Dear Members and Friends,
This morning, MDAA had the honor of attending a public address by the Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in Washington D.C. Foreign Minister Sikorski is the lead Polish government official determining the fate and possible agreement of an historic placement of 10 United States ground based defensive missiles in Poland. During his brief visit here, Mr. Sikorski will meet with the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor Steven Hadley and the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. Foreign Minister Sikorski stated that the Polish people view the decision to place a missile defense base in Poland as the nation’s most important issue in recent history after their entrance into NATO.
Below are my reflections on Foreign Minister Sikorski’s statements this morning:
From the Polish perspective, missile defense is a shared strategic view on what we can do together and extending an already special strategic relationship between the two countries. This partnership included most notably full support of the U.S. in Iraq by sending 18,000 Polish troops from the onset to the end of this year and a 1,600 NATO Polish troop presence in Afghanistan with no caveats of their usage.
It is a shared vision of President Ronald Reagan, who is revered in Poland, as under his watch and assistance, Poland broke free from the Soviet Bloc in 1989.
Poland believes deeply in NATO as the most successful alliance ever formed. They believe that increased U.S. military presence in Europe strengthens NATO and stabilizes Europe. As a member of NATO since 1999, Poland has yet to host hard NATO assets in their country as other NATO members are doing. Poland strongly believes in a collective defense as described in Article 5 of the NATO charter.
Poland in general terms, shares the view of the threat with the United States of the proliferation of ballistic missiles and WMD, but in specific terms does not view a direct ballistic missile threat from Iran. Poland recognizes that there are “States of Concern” that would use ballistic missiles for economic impact, diplomacy, coercion and blackmail. Missile Defense in their view adds to our options and contributes to our deterrence to those states of concern.
Poland believes that a missile defense site located on their soil will be interoperable with the current missile defense systems of NATO member countries and with the future plans for NATO missile defense. They believe that hosting a U.S. missile defense site will deepen NATO’s strength and provide a bigger United States presence in Europe that will make NATO, the United States and Warsaw more secure than they are today.
Because of geography and the fact that Missile Defense does not operate in a vacuum, Poland’s neighbors, most notably Russia, have openly opposed the installation of a U.S. Missile Defense base in Poland. Russia has made credible threats on what it will do militarily and economically to Poland if they make the decision to go forward with the placement of a U.S. missile defense site on Polish soil. Thus, Poland must address the issue of an increased Russian sphere of military power close to Polish borders due to the placement of the missile defense site. Poland has been and is engaged with Russia in an open dialogue on this matter and encourages the United States to help with that dialog.
Due to the repercussions of hosting a Missile Defense site, Poland is asking the United States to improve Poland’s defenses and military, so it can better defend itself and its allies.
Poland, overall wants the relationship between the United States and themselves to be one of
Foreign Minister Sikorski used the following parable in describing the current situation:
Say that you live in an apartment building and you decide to have satellite TV and thus need a satellite receiver on the roof of the apartment building. You contact a friend whose apartment is on the top floor to allow you to put up the satellite receiver on his roof. The friend allows you to do so with an agreement between yourselves. However, the neighboring apartment next to him does not like the satellite receiver and does not want it to go up because he believes the satellite receiver is dangerous and unhealthy. You and your friend know that it is not and provide him all the information to show that the satellite receiver is safe, but he remains unreasonable.