A “Fake Fort Trump” Might Get Belarus to Back Down From Its Promise to Respond
Poland is sending signals about the uncertain future of Fort Trump.
There wouldn’t ordinarily be any cause to speculate about the prospects of building the much-talked about Fort Trump in Poland when considering that Warsaw is so gung-ho about it that its President offered to foot the estimated $2 billion bill last year, or especially bearing in mind that the US’ Under Secretary of Defense for Policy was in the country last week where he reportedly “presented a firm offer for a base which would provide a home for a US division (of) about 15,000 troops”, but a slip of the tongue by a spokesman for the Polish President raised enough eyebrows to be taken seriously.
As reported by Sputnik, which quoted Blazej Spychalski’s interview with RMF FM radio, he said that it wouldn’t necessarily be a “second Malbork” (which is where some of the US Air Force is already based as part of America’s 4,000-strong deployment to the country), but tempered expectations by clarifying that “The point is to increase the US military presence in Poland and amount of military equipment. […] From the very beginning we have been talking about the constant military presence of US troops in Poland. This is Fort Trump.”
This is much more important of a statement than one might initially think because it suggests that there might not be a built-from-the-ground-up Fort Trump but that the large-scale deployment of American troops largely concentrated in a preexisting Polish base could be branded as Fort Trump instead, which would be a complete reconceptualization of this idea but one that might be more politically pragmatic than the original one. The problem is that Belarus, Russia’s Eurasian Union and CSTO ally that’s been increasingly diversifying its relations with the West in recent years, vowed to respond if a base was built.
Even though quintupling the number of US troops in Poland from 4,000 to 20,000 with the possible deployment of an additional 15,000 from the proposed division would obviously be disruptive to regional security, basing them in already existing Polish military facilities could present a face-saving way for Belarus to walk back on its threat to vaguely respond in some manner or another that many observers predict could possibly see it allow Russia to finally open up a long-sought-after airbase in country. Furthermore, it could keep the Belarussian-Western rapprochement on track too without embarrassing President Lukashenko.
Having said all of that, the mixed signals being sent about the nature of Fort Trump might be a deliberate ploy to “test the waters” and see how Belarus and others would react to it, keeping in mind that the only difference between what Poland originally wanted and what it’s now suggesting is possible is purely technical and in the realm of optics. For all intents and purposes, deploying upwards of another 15,000 troops to Poland will achieve its implied purpose of “containing” Russia whether they’re based in a newly built Fort Trump or spread all throughout the country instead.
Therefore, the only purpose in considering whether a real Fort Trump will be built as compared to a faux one is to discover whether or not the second-mentioned possibility would suffice for getting Belarus to backtrack on its promise to react to the dramatic creation of a newly built American base. If it won’t, then there probably wouldn’t be any need for the US to go through the unnecessary motions of dispersing its deployment when it could just concentrate its troops in the Fort Trump that everyone already expects will probably be built anyhow.
By Andrew Korybko
Source: Oriental Review