Poland is a nation with a distinct language, culture, and location, and an utter lack of defensible borders. As a result, European history features the periodic appearance, flowering, defeat, enslavement, relocation and sometimes erasure of the Polish state. No one is more aware of this than the Poles, many of whom are old enough to remember their last period of de facto slavery, under the Russians from 1945-89; and some of whom remember the enslavement before that, under the Nazis.
If you can know something of a nation by its enemies, the Poles, unwilling doormat and unruly subjects of kings, emperors, Reichsprotektors and commissars, must count among the greatest of the races of man.
No one in Poland is under any illusions about the intentions of Vladimir Putin vis-a-vis their nation, nor about the degree to which the West will sacrifice on their behalf. And they’re very attuned to being expended as a bargaining chip — which their top papers think that Barack Obama, breathlessly eager to ingratiate himself with Putin, is doing.
Fakt.pl (“Fact”) says (our translation):
At a meeting with Dimitry Medvedev, President Barack Obama — not knowing that the conversation could be overheard — begged the Russian president to “give him room” on the american missile defense system, which the Russians oppose.
“Did they sell out Poland” was their headline before it was ours. And the Gazeta (“Gazette,” in the bad old days the “Workers’ Gazette”) had a similar report (our translation again):
At a meeting with Dimitry Medvedev, Barack Obama begged the Russian president to “give him room” on the decision about the American missile defense system in Europe, which the Russians oppose. Both didn’t know that the conversation was overheard — and the video was released by the American media.
Both reports were featured on the splash page, above the “fold” of the newspapers’ websites, the cyber equivalent of a Page 1 story. Fakt included a classic Obama image: strutting by a Polish guard of honor, nose in the air. It’s likely that the Poles (and Czechs, and Balts, etc…) didn’t trust this Administration very much already, but the work of American diplomats in the region just got a good bit harder, and any trust these nations had in the USA just evaporated.
While the Poles may not be buying it, US media figures like ABC News’s Jake Tapper were quick to type up the administration’s spin (and Tapper’s report also transcribes the Obama-Medvedev exchange). Part of Tapper’s job, after all, but the Poles aren’t buying what the White House is selling. Nor are the other Eastern European allies, already experienced with Obama’s double-talk on defense.
The English words alone don’t convey the connotation of the Polish word choices. The Poles understand exactly what happened at the meeting — they are playing the role of Eduard Benes in 1938, and Obama is on his knees in the role of Chamberlain — if not that of Benedict Arnold.
We’re reminded of a Polish friend, whose would answer any Polish joke with a barrage of abstruse academic po-polski. “Did you get that? No? Well, how does it feel to be dumber than a Polack? Bwahahahaha!” If anyone at the EOB, Pentagon or Foggy Bottom thinks they’re trusted in Warsaw, Prague, Bratislava, Talinn, Vilnius… etc., etc.,
One by one, the rubes are waking up. The only ones left at the table are a subset of Americans. And if you’re dealt into the game, and you don’t know who the mark is… it’s you.