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Poland in a post-American world

Feb 7

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Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 prompted outrage in countries around the world. In Poland, a NATO nation that shares a border with Ukraine, it also prompted fear and anxiety. President Biden has reaffirmed the U.S. commitment and obligation to defend “every inch of NATO territory” with the combined might of all U.S. forces. But what does the future look like for Poland in a post-American world?

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan attempts to answer that question. Zeihan reviews the history behind the Russian-Polish conflict and then outlines some of the major options for Poland in the hypothetical world of tomorrow.

Below is an excerpt from Peter’s Feb. 7 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

This next country might surprise some of you, but deglobalization might give Poland its moment of fame. That’s if they play their cards right, and even then, it will be a fleeting moment, but a moment in the spotlight nonetheless.

Historically, Poland’s been vulnerable to major powers like Russia and Germany, so they’ve developed quite the arsenal for defense. Now, a window of opportunity might open as Germany and Russia face economic and demographic decline.

The time is coming for some strategic decisions to be made. Will a conflict between Russia and Poland unfold, or will Poland buddy up with Sweden? Either way, Poland’s surge to the spotlight will be short-lived but gripping.

Access Peter’s other post-American world commentaries:

Hey, everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from the equalist wilderness in central Colorado on top of Eccles peak with a buffalo pass there below and behind me, today, we’re going to go back into that post-American series I’ve been doing every once in a while, and specifically talking about one of the hot spots and that will be Poland. Now, Poland is one of those countries that we don’t think of very often as a major power because it has been so badly treated throughout history. It’s got major powers around it, specifically, Sweden, Russia, and Germany, and it tends to get gobbled up by them very easily. Its coastline isn’t great. And so the Swedes have always been able to predator upon them, and that its land borders with both the Germans and the Russians are wide open. So there’s no chance of doing any sort of static defense. As such, the Polish military in modern times, is heavy on airpower, with extended range fuel tanks, so that while they might not be able to stop a Russian invasion, they can reach Moscow and bomb it, and at least make the Russians thinks twice. That’s kind of the national strategy here. And then, of course, they’re never sure if they can rely upon the Germans because every time the Germans have gone on the warpath, Poland is usually one of the first couple of stops, things are going to change over the course of the next 20 years, for a number of reasons, but really, the biggest chunk is economics and demography. The Germans and the Russians have two of the worst demographic structures on the planet. And while Sweden is an up and coming power again, and it can definitely punch above its weight. This is not the 1600s and Sweden today has under 10 million people. So even if it punches like triple its weight, Poland still has 40 million people. Also, the Swedes these days are not looking to expand into empire. So you know, there’s that. Anyway, what this means is that we’re seeing an opening window of opportunity for Poland, as the German system fails, because of demographic decline and economic collapse. Remember, this is a country that exports everything, so anything happens to globalization, they’re done. Also, they can’t maintain their workforce for more than another 10 years. Russia is only slightly behind that in terms of demographic decline. In fact, once you look at the health figures, it’s probably worse, everyone in Germany at least is in decent health, you’ve got a lot of alcoholism, and a lot of HIV and a lot of tuberculosis. In Russia, you don’t have any of those in Poland.

 

Which means that for the Russians, things are gonna go one of two directions, either number one, they’re going to win hand over fist in Ukraine, and then they’re going to come for Poland, and we’re going to have a knock down, drag out fight.

 

At some point over the next 20 years, the Russian wave will rest, and then it will fall back because they won’t be able to maintain their military structures. And we’ll have the polls being more and more and more aggressive, assuming they don’t fall completely, and pushing into the former Russian space, and we’re gonna break it up. So nothing like that can ever happen again. For those of you don’t think that that can happen. It’s happened before the Russians call at the time of troubles. And that brings us to the second possibility that in Ukraine that this is all that the Russians can do. And this war will break them in the next few years. And then the polls will push more and more aggressively into the Russian space to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again. Remember, in the 1600s 1604, I believe the polls actually occupied Moscow and held it for a generation. Only this time, the Russians would be an economic and demographic decline if not outright collapsed, so it might actually last a little bit longer. Now for those of you who are Polish, don’t do too much chest beating and a lot of things have to happen. Poland like Romania really, really does well with the countries on its edges are weak. The problem that you have in pull it is it’s just big enough to think that it can pull this off by itself, whereas the Romanians know that they have to partner with somebody.

 

Now, there are two paths for the pools to take. Option number one is economic collapse and status to kind of be followed by a military expansion. Probably the most likely outcome. Remember that Poland today’s economically wealthy has of its relationship with German manufacturing, if that goes away.

 

Option two is the sweet step and become the new partner both demographically, economically, strategically, and you get Polish land power with Swedish amphibious power, that can be a very potent combination in the Baltic, sharing a lot of common values and maybe even having a vector of American assistance in there. Though it’s kind of the the playbook as I see it right now. And finally, before polls get too excited, keep in mind that Polish demographics are not all that much better than Russian or German. I mean, they’re better, but they’re aging just as fast just from a younger base. So if we’re looking at an end to the German in the Russian systems over the next 10 To 20 to 30 years. We’re also look

 

To add a complete prefabrication of the Polish system over the next 20 to 50 years. So there is going to be a window here we’re polling becomes the most powerful land power in the region. And it is a moment in time. And what the polls decide to do with that is going to reshape this region for at least the next century. Oh, and one more thing about Poland, they are preparing for this future. In the aftermath of the beginning of the Ukraine, where when the Russians proved that they were not the military superpower, everybody thought they were all of a sudden a land war in Poland didn’t seem nearly as stupid. And so the Polish government fast forward plans to expand their tank force. They cut a deal with the South Koreans and had already imported 180 tanks from Korea stocks. And there are plans underfoot already in development to manufacture a another 800 and some within Poland itself. When this is finished and supposed to be finished within three years, is not that Poland will have a more powerful tank force than the United Kingdom or France or Italy or Germany. It’s that it’ll have a more powerful tank force and the United Kingdom and France and Italy and Germany. So all of a sudden looking back at history, a second run at Moscow, it doesn’t seem nearly as crazy.

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