Poland–United States relations
|Polish Embassy, Washington, D.C.||United States Embassy, Warsaw|
|Ambassador Piotr Wilczek||Chargé d’Affaires a.i. B. Bix Aliu|
Official relations between Poland and the United States on a diplomatic level were initiated in 1919 after Poland had established itself as a republic after 123 years of being under foreign rule from the Partitions of Poland. However, ties with the United States date back to the 17th century, when the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was one of Europe's largest powers, and many Poles immigrated to the Thirteen Colonies. During the American Revolutionary War, the Polish military commanders Thaddeus Kościuszko and Casimir Pulaski contributed greatly to the Patriot cause, with Kościuszko becoming a national hero in America. Since 1989, Polish–American relations have been strong and Poland is one of the chief European allies of the United States, being part of both NATO and the European Union. There is a strong cultural appreciation between the two nations (Polonophilia). According to the US Department of State, Poland remains a "stalwart ally" and "one of strongest Continental partners in fostering security and prosperity, throughout Europe and the world." Poland was also one of four participating countries in the American-led Iraq War coalition in 2003.
In addition to close historical ties, Poland is one of the most consistently pro-American nations in Europe and the world, with 79% of Poles viewing the US favorably in 2002 and 67% in 2013. According to the 2012 US Global Leadership Report, 36% of Poles approve of American leadership, with 30% disapproving and 34% uncertain, and in a 2013 BBC World Service Poll, 55% of Poles view US influence positively, the highest rating for any surveyed European country.
Before 20th century
The partitions of Poland erased Poland from the map in 1795 and long prevented the establishment of official diplomatic relations between Poland and the new United States. However, Poland, which enacted the world's second-oldest constitution in 1791, always considered the United States a positive influence. Even in the 18th century, important Polish figures such as Tadeusz Kościuszko and Casimir Pulaski became closely involved with shaping US history. Haym Salomon, a Polish Jew, was the prime financier of the American side during the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain. Many Poles also emigrated to the United States in the 19th century and formed a large Polish American community in urban centres such as Chicago.
American response to November Uprising
Poland's November Uprising in 1831 and the fight for regaining independence from the neighbouring empires were extensively documented and editorialized in American newspapers. As the historian Jerzy Jan Lerski described, "one could reproduce in detail virtually the whole story of the November Uprising from the 1831 files of American dailies published at that time, regardless of the fact that they were usually four-sheet affairs with little space left for foreign news." There were very few Poles in the United States at the time, but views of Poland were shaped positively by its support for the American Revolution. Several young men offered their military services to fight for Poland, the most well-known of which was Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote a letter to his commanding officer March 10, 1831 to join the Polish Army if it was created in France.
Support for Poland was highest in the South, as Casimir Pulaski's death in Savannah, Georgia, was well-remembered and memorialized. An American surgeon, Dr. Paul Fitzsimmons, from the Georgia, actually joined the Polish Army in 1831. He was then in France and, inspired by "how gallant Pulaski had fallen at the siege of Savannah during the Revolutionary struggle of 1776," traveled to Warsaw as a field surgeon for the Polish infantry.
The United States never initiated the creation of a military force for supporting Poland. Financial support and gifts were sent from the United States to the American-Polish Committee in France, which intended to purchase supplies and transport aid to Poland. The American writer James Fenimore Cooper wrote an appeal for the organization at the height of his popularity and motivated a nationwide collection for Poland in American cities. The Frenchman General Lafayette was an outspoken voice in France and urged for a French intervention to aid Poland in its independence from Russia. The French government sought to make peace with the Russian Empire and generally stayed out of the conflict.
Following the collapse of the insurrection, American newspapers continued to publish news from British and French sources documenting oppression of Poles by the Russian and German Empires. Newspaper editors made mention of the Russians as "brutal" and "evil," and the Poles were "gallant" and "heroic" in their efforts. The American public was apprised of the ongoing suppression of the Polish Catholic Church and the conscription of Poles into the Imperial Russian Army, which hurt Russian-American relations. An American writer in Boston, Robin Carver, wrote a children's book in 1831, Stories of Poland, which said that for Polish children, "Their houses are not peaceful and happy homes, but are open to the spies and soldiers of a cruel and revengeful government.... There is no confidence, no repose, no hope for them, and will not be, till, by some more fortunate struggle, they shall drive the Russians from their borders, and become an independent people." Poetic tributes to Poland were written in America, and literature denouncing the Russian treatment towards Poland continued after the Uprising. Russian Emperor Nicholas I and his emissaries asked the US Secretary of State for a formal rebuke of American newspapers reporting the mistreatment of Poles. US Secretary of State Edward Livingston chose to wait two months before responding to Russia's demands, but the US ambassador to Russia, James Buchanan, made promises to the Russians that the American press would circulate evidence that Russian cruelty had been "much overplayed." The historian Jerzy Jan Lerski was critical of Buchanan's pro-Russian stance on the Polish issue and said that he made statements on Poland without visiting the country or "listening to Polish testimony."
Lincoln and Civil War
Poland's independence lost favour among American intellectuals during the American Civil War. Historians have argued that US President Abraham Lincoln was sympathetic to the Poles but chose not to intervene in Europe's affairs out of fear that European powers would support the Confederate States. The historian Tom Delahaye pointed to 1863 as a critical breakdown in relations between the "Crimean Coalition" (Britain, France, and Austria) and Russia, with Poland's independence a key reason for conflict. Russian sympathies were solidly in favor of the North, and Lincoln expressed a non-interventionist policy towards Russia's "Polish problem." By doing so, Lincoln alienated himself from the British and the French politics and came closer to Russia, which contributed to a balance of power in favor of the tsar.
Second Polish Republic
After World War I, US President Woodrow Wilson issued his principles for an end to the war, the Fourteen Points. Point 13 called for independent Poland with access to the sea: "An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant." On January 22, 1919, US Secretary of State Robert Lansing notified Polish Prime Minister and Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ignacy Jan Paderewski that the US had recognized the Provisional Polish Government.
The United States established diplomatic relations with the newly-formed Polish Republic in April 1919 but the relations between the two countries were distant though positive because of United States non-interventionism and Poland being seen as unimportant for US interests.
Eventually, both countries were part of the Allies during World War II, but there was relatively little need for detailed coordination between the US and the Polish government-in-exile, which was based in London.
On July 5, 1945, the US government recognized the communist government installed in Warsaw, thus abandoning the Polish government-in-exile. After 1950, Poland, which became the Polish People's Republic since 1952, became a member of the Eastern Bloc and opposed America during the Cold War. The first US ambassador to postwar Poland, Arthur Bliss Lane, wrote a book I Saw Poland Betrayed about how the Western Allies had abandoned their former ally, Poland, to Soviet influence. However, the Polish people and government maintained very close and warm ties with the Western Bloc and the United States.
After Gomułka's arrival to power in 1956, relations with the United States improved considerably. However, in the 1960s, the reversion to a policy of full and unquestioning support for Soviet foreign policy objectives and the negative attitude toward Israel during the Six-Day War caused those relations to stagnate. Polish-American relations improved once more after Edward Gierek had succeeded Gomułka. A consular agreement was signed under in 1972. In 1974, Gierek was the first Polish communist head of state to visit the United States. That action, among others, demonstrated that both sides wished to facilitate better relations.
The birth of Solidarity in 1980 raised the hope that progress would be made in Poland's external relations as well as in its domestic development. The United States provided $765 million in agricultural assistance and loans. Human rights and individual freedom issues, however, were not improved, and the US revoked Poland's most-favored-nation (MFN) status in response to the decision to ban on the Solidarity movement in 1981 and to instigate martial law by the communist Polish United Workers' Party. MFN status was reinstated in 1987.
The Reagan administration engaged in clandestine support for Solidarity, and CIA money was channeled through third parties. CIA officers were barred from meeting Solidarity leaders, and their contacts with Solidarnosc activists were weaker than those of the AFL-CIO, which raised $300,000 from its members to provide material and cash directly to Solidarity. The US Congress authorized the National Endowment for Democracy to promote democracy, and it allocated $10 million to Solidarity. CIA support for Solidarity besides money included equipment and training, which was co-ordinated by the Special Operations division of the CIA. Henry Hyde, a member of the US House Intelligence Committee, stated that the US provided "supplies and technical assistance in terms of clandestine newspapers, broadcasting, propaganda, money, organizational help and advice." Michael Reisman from Yale Law School named operations in Poland as one of the covert actions of CIA during Cold War. Initial funds for covert actions by the CIA were $2 million, but soon, authorizations were increased, and by 1985, the CIA had successfully infiltrated Poland.
When the Polish government launched a crackdown of its own in December 1981, however, Solidarity was not alerted. Potential explanations for that vary; some believe that the CIA was caught off guard, but others suggest that American policymakers viewed an internal crackdown as preferable to an "inevitable Soviet intervention."
Third Polish Republic
The United States and Poland have enjoyed warm bilateral relations since 1989. Every post-1989 Polish government has been a strong supporter of continued American military and economic presence in Europe, and Poland is one of the most stable allies of the United States.
When Poland joined NATO on March 12, 1999 the two countries became part of the same military alliance. As well as supporting the Global War on Terror, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and coalition efforts in Iraq (where the Polish contingent was one of the largest), Poland co-operates closely with the United States on such issues as democratization, nuclear proliferation, human rights, regional co-operation in Central and Eastern Europe, and reform of the United Nations.
On 11 September, 2001, 6 Polish citizens perished at the World Trade Center in New York City during the September 11 attacks. The monument for Polish 9/11 victims at Skaryszew Park in Warsaw was unveiled by Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski on 11 September, 2002, the 1st anniversary of the attacks.
US President Barack Obama visited Poland on 27–28 May 2011 and met with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Bronisław Komorowski. The American and Polish leaders discussed economic, military and technology cooperation issues.
In July 2017, Donald Trump in his second foreign travel visited Poland. He met with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Both then held a joint press conference in the Royal Castle, Warsaw. Trump thanked the Polish people and Duda for the warm welcome that he had received in Warsaw: "Our strong alliance with Poland and NATO remains critical to deterring conflict and ensuring that war between great powers never again ravages Europe, and that the world will be a safer and better place. America is committed to maintaining peace and security in Central and Eastern Europe."
In 2018, Poland proposed for the United States open a permanent military base within its country. The Polish government would finance around $2 billion of the cost of hosting American forces, if the proposal was accepted by the United States. Poland has proposed Bydgoszcz or Toruń as potential base locations. Since 1999, Poland has sought closer military ties with the United States. In June 2019, both sides agreed to send 1,000 US troops to Poland. In September 2019, six locations were determined to host approximately 4,500 from the US military in Poland, including: Poznań, Drawsko Pomorskie, Strachowice, Łask, Powidz and Lubliniec.
On 24 June 2020, Trump said at a press conference with Duda that the United States plans to move some US troops from Germany to Poland. Trump said, "Poland is one of the few countries that are fulfilling their obligations under NATO — in particular, their monetary obligations — and they asked us if we would send some additional troops.... I think [putting more US troops in Poland] sends a very strong signal to Russia."
Despite their apparently close relationship, Wprost (a Polish magazine) obtained a recording of Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski calling the Polish-American alliance "downright harmful" and causing a "false sense of security." while in a poll made in 2016, around 20% of questioned considered Americans a potential threat to Polish national security. Despite that, also in this poll, more than 50% of questioned considered Americans and Canadians as trustworthy.
US missile defense complex in Poland
The US missile defense complex in Poland was part of the Ballistic Missile Defense European Capability of the US, to be placed in Redzikowo, Słupsk, Poland, forming a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system in conjunction with a US narrow-beam midcourse tracking and discrimination radar system in the Brdy, Czech Republic. The plan was cancelled in 2009.
Polish society was divided on the issue. According to a poll by SMG/KRC released by TVP 50 per cent of respondents rejected the deployment of the shield on Polish soil, while 36 per cent supported it.
In October 2009, with a trip by Vice President Joe Biden to Warsaw, a new, smaller interceptor project on roughly the same schedule as the Bush administration plan, was introduced, and welcomed by Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
"Polish death camps"
In May 2012, during Medal of Freedom Ceremony, US President Obama referred to the concentration camps run by Nazis in Poland during World War II as "Polish death camps," a term that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said showed "ignorance, lack of knowledge and ill will." Calling them "Polish death camps", Tusk said, implied that Poland was responsible and that "there had been no Nazis, no German responsibility, no Hitler." After a White House spokesman issued a regret of misstatement by clarifying that the President was referring to the Nazi death camps, Tusk expressed an expectation of "a reaction more inclined to eliminate once and for all these kinds of errors."
"2021 Polish Media Law"
Lex TVN is a controversial 2021 Polish media law which modifies the Polish Broadcasting Act. It forbids companies except those from the European Economic Area from holding more than a 49% stake in Polish radio and television stations.
The ruling Law and Justice party argues that it will protect Polish broadcasters from takeovers by companies based in hostile foreign powers such as China and Russia. However, opposition, as well as representatives from European Union and the United States criticized it as it will force American company Discovery to divest itself from Polish biggest television network, TVN, which has been often critical of the PiS-led government; Polish opposition and some international observers expressed fear that the law is threatening press freedom in Poland. The law has been criticized for "threatening the largest ever US investment in Poland".
Poland was one of the countries overrun by Nazi Germany. The country was recognized by the United States, which issued the stamp in 1943 in Poland's honor.
High-level mutual visits
Resident diplomatic missions
- Poland has an embassy in Washington, D.C. and consulates-general in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York.
- United States has an embassy in Warsaw, a consulate-general in Kraków, and a consular agency in Poznań.
- List of ambassadors of the United States to Poland
- Polish Americans
- List of Polish-Americans
- Polish-American vote
- Polish American Historical Association
- Polish American Congress
- Casimir Pulaski Day
- US-EU relations
- "U.S. Relations With Poland".
- Opinion of the United States - Poland Pew Research Center
- U.S. Global Leadership Project Report - 2012 Gallup
- 2013 World Service Poll BBC
- #Jerzy Jan Lerski p. 26
- #Jerzy Jan Lerski p. 7.
- Stories of Poland. p. 141-142.
- #Jerzy Jan Lerski p. 32.
- "The Bilateral Effect of the Visit of the Russian Fleet in 1863". people.loyno.edu.
- Gregory F. Domber (2008). Supporting the Revolution: America, Democracy, and the End of the Cold War in Poland, 1981--1989. ProQuest. p. 199. ISBN 9780549385165., revised as Domber 2014, p. 110 .
- Domber, Gregory F. (28 August 2014), What Putin Misunderstands about American Power, University of California Press Blog, University of North Carolina Press
- Cover Story: The Holy AllianceBy Carl Bernstein Sunday, June 24, 2001
- Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe Gerald Sussman, page 128
- Looking to the Future: Essays on International Law in Honor of W. Michael Reisman
- Executive Secrets: Covert Action and the Presidency William J. Daugherty. page 201-203
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- Grzesiuk-Olszewska, Irena (2003). Warszawska rzeźba pomnikowa. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Neriton. p. 239–240. ISBN 83-88973-59-2.
- "Uroczyste odsłonięcie pomnika upamiętniającego Polaków - ofiary ataku terrorystycznego w Nowym Jorku". Biuro Bezpieczeństwa Narodowego. 2002-09-11. Archived from the original on 2021-12-09.
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- Rempfer, Kyle (29 May 2018). "Why Poland wants a permanent US military base, and is willing to pay $2 billion for it". Army Times. Vienna, Virginia. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- Zemla, Edyta; Turecki, Kamil (30 May 2018). "Poland offers US up to $2B for permanent military base". Politico.EU. Brussels. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "Trump: US to send 1,000 troops to Poland in new deal". BBC. 12 June 2019.
- "US, Polish presidents sign pact to boost American military presence in Poland". DefenseNews. 24 September 2019.
- "Poland's Duda promises 'stronger alliance' with Donald Trump during U.S. visit". Euronews. June 25, 2020.
- "Trump: Poland to get some US troops withdrawn from Germany". Star Tribune. June 24, 2020.
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- "Poland Agrees to Accept U.S. Missile Interceptors" by Peter Baker, The New York Times, October 21, 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
- "Tusk Demands U.S. Response to Obama Death Camp Remark". Bloomberg.
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- "The explainer: Lex TVN and Poland's parliamentary drama". Emerging Europe. 2021-08-12. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
- "W Sejmie "lex TVN" i reasumpcja głosowania. Lichocka: Wszystko jest zgodnie z prawem". www.rp.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 2021-08-12.
- Kondzińska, Agata; Wroński, Paweł (11 August 2021). ""Lex TVN" przyjęte po skandalu w Sejmie i reasumpcji głosowania". wyborcza.pl. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
- "Will Poland's Kaczyński survive his own media law?". EUobserver. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
- Armstrong, Mark (2021-07-29). "Poland: Media freedom fears as TVN24's licence extension is suspended". euronews. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
- "Protests Held Across Poland in Opposition to 'Lex TVN' Censorship Bill". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
- "EU slams newly passed law in Poland that could limit media freedom". euronews. 2021-08-12. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
- "Polish lower house passes media reform bill, which U.S. denounces". Reuters. 2021-08-11. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
- President Bush Participates in Joint Statement with President Kaczynski of Poland
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- Janusz Reiter, The Visa Barrier, Washington Post, August 29, 2007
- Biskupski, M.B.B. The United States and the Rebirth of Poland, 1914-1918 (2012)
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- Feis, Herbert. Churchill Roosevelt Stalin The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought A Diplomatic History of World War II (1957) ch 2, 7, 21, 29, 39–40, 54, 60; very detailed coverage
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- Kantorosinski, Zbigniew. Emblem of Good Will: a Polish Declaration of Admiration and Friendship for the United States of America. Washington, DC: Library of Congress (1997)
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- Halina Parafianowicz, Herbert C. Hoover and Poland: 1919–1933. Between Myth and Reality. in: Great Power Policies Towards Central Europe, 1914–1945. Bristol: e-International Relations, 2019: pp. 176–198. 1945 online free
- Pease, Neal. Poland, the United States, and the Stabilization of Europe, 1919-1933 (1986) excerpts
- Pienkos, Donald E. "Of Patriots and Presidents: America's Polish Diaspora and U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1917," Polish American Studies (2011) 68#1 pp. 5–17 in JSTOR
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