In the wake of Mitt Romney’s visit to Poland, where he garnered the strong endorsement of Solidarity hero Lech Walesa, Poland’s president has strongly criticized President Obama for his retreat over the U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe. The Telegraph reports (my emphasis):
Reflecting Warsaw’s long-standing anger over the 2009 cancellation of a controversial Bush-era anti-ballistic missile system President Bronislaw Komorowski said Poland should build its own missile shield to ensure national defence.
“Our mistake was that by accepting the American offer of a shield we failed to take into account the political risk associated with a change of president,” said Mr Komorowski in a magazine interview. “We paid a high political price. We do not want to make the same mistake again. We must have a missile system as an element of our defences.” . . .
The Republican candidate has accused President Obama of “abandoning Poland” by cancelling the missile defence plan in order to aid his much-criticised attempt to “reset” relations with Moscow.
Mr Obama’s decision to scrap George W Bush’s original missile shield dismayed the Polish government, especially as many Poles saw it as an attempt to appease Russia, Poland’s historical and Cold War foe. . . .
Later US pledges to place a Patriot missile battery in Poland, and elements of the SM-3 interceptors which will replace the Bush system, failed to eradicate the perception in Warsaw that Polish interests had been sacrificed for the benefit of Washington-Moscow relations. By wishing to avoid another “mistake”, Mr Komorowski has questioned the long-term viability of the US made SM-3 system, which is intended to secure Nato’s eastern flank from missile attacks launched from the Middle East.
Michal Kuz had a far-reaching and deeply worrying piece on NRO yesterday about the wider implications of the Obama administration’s abandonment of Central and Eastern Europe. It should be noted that the missile-defense system was not intended specifically to protect Poland or defend Europe and the U.S. from Russia (it was more aimed toward Iran), but, as the above reaction demonstrates, the protection a U.S. air-defense presence would provide is of massive importance to Poland, something President Obama callously ignored. Kuz suggests that the U.S. may have less room than it thinks to betray Poland, with possibly dire consequences, and President Komorowski’s comments (“We do not want to make the same mistake again”) suggest that Poland is indeed of that mindset already.