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May 18, 2024

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Future of the Polish-American
Strategic Relationship

PL-US_mainFollowing Secretary Chuck Hagel’s visit in Poland Jan. 30, the GMF office in Warsaw organized a debate on the Future of the Polish-American strategic relationship. The U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull was confronted by world affairs journalist and publicist Bartosz Węglarczyk, in a conversation moderated by Michał Baranowski.  This timely event attracted a crowd of over 80 people  and provoked a heated debate between government officials, policy community leaders and experts.

According to Ambassador Mull, the reason for Secretary Hagel’s visit was to thank Poland for its engagement in Afghanistan as well as to congratulate on increased defense spending and military modernization process in Poland, strategically significant for NATO because of interoperability. Broadly speaking, the visit took place because of the general satisfaction with the state of Polish-American relationship and its potential to grow. Hagel’s visit also provided reassurance that the U.S. remains fully committed to building the European Phased Adaptive Approach, contrary to the belief that development in Iran might have weakened its interest in the initiative.

Bartosz Weglarczyk, who spent 6 years in Washington, held a more pessimistic opinion on this transatlantic relationship. He remarked that not only are there constant talks of the U.S. pivot towards Asia, but also that a Polish pivot away from the U.S. is observable, caused mainly by the lack of U.S. public diplomacy in Poland. Recent scandals such as the secret CIA prisons in Poland, or the Snowden affair which undermine the opinion of the U.S. government and its intelligence services are pulling the Polish government away too. What also deepens this lack of trust is the uncertainty with regards to U.S. strategic aims towards Central Europe or the Middle East.

In response, Ambassador Mull explained that there is a vast talk of cooperation that is taking place behind closed doors. With military operations winding down, the U.S. intends to cultivate partnerships and maintain alliances and one way forward is cooperation on cybersecurity. Resources will be rechanneled in places which did not receive enough attention because of other priorities and the U.S. will be intensifying relations Poland would be ready to make. He reassured that the U.S. will continue to cover the majority of NATO’s resources, so fears of disengagement, also expressed from the audience, will remain unsupported. Bartosz Weglarczyk actually remarked that U.S. leadership in NATO is strongly desired. Given the lack of common EU security policy, the EU would follow NATO’s vision.

Regarding the situation in Ukraine, Ambassador Mull expressed deep concern, and asserted that the U.S. and Poland are in full agreement on the subject and share the same views about potential sanctions. Current action should involve working together to provide humanitarian assistance as needed, as we wait to see how the situation unfolds. Mr. Węglarczyk agreed that there is nothing more that can be done immediately.

As the conversation was coming to a close, Ambassador of Romania inquired about the possibility of NATO cooperating with states on the eastern border of the EU. Bringing up the talks of frontier aviation exercises Poland wants to organize with the U.S., Ambassador Mull remarked that there is a lot of room to fill in in terms of extending contingency planning cooperation. On the whole, broader cooperation will bring greater mutual benefits.

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Reprinted with permission from The German Marshall Fund of the United States.
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