General Waldemar Skrzypczak (rtd)
In a recent interview in the Polish media, retired General Waldemar Skrzypczak spoke of the possibility of NATO launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Russian Federation. His remarks not only serve to remind of the danger of a thermonuclear war between the world’s nuclear powers in the new era ‘Cold War’ -an issue which is disturbingly underplayed in the public discourse on global security- they should also serve to concentrate the minds of the Polish people on the question of the survival of their nation in the event of a nuclear armageddon.
Wlademar Skrzypczak’s comments recorded by the media conglomerate Wirtualna Polska speak of the hardline, anti-Russian attitude of many influential establishment figures in former Eastern Bloc nations who have welcomed NATO’s eastward expansion towards Russia’s borders, as well as the deployment of innovative weaponry such as missile shields.
But the idea of a nuclear ‘First Strike’ has perilous implications for Poland.
It was always understood at the time of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War that Poland would be wiped off the map in the event of a nuclear war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The same can be argued today if a war of similar magnitude developed between NATO and the Russian Federation.
Skrzypczak’s thinking is reminiscent of the dangerous expositions of Herman Kahn who believed in a “First Strike” doctrine and a winnable nuclear war. Yet, if he is truly serious about this, he may have to bear in mind the ‘Demographic Precaution Plan’ suggested by Tadeusz Tuczapski, a senior Polish general during the Cold War. The plan provided that Poland could only be preserved by building a special bunker housing a hundred men and two hundred women who would form the germ of a reconstituted Polish nation after a nuclear holocaust.
Tuczapski, who like many of his counterparts was alarmed at the prospect of Poland having to bear the brunt of a nuclear attack, outlined his theory to Polish leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski at a training briefing in the General Staff:
I stood up and told Jaruzelski, “General, more should be given to Civil Defence so that a good, solid bunker could be built, lock up in that bunker a hundred Polish men, some sort of real good fuckers and two hundred women so that we can rebuild the Polish nation. Give some money for that.”
Jaruzelski was apparently offended either by what he perceived as Tuczapski’s flipancy or the tastefulness of his remarks. Perhaps both. But Tuczapski felt that he was being a realist. Many senior Polish generals were worried that Poland would not survive even a limited exchange of nuclear weapons in a conflict which was often envisaged would start off with conventional battles that were certain to inflict great damage on Poland’s civil and military infrastructure.
Whatever the shortcomings may be of her internal administration, the narrative of Russian aggression does not stand up to objective scrutiny. Indeed, what may be termed as ‘aggression’ has come from the West: NATO’s eastward expansion in breach of agreements reached between the leaders of America and the Soviet Union as a condition of the reunification of Germany, the abrogation by the United States of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces regime, and the deployment of a missile shield system.
Conflicts involving the Russian armed forces near and at a distance from its borders can be persuasively argued to have been reactive rather than proactive in nature: the response to Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the absorption of Crimea in response to the U.S.-backed coup in Kiev which threatened Russia’s security interests in the Black Sea, and the NATO-supported infiltration into Syria by Islamist militias which mirrored covert US support for Chechen Jihadists.
Remarks of the sort made by Skrzypczak were rare during the U.S.-Soviet Cold War because leaders on both sides were careful to seek to diffuse tensions and not intensify them. It is time for the leaders of Poland, the Baltic nations and others to begin speaking in terms of dialogue and diplomacy; not war. Otherwise the Polish nation must begin seriously considering the Tuczapsk Demographic Plan.
© Adeyinka Makinde (2019)
Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.