Poland Part I: Obama’s F-16s or Romney’s Empty Words?
If I were a country and you gave me a handful of F-16 fighter jets and a group of U.S. pilots to teach me how to use them, I would assume you care about my security. Mitt Romney’s not so sure.
Today Governor Romney kicks off the Poland leg of his international tour. While the stomp around Europe and Israel was designed to bolster his standing on the world stage, it’s been much more effective at insulting allies and breaching standard security practices. But he’s got one more shot in Poland, and surely he’ll do what he can to make the most of it.
After all, he’s already invested a lot of rhetoric in Poland. During a foreign policy speech in Reno last week, Mitt Romney accused President Obama of “abandoning” Poland. Poor Mitt. When it comes to national security, it’s just hard to believe he knows what he’s talking about. The day after his big speech, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak met with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon. After the meeting, the Department of Defense issued a nice little summary of U.S.-Polish defense cooperation. Some highlights:
- Minister Siemoniak expressed “full confidence” in the alliance between Poland and United States, while Secretary Panetta underscored the contributions U.S.-Polish defense cooperation make toward transatlantic security.
- Secretary Panetta thanked Poland for its leadership on missile defense in Europe, noting that Poland was the first country in Europe to sign a ballistic missile defense agreement with the United States.
- The United States is about to open an Aviation Detachment in Poland. The U.S. will deploy F-16 fighter jets and C-130 cargo planes to Poland on a regular basis, along with American pilots who will work side-by-side with their Polish counterparts. The Air Detachment marks the first time in history that the U.S. will permanently stationed U.S. forces on Polish soil.
Again, if you gave me a bunch of F-16s and American pilots, I’d assume you care about my security. And it’d be a justified assumption. President Obama has consistently praised Poland for its leadership on the world stage and its contributions to democracy and international security. He traveled to Poland last spring, and he dispatched high-level administration officials to Poland numerous times, including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. With such a striking combination of high-level visits and concrete deliverables, it’s no wonder Defense Minister Siemoniak has “full confidence” in U.S.-Polish relations.
What doesn’t deserve our full confidence, however, is Mitt Romney’s grasp on foreign policy. In Poland, he’ll try to paper that over. He’ll visit legendary Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, and he’ll meet with President Bronislaw Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. He’ll do his best to look the part, but make no mistake. When Mitt Romney wraps up his trip he’ll leave nothing behind but memories and words. And those aren’t nearly as persuasive as F-16s and U.S. fighter pilots.
Matthew Rhoades is Truman’s Legislative Director.