September 20, 2009
Did America betray us? Or it was just Obama?
It was the worst thing that the American government could do. This decision was announced on 17 September, when Poland was commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Invasion Day, when the Soviet Union allied with Nazis and stabbed our country in the back.
This was an effect of the Nazi- Soviet Pact that was signed on 28 August in Moscow. After this day, all dreams about resisting Hitler's invasion perished -- two evil empires combined their powers to destroy our freedom and sovereignty.
At the same day, 70 years later, Obama bowed to the Kremlin. It was something that created great turmoil in all of Poland. What is even worse -- people here feel that they were betrayed. It's not only about the anti-missile shield. It's about the Polish attitude towards the USA. The United States was seen as the great defender of freedom and democracy all around the world.
The United States supported Israel against Ahmadinejad's threats. After 9/11, Poles expressed solidarity with the USA without any hesitation, despite the fact that we were risking alienation from some of our European partners.
And after we joined the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism, we were verbally attacked by Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Shroeder -- leaders of two major European powers, but our position was clear and firm: we would stay with the USA and fight against common enemies -- enemies who attacked our ally and the whole free world.
No other country had such a special status in Poland -- almost 80% of Poles sympathized with the U.S. Poland is not a great military power, but it has some influence on Eastern Europe and was a real stronghold of American interests in this region. Whatever Germans, French or other European Union countries would do, Poland always stood arm to arm with the U.S.
Now it all belongs to the past. It's not only about this incident, but it was something that created great outrage here. It's impossible to remain so positive towards the U.S. now - people are reacting emotionally. Even the most pro-U.S. media and journalists comment that our close relations with the USA were a mistake. That we were wrong, and we should focus on our closer neighbours, like France or Germany.
But, some people understand -- as I do, that this is a wrong reaction. Wrong, because people don't recognize that "America" (United States) is only a country, and has a policy that is set out by the current government.
All I can say is that Obama is undermining strong support for U.S. foreign policy, not only in Poland and the Czech Republic, but also in the whole region. This process cannot be reversed under this government (Obama).
But the U.S. won't lose Poland as an ally because many people realize this simple fact: that we can't blame the U.S., but we can only blame Obama's administration. And Obama is not the United States. What is more, Obama's foreign policy hurts U.S. interests all around the world, and the USA is the country that would lose the most from his policies. So, we should understand it here, in Europe, that the major victim is not Poland, but the U.S.
The saddest thing is just seeing the anti-American groups in Europe, the same groups that some years ago shouted about American imperialism, have their moment of triumph. They also point out Poland, saying with satisfaction, "Look, the U.S. is pulling back - you and your policy lost".
Yes, it's their time now. But, we believe that in the future everything could change. Because the U.S. deserves a change now...
Michal Wisniewski is director of the Polish Europa 21 Foundation europa21.pl