Poland and America Drift Apart

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk hold joint press conference in Warsaw, October 21, 2009.

From David Frum, CNN:  America’s place on the Polish mental map seems to shrink every year.

When Poles dream of leaving the country, they think not of Chicago but of London. A Pole can work legally in any large EU country, and an estimated 1 million do, sending home more money than Poland earns from all its U.S. trade. Meanwhile, Poles need a visa even to visit the United States.

Polish business is oriented toward Germany, by far the country’s largest trading partner and investor. Poland buys and sells less with the United States than it does with the Czech Republic. …

When Russia did behave badly — for example, embargoing Polish meat exports in 2005 — it was the threat of European economic retaliation that changed Russian minds. The U.S. has opened new military bases in southeastern Europe — in Bulgaria and Romania, but none in Poland. There are practically no U.S. soldiers stationed here.

If anything, Poles might feel that they are doing much more for the United States than the United States does for Poland. Polish troops fought in Iraq, and fight now in Afghanistan.

Polish support for U.S. geopolicy has twice ended in humiliation for Polish governments. …

Of course, too, the U.S. has banked a huge store of goodwill in Poland that will take years to deplete. It was the U.S. that championed Poland’s independence from Moscow while anxious Germans urged that the U.S. stop annoying the Soviet Union with talk of freedom.

But although inevitable and gradual, the dwindling of American importance, not only in Poland but in other liberated countries in central Europe as well, is a real and large fact of life. That fact might matter less if there were other regions of the world where America’s clout was increasing. But where?

David Frum was a  special assistant to President George W. Bush, he is the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again," and is the editor of FrumForum.  (photo: AP)

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