On 3rd November, citizens of the United States of America had chosen their new leader. Democratic nominee – Joe Biden collected 306 electoral college votes (270 was needed to win the presidency) and he broke the record of the most received direct votes in American history (Almost 79 million direct votes which is a far better result than Barack Obama’s 69.5 million votes in 2008). The yet incumbent president – Donald Trump does not recognize the legitimacy of US presidential elections. Trump alleges that the election was rigged and fraudulent in several states (including in crucial toss-up states, like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona). The incumbent president does not show signs of conceding power, which jeopardizes almost 250 years of tradition of American democracy. International experts suggest that the change of the presidential administration is only a matter of time. Supposedly, Trump will acknowledge the reality and concede power to the newly elected president.
It is quite difficult to name a country, which has benefited more from Trump’s presidency than Poland. During his tenure, the Trump administration took significant steps to deepen military, political, and economic cooperation between Poland and the United States of America. Here are some key developments:
1. Yet the incumbent president decided to increase the number of American soldiers in Poland by 1000 personnel;
2. Trump also established an enduring American Military base on Poland’s soil;
3. The economic relations have soared during the last four years. The amount of Poland’s export to the United States increased by $ 2.5 billion;
4. Trump has become a cordial supporter of the “Three Seas Initiative”, which aims to develop cross-border energy, transport, and communication infrastructure among twelve European countries;
5. Poland started purchasing LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) during the Trump presidency, which significantly reduced the country’s energy dependence on Russian gas;
6. Poland became a member of the USA Visa Waiver Program, which enabled Polish citizens to visit the United States of America without a visa. It is not surprising that Warsaw was cautiously observing the American presidential election. Polish society favored Trump over Biden by a huge margin (41% vs 15%).
Some Poles felt insecure about Biden’s foreign policy priorities. They fear that Poland will lose its credibility for Washington. Will the Biden administration preserve friendly relations with Poland or revise it completely? Do Polish citizens have something to worry about or their evaluation is a bit exaggerated? In this article, I will try to discuss potential relations between Poland and the United States under the Biden administration.
We should divide the relations between Poland and the Biden administration into two various levels: Ideological and Pragmatic. Let’s examine these two dimensions:
1. Ideological level – Biden shares the view that the Transatlantic solidarity is based on shared values of liberty, democracy, and mutual respect. He seems to continue the “import of global democracy project”, which is a continuation of the democratic peace theory. According to this argumentation, democracies do not fight each other. That is why the only superpower – The United States of America should prolong eliminating autocracies and fostering democratic regimes around the world. Poland along with other Central and Eastern European countries plays crucial role in that direction. Biden made some rough statements about the president of Belarus – Alexander Lukashenko and ongoing civil protests in Minsk. He pointed out that autocratic regimes are on the rise inEastern Europe. Biden administration may emphasize rule of law issue, which is EU’s main object of the criticism toward Poland. However, this will not have a significant influence on the strategic relations;
2. Pragmatic level – From a strategic standpoint, the Biden administration will probably adopt a more consistent foreign policy than its predecessor. One of the main drawbacks of Trump’s foreign policy was weakening Transatlantic solidarity. Biden aims to rebuild strategic cooperation between Washington and the capitals of European states. Biden supports enduring American military presence in Central and Eastern Europe, including in Poland. Biden is a cordial supporter of the “Three Seas Initiative”. He has a firm stance against Russia’s illegal activities in Post-soviet space different from Trump, who was maximally trying to avoid confrontation with Russia during his tenure. Because of Biden’s harsh anti-Russian attitudes, We can also safely assume that the Biden administration will reinforce Poland’s energy independence. It is expected that during the next three years, Poland’s import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from the United States of America will quadruple. Biden administration will try to restore the traditional Geopolitical pivot of Europe between Germany, Poland, and Ukraine. The dynamics of Polish-American relations at the economic and cultural level makes us think that the interdependence between the two countries is going to become more visible in the nearest future. To say briefly, Poland will not only preserve but expand its geopolitical and geoeconomic importance under Biden’s presidency.
To encapsulate the summary into a few lines, we can say that Biden’s presidency will not jeopardize Poland’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. At some point, President-elect will be more strict toward the Polish government on the rule of law issue, however, this will not change the positive dynamics of Polish-American relations. Biden is a strong Atlanticist. He is a cordial supporter of NATO and the European Union. Biden backs up various infrastructural projects, which will help Eastern European states to ensure the national security and stability. Biden has anti-Russian attitudes, which makes us think that he will try to reduce Russian influence in Poland. Because of these aforementioned factors, it is obvious that deepening strategic relations with Poland will be the top foreign policy priority for the Biden Administration.
The opinions and conclusions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tbilisi or The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.