Jerzy J. Wiatr
The collapse of the communist regimes in central Europe and the emergence of new democracies forced the question of relations between the armed forces and the new political institutions in these new countries under a new light. Not only had the armed forces been freed from the tutelage of the communist parties, but they also lost their major adversary of the last decades: the capitalist West. The Cold War is over, and the West is no longer perceived as the enemy. In fact, several of the former communist states have made political gestures indicating their interest in establishing security links with the West, including some form of association with NATO. Domestically, the armed forces have undergone restructuring, downsizing, institutional catharsis, and budgetary belt-tightening. Their loyalty to the new democratic regimes is sometimes questioned, particularly as far as the top ranks are concerned. All these factors combine to create a degree of uncertainty about the future of civil-military relations in the postcommunist world.
From previous experiences we know that the success of new democratic governments to curb the political power of the military is a key condition toward the successful consolidation of democracy.1"The problems of force and violence in long-established democracies are difficult," writes Alfred Stepan, "but they are even more challenging in 'newly democratizing' ones."2 Such difficulties appeared in countries where new democratic regimes succeeded military dictatorships or militarily supported authoritarian regimes. In a different context and under different conditions, postcommunist countries experience difficulties confining the military to security-related and not societal conflict-related responsibilities. This chapter will seek to identify and analyze these difficulties by concentrating on Poland.
While sharing some characteristics common to many, if not all communist states, Poland is unique in a number of ways. Of all communist states, Poland had the strongest democratic opposition (supported by the powerful Roman