keeping vassals such as Saakashvili pliant by conceding his government the right to control the transit fees,whilst US neoliberal 'reforms' fail to work and plunge Georgians even deeper into poverty, has only entrenched oligarchical power struggles and demagoguery.
The upshot of which was Saakashvili's attempt in August 2008 to boost his flagging popularity and increasingly repressive rule by a firing rockets on to South Ossetia thus precipitating a conflict with Russia and potentially destabilising the entire 'Eurasian Balkans'.
None of this nor his embrace of the Chinese state seems to have dented Brzezinski's pretensions to anti-communist morality in Poland which continues to look to him as an inspiration. Most likely because of his near racist loathing of Russia fits in with that of many of the Polish elites..
Which is a reason why Poland defends the most staunch Transatlanticist vision in which the 'New' EU and NATO members develop an increasing weight in determining NATO policy as against those like France and Germany who urge caution in allowing states like Georgia entry.
Expanding NATO power through Eastern Europe from the Baltics down to the Black Sea through Ukraine is seen as an essential part of that strategy and will turn the Black Sea into a lake surrounded by NATO states.
That is the starting point of the Drang Nach Osten which has as its Easternmost outpost Afghanistan.All part of a long march for permanent global hegemony through which economic and political threat of a rapidly industrialising and energy hungry China can be checked.
As Peter Dale Scott wrote on August 11 2009,
One might have thought that by now the lessons of Napoleon and Hitler would have subdued all illusions that any single power could command the "World Island," let alone the world.....Such overblown rhetoric is out of touch with reality, dangerously delusional, and even arguably insane.
It is however useful, even vital, to those corporations who have become accustomed to profiting from the Cold War, and who faced deep cuts in U.S. defense and intelligence spending in the first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Which is a major explanation for the Missile Shield which is designed to defend the US geopolitical strategy for Central Asia and not defend Poland from a threat from Russia that did not exist before Poland agreed to host it without first even attaching any conditions.