In 2015, the Difin Press, a Warsaw-headquartered Polish publishing house specialising in security studies literature, published Andrzej Wawrzusiszyn's "Bezpieczeństwo, Strategia, System. Teoria i praktyka w zarysie" (in English: "Security, Strategy, System: An Introduction to Theory and Practice") – a study concerning the theory and empirics of security in distinct systemic and strategy-making contexts. The publication reveals both crucial aspects of Poland's national security and emerging facets of Polish academia. Incorporating security studies into Polish social sciences in a systemic manner has turned out to be more problematic than many had hoped. Except for some outstanding – but still alone-standing – contributions to the field by Waldemar Kitler, Piotr Sienkiewicz, Janusz Płaczek or Ryszard Zięba and the current author, Polish security studies is still an emerging area of scientific endeavour in Poland.
The book's author is Assistant Professor at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, with a manifested research interest in national security, security management and security education matters. Andrzej Wawrzusiszyn has as well a long-standing professional background as an officer in the Polish Army and Polish Border Guards. It is this blend of the book author's security-related research, teaching and professional practices that makes his work a unique, valuable and genuinely insightful read. The book addresses the very fundamental issues in security studies, an area that has experienced a rapid growth in Poland since 2011 (when security studies were extracted in Polish law as a separate discipline). This social-scientific field is still in-the-making, i.e. developing its organisational underpinnings and scholarly population, as well as tailoring the research agenda itself. The latter one entails three main problems: first, a missing common identity of security studies; second, there is no common research programme for the discipline; third, the final problem is whether current Polish discourse on social sciences may provide credible theoretical framework (categories, ways of reasoning, subjects analysed) for security studies. This is beyond any doubt an important debate, to which A. Wawrzusiszyn's book presents a valuable contribution.
The purpose of the book (pp. 10-11) is to provide a social-scientific context from which Polish security studies draw their theoretical framework. As the title of the book suggests, the book addresses three themes: security (as an issue matter and a discipline), strategy (of security) and system (of security management) – each within three chapters. Security is presented in the book as a process, rather than end-state that structures a state's security planning and management efforts. The sequence of the book's explanatory logic is as follows: perceptions shape theory that, in turn, helps develop strategy, which, in turn, facilitates the establishment and functioning of the system. The book's major concern and rationale is to outline the perplexing and not always linear relationship between theory (discourse, analytical models) and practice (strategies, other documents, laws and statements of strategic importance, including their implementation practices) within the national security triad. The author convincingly argues that better knowledge can develop better institutions and thus provide security (safety) for state and society. The main research methods of this theoretically-informed study are direct observation and desk research.
As Wawrzusiszyn contends, there are three main ways to analytically approach the problematique of (national) security: security theory, strategy analysis, and system analysis. The central aim of the first chapter is, therefore, to provide a theory of security. Currently, in general, security still exists as a fuzzy concept. A more tailored understanding of security, its 'mechanics', challenges as well as genuine threats, enables appropriate social (inter)actions. To the author, the most fundamental issue is that of creating a basic – learning-enabling – intellectual framework. The question is whether the potential of security studies can be used to explore, explain and – more importantly – solve both the persisting and newly emerging state-societal problems. It becomes relevant, therefore, to examine how scientific discourse deals with this issue. In this context, the moderately populated Polish security scholarship (mainly concerned with integration and globalization challenges) has informed the book author's theoretical deliberations. Regrettably, the book falls short of engaging with the considerable modern acquis academique of the international security scholarship. On the other hand, the book succeeds in sketching the Polish academic discourse in the field, and the reader will definitely appreciate the depth of enquiry and the perspicuous style of the book's narrative.
In the second chapter, A. Wawrzusiszyn undertakes an examination of the rules and principles that shape security strategies of the European Union, the US, and Poland itself. A comparative outlook onto other European states is, unfortunately, missing. The first section of the chapter deals primarily with the history of the notion of strategy. The author clearly distinguishes between the sources of explanation and objects of analysis. It should be noted, however, that this chapter presents a theoretical insight, as it engages with document analysis alone. The peculiarities, including efficiency, of the implementation of selected strategies remain here off agenda. Particular attention should be paid to the way in which the author has portrayed and evaluated Polish security strategies. The history of the subject is replete with examples of documents that were conditioned by different political interests: Strategy of National Security (2007), Strategic Survey of National Security (2010-2012), White Book of National Security of the Republic of Poland (2013). It all flows into the third – empirical – part of the book that examines the structures of the Polish security system, largely designed in the framework of strategies adopted within the period of 2007-2014. The author focuses exclusively on the study of Polish institutions. His analysis is supported by many graphs, organigrams and diagrams, which explain security management and decision-making procedures in Poland. Everything is written in a very readable and informative way, but the content would have indeed benefited from a broader – comparative – insight.
To sum up, the book-featured theoretical deliberations combined with the author's practical insights from research and teaching on security provide two main incentives for reading the book. Its' emphasis on theories, analytical models and distinct concepts (well-listed in the book's appendix), as well as their practical applicability, is worth appreciation; a wider and internationally more inclusive research basis, however, remains wishful. Embedding Polish security studies into the field-relevant international scholarship is not a matter of deliberation (anymore), but a demand of turbulent times and perplexing challenges in which may states share similar security concerns. Comparative perspectives are thus extremely significant. No less important are methodological and learning-oriented elaborations (case studies, workshops, empirically-oriented research designs, simulations, etc.) that should facilitate scholarly communications and studying processes in the field of security studies.
Essentially, A. Wawrzusiszyn's "Security, Strategy, System: An Introduction to Theory and Practice" presents a suitable reading for undergraduate (Bachelor-level) students. It is very systematic, accessible and clear. Given the trend established by the top-selling social-science textbooks (most of which now feature distinct toolkits for further learning and research), an additional study companion website, with interactive teaching and learning resources (including suggested Internet sources), is worth considering to add even more practical value to this handbook.