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Biden and the World – Part 6: Biden Knows Central Europe and It Knows Him

The election of Joe Biden as forty-sixth president of the United States is good news for strategic U.S.-European relations and good news for Polish-U.S. relations. The threat of a U.S. withdrawal from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and disengagement from Europe will no longer hang over the transatlantic relationship, freeing these two fundamental elements of Polish security policy from an institutional crisis.

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Biden brings his political legacy with him: his personal involvement in reunifying Germany, building a whole and free Europe, expanding NATO, and boosting U.S. ties with Central and Eastern Europe. 

On September 17, 2009—the anniversary of Soviet aggression against Poland—the Barack Obama administration withdrew without warning from an agreement to build a U.S. anti-missile defense installation on Polish and Czech territory. It was Biden who flew to Warsaw to mend U.S.-Polish relations. It was Biden who first proposed that a U.S. Air Force detachment should be stationed in Poland permanently.

The policy, aimed at increasing the U.S. presence in Poland and on NATO’s eastern flank, has always enjoyed cross-party support in Poland. 

The incoming Biden administration will strive to strengthen compliance with international law. Poland and the rest of the European Union will be desirable allies. Under the Trump administration, Poland worked with the State Department and National Security Council to confirm transatlantic nonrecognition of Crimea’s annexation.

It also, along with other EU countries, refused to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and did not recognize Israel’s unilateral inclusion of the Golan Heights. Finally, the world will be able to count on a coherent U.S. policy on illegal territorial annexations.

A Biden administration will bring a generational change to American politics. It will be both the last generation whose policies have been influenced by a generation shaped by the end of the Cold War—represented by Joe Biden—and the first generation to enter its adult political life in the era of global triumph of democratic values and ideas—represented by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. This is the last opportunity to instill commitments to the transatlantic relationship, NATO, and the democratic community for a new generation of American politicians. Poland will certainly be an ally in this regard.

Sławomir Dębski

Director, Polish Institute of International Affairs (Poland)

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