When at the end of September 2016 Donald Trump – then still a republic candidate for the president office – met with American Polish Diaspora in Chicago, probably no one suspected that soon he will move into the White House. He made a great impression on the gathered. – I will never fail you – he said on leaving and asked to spread information about the meeting to the Poles in Ohio and Pennsylvania. As it later turned out, these were the states that decided about the most unpredictable victory in the modern electoral history of USA. However the American establishment was not, to put it mildly, pleased with the outcome of the presidential elections, a new streak began for PolishAmerican relations and – as proved by the recent visit to Warsaw by the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – it is a winning and a lasting one. – I have a feeling that an awareness of Poland’s importance has emerged in American politics and it is a new phenomenon Neal H. Pease, a history professor on Wisconsin-Milwaukee University and an editor-in-chief for „The Polish Review”, convinces in an interview with “Wprost” weekly. – The current administration treats Russian threat very seriously, which is why Poland is perceived in America as a foundation of European defense, its buffer – he adds.
Few years back, it would have sounded improbable, but nowadays, in view of numerous American analysts, Poland emerges as a main player in Central-Eastern Europe and as one of USA’s the most significant allies. – That is why United States wish to sell Poland weapons and share with us new technologies –Adriano Bosoni, an analyst for the American think tank Stratfor. President Obama’s administration took a rather different approach. It reacted slowly to threats coming from Russia and made the mistake of resetting its relations with Moscow. Everybody in Poland remembers the day, when president Obama nullified the project of creating an anti-ballistic shield for Poland and Czech Republic, exactly on the anniversary of Soviet aggression on Poland.
The White House woke up only when Russian troops invaded Crimea. Meanwhile, although Trump’s political adversaries charge him with suspicious connection to Russia and even accuse him of a secret agreement with Vladimir Putin, who supposedly helped him win the election, the American president clearly strengthens NATO’s east flank and not only in the military sense. Not half a year after the inauguration, he came to Warsaw, where he delivered the most important speech in his presidency to the point, in which Poland’s history was presented in an extraordinarily positive light. As professor Pease convinces, who has been invested in history of Polish-American relations for years, no American president has expressed himself about Poland in such a manner. After all, Obama happened to use the term “Polish concentration camps”, during his laudation in honor of Jan Karski. Trump has also expressed support about the Three Seas initiative, which aims at strengthening nations of Central-Eastern Europe both politically and economically, as well as given green light for exporting American liquefied natural gas into Poland. It did not end on words. The first ships with American gas have already reached Świnoujście and, although – as explained by Adriano Bosoni from Stratfor – the real sale price will eventually be set by producers, who will opt for the best market option, the current American administration clearly cares about diversification of the energy market in Poland.
This was confirmed by Tillerson, who met in January in Warsaw with President Duda and Prime Minister Morawiecki and assured that US is opposed to Nord Stream 2, second line of gas pipeline connecting Russia with Germany. Previously, the topic of energetic diversification was touched by President Trump in Davos, when he convinced that no country should be made dependent on only one source of energy. – Americans are aware that Nord Stream and TurkStream [which is supposed to pump gas from Russia to Turkey – Ed.] are projects of strictly political nature and that they will weaken Europe’s safety, especially of our allies in Central-Eastern Europe – explains Daniel Kochis, an analyst for the American think tank Heritage, in an interview with „Wprost” weekly. So far the American pressure has turned out to be ineffective. Nord Stream 2 has informed last week that they have been granted permission for construction and exploitation of the marine section of the gas pipeline on German territorial waters. – I remain skeptical whether Nord Stream will be held off but United States will remain opposed – Kochis comments newest information. Construction of the Russian-German gas pipeline is also opposed by the Congress, which plays a major role in shaping American policies. Trump and the Congress don’t see eye to eye on everything. So far, the president has managed to agree with congressmen only in terms of the tax reform, accepted at the end of 2017. The President and the Congress differ – at least in view of the liberal media – in the matter of sanctions imposed on Russia. The senators stand strongly behind them, while Trump apparently remains ambivalent.
Sanctions are but one element of the political puzzle piece, which is supposed to convince Russia that it’s not worth to mess with NATO. This year, in the face of the Russian threat, the White House has gained Congress’s approval to spend almost 5 billion dollars (1,4 billion dollars more than previous year) for the so-called European Deterrence Initiative (Eng. European Deterrence Initiative, during Obama’s presidency known as European Reassurance Initiative), which aims at supporting Europe’s defense capabilities, especially its Eastern flank. This means that there will be funds for allocating American troops in Poland, on which the Polish government counts very much. At the moment, over 4 thousand American troops are stationing in Poland, among which are 3.5 thousand from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, whose troops station in Żagań, Świętoszowo, Skwierzyna and Bolesławiec. In Powidz stations also a task force for Battle Aviation Brigade. The Americans decided to move the so-called Mission Command Element of the Atlantic Resolve operation, which commands American troops in Poland and other countries in the region, from Germany into Poznań. This year, an American BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) installation will be activated in Redzików, which will provide NATO with defense against ballistic missiles. – And this is a concrete move, which Poland has requested for a long time, presenting it as an effective way of deterring Russia – says professor Neal H. Pease. It is exactly the presence of American troops near Vistula that strengthens the relations between USA and Poland. – Quite few congressmen have soldiers, who station in Poland, in their families. It is an amazingly strong signal, which is why the awareness of Poland’s importance in NATO keeps increasing in Congress Daniel Kochis from Heritage explains.
Of course, it is not without importance for the current enclosing relations between Warsaw and Washington that Polish and American governments have a lot in common: both emphasize the role of patriotism, protection of national interests and traditional values. – I think, that the current administration also shares with Polish government a rather skeptical approach to the European Union – Daniel Kochis adds. One more matter brings both administrations together. Both Trump and Law and Justice (PiS) have to ward off media attacks. That is why a good rapport with the White House is a gift for the Polish government, whose image was lately tarnished by frictions with Brussels and Berlin, as well as by the recent crisis with Israel. During his visit, Tillerson has given Warsaw his strong support. He referred to Poland as a glorious, democratic ally. – In comparison with Obama’s presidency, Trump’s administration seems little interested in internal affairs of countries within Central Europe – says Bosoni. – The Department of State, with its previous staff, as well as American diplomatic outposts were more outspoken in matters of current political situation, in countries such as Poland, Hungary or Romania. Having said that, USA might want to speak up when they fell like the countries of Central and Eastern Europe cross that thin red line. Which is what happened last Wednesday. United States Department of State has released a declaration, in which it called for a repeated analysis of the IPN bill novelization and warned that the new law may influence the relations with Washington.
Can the crisis in relations with Israel actually jeopardize our connection to America? The answer coming from commentators is unanimous: because Polish-American alliance is based on a similar approach to security matters and American soldiers station in Poland, it is safe from harm. – Quite the contrary, during Trump’s presidency these relations will become even stronger – claims Daniel Kochis. The critique in American media, such as „Washington Post” or „New York Times”, in which a lot is written about authoritarian and nationalist government in Warsaw, also hasn’t caused any irreversible damage. In Kochis’ opinion the bad press could permanently worsen our image only if the media offensive would go on and accusations against us start to become buried in America’s mind. – Which has not yet happened – Kochis convinces. And adds: Since the moment, Matuesz Morawiecki became the prime minister, I have noticed a slightly more delicate tone in the press, when discussing Poland. That is why, as professor Pease says, there is actually one way of challenging the Polish-American Alliance: testing its durability. The US-Poland partnership may not last if a real threat to the west NATO flank will not be met with an unhesitating response from the American ally – However, I am under the impression that the steps, undertaken within last months, lead to avoiding such confrontation –professor Neal H. Pease calms down. g
© All rights reserved.
Dalsze rozpowszechnianie artykułu tylko za zgodą wydawcy tygodnika Wprost.
Regulamin i warunki licencjonowania materiałów prasowych.