Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Dispute" Over US Radar Exposes "Pettiness" of Polish Politics - Paper

In Poland, there is a problem with the [missile defence] shield decision. But there is also a bigger problem, which was spectacularly exposed by the conflict between the president and the government, as revealed by Dziennik, namely the distressingly low quality of the Polish political class - commentator Ryszard Bugaj writes in Dziennik.

It is a misunderstanding that the mainstream of the discussion about the purposefulness and conditions of a US missile defence shield installation is dominated by military aspects. This is because the political consequences of a potential decision are the key issue in this discussion. And the truth is that it is these consequences that have effects on Poland's military security.

Qui Pro Quo in Negotiations

Regrettably, the United States has many enemies. These include not only a large group of Islamic and Third World countries, but also a considerable portion of the public in Western Europe. It appears to be a fact that the US establishment has a very exploitative attitude towards Poland and a factually dubious conviction that Poland owes a lot to the United States and that we should repay this country for all this. As a consequence, the Poles who want to go the United States not only need visas, but also have to pay for them and are frequently treated in a humiliating manner. Moreover, despite its serious involvement in Iraq, Poland does not rank among the countries that the United States treats as particularly close. For example, Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by one of the world's most obscurant regimes, is higher in this hierarchy and takes advantage of considerable military assistance from the United States. Both factors have far-reaching consequences.

Agreement to host a shield in our territory is a very important change to Poland's position on the international arena. Let us say this clearly, in such a case we will be treated like a US aircraft carrier in this part of Europe. Three negative consequences seem inevitable: a potential increase in terrorist threats, a definitive freezing of bad relations with Russia, and a worse position in the EU. But is this not simultaneously a chance to find shelter under the United States' effective security umbrella? The answer to the last question cannot be unambiguous. Certainly, the stationing of the US short-range missile batteries in Poland has no decisive influence over this answer. This is, rather, a test of the United States' attitude towards Poland (whose outcome is for the time being as bad as possible), but we also have to bear in mind that the stationing of the US Patriot missiles in Poland will worsen our relations with Russia to an even greater degree, while rogue states - if they are determined to do so - may put the US defence to test... in Polish territory.

Therefore, I very much doubt whether we should host a US shield in our territory whatever the terms. This is because the most important thing for our decision is what strategy we are adopting in Poland's foreign policy, understood in the most comprehensive manner. Agreeing to host the shield could be justified with the hypothesis that Russia, as such, has a hostile attitude to independent Poland, and this is something that cannot change. The view that we have only one foot in the EU would be favourable to a "yes" decision, as is the case with scepticism about increased terrorist threats following the shield installation. This political tally must also include potentially worse relations between Poland and the United States in the case of our refusal.
Read the full text here