Letter From Poland
But things are beginning to change. Roman Kuzniar, director of the Diplomatic Academy in Poland's Foreign Ministry, recently denounced his country's "unconditional, unreflective and unequivocal" support for the United States in a war "that is contrary to our national interests." Aleksander Smolar, another leading strategic thinker, says Poland's policies have left it isolated in Europe and taken for granted in America, and calls for a thorough change of course. Smolar also argues that this uncritical pro-Americanism has debased the great emancipatory legacy of the recent anti-Communist revolutions: "We used to talk so much about 'living in truth,' yet now we give moral support to a policy based from the very beginning on lies."
Smolar is a strong supporter of a US presence in Europe. Kuzniar was once booted out of the Foreign Ministry because he was said to be too pro-American. Even the former Polish director of Radio Free Europe cautions the country against "blind pro-Americanism." And that's the point: These views are coming not from the usual critics but from the usual supporters of America. They're upset precisely because they're so pro-American. They want America to be better than this. They need America to be better than this. They fear that President Bush's policies will stir up a popular anti-Americanism that they want at all costs to avoid. But they need an honesty and sense of loyalty from the United States that this Administration has been unwilling to supply.
Adam Michnik once quipped that "Poland is more pro-American than America is." Bush has changed that. Poland has already hinted that it will reduce its Iraq contingent next year; public pressure may force it to do so sooner. What about the future? When I asked Beylin, one of the country's key opinion-forming journalists, what will happen if a re-elected Bush turns to Poland for help in a new war against Syria or Iran, he visibly recoiled. "We wouldn't do it. Not this time. If it's a UN or NATO operation, perhaps. But like Iraq? No, that's not happening again."