Welcome to Fort Trump?

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The dream of an US military base in Poland seems one step closer to reality:

President Donald Trump said the U.S. is considering a permanent military presence in Poland, something the Eastern European country has sought for more than a decade.

Speaking to reporters at the White House after he met with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Trump said, “Poland is willing to make a very major contribution to the United States to come in and have a presence in Poland. If they’re willing to do that, it’s something we will certainly talk about.”…

“I was smiling when talking to Mr. President, I said that I would very much like to ask to set up a permanent American base in Poland, which we would call ‘Fort Trump,’ ” Duda said in a joint press conference following their meeting. “I firmly believe this is possible. I am convinced that such a decision lies in the Polish interest and in the interest of the United States.”

Trump seemed in favor of the idea, particularly because of Poland’s financial contribution to it.

“Poland would be paying billions of dollars for a base,” Trump said. “The [Polish] president offered us much more than $2 billion … so we’re looking at it.”

Putting a military base in Poland would send the right message to all American allies – friendship is a two way street and both sides need to pull their weight. In addition to offering to contribute $2 billion towards the cost of the base, Poland is one of only four NATO countries where the defence spending exceeds 2 per cent of GDP – a largely unfulfilled aspiration of the North Atlantic alliance, the failure of which Donald Trump has been using to beat the Europeans over the head with, largely correctly pointing out that Europe has been free-riding under the American military umbrella for decades and continues to do so. European armies are run down to ridiculous levels (see here one German example) and none of the countries would be likely able to defend themselves against a conventional attack (however unlikely). At the same time, the fair-weather allies continue to expect the US to do all the heavy lifting and fulfil all its alliance obligations.

Poland, of course, wants the American boots on the ground permanently as a deterrent against Putin’s ambitions to reestablish the Russian sphere of influence if not within the extent of the former Warsaw Pact than at least certainly the of old Russian empire. Fort Trump would also act as a trip-wire should Russia prove more reckless than anyone would expect. Poland has had a rotten luck with allies over the centuries, but the circumstances might be different if an ally’s got a skin in the game, and this initiative would certainly bring a lot of American skin to Poland.

The idea of a permanent American base on the Vistula has been a dream for many in Poland for decades since joining NATO. George W Bush came the closest with proposals to station elements of the anti-missile shield in Poland. Barack Obama subsequently decided to trash that idea, announcing his decision on 17 September, which happens to be the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 as a result of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact with the Nazi Germany. Donald Trump, Putin’s alleged dupe, has done more to reassure Poland of the American friendship and support over the past two years than all the previous American presidents combined have done since Poland shook off the communist yoke in 1989. If the US proceeds with Fort Trump it will be the clearest indication yet of America’s commitment to the “New Europe” (Poland, by the way, sent troops both to Afghanistan and Iraq to serve alongside the Americans and the allies).

The added benefit, certainly for the American soldiers stationed, is that Polish girls are very hot. Even more skin in the game.

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