Speaking with The Pavlovic Today, Tory Member of the UK Parliament Daniel Kawczynski talks about “Fort Trump” – a permanent U.S. military presence in Poland, UK-US relations and post-Brexit Britain.
“A blow to NATO is a blow to European security”, a Conservative Member of the UK Parliament, Daniel Kawczynski tells me as we sit down for an interview to discuss the latest geopolitical developments against the backdrop of Brexit, a more permanent U.S. military base “Fort Trump” in Poland and US-UK relations.
During the premiership of David Cameron, Kawczynski served on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and also as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Wales. Drawing on his interest and expertise on the Middle East, he wrote the book “Seeking Gaddafi” one year prior to the revolution, which made him one of the most sought after commentators on Libya.
Born in communist Warsaw, he immigrated with his family to Britain at the age of seven wherein 2005 he made history by becoming the first Polish-born MP in Westminster. As the Tory MP for Shrewsbury, Kawczynski currently serves as the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland in Westminster and has been very active in fostering a positive relationship between the two countries.
Experiencing the perils of socialist ideas first hand while growing up in communist Poland, he is certain that Jeremy Corbyn lacks the proper understanding of how one can negotiate with Russia from a position of strength and the importance of the NATO alliance, a geopolitical issue that we discussed in lieu of a possibility of the next general election in Britain and the US looking to strengthen its military presence in Europe.
As of recently, this prominent Brexiteer is a supporter of Britain leaving the EU with a deal and has been active in encouraging his fellow Tories to vote for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement in the face of losing Brexit. He explains to The Pavlovic Today why leaving the EU is a bit like being stuck in an elevator.
Poland is gaining a more prominent role in Eastern Europe as a defensive buffer against Russian expansion and its malign influence of stirring division in Western democracies. In the context of Britain breaking away from the European Union, how do you see the future of geopolitics in Europe? What will be the main challenges and does Britain see Russia a threat to the same extent that America does? How does that, if at all, relate to the relevance of Poland and perhaps the Balkans?
Kawczynski: The European Union is rapidly moving towards a supranational federal state, with a single Parliament, single agricultural policy, single currency, single President and now, most alarmingly, talk of a single Army. Geopolitics in Europe for the last 70 years have been characterized by the supremacy of our defense mechanism, NATO, which has not lost an inch of territory since it was created.
NATO’s strength lies in the contribution of the United States as a global superpower and its geographical reach. Canada and Iceland can keep the Atlantic shipping lines open in the event of a war, Norway borders Russia and Turkey protects our southern flank from ISIS.
Kawczynski: With Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, NATO will have six critically important countries that are committed to the common defence of Europe but are outside of the EU. Britain will need to work with like-minded countries such as Poland to ensure that the dangers of an EU army do not come to fruition, and that NATO with its geographical reach and its unblemished record, remains the sole defence mechanism on the continent of Europe. There are geopolitical tensions at the extremes of the continent of Europe and a blow to NATO is a blow to European security.
You are the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland in Westminster and have been very active in fostering a positive relationship between Poland and the UK. Why do you think the US is turning more attention to Poland and what’s your response to the talks about establishing “Fort Trump” – a more permanent U.S. Military presence in Poland?
Kawczynski: The UK has an excellent relationship with the US which will be enhanced post-Brexit. Together with America and Canada, I hope that we can create an alternative Atlantic free trade bloc which focuses on the free movement of goods and services, co-operation through NATO whilst enshrining and protecting each country’s sovereignty and constitution.
As this bloc thrives and out-competes the EU in productivity, in innovation, and in economic expansion, it will represent a very attractive alternative to the EU, providing a model for development that does not require interference in a country’s domestic affairs from an unelected and unaccountable Commission.
This bloc – a significantly larger market than the whole of the EU – will have the scope to offer Poland and other like-minded countries better levels of defense and trade than they can get from France and Germany with the flexibility to retain their own political identity, sovereignty and currency.
Kawczynski: We do not want the Americans to be the only country with a military base in Poland. We have already started discussions with our MOD for a permanent British military base in Eastern Poland which will we hope will be financed by the Polish taxpayer and will be hugely mutually beneficial.
What would you say are the main pillars of British-Polish relations and how does Poland, the EU member state, view the British departure from the Union? Are they concerned? In your interactions with the political leaders from Poland, as well as with the expats throughout Britain, what was the overarching message you received?
Kawczynski: I can appreciate that our departure from the EU leaves Poland worried. However, I would seek to reassure Poles that while we are pulling out of the structures of the EU, we are not leaving Europe and our European partners.
But, we simply cannot tolerate the march towards “ever closer union” which undermines our sovereignty and is almost exclusively to the benefit one country – Germany.
Recent research has shown how the introduction of the euro has advanced Germany’s economy the most, and to the detriment of other countries. The message that I hear from political leaders in Poland and the Polish expat community is that they, like us, are increasingly frustrated by a Europe that benefits Germany the most and poses an increasing risk to Polish independence and sovereignty.
Brexit drama is toppling the news agenda, in Europe, there’s hardly any other news that dominates, to the same extent the Muller investigation and news on the Trump administration is covered here, in the US. Where, in your view, did the Brexit negotiations fail? What is it that you and your colleagues from the Conservative party are expecting to happen next? What, if anything, would be the best outcome for those who supported and voted for Brexit?
Kawczynski: The reason our exit has been fraught with difficulties is because we are the first country in over 60 years of this organization to pull out. There is no road map and there are no signposts to follow. The fact that it is providing so difficult is, in my view, proves that just how right we are to want to get out.
Kawczynski: It’s a bit like being stuck in a lift – you might have wanted to get out anyway, but you sure as hell want to get out when it appears that might be impossible. The EU has vested self-interest in making this process as difficult as possible to ensure that no other countries will want to follow suit.
However, once free to demonstrate the economic and political advantages of regaining our sovereignty and forging new partnerships, the desire to follow suit will be even more compelling.
And what about a considerable number of people who voted to Remain, in what ways is the government listening to their views and concerns?
Kawczynski: I recognize that a significant number of people wanted to stay in, and in my view, their views and concerns have been reflected in the proposed Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration.
Kawczynski: Both sides have agreed to create a free trade area that means no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions for goods. The deal represents a future relationship of cooperation and partnership which should appeal to both sides of the referendum debate.
No other advanced economy in the world has such a relationship with the EU. But crucially, the UK will be able to negotiate its own international trade deals from the start of the implementation period, allowing us to take advantage of the estimated 90 percent world growth that will come from outside the EU in the future and build that Atlantic trading bloc that is so much in our interests.
Coming back to the US-Polish relations in the larger context – what’s the British view and understanding of the European defense?
Kawczynski: Peace has been maintained on the continent of Europe thanks to NATO, and the hugely important role that America plays in our mutual defense. We will have to work with like-minded countries in a post Brexit era, such as Poland, Hungary, and others to ensure that NATO remains the supreme defense posture for our continent. NATO is a tried and tested organization and post Brexit there will be six important countries that are NATO members but not EU members.
Kawczynski: The European Army project is at best a diversion, at worst a critical threat to the security of the continent of Europe.
How do you think Jeremy Corbyn will respond to the American military presence in Eastern Europe and Poland in particular?
Kawczynski: Mr. Corbyn’s premiership would be a disaster not only for this country but also for the NATO alliance. Mr. Corbyn does not seem to understand that the only way one can negotiate with Russia is from a position of strength.
I remember only too clearly why the Soviets came to start negotiations with America on reducing tensions in the winter of 1984. President Gromyko came to visit President Reagan because of the strong line the President was taking on American investment in defense. They knew they would be outspent and outmaneuvered and thus were prepared to get around the negotiating table.
Having a permanent American and British base in Poland is essential because it sends the clearest possible sign to Moscow that we stand by Article 5 of Nato. The new demarcation line between us and the Russians stretching from the Norwegian arctic southwards, including the Baltic States, is here to stay and we will protect these countries from any naked aggression or outside interference.
What’s the future of Eastern Europe vis-a-vis UK and US relations?
Kawczynski: Relations between Central and Eastern Europe and the British American alliance will go from strength to strength over the coming decades.