Polish – US Alliance
Stronger Than Ever
Duda’s agenda: US base, fighter jets,
LNG supply, atomic power, visa waiver
By Robert Strybel
WARSAW/WASHINGTON–Poland’s major TV networks provided extensive coverage of President Andrzej Duda’s recent visit to the White House, his second in ten months. US President Donald Trump remarked that US-Polish ties are now better than they have ever been and said Poland’s economy was booming. “We usher in a very exciting new alliance with a very special people.”
When a woman journalist asked about Poland’s democracy backsliding, a common allegation of the liberal-left stream media, Trump replied: “I’m not concerned. I know the people and leadership of Poland very well.” And Duda added: “Someone has deceived you. There is no problem with democracy in Poland. Everything is excellent!”
The two presidents said in a signed declaration that an additional 1,000 US troops would join the 4,500 already on Polish soil, Warsaw has been vigorously lobbying for a permanent US military base in Poland and was disappointed to hear that the extra troops would still be rotated. Washington has insisted on that formula so as not to overly antagonize Russia. Moreover, Trump had initially spoken of 2,000 additional GIs.
Plans call for setting up an American divisional command in Poland responsible for US forces on NATO’s eastern flank as well as modern training centers for NATO troops. But Trump the businessman also sent a clear message to American taxpayers: “The Polish government will build these projects at no cost to the United States.” Grzegorz Schetyna, the leader of Poland’s opposition which has routinely attacked and boycotted the government at every turn, caused the current administration of being more of a client of the US than an ally.
Poland’s purchases have included American-designed combat helicopters and missile systems as well as auxiliary military hardware. Its latest plan is to buy a fleet of the world’s most advanced F-35 fighter jets which will cost over $48 billion alone. Warsaw’s non-military areas include contracts for American liquid natural gas (LNG) and possible cooperation in the atomic-energy field. to lessen Poland’s dependence on Russian energy sources. More than once the “Russian connection” surfaced during Duda’s six-day trip to America.
“Russia is again showing its very unpleasant, imperial face,” Duda told a press conference in the Rose Garden, citing Moscow’s aggression against Georgia and Ukraine. But Trump, who plans to meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin shortly, seemed to downplay Duda’s concern. “I hope that Poland is going to have a great relationship with Russia. I think it’s possible. I really do,” he said.
Trump also indicated that Poland would most likely soon qualify for America’s visa-waiver plan but gave no exact date. Invited to Warsaw for the 80th annversary of the outbreak of World War II on September 1st, Trump said such a visit was likely without making a firm commitment. Such a visit would give the ruling conservative Law and Justice party a strong edge over the opposition in October’s parliamentary elections.
A lighter moment occurred at a state banquet in honor of Poland’s First Couple, when Duda stood up and said: “Happy Birthday Mr. President. I hope your dreams come true.” There must have been quite a few Poles and PolAms at the event, because they spontaneously broke into a rousing chorus of “Sto Lat”.
From Washington, the Dudas headed West, stopping in Texas to discuss deliveries of LNG. There they also met that state’s fairly large, albeit somewhat isolated Polonia.