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Poland and NATO

Andrew Exum explains why NATO still matters to Poland:

So it was no surprise that during my visit, many of the questions I heard from Poles concerned the health and future of the NATO alliance. Americans are fortunate enough to no longer really need NATO. Speak to a U.S. military officer or diplomat these days, and they will refer to NATO as if it is a collection of far-off allies, one that the United States is no longer really a part of.

That’s not the case for the Poles. At the National Defense University of Warsaw, the NATO flag is proudly displayed next to the national colors, as are the NATO pins on Polish officers’ uniforms. Poland is still counting on NATO. Having spent the Cold War oriented to warding off threats from the west, with its armor units concentrated in Silesia, Poland now looks east with the wariness of a nation that experienced Russian aggression all too often in the 20th century.

What I found a little strange about his discussion of Poland and the alliance was the amount of time he spent talking about the “tremendous success” of the Libyan war. Poland was one of the leading NATO governments opposed to the alliance’s involvement in the war. Poland opposed NATO involvement because Libya was a new “out-of-area” conflict that was re-directing the alliance’s attention away from eastern Europe. If there is a European government likely to be unimpressed by the “tremendous success” of Libya, it would most likely be Poland’s.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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