Do I love the American conservatives? Absolutely not. Have I already forgotten about the specificity of George W. Bush’s policy? No, I haven’t. However, in the upcoming presidential race, I will keep my fingers crossed for Mitt Romney. Why? The continuation of Obama’s rule would be disadvantageous for Poland and Central and Eastern Europe; it is also grim news for the American economic future meaning grim news for the whole world.
Obama and Central and Eastern Europe
Barack Obama’s term in office has been a series of unwise steps that had an impact on the businesses and the security of Central and Eastern Europe. The USA, which has been led by the author of the popular but empty words: “Yes, we can”, have recognised our region as strategically no longer essential for their affairs. Obama renewed his relationship with Russia by treating Putin as a principal partner. Washington became much more engaged in this matter than at the time of the Bush-Putin alliance that aimed to combat terrorism. Obama found that the USA’s strategic interests are in unsettled Asia, while Europe is the stabilised and secure region of peace and wellbeing. Meanwhile, Russia successfully regains its sphere of influence in the countries of the former USSR, and it happens with the full approval of the White House. America has also abandoned our region. Frequently, Obama (practically as well as symbolically) was forgetting about gestures that would emphasise the importance of the relationship with Warsaw. The result of this disastrous policy is an agreement that has been just signed between American ExxonMobil and Russian Rosnieft, on cooperation to drill the deposits of oil and gas in the Kara Sea, the Black Sea, the Mexico Gulf and Texas. The agreement is disastrous, not only due to its geopolitical strategy, but also moral grounds. Rosnieft is the company which unlawfully took over the assets of Jukos, the company that belonged to the most famous prisoner of the Kremlin – Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Americans, through this strategic and massive energy venture, connect to Russia, indicate that they have no plans to oppose the Russian expansion and do not veto (even symbolically) the way Russia manages its raw materials policy. It is also a gesture of approval towards the lack of rule of law in Russia. Ironically, it happens in the USA under the leadership of somebody who theoretically declares a strong attachment to human rights and the democratic rules of law. It is also hard not to notice the Russian support for Obama’s reelection at the recent Seoul nuclear summit.
This issue should serve as a clear message for Polish foreign policy strategy. If the USA will not change its European policy and Obama will be re-elected, the Polish position will be more and more difficult, and realistically speaking, it will come down to Germany to stabilise the region. Meanwhile, our foreign policy becomes a stronger and stronger hostage to an internal and irrational political dispute. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, with his latest approach towards the Smolensk issue, ridicules and makes a caricature out of the distance policy towards Moscow. Essentially, this policy is a national matter of State. Russia is still a geopolitical opponent of Poland. However, the words spoken by the Polish rightists ridicule some understandable anxieties. They will either drawn our government into a major and damaging dispute if it keeps escalating (which is less likely), or the effects will be quite contrary. PO, which aims to differentiate themselves from PiS, may get too close to Russia and Kaczynski’s exaggerations may put Polish public opinion’s vigilance to sleep. Both solutions would be disastrous for the Polish international position and Polish business. Therefore, minister Sikorski will have to effectively solve this complicated puzzle.
Obama and the Western financial stability
I am also very opposed to Obama’s economic policy, which was based on a simple but wrong assumption that you can revive the economy in long term, by inflating it with money that comes from steadily growing public debt and additional printing of dollars. Artificially revived economies may work better in short term, but as time moves on and since the “system-errors” were not eliminated, the stagnation returns. It is not surprising then, that the recession is coming back. However, this time it is different, as the present USA’s public debt (therefore, indirectly belonging to the American citizens) breaks records which greatly reduces the potential for economic stimuli. Somebody will have to pay it back. The President does not seem to understand this though.
The website, run by the New York Times, useconomy.about.com, cites that, only in 2012 the budget deficit came to an astronomical amount of $1327 trillion and the projected deficit for 2013 will be $901 billion. The USA needs a leader who will be able to fight the deficit in a radical way. What is more, Obama could not cope with one of the major causes of the crisis since he was not able to sort the problem of “too big to fail.” This means that in a situation where the state cannot let any of its big corporations go bankrupt, it adds public money to a major inefficient company, and therefore disrupts free market competition and the social justice (why all taxpayers should contribute to a private corporation?). This results in the promotion of gigantic enterprises that are badly managed. Obama did not introduce any policies that would help to alleviate this problem. As a president, he was not even trying to effectively redirect the virtual economy to an actual one. Today, it is clear that the economic rivalry is being won by the countries which, like Germany, held their budget deficit tight and were able to keep the major actual economy branches “at home.”
Is Romney able to defeat the deficit and follow a different policy towards Russia? The battle over the deficit will be extremely difficult but the candidate criticises Obama’s stimulation programmes, and he talks about the need to balance takings and expenses. He also believes that it will be easier to overcome the crisis for the private sector, which may be supported more efficiently through lower taxes rather than massive public programmes that are financed by the budget deficit. A programme like this, plus Romney’s business experience, gives hope for desirable changes. At the same time Romney called Russia the “geopolitical enemy number one” which, even if exaggerated, for Poland, becomes a fundamental change in the American policy. To sum up, Romney understands the mechanisms that rule the economy much better than Obama, and he is not completely naïve when it comes to Russia. He is also the representative of the rather moderate Republican wing which should protect the USA against a social counterrevolution. I keep my fingers crossed for Romney.
Translation: Anna Martinsen