December 28, 2003


Where U.S. Translates as Freedom (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, 12/28/03, NY Times)

I found the cure.

I found the cure to anti-Americanism: Come to Poland.

After two years of traveling almost exclusively to Western Europe and the Middle East, Poland feels like a geopolitical spa. I visited here for just three days and got two years of anti-American bruises massaged out of me. Get this: people here actually tell you they like America — without whispering. What has gotten into these people? Have all their subscriptions to Le Monde Diplomatique expired? Haven't they gotten the word from Berlin and Paris? No, they haven't. In fact, Poland is the antidote to European anti-Americanism. Poland is to France what Advil is to a pain in the neck. Or as Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign affairs specialist, remarked after visiting Poland: "Poland is the most pro-American country in the world — including the United States."

What's this all about? It starts with history and geography. There's nothing like living between Germany and Russia — which at different times have trampled Poland off the map — to make Poles the biggest advocates of a permanent U.S. military presence in Europe. Said Ewa Swiderska, 25, a Warsaw University student: "We are the small kid in school who is really happy to have the big guy be his friend — it's a nice feeling."

Even the nicest big kids though have a tendency to blow off the little kids when they're inconvenient. So we should formalize the Polish alliance with a bilateral trade agreement and defense pact.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 28, 2003 9:30 AM

How about a clause in which they promise to keep their hands of Slovakia and Romania, too, as long as you're at it?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 28, 2003 3:00 PM

Still justifying Stalin?

Posted by: oj at December 28, 2003 3:20 PM

I quite doubt that wondering whether or not the more unsavory aspects of Polish history between 1919 and 1939 have been airbrushed from the collective Polish historical consciousness makes one an apologist for Stalin.

And while the interwar years was a perilous period for all involved, especially for a new-old country wedged between traditional predators, if the Poles learn anything from that epoch, then more power to them.

Certainly, the Poles have suffered much. And one may hope that their faith in America is well placed. Still, it is no substitute for faith in themselves, charting what, one hopes, will prove to be a political path of virtue based in no small part on the extent of that suffering and the wisdom, hopefully, distilled from it.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 29, 2003 10:05 AM

With France and Germany trending down the
demographic sewer, it wouldn't be a surprise to
see in 20 years a robust and more European poland
just east of the Franco-German homeland.

Posted by: J.H. at December 29, 2003 10:24 AM

Stalin handed the Poles a great opportunity by sweeping the Germans out of east Europe. Then he prevented them from taking advantage.

He's dead now, you know.

I suspect the Poles are too romantic for self-government, but we'll see. My guess is that before long their foreign policy will be so enmeshed in the Uniate-Orthodox rivalries on their eastern border that they won't have time for anything else.

Then the German irredentists will start making trouble.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 29, 2003 2:13 PM

The Germans were only there because of Stalin cutting a deal with them.

Posted by: oj at December 29, 2003 4:32 PM


That's one of the silliest things I have ever heard>

Posted by: Tom C. Stamford,Ct. at December 29, 2003 10:27 PM

What, that Poles are romantic?

That Germans are self-pitying and grasping?

That the Uniates and Orthodox are permanent rivals?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 31, 2003 12:08 AM