Romney and Polish Missiles

Last week at the RNC, towards the end of a speech filled with bullshit, Romney produced this line:

He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election.

I’ve seen all the other lies in the speech dissected, but not that one. So, I guess I’ll have to do it. It’s a complex one with extended history, so stick with me on this one.

The missile defense commitments Romney is talking about are about stationing a ballistic missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. This plan was part of Bush’s “New Europe” thing after he got pissy because “Old Europe” tried to stop him from invading Iraq, and came with other explicit and implicit promises, which I’ll get to in a moment. First, let’s start with something far more basic: Romney makes it sound as if these missiles were something promised to Poland because they were something that Poland wanted, but now Obama won’t give them what they asked for. That’s not how this worked, way back in 2007/2008 when discussions between Bush and Polish and Czech representatives were happening. At one point, 57% of Poles opposed the plan, and only 25% supported it; in the Czech Republic, it was 68% and 26%, respectively. This was not something the people of either country wanted, and politicians in both countries were skeptical of such installations, given what their existence would do to these two countries’ relationships with Russia. The Polish Defense Minister at the time said that his country would have to be convinced that these missiles would be a good idea for Poland1. In fact, especially after the 2007 elections in Poland in which a very USA-friendly PM was voted out, negotiations about these missiles toughened and Poland insisted that it wouldn’t let the USA place them there unless they got a security guarantee like the USA has with Israel, and unless the USA agreed to pay for a modernization of the Polish military2. Less explicitly, Poland (and the Czech Republic) were being given promises about closer relations with the USA as part of the aforementioned “New Europe” thing Bush was doing for a while. Investment by US companies was one; another was acceptance of these Eastern European countries into the visa-waiver program that allows citizens of the country to travel to the USA without having to apply for a visa first. The Czech Republic got into the program at the end of 20083, but Poland has been strung along on a promise to be included sometime soon ever since (the latest being a promise to do it this year, but the bill only got as far as being assigned to a committee), and is now, absurdly, the only Schengen* country not included4, 5. Point being, this entire missile defense thing was something the US wanted, not something that Poland asked for.

And then there’s the part where, supposedly, Obama has “abandoned” Poland and “walked away” from commitments. This, too, is crap. Obama cancelled the original agreement to place long-range missiles (including ones capable of delivering nuclear warheads) in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic, but that agreement was replaced with another, which would instead supply short and intermediate range interceptor missiles and a computer center. And while the Czech Republic decided that the loss of the radar meant that the deal was no longer worth it for them6 (especially since they got their visa waiver already), Poland has accepted the new deal just fine, seeing as apparently their main concerns in terms of security were for one, to actually get American troops stationed in Poland pretty much regardless of what toys they would bring7, and two, the promised modernization of their troops, which Obama transferred from the old plan to the new one. The actual drama between Poland and the US had nothing at all to do with the content of the new treaty, but rather with the way the PR on it was handled back when it happened8, and the fact that a bunch of assholes in the US pretended as if it were only Obama who considered Russian hostility to the long-range missiles to be a problem (thus being able to make it look as if he backed down on a promise out of fear), while in reality both Poland and the Czech Republic were considering Russia as the main concern in their negotiations about this defense system.

In other words, Romney’s claim that Obama somehow broke a promise to deliver weapons systems that Poland wanted from the US is bullshit. It’s bullshit because Obama didn’t break any promises, and it’s bullshit to make it sound as if these missiles were something Poland wanted or needed, when really it’s something the USA wanted.
– – – – – – – – -
*the article I’m using as a citation says “Eurozone”, but that’s of course nonsense. It’s supposed to say Schengen Area. See:

14 comments on “Romney and Polish Missiles

  1. David Marjanović says:

    I’m in awe of your Google-fu! How long did you work on this post?

  2. marekzyskowski says:

    The point of a missle defence system in Poland is making that stategic connection to the West. If you understand post WW2 history of Poland you can see how important it is to have that permanent military connection to protect Poland’s democracy.
    Poland was givien away after WW2. The situation today is a little different but not much.
    Poland’s neighbors include dictators in the Ukraine and Belarus and a large military presence of Russians in Kalingrad.
    Membership in NATO is a must as is being part of the European Union. The missle defence sheild was a good project hopefully it will be replaced by something just as good in the near future.

  3. Jadehawk says:

    If you understand post WW2 history of Poland

    no dear, I’m completely ignorant of the history of the country of my birth (meaning: don’t condescendingly assume stuff, m’kay?)

    The missle defence sheild was a good project hopefully it will be replaced by something just as good in the near future.

    it has. with something better in fact; something that can’t turn Poland into the next Cuban missile crisis. the fuck does Poland need things that can launch nuclear warheads on its territory for?

  4. Jadehawk says:

    I’m in awe of your Google-fu! How long did you work on this post?

    a good number of hours, certainly.

  5. Paul says:

    The point of a missle defence system in Poland is making that stategic connection to the West.

    ICBMs are not defensive. The post explicitly notes them still arranging for interceptors.

    Great post, Jadehawk. It’s always interesting seeing discussion of these things from a different perspective, being an American with some connection to this subject matter.

  6. Thank you very much for this instructive post.

  7. David Marjanović says:

    The post explicitly notes them still arranging for interceptors.

    Which reminds me of the Scientific American article from the times of Fearless Flightsuit:
    “Why National Missile Defense
    WON’T WORK
    The second line was in red, even. The article explained all the failed tests in detail and showed why NMD can’t work even in principle – due to pretty much the same reasons as why SDI couldn’t work.

    Politicians don’t read Scientific American, so, instead of dropping NMD, they expanded it to right in front of Putin’s paranoid KGB nose and added some good old-fashioned ICBMs to it. The stupid! It burns!

    It seems Marek doesn’t read SciAm either.

  8. David Marjanović says:

    Poland’s neighbors include dictators in the Ukraine and Belarus

    Those are fully occupied with just staying in power. They’re not going to embark on imperial conquests anytime soon, LOL!

    (And why do you call Putin’s sockpuppet in the Ukraine a dictator? Wasn’t he elected fair & square this time?)

  9. Jadehawk says:

    I’m now having visions of a Polish-Belarussian war started because of bison breaks through the border-wall (which is pretty much the only thing that passes for an international conflict in that corner)

  10. David Marjanović says:

    :-D

  11. johannes says:

    This is purely about symbolic policy, showing the Poles that, unlike 1939 or 1945, the West will not betray them again. In reality, 10 warheadless defensive missiles will hurt nobody and nothing, except Palputins pride. Nor would they stop an Aggro Berlin Jihadist gangster rapper from blowing himself up on a Warsaw train station. (Memories of 2004: Some non-entity from the German foreign office telling “Poland, your next” on the Sabine Christiansen talk show after the 3/11 Madrid bombings :( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzvggodmBzk&noredirect=1 )

  12. David Marjanović says:

    Heh. Did you mean to link to a concert by The Clash from 1980? It’s called Spanish Bombs… but… :-)

    Palputin

    Ha! Right on the mark!

  13. johannes says:

    Heh. Did you mean to link to a concert by The Clash from 1980? It’s called Spanish Bombs… but… :-)

    I meant it indeed. The song might be anachronistic, but given the cheesy attempts of the Aznar administration to blame ETA for the bombings and leave the Djihadists of the hook, it still works on several levels.

  14. Jadehawk says:

    Palputin

    stolen for future use :-D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s