Make the EU Great Again!

donald_trump_by_gage_skidmore_2
Gage Skidmore || Creative Commons

The win of Donald Trump signifies a shift in the international relations of a much bigger significance than Brexit. For Poland, this change means the beginning of the age of great insecurity.

A political troglodyte now holds in his hands the atomic button as well as dyplomatic posts in all capital cities. For the first time ever, the U.S. will be led by a man who has neither ever held any political nor military office. Meanwhile, his unflinching self-confidence and easiness with which he says the stupidest things imaginable accompanied with his urge to act immediately suggest that Mr Trump will want to make his mark on the American history – and by this token to have himself exegi monumentum aere perennius.

There is no point in taking all of Mr Trumps declarations seriously since, for example, a wall on the border with Mexico erected with the Mexican money will simply never happen. However, during the six-month campaign Donald Trump managed to utter his opinions on foreign policy matters multiple times thus allowing us to see his intentions.

First of all, it appears that Donald Trump views foreign relations as a very simple and straight-forward market play consisting of a series of transactions, the success of which is based solely on mutual interest – just like in business. In this oversimplified and infantile pragmatic vision, there is no space for unmeasurable values such as democracy or freedom, or for long-term agendas. Tradition and existing alliances are also not perceived as assets since you cannot sell them or exchange for something tangible. You simply strike a deal as far as a particular matter is concerned and if it brings a concrete profit, then you’re good to go.

This is probably why Donald Trump praised Vladimir Putin and kept repeating that he could easily reach an agreement with the Russian president. He also declared that he could recognize the annexation of Crimea if he gets something in return. At the same time, he has no intention of protecting the Baltic States as a part of the NATO alliance, if he doesn’t get something in return

We can only guess that these are precisely the areas that will be affected first by the Trump’s idea of a “business-like” approach towards the global politics.

Trump and the Polish Case

From the point of view of Poland, the blackest scenario possible has just occurred. In the light of the potential and quite clearly declared betrayal, our country faces the possibility of (a much feared for the past few decades) next Yalta or Munich. Despite that, our leaders voluntarily placed Poland in the hands of the U.S. Turning its back on the EU has directed the entire foreign relations of our state towards only one point: the potential assistance received from the U.S. A state, which – at least so far – was the most stable of all the stable countries, the most democratic of all democracies, a country which used to position itself as a “Shining City upon a Hill”, in the Biblical terms.

After the success of Donald Trump, the stability disappeared. He doesn’t give a damn about democracy and the “greatness” of America is perceived solely in financial terms or as far as other possible tangible benefits are concerned. What Poland can now offer the U.S. in return for – promised by President Obama – military bases defending us from Putin? We don’t have a currency that President-Elect would be familiar with or value. If Putin promises Trump peace in Syria in return for recognizing the annexation of Crimea and abandoning the idea of introducing the American army in Poland, Mr Trump will certainly deem it a fair deal.

And what if Mr Putin, making the best of the opportunity that has just presented itself in the form of a specialist in barters soon to enter the White House and would intentionally create new problems so that he would then have a chance to retreat to the initially desired position in order to have something to negotiate with with the United States? We will never be able to offer a better deal than Putin.

The only answer to the shift in the foreign policy of the U.S. is to become reconciled with the European Union. Even if the Law and Justice government has until now had a bone to pick with the Union or was stuck in the vicious circle of aversion towards the real and imagined faults of the “Old Europe”. There is simply no other choice. Until recently, the “strategists” of Law and Justice kept repeating that we should keep close to the U.S. because there is a viable risk of Germany striking a deal with Russia behind our back. Now, it became crystal clear that Germany is actually hitting the brakes on the relations with Russia whilst the power in the U.S. was taken over by a man who made “striking a deal with Putin” one of his key slogans of his foreign policy in the presidential campaign. After all, he has clearly stated that he is fascinated by Mr Putin and that he has been keeping in touch with him (via his son) for many years.

First, there was Brexit and the idea of building an intra-Union alliance of countries angry with the EU together with the UK failed miserably. On November 8, the remnants of the Law and Justice foreign policy strategy – or rather a mixture of fears, complexes and naive beliefs that Law and Justice referred to as “a policy of getting up from our knees” – died. Now we must quickly start re-building our relations with Europe thus the other leg which until recently the EU was for Poland. And at the same time try to make the EU stop behaving like an old woman (in the words of Pope Francis) and become a dynamic, decisive and strong organization. This does not mean that we have to dissolve our relations with the U.S. since there is no use in doing that. If in the midst of the ongoing festival of failures and shattered illusions (that the foreign policy of Law and Justice turned out to be) someone was hoping that the Polish government would back out out of it, then the success of Trump is a perfect pretext for doing just that.

Many people may believe that there is no point in being in a hurry since we cannot predict what President Trump will actually do – maybe after all he is not a madman or an ignorant and his actions so far were just a means of conducting a successful campaign. But what if it wasn’t and what if he actualy does implement everything he promised? There is nothing to wait for. We must act now.

The article was originally published in Polish at http://liberte.pl/make-eu-great-again/

Translated by Olga Łabendowicz

Marcin Wojciechowski
Liberte