Or, It’s a Good Thing We’ve Finally rid Ourselves of That Damned Cowboy, Bush. Because no one could stand him. And besides racism!! And so forth.
The Poles have had a mixed history. Sometimes they’ve been incredibly self-destructive, as with their kooky elective monarchy that gave them three partitions of the country in less than a century, with the last one fully extinguishing them as an independent state for over 120 years. Sometimes they have nobly stood alone against the enemies of humanity, as when they fought the Soviet Union to a standstill in the 1920s, or in the Warsaw uprising in 1944 (I refer both to the general resistance and to the Polish Jews who fought in the ghetto). Sometimes their bravery is of a character to inspire all freedom-loving men across the globe, as when their resistance fighters turned on both the Soviets and the Germans. Sometimes they have rendered services to us all which are truly mind-blowing in their achievement, as when a bunch of Polish mathematicians deduced, solely from radio intercepts, how the German Enigma machine had to be constructed and operate . . . and then provided their reverse-engineered machines to the British. Can anyone doubt whether Bletchley Park could have played nearly the role it did in the U-boat war — at least as soon as it did — without them? Sometimes their nationalism has been as vicious as anything you could find anywhere else. A good number of the Hiwis (that’s for “Hilfswillige,” or volunteers . . . to work the Nazi extermination camps) were Polish. And after the war, the persecution of Jews continued in parts of Poland. For those latter examples, see Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (which I reviewed here).
As of right now, however, Poland is one of our very few true friends. They were among the most loyal participants in the Iraqi war. They’ve provided help, both publicly and behind the scenes, on any number of initiatives near to American interests. They are a leader in Eastern Europe, and while the struggle to overcome their disastrous history continues, they bid fair to become a rallying point in that part of the world for the forces of freedom and justice under law.
In short, Poland is one of those countries that you’d think it would be nearly per sé in America’s best interests to go to bat for. Sort of like Israel. We might not always like what it is they’re doing on specific points, but history offers us (and them) the background and justification to bind ourselves to each other with bands of steel.
The current administration has done just about everything it could to undermine the integrity of that relationship. From choosing the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland (17 Sept. 1939) to tell them — by way of a telephone call; we couldn’t even have our ambassador get in his car and drive down the road — that we were not going to provide them with the missile defense shield that we had long promised and which would have helped guard them from a resurgent and very aggressive Russia, to going out of our way to hand diplomatic victory after victory to that same Russia, Dear Leader has let pass no opportunity to offend and consternate the Poles.
In a country which could deduce the internal workings and design of the Enigma machine, just from listening to the coded transmissions, is it really surprising that the Poles have figured out what we’re now worth, as an ally?
It will take generations to un-do the damage Dear Leader has wrought on the United States and its position in the world. I pray that it does not take the crucible of war to repair the friendships he has gone out of his way to destroy.