In light of President Obama’s returning home empty-handed after pleading with our European allies to boost their troop commitments to Afghanistan, it’s heartening to see that Poland has announced plans to increase its troop presence in the country by 20%. This is no small thing, considering that the primary threat to Poland is a revanchist Russia and that the diversion of troops and military material anywhere out of the country reduces its defenses against the expansionist power to its east. Poland has been one of America’s most steadfast allies since 9/11, a strong coalition partner in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a bedrock of NATO. It’s long past time that this nascent democracy got the respect it deserves.
Though he was much derided for it at the time, Donald Rumsfeld was onto something when, in response to complaints that “Europe” opposed the American-led war against Saddam Hussein’s regime, he spoke of people’s tendency to conflate the entire European continent with what was really just “Old Europe,” and even more specifically, was just France and Germany. The rest of the continent, he said, in particular the once-“captive nations” of the Cold War, are far more pro-American in their attitudes. What might have sounded provincial and simplistic six years ago to some, was in fact quite prescient.