America’s ‘Trojan Horse in Europe’ is About to Bolt (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland)
Poland, until now considered America’s staunchest ally in Central Europe, appears frustrated with Washington in a way no one alive has seen. For Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza, columnist Pawel Wronski outlines in painstaking and voluminous detail, how angst over President Obama’s ‘Polish death camps’ gaffe is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Polish disillusionment with the United States.
After Obama sent his expression of regret, Foreign Minister Rados?aw Sikorski mocked the U.S. president’s advisors on Twitter, inviting them to Poland for “reeducation.” Sikorski, at the Wroc?aw Global Forum, during a panel with U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein, compared the alliance with the U.S. to taking a “mud bath with a hippopotamus.” At first it is nice and warm, since the hippo screens you from the wind, but when it turns over on its side, one has to squeal loudly so as not to be squashed.
One might agree that Obama’s slip-up was embarrassing. But only a few years ago, no one could have imagined a Polish reaction like this. Until recently, politicians tried to tone down any negative reactions in the name of “good relations.” This time around, the president, prime minister and foreign minister all reacted harshly and decisively, and among Polish politicians, the game seemed to be about who could react with the greatest outrage.
In fact, it was only the president, who by sending the U.S. leader a letter, gave him a chance to right the situation without losing face.
After Obama’s misstep, the temperature of Polish-American relations cooled markedly. This may be another piece of evidence that our country, which in the past was called “America’s E.U. Trojan horse,” has begun to gallop in another direction. More often than not, leading Polish politicians express critical opinions about U.S. policy and its credibility. Since Poland regained its independence, no political team has been as “Ameriskeptic” as this one.
Many of the reasons for this lay on the American side. The previous Republican administration did little to make its most important ally in Central Europe feel that its military effort in Iraq and Afghanistan had been appreciated. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrung her hands as Poland was accused of tolerating secret CIA prisons on its territory. Barack Obama’s new team failed to take to heart the 2009 warning letter from leading Central and Eastern European intellectuals and politicians, which asked the president not to lose interest in this part of the world. And in an absolutely disrespectful manner, the U.S. cancelled arrangements for a missile defense shield.
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