Why Are We Snubbing The Poles?

Three months ago Poland invited the President to its 70th anniversary commemorations of World War II. The White House didn't bother to answer until 5 days before the ceremony, and we sent our NSA instead.

Who has stood by us more than Poland since 2001? They still have troops in Afghanistan!

The lack of understanding of European history and sensitivities was not lost on the Polish chattering classes. They have been in a justifiable uproar over this mother of all snubs, feeling a mixture of humiliation and neglect. For an administration that pledged to prioritize public diplomacy, this treatment of an ally was appalling. Unsurprisingly, popular opinion of the United States took a serious nose dive in Poland.

Already, the Obama administration's warm embrace of the relationship with Russia has been a cause for concern among Central and East European governments. As a consequence, intellectuals and former politicians of those countries published a letter in July, after the summit between Mr. Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, saying "all is not well in the trans-Atlantic relationship. Central and Eastern Europe is at a political crossroads, and today there is a growing sense of nervousness in the region." This serious warning, rather than being taken to heart, caused offense in Washington.

Also, the Obama administration's apparent attempts to use plans for "the third site" for U.S. missile defense (in Poland and the Czech Republic) as a bargaining chip to win Russian support for sanctions on Iran have gone down very poorly in Poland. The Polish government, after all, went out on a limb to secure the deal with the former Bush administration in hopes of upgrading defense cooperation between the two countries.

Not to mention, alone among European nations, Poland's citizens don't get automatic visa waivers for short-term visits here.

Nevertheless, while he can't be bothered to RSVP to an important ally, the President has seen fit to write a second letter to Iran begging them to please, please, let us join the cool kids and be their friend.