Obama to the Poles: Have some Patriot missiles that don’t work to protect you from Russia
Opinia.US Truckee, CA, December 6, 2010 — The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. has released and commented on a number of leaked U.S. cables dealing with Poland. There needs to be a much greater scrutiny of these cables by mainstream U.S. media and political pressure from Polonia voters to force President Obama to change his course on Poland. The cables describe shameful treatment of an important U.S. ally by the President naively obsessed with Russia and Iran. The cables show that nearly all of the White House decisions, which weaken Poland’s security — such as providing a Patriot battery without working missiles – are designed to keep the Russian leaders happy with President Obama’s “reset” of relations with the Kremlin.
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher and the Ambassador [U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein] made it clear [ to Foreign Minister Sikorski and Defense Minister Klich] that the Patriots would not be integrated into Poland’s air defense system. Such a move would require a U.S. Presidential decision, and the President has made no such decision. It would be important for Poland to work with the United States to cultivate realistic public expectations for future Patriot rotations.
However, this is a good juncture to point out the most glaring gap in understanding between us and the Poles. The Poles have not been told that the battery will rotate without actual missiles — i.e., not only will the rotation not be operational in the initial phase (due to C4ISR and other issues) but it will also not be operational, and certainly interoperable, at any point in our current plans. This will be a question of basic definitions for the Poles: is it a Patriot battery if it doesn’t have live missiles? The Poles think the Patriots will become not only operable, but interoperable, over time – thus enhancing Poland’s air defense. When told last Fall that the Patriots would not be operational, at least at first, Deputy Defense Minister Komorowski angrily responded that Poland expected to receive operational Patriot missiles, “not potted plants.”
Waszczykowski was less adamant about Patriots, stating that Poland and the U.S. had a binding political agreement on security matters, which he hoped the United States would respect. He added that Poland “wants U.S. boots on the ground” — not necessarily as a tripwire, but as a deterrent. Nowak similarly stressed Poland’s strong interest in “deepening” military cooperation, ideally to include a large U.S. footprint in Poland. He mused that one Patriot battery and ten MD interceptors do not constitute the “impressive presence” that Poland is hoping for.
Presidential Advisor Waszczykowski reacted more emotionally. While Washington is entitled to talk to Russia, to work toward a solution to the Iranian threat, and to make its own decision about the MD initiative, the U.S. should take care not to undermine Poland’s security. He then wondered aloud, “How long will it take you to realize that nothing will change with Iran and Russia?” Waszczykowski asserted that Moscow is trying to regain its sphere of influence and stressed the critical importance of an increased U.S. or NATO presence for Poland’s security. He added that Russia continues to deny its historical wrong-doings against Poland, imposes economic sanctions against Poland at will, and frequently disrupts the flow of oil and gas.
Waszczykowski, who served as Poland’s Ambassador to Tehran (1999-2002), agreed that Iran poses an increasing threat to the United States and Europe. He said that the Iranian regime has no incentive to warm relations with Washington because the regime has built its own legitimacy on the cornerstone of anti-Americanism.
Komorowski was skeptical that a regional approach to contingency planning was the best way ahead. Komorowski said Warsaw would prefer a unique plan for Poland, although he allowed that Warsaw could accept the notion of two complementary chapters for Poland and the Baltic States within EAGLE GUARDIAN.
President Obama runs the show and uses Poland in his naive game to win over Russia and change Iran. He has found an ally in Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who sees benefits for the military establishment and private military contractors by steering Obama toward expanding military operations in Afghanistan with the help of Russia.
U.S. officials visiting Poland have no authority to negotiate anything beyond what the President wants. Some U.S. officials appear unsold on Obama’s Utopian vision, but they are powerless to correct his policy. The leaked U.S. State Department cables show Polish officials as frustrated, embarrassed and resigned since Poland has no choice but to accept whatever President Obama is willing to offer.
Except for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Poland has never been treated in such a shameful way by any other U.S. administration. Looking on the bright side, President Obama’s foreign policy and his treatment of Poland are not typical of what the U.S. and the American people stand for and are not likely to survive his presidency, just as FDR’s appeasement of Stalin did not survive his. Barack Obama may very well be only a one term president.
Unless forced to do otherwise, the Obama Administration will be treating Poland as a country that only needs to be placated with empty gestures (Patriot battery without live missiles, sending Vice President Biden to Warsaw).
The only thing that can change the White House policy on Poland is sufficient public relations and political pressure from U.S. media, Polonia voters, and voters of other Central European backgrounds, that President Obama, his advisers, and the Democrats will fear and will not be able to ignore.
The Polish government should already have in place a public diplomacy campaign to explain and promote its views directly to the American public and the members of Congress.