Poland


"Western visitors here have often been surprised by Poland's avid pro-Americanism... They find none of the anti-American stereotypes common elsewhere in Europe...

Poles managed to find something deeply admirable in all American presidents... Until now. George W. Bush has managed to do what forty-five years of Communist rule could not: puncture the image of essential American goodness that has always been the United States' key selling point. Polish journalists now ask question like, "How can we explain America's transformation from a country that introduced international law to one that intervenes militarily wherever it likes?" Or, more plaintively: "Does it really pay to be America's friend?"

"Precisely because so many others opposed the war, they said, supporting it will earn us thanks from America and the dollars that go with that... In this view, Poland should aim to become the Britain of the East -- the unfailing vassal of the super-power in all its various causes...

"...It turns out [the U.S.] had no idea what to do with the Shiites, the Kurds, the resistance, the infrastructure... Then came the torture at Abu Ghraib...

"All this has led to an extraordinary backlash. In early September President Aleksander Kwasniewski, long one of Bush's closest supporters, offered an unprecedented rebuke, telling the New York Times that the United States needed to become "more flexible, more gracious," and that the Bush administration should abandon its "neoconservative divide-and-rule policy"...

""Halliburton again!" has been a regular theme of the Polish press, along with stories about local firms being passed over. The promised investments have not yet materialized... "I just don't understand it," a conservative friend of mine lamented. "It's as if you're trying to drive us away."

"Far from bringing good results, this automatic pro-Americanism brought quite bad results as far as relations with Europe were concerned. Poland entered the European Union along with nine other countries on May 1. But even though it's the natural leader of the newcomers, with a population greater than the other nine combined, its reception has been quite different... "Poland has never had as bad a reputation in Europe as it does now. We've alienated the two countries who ushered us into the EU -- France and Germany...

"Poland's policies have left it isolated in Europe and taken for granted in America... Adam Michnik once quipped that "Poland is more pro-American than America is." Bush has changed that..." (David Ost. "Letter From Poland." The Nation, Oct. 4, 2004: 15-17).


Colby Glass, MLIS