Monday, November 14, 2005

Still a hard sell?

The Polish defense minister, Radek Sikorski, and Star Wars II

The Warsaw Station blog comments on official recognition that Warsaw and Washington have been negotiating a deal on placing the US ‘Star Wars II’, anti-ballistic missile system in this country. Gustav notes that:

Gazeta [Wyborcza] reports that Dominique Moisi from the French Institute of International studies, says: "Did Poland consult its decision with European allies? Poland sees itself in the EU as a bridge between NATO and Europe. Together with this new government the question arises: Hasn't she already gone to the other side of the bridge?"

The US is building two bases at home where anti-rocket rockets and radar systems will be searching the skies for incoming threats from the latest bogey-state of the day. The Pentagon has been searching for a third base, in central and Eastern Europe, since late 2003. Candidates include Poland, Czech Republic or Hungary.

If Poland is chosen, then the man on the Polish side responsible for dealing with the Pentagon is the new Defense Minister, Radek Sikorski. If this is the new government’s policy then Sikorski must presumably be for the policy too.

Well, late last year he was more skeptical. In December 2004, Emmanuel Evita writes at the American Enterprise Institute web site:

Sikorski said granting interceptor host rights to the United States amounts to "ceding territory (for one country) to launch violence against another country to affect its strategic calculus." Anything less than a generous package -- which could include greater industrial and economic incentives according to Sikorski -- would be "a difficult sell in the current atmosphere of Central Europe" -- including Poland, said Sikorski. "There is a growing feeling in the region that 'We are not doing Iraq again.'"

So what’s happened since a year ago? Has the situation in Iraq got any better? Or is the 'package' getting better?


Gustav said...

It will be interesting to see what his answers are to those questions when he gets back from Washington. He's headed there later this month

Bill Rice said...


While I am sure that there is a good possibility the American offer has sweetened, I think there is a strong case to be made why such an agreement would be in Poland's long term interest.

Becoming a vital component of a US missile defense shield would:

1) give the host country greater long term respect in the US national security and defense agencies
2) provide for increased transfers of technology and military coordination as well as basing of personal
3) secure Poland's defensive posture with a solid American long term presence.
4) provide economic benefits as well
5) lay the ground work for better intelligence sharing that could prove benefitial to Poland.

Just some quick thoughts. If I was in a US policy making position, Poland would be my top choice of nations in Eastern Europe.

Kind regards,

Bill Rice

beatroot said...


Apart from the doubts that this system is actually any good – and it does, at the moment, seem to be better at missing things than hitting them – it’s really a political deployment – if it happens.

Negotiating unilaterally, as Poland has done, is not going to go down well with other partners of Poland...I mean the EU.

And domestically, some Poles will feel safer with having such a technology on its soil. But others are going to think that – at a time when Poland, like the UK – are closely linked to the US’s very unpopular war in Iraq, rumors of secret camps full of al-Qaeda terrorists, etc – that the system is going to make them more of a target for all sorts of nasty things. And I am not just talking about the Middle East. The great bogeyman in Poland is always going to be an out of control Russia.

So it’s a potentially touchy subject here, Bill.

I was also wondering what conditions that the US can offer. These anti-missile rockets and stuff are not labor intensive. They will not be creating many Polish jobs. So what’s the US got to offer?

At the moment, Bush can’t even offer Poles visa free travel to the US.

Gustav said...

Bill, shouldn't all the points you've mentioned already be covered by Poland's membership in NATO?

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