Until late 2014, Poland was guided by a national security strategy that had not been revised for nearly a decade. In our turbulent times, advances in societal and technological development, just as the flux of rapid (mis)developments in world politics, an outdated vision of the state's international role and security is as much fraught with nasty consequences as it is in case of more tangible challenges, such as an economic crisis or illegal migration.
Shortly before the Polish national security strategy was updated in November 2014, this edited volume on the Polish state's foreign policy dilemmas was published. The volume does not cover, however, the events that occurred after late 2013, when the conference on which it draws took place. The main mission of the conference, and respectively – the book, has been to 'diagnose the most significant new developments and trends in the international environment of Poland and to determine their impact for continuity or change in the existing interests and goals of Polish foreign policy, just as to reveal respective dilemmas they posit for the country' (p. 11).
Structurally, twenty-eight conference contributions are arranged in seven parts. These span thematically from rather conventional assessments of the changing international environment and its challenges for Polish foreign policy formulation to rather rarely observed dilemmas of Polish foreign policy towards non-European countries and regions, such as Japan, China or Latin America.
Part one reveals the intrinsic nature of the international environment evolution as a premise for Polish foreign policy formulation. It analyzes new phenomena and developments in international politics, just as the dynamics of state capitalism and its imprint on the international environment, changes in the nature of international security and reorientation of international law seen from the Polish perspective.
Part two elucidates the foundations and goals of Polish foreign policy after 1989. Not only the country's strategic culture is thereby assessed, but also the declared foreign policy goals are revised in the context of public diplomacy. The inward-looking focus is narrowed down in this part of the book to the analysis of minority governments and their influence on foreign policy-making as evidenced by the Polish case. Regrettably, this foundational part does not include broader – but no less significant – issues in Polish foreign policy-making such as the sources, instruments and institutions, including decision-making mechanisms that have been altered with Poland's accession to the European Union in 2004. Moreover, a chapter on the so-called 'internal foreign policy' (as Jürgen Habermas once coined the phenomenon of EU member-states' foreign policy within the Union) could have well completed the picture of the Polish foreign-policy machinery both at the national and European level.
Part three, four and seven outline the dilemmas of Polish foreign policy concerning major directions such as Western (Germany) and Eastern (Ukraine, Russia) as well as emerging ones (China, Japan, Latin America). Chapters on Polish-German relations reveal, along with priorities of Polish and German foreign policies in 2010–2013, the crucial moments in the evolution of both German policy towards Poland (Euro crisis) and Polish policy towards Germany (post-crisis developments in the Euro zone and regional security). The chapters on Polish Eastern policy strike a balance between what can be called Warsaw's Ostpolitik (policy towards rapprochement and integration with Ukraine) and geopolitics (deterrence of Russia's resurgence and great power assertiveness vs normalization of Polish-Russian relations). The authors deliberate in this part of the book also on Polish/EU Eastern border politics in the context of the Schengen area and – what is truly positively surprising – on Polish economic (aid) diplomacy eastwards, an emerging topic in Poland's new positioning in international affairs. But perhaps most surprising and truly revealing appear the chapters on the dilemmas of Polish foreign policy outside Europe that analyze the ongoing change of Polish self-perception as an international actor, its growing ambitions and scope of the national interest – all in line with the emergence of its smart power. Hence, the contributions in the (organizationally, rather ill-placed) seventh part evaluate the prospects and pitfalls of Polish foreign policy towards China, Japan and Latin America, while thoroughly assessing the challenges that originate from outside continental Europe.
Given the vast literature on Polish EU politics in both Polish and English language, part six of this edited volume moderately focuses on the theme by investigating merely the sources, symptoms and consequences of the Euro crisis for the Polish national economic policy and integration in the domain of the EU's Economic and Monetary Union.
Listed as the fifth part, the book's contributions to the challenges to Polish internal and external security could have well formed the concluding part of this edited volume that was succeeded by another collective publication edited by the first two of the current book's three editors ("Dylematy polityki bezpieczeństwa Polski na początku drugiej dekady XXI wieku"; Katowice: RODM, 2014). The chapters of the fifth part briefly introduce several aspects of new challenges to state's security such as information or cyber-security to the readership. While providing accounts on the roles of NATO, EU and the US in Polish security strategies and politics, this part of the book essentially lacks analysis of conventional security threats and policies that, with the Russian aggression in Ukraine since early 2014, proved to be no less crucial to Polish national security than the so-called new security challenges. Given the volume's self-acknowledged limits in temporal scope, framed by the conference it draws upon, this sorrow gap may be objectively justified.
So can be other flaws that are common for conference-based publications – in particular, the eclecticism in the selection of the topics or a not so flawless and internally coherent arrangement of the contributions. Had the volume included more important topics for Polish foreign policy (such as the foreign-policy decision making and machinery, influence of public opinion and think tanks, impact of the EU's foreign and security policy framework, etc.), it could well have become the most comprehensive guide to Polish foreign policy analysis. As it stands, the book provides no less than a valuable and well-written guide to the major dilemmas of contemporary Polish foreign policy. Its revision towards inclusion of the aforementioned aspects and analyses, as well as a translation into English could make a significant contribution to the field of Polish studies that still lacks multifaceted international (English-language) profile.