Theoretical framework
Liberalism, realism, and constructivism
in Defense policies of East-Central European countries after 1989
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Chapter 1 sets up conceptual and theoretical frameworks for understanding divergence and convergence in Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Hungarian (“Visegrád Four” countries) defense policies in the post-communist era. The chapter’s central argument is that post-communist convergence between Visegrád Four defense policies is best understood as a result of the universal adoption of liberal democratic political systems and ideologies by the countries in question. However, the chapter argues, post-communist divergence in the respective countries’ defense policies, made especially visible by their post-2014 differential reactions to the Russo-Ukrainian Crisis and its fallout cannot be understood within the framework of liberalism as both a political system and a theory of international relations. Different schools and concepts of realism and constructivism are therefore evoked as necessary for illuminating the noted divergence between Poland, which responded robustly and in militaristic fashion to the perception of Russian threat, and the rest of the Visegrád countries, with their lukewarm responses. Within realism, the chapter draws attention to Poland’s distinctive geopolitical position. Within constructivism, the chapter evokes the notions of “role theory” and “strategic cultures” as key for understanding the countries’ diverging polices.

Defense policies of East-Central European countries after 1989

Creating stability in a time of uncertainty

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