On November 18, 2009, IWP Professor Marek Chodakiewicz moderated a discussion on “A Reassessment of the Missile Shield Agreement in Eastern Europe.” Daniel Kostoval, the Czech Republic Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), and Pawel Radomski, the First Counselor and Head of the Political Section at the Polish Embassy joined Dr. Chodakiewicz at the Institute’s Marlatt Mansion.
Dr. Chodakiewicz began the discussion with introductory remarks about the U.S. and its relationship to the Czech Republic and Poland. He observed that the Bush administration initiated the missile defense project, but, in eight years, did not follow through with it. The Obama administration, which inherited this situation, also did not handle it in the best way possible. In fact, the decision was announced on September 17th – the very day that day that Stalin joined Hitler in their 1939 annihilation of Poland. He criticized what he characterized as thoughtlessness and the absence of a strategic policy of keeping faith with America’s allies.
Mr. Kostoval observed that the Czech Republic decided to cooperate with the Bush administration on the missile defense project because the US helped the Czech Republic gain its independence in WWI and to reestablish this independence after WWII. Also, the Czech Republic saw that this decision would increase U.S. influence in the area, thereby diversifying the international influences in the region.
Although it was clumsily delivered, and involved little consultation with other nations, the Obama administration’s maneuver was not entirely unexpected, and Mr. Kostoval expressed that his country is ready to continue participating with the US in future projects.
Mr. Radomski of Poland agreed that Obama’s decision was poorly delivered, and was a very bad move in terms of public diplomacy in Poland. In fact, he said, it created hysteria in the Polish media. He stressed the fact that this project was initiated by the US, and the Poles decided to welcome the American troops on its soil, despite some disadvantages this project might cause.
Although both gentlemen were generally disappointed by the decision, Mr. Radomski said that Poland was happy that Obama reaffirmed that the U.S. will continue to support Poland’s interests, especially in NATO.
During the question and answer session, the discussion covered topics from Russia’s long-term goals, the United States’ strategic role in Eastern Europe, the pros and cons of US military presence in Eastern Europe, and other related topics.
From left: Mr. Kostoval, Dr. Chodakiewicz, and Mr. Radomski