A.C. at Eastern Approaches comments on the state of the Polish-American relationship:
Meanwhile, the Republicans are courting Poland. Yet, as Edward Lucas writes in today’s European Voice , they “should not assume that Poland is yearning for them to return to power, or will do much to help them get there”. The Polish-American relationship rattles on “like a companionable marriage where convenient sharing of chores, rather than romantic passion, has become the main bond”.
Increasingly, America (blue or red) is knocking at the wrong door. An effigy of Mr Obama or Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, walking side by side with Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister is unlikely to be built any time soon. Poland is looking west, but to Brussels rather than to Washington DC. Now build a statue to that.
That description sounds about right. This is why the Republican view of Poland since 2009 has made so little sense. Romney’s visit to Poland is obviously intended as a slap at Obama, but it seems that the Republican view of Poland is more rooted in something more important than election-year opportunism. Many Republicans want the U.S. to keep relating to our European allies as if their relationship with the U.S. were still the most important one that they have. This is based in part on nostalgia for the very one-sided relationship the U.S. had with Poland in the early 2000s. Nostalgia for the era of Reagan and John Paul II adds to this.
This view of Poland is also a product of not having fully grasped the damage that the Bush administration did to America’s standing in many allied countries. Many hawkish Republicans still seem to see Poland through their incredibly distorted “New Europe” lens. This was always designed to placate critics of the Iraq war rather than accurately understand Poland and the other allied countries in central and eastern Europe, so it’s not so surprising that they continue to misunderstand these countries today. Poland now clearly prioritizes its interests in Europe over the connection to America, which is a perfectly normal and healthy development, but this clashes with the image of Poland (and many other allied countries) that Republicans have.
Update: Another flaw in Romney’s planned trip to Poland is that the Polish nationalists he is obviously trying to please are very unhappy with him for seeking a meeting with Walesa:
After Politico broke the news of Romney’s hopes of meeting with Walesa, Polish conservatives — allies of the late President Lech Kaczynski and his brother Jaroslaw, who now leads the opposition, and drawn largely from Catholic and nationalist circles — erupted on Twitter. They demanded to know “what kind of advisers Romney has,” derided Walesa as “Bolek” — allegedly his name as a secret police informant as a young man, and referred to an infamous Walesa line encouraging police to beat protesters.