Word has leaked out that Poland has delivered a proposal requesting a permanent American military base in their country and they’re willing to put up a couple of billion dollars to help make it happen. What should have been a fairly normal diplomatic request, however, has turned into a complicated mess before it could even be officially announced. Questions were immediately raised as to not only how or if this should happen, but even who came up with the proposal in the first place. (Politico)
Poland wants a permanent U.S. military presence — and is willing to pony up as much as $2 billion to get it, according to a defense ministry proposal obtained by Polish news portal Onet.
The Polish offer reflects a long-standing desire in Warsaw to build closer security relations with the U.S. and put American boots on the ground. The push dates back to Poland’s entry into NATO in 1999, but has taken on added urgency in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region four years ago and aggressive posture toward the alliance.
Coming just over a month before NATO leaders gather in Brussels for a summit, the Polish initiative is bound to anger Russia, and will be looked at with skepticism by European allies that want to improve relations with Moscow, such as Italy and at times Germany.
The first, and strangest thing about this proposal is that it was already sent to Washington, but it came directly from the Polish Defense Ministry. That may not sound all that unusual since their Defense Department would obviously be involved in such planning, but Defense never even told their Foreign Ministry about it, nor did they consult with President Andrzej Duda. Much the same as with the United States government, Duda is Poland’s Commander in Chief. You’d think someone would mention it to him before they committed to spending $2B constructing a foreign military base on their own soil.
Duda has had a fairly good relationship with President Trump thus far and, as a NATO ally, has taken a bit more of an adversarial approach toward Russia. But that complicates the picture even further. Poland is justifiably worried about the situation with Putin ever since the hostilities in Ukraine began. Poland shares a border with Ukraine and only has Belarus as a buffer between themselves and the Russian border. But given that things are a bit “tense” between us and the Russians at the moment, it makes entering into such an agreement even more complicated.
And, of course, the Russians jumped on the story almost immediately expressing their disapproval. (Reuters)
The Kremlin said on Monday that gradual NATO military expansion towards its borders did not improve security or stability in Europe as it commented on media reports Poland is seeking to secure a permanent U.S. military presence on its territory.
“When we see the gradual expansion of NATO military structures towards our borders…, this of course in no way creates security and stability on the continent,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Monday.
Do we really even need another base over there right now? We’re supposedly focusing on closing and consolidating bases in that region to tighten up the Defense budget. Even with the Poles kicking in a couple of billion, this is still going to cost us some cash and we already have a rotating military presence in their country anyway. We’ve supposedly been on track to close 15 more bases in Europe, including some in Germany, since 2015. Assuming we’re still moving forward with that plan, how do we justify a new base in Poland unless we want to officially ramp up the cold war yet again?
We have a solid ally in Poland and cooperation with them probably isn’t a bad idea. But a permanent military base? The benefit to Poland on any number angles is obvious, but I’m not sure what it really does for us. Perhaps we should hold off until Duda has had a chance to make his official position known and set up a call with Trump to discuss this.