In world politics, the first steps of any newly elected president – what decrees he or she first signed, who they first called or met within their first few months, and what appointments they made are of great importance. That is especially true of the United States, which the international community is watching with particular attention since that country, and consequently its leading political representative, largely shapes world geopolitics.
This is why special attention was paid to Joe Biden’s signing of a series of executive orders in his first days in office reversing Donald Trump’s decisions, which in many ways made the world breathe a sigh of relief. Soon as Biden called the leaders of some countries, the first of which were Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador or applied a “wait-and-see policy” to Turkish leader Erdogan, former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, analytical centers and political experts in various countries began to build approximate schemes for the future political orientation of the Biden Administration.
However, after the new US President made one of his first phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, many in the West grew tense. After all, no one doubted the reasons why Joe Biden quickly established personal contact with the leadership of Canada, which is the closest neighbor and longtime ally of the United States on virtually all foreign policy issues. Or Great Britain, the leading US ally in Europe, rigorously supporting almost all of Washington’s initiatives. Biden’s steps toward Mexico, with which the new White House master immediately lifted the state of emergency on the joint border, stopped the construction of the wall on it, put forward a migration initiative in favor of the program to protect the children of migrants, were also met with understanding.
As for the phone conversation with Vladimir Putin and their meeting in Geneva, for many and, above all, such outspoken opponents of Russia in Europe such as Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic States, it became an alarming signal with evidence that the new US President intends to negotiate with the Kremlin. And these “worries” turned out to be entirely accurate, as gradually, the White House began to adjust the former policy of those opponents of Russia which they only yesterday conducted in apparent agreement with Donald Trump.
This “adjustment” by the White House was particularly painful for Poland, which has been trying to demonstrate its vassal loyalty to Washington for the past two decades in the hope of receiving “carrots” for it. In particular, Poland sought to participate actively in the dialogue on the Middle East and Iran while trying to position itself as a “serious player in international politics,” for which reason the Middle East conflict for a time even became one of the critical issues of the US-Polish agenda. In relations with the United States, Poland never forgets about the possibility of providing “small services.” For example, in the run-up to Operation Desert Storm, Polish intelligence services helped to secretly evacuate American agents from Iraq and the occupied Kuwait. After the war, the Polish embassy represented US interests in Iraq since US-Iraqi relations had been severed. Subsequently, until July 2012, the Polish embassy similarly represented American interests in Syria.
But even then, Poland, with its duplicitous policies and overestimation of its abilities and importance, believed that it was “making Americans happy for no adequate consideration” and that its alliance with the United States was creating a false sense of security, pushing Poland to quarrel with Germany and Russia without giving anything in return. And this, in particular, is confirmed by the assessments published in the Polish media by former Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski in a conversation with former Minister of Finance Jacek Rostowski and former Minister of Transport, Construction, and Maritime Economy Slawomir Nowak containing sharp criticism of the alliance between his country and the United States.
Today, hardly anyone doubts that Poland’s national-conservative government had a brilliant relationship with Donald Trump. However, when Joe Biden entered the White House, relations cooled noticeably; the new US President did not, like Trump, turn a blind eye to violations of democracy, freedom of speech, LGBT rights, and restrictions on the independence of the legal system in Poland. So now, the “cool relationship” threatens to go into a deep freeze.
Warsaw’s reaction to Washington’s appointment of a new Ambassador to Poland, whose post has been vacant of late, is particularly telling. It is known that Washington offered Mark Brzezinski, son of the famous Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was National Security Adviser to American President Jimmy Carter, for this post.
As the most prominent Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter pointed out in a commentary on the matter, the candidacy can be seen as a special gesture from Biden and a sign of how vital Poland is to the United States. However, the Polish government demonstratively “rejected the outstretched hand of the Americans and slammed the door in their face” by refusing to issue Mark Brzezinski with the so-called agrement, i.e., to recognize his diplomatic accreditation, which is why he cannot start working in Warsaw. Quoting diplomatic sources, the newspaper says that the Polish government has informed the Americans that they cannot approve Brzezinski’s candidacy unless he renounces his Polish citizenship.
According to the Polish media, this démarche by Warsaw embarrassed the US State Department. Marc Brzezinski informed the Polish authorities that he is not and never has been a citizen of that country and that he has never considered himself a Pole. The ruling Law and Justice party, led by Jarosław Kaczyński, pointed out to Washington the Polish citizenship of Mark Brzezinski because his father Zbigniew Brzezinski had Polish citizenship before World War II. According to the Polish citizenship law, anyone with at least one Polish ancestor is a Polish citizen, and a Polish citizen cannot be an ambassador of another country in Poland. Mark Brzezinski himself only emphasizes that he cannot give up his citizenship, which he does not have.
As noted by Dagens Nyheter, Warsaw, with this step, is trying to make it clear that it does not pay much attention to relations with Washington. However, the USA is Poland’s most important strategic partner, and under Trump, Kaczyński tried to play the American card against the EU. But now Poland is turning its back on both the EU and the United States. According to many observers, this hostile behavior of Warsaw toward the US is due to a mismatch between its ambitions and its actual place in the world. The implementation of Polish “greatness” is hindered by Warsaw’s inability to gain control over territories “from sea to sea,” including beside Poland proper, parts of Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, and even Russia. This was stated by well-known Israeli military and political expert Yaakov Kedmi on the air of Vesti FM. “Poland does not understand that no one cares about it, just like Ukraine. Poland is only a tool to be used against Russia. If we are not talking about anti-Russian activities and Russophobia, no one needs Poland. It exists in the eyes of the “democratic West” in only two forms: one of the main forces against Russia, and “working animals” for primitive jobs,” Kedmi said.
Therefore, experts predict problems for Poland with the USA because of this diplomatic stunt and an attempt to clamp down on Washington this way.
Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.