Saturday, September 19, 2009

POLAND NEWS: U.S. Missile Shield Deferred

A Polish woman protested against a request by the U.S. to place a missile defense base in Warsaw, Poland in March 2007. (photo:Czarek Sokolowski)

The U.S. missile shield in Poland has been deferred.

Poland’s President Lech Kaczyński had wanted the system in place. The negotiations between Poland and the George W. Bush administration took so long that when Kaczynski signed the missile shield deal with Condoleezza Rice, the Bush team was already ending its administration.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk inherited the negotiations with the U.S. from his predecessor Jarosław Kaczyński, the president’s identical twin brother, and his aides.

Last year Tusk wanted to express his skepticism about the negotiations with the George W. Bush administration, and chose the 4th of July for his long-awaited statement on the matter. The U.S. chose the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland to tell the country the project is canceled.

The Poland there is conflict regarding this issue. Pacifists in Poland wanted to stay out of the project, saying it would expose the country to terrorist threats and Russia’s outrage. Their point of view was reflected in opinion polls that showed the majority in the nation didn’t want the country to be involved.

When Russia began its loud protests, memories of Soviet dominance were brought back and swung the public opinion. Polls – as of August, had 58% of Poles in favor of the plan, according to the daily Rzeczpospolita.

In exchange for their agreement to host U.S. interceptor missiles, Poland wanted Patriot missile batteries and money to upgrade its own military capacities.

With this decision Poland is left without the missile shield and the extra funds, and its political relations with the U.S. administration may now be uneasy.