Why Do Republican Hawks Worry More About Poland Than The Polish Government Does?
Omri Ceren inadvertently acknowledges that the “reset” has been successful:
Late last week, outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave a speech in which he praised the Obama administration’s effect on the U.S.-Russian relationship, commenting that “these have perhaps been the best three years in relations between our two countries over the last decade.” His statement was made at the same conference in which Obama promised to sell out Poland (at least that’s how the Poles interpreted the president’s gaffe) just as soon as he won reelection.
One could say that Medvedev is damning Obama with faint praise. It doesn’t take much for the last three years to qualify as the best in U.S.-Russian relations over the last decade, since the previous administration seemed to go out of its way to wreck those relations for most of its time in office. When the previous administration presides over the nadir of an important bilateral relationship, it is difficult for the next administration not to improve on its record. One of the main goals of the “reset” was to repair the damage done during the Bush years, and to some extent this has happened, and contrary to the endless complaining about it the U.S. has benefited from improved relations at essentially no cost to the U.S. or our allies.
Regarding “the Poles,” it is probably a mistake to treat a tabloid’s sensationalist headline as proof of what “the Poles” think about something. It’s true that members of the Polish opposition pretended to be scandalized by Obama’s comments from last week. More hard-line Polish nationalists are against their own government’s improved relations with Russia and Germany, and they mistakenly view improved U.S.-Russian relations as dangerous for Poland. The reality is that virtually no one in Europe cares about what Obama said last week, and the reaction in Poland has been similarly muted:
But Stefan Niesiolowski, a lawmaker from the governing Civic Platform party and chairman of the defense committee in the lower house of Parliament, said of Mr. Obama’s overheard comment: “This is not surprising or new, and there’s no outrage in Poland.”
For some reason, some Republicans think they need to be more outraged on behalf of Poland than the Polish government is and more concerned about European security than Europeans are. If so few people in Europe found something alarming in Obama’s remarks, that should tell us everything we need to know about the completely unhinged reaction to them from some quarters in the U.S.