Jonathan Martin has some interesting details on Romney’s trip to Poland, but he gets some things wrong towards the end:
Romney’s decision to go to Poland, where he’s also expected to deliver a speech, is in it of itself implicit swipe at Obama. After having a warm relationship with President George W. Bush, who highlighted the Polish commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan, a series of snafus have chilled the relationship between Washington and Warsaw. More broadly, Romney’s tough talk about Russia is closer to the prevailing view in Poland on how to handle Putin [bold mine-DL].
There’s no doubt that Romney intends his trip to Poland to be viewed as a swipe against Obama, but as I’ve said before the decision doesn’t make much sense. Romney’s “tough talk about Russia” goes against the improvement in relations between Poland and Russia in recent years. Poland’s relationship with the U.S. has changed in the last decade mostly because of the bad experience under the previous Kaczynski government in which Poland provided steadfast support for harmful Bush-era policies and received nothing in exchange (except the offer of a missile defense installation that most Poles opposed). The shift away from the U.S. started five years ago:
Poland’s attitude changed dramatically with the election of Tusk and his centrist Civic Platform Party in 2007. Tusk’s policies were motivated by fresh confidence, rather than old fears. He also tapped into the growing Polish discomfort with the close — and to many Poles, one-sided — Polish-American relationship. The Iraq invasion was an obvious disaster, and the commercial contracts that Polish companies were promised never materialized. Allowing CIA flights to Poland opened the country to international investigations and allegations of permitting torture on its territory.
On the most prominent security issues involving Poland and Russia, Romney is out of step with Poland. Romney has opposed an arms reduction treaty that the Polish government wanted ratified, and he has condemned the 2009 missile defense decision that less than one-third of Poles opposed. Meeting with Walesa will make for a good photo-op that will please conservatives back home, but he is going to a country where approval of U.S. leadership has slightly increased since 2007 and where approval of Obama’s handling of international affairs recently stood at 65%. Most Poles aren’t interested in what Romney has to offer, and most Americans aren’t interested in Romney’s old complaints about missile defense.