Poland has long had my admiration. Before France threw in with the colonies, Polish lovers of freedom allied itself with our Founding Fathers — names like Kosciusko should be as much a part of our national lexicon as Lafayette — and despite being overrun and torn apart for centuries, Poland has always retained a burning love of freedom and self-determination. Earlier this week, Ralph Peters wrote an excellent column about this aspect of Polish history, and the unfortunate treatment they are receiving from the US after giving us the best of their support:
But the Poles never gave up their belief in their country – or in freedom. During our own revolution, our first allies were Polish freedom fighters such as Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciusko. (Paris only joined the fight when it looked like we might win. And France intervened to spite Britain, not to help us.)
Throughout the 19th century, Poles fought for freedom wherever the struggle raged, in Latin America, Greece and Italy, and on the Union side in our Civil War. Although their country had been raped by the great powers of Europe, Poles kept her cause alive.
Poland committed ground troops to our effort in Iraq, as well as critical diplomatic support at a time when it may not have been in their best interest, as a new EU member, to stand with us. Jacques Chirac infamously and condescendingly told the Poles, among other Eastern European nations, that they had missed a chance to shut up at the beginning of the year. What have we done to return the favor? Not much, according to Peters:
Their reward? Surely America must recognize such a great contribution from an economically struggling ally – at a time when Polish troops also support peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and the Balkans? Sorry. Turkey, which stabbed us as deeply in the back as it could on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom, will receive a minimum of $2 billion from Washington … And Poland? Like the Czech Republic, which sent a few medics to the Persian Gulf then withdrew them in panic, Poland will get a standard package of $12 million for NATO-related programs. … Poland did have one request – a humble one, in the great scheme of things. Warsaw asked for $47 million to modernize six used, American-built C-130 transport aircraft and to purchase American-built HMMWV all-terrain vehicles so elite Polish units could better integrate operations with American forces. Much of the money would go right back to U.S. factories and workers.
Our response? We stiffed them.
This is unconscionable. The Poles deserve better from the West in general, who left them under Stalin’s thumb at the end of World War II, and from the US in particular. If this is how we repay our allies, is it any wonder that American foreign policy generates little enthusiasm amongst the democracies? Write your Congressman and Senators to let them know that we have to reward the Poles for their loyalty and support of freedom and liberty.