The Future of Transatlantic Relations: Perceptions, Policy and Practice

By Andrew M. Dorman; Joyce P. Kaufman | Go to book overview

8 The Transatlantic Relationship

Poland and the United States

Anna Zielińska


Introduction

Once Poland gained its full independence, a process that started in the 1980s and continued into the 1990s, it formed an alliance with the United States and NATO for geopolitical purposes. Poles saw their security as being guaranteed against Russian domination in this new political-military partnership. At the same time, Poland applied to the EU for membership, initially with the aim of promoting economic development rather than political and military cooperation. The close relationship between Poland and the United States was built on a cultural, historical and strategic background. As early as the eighteenth century, Poles fleeing their partitioned homeland fought under George Washington in the American War of Independence. In 1918 President Woodrow Wilson proposed the reconstruction of Poland in point 13 of his famous Fourteen Points speech to the Congress of the United States.1 The Treaty of Versailles led to the existence of Poland as an independent entity for the first time in over loo years; this situation lasted between 1918 and 1939. In September 1939, after Germany invaded Poland, Poland was divided between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. As the Second World War headed towards an end, the ‘Big Three’ (US, United Kingdom and Soviet Union) agreed at the Yalta Conference to place Poland in the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence.

During the Cold War era, Poles were grateful for the broadcasts of the Voice of America, interpreting them as proof of American support for the nation, now under domination once again. In the 1980s the anti-Soviet stance of

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