GMF Warsaw Office Hosts Debate on U.S. Polish Relations
On Tuesday 6th November 2012, The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) with Warsaw School of Economics (SGH) hosted an oxford-style debate titled: “America remains essential for Poland’s future”. The debate was divided between four speakers, two of each were in favor of the motion, and two against it. The former were: Dr Marek Cichocki and Zbigniew Pisarski, and the latter: Dr Krzysztof Iszkowski and Barbara Labuda. Michal Baranowski, Senior Program Officer at GMF moderated the discussion.
Before the discussion votes were collected and the results were as fallows: for the motion – 46% of the audience ; against the motion – 54% of the audience. At the end of the last round, votes were collected once more and this time scores were: for the motion – 48% of the audience ; against the motion – 52% of the audience. Although the part of the audience against the motion was in majority, the team arguing for the motion was declared our winner. In the course of the evening they managed to convince more voters (slight 2% shift).
The discussion itself was very intense. In their opening statements it was clear just how much panelists' opinions differ. The “against-the-motion” team was strong on criticizing the US for abandoning Europe, its weak leadership skills in the Alliance during wars in the Middle East, and the overall lack of concern for natural environment.
The “for-the-motion” team countered the accusations by saying that if it wasn’t for the US, countries like Poland wouldn’t have joined NATO. Europe, they claimed cannot be ignorant towards conflicts surrounding its borders so it must help the US and the rest of the Alliance. They have further argued that US involvement in Europe has been weakened at the expense of redefining the US approach to Asia, but that doesn’t mean that US has abandoned its old partners.
The “against team” also mentioned that Poland is bitter with Obama about his decision to scrap the missile defence system and about his fading obligation towards the Visa Waiver Program. The “against team” claimed that Poland should forget about their involvement in NATO and work towards developing own defense and security structures.
The”for team” argued that US will always remain crucial for Poland as its greatly thanks to the US that Poland regained its independence following the 1989 transition. They said that the US is currently treating Poland as part of a larger organization with a stable democracy and the US needs to focus on other strategic areas where democracies are yet to be established. As for the missile defence system, the team explained that US hasn’t completely abandoned the program, but replaced the long-range missile defense shield with short-range and medium-range missile development due to lesser threats from Iran. The team also explained the importance of soft power that still has a great influence in Poland and the rest of Europe.