From an American point of view, Poland is a much, much better France than the France we’ve been patiently indulging. Poles are exactly like the French, except that they are trustworthy, hard-working, don’t whine, understand the truth of their own history, love foreigners, and take care of their families. And talk about a sense of humor? Listen, some of my best jokes are Polish jokes. The rest are from the Catskills. Thank you. I’ll be here all weekend.
In fact, Poland is better than just being a superior form of France. It’s the anti-France, just as Italy is the anti-Germany. Poland is the EU ally we need if the EU is to become something other than mad Jacques Chirac’s other pole. At the recent EU summit, for example, it was Poland who carried water for NATO’s interests, according to this report (in English!) in the Warsaw Voice.
And while the French and the Germans belittle and undermine Coalition efforts in Iraq, Poland has troops on the ground helping us out. The Polish troops are very much like the troops France has on the ground in Ivory Coast, except the Polish troops are doing their job and succeeding. Le Monde must have infuriated its readers when it carried an item about the success of the Polish soldiers in the Karbala region–and the paper must have really steamed them when it quoted a Polish major serving there. Eastern Europeans, he said, want to help in Iraq, just as they themselves were helped by Western Europeans after the fall of the Soviet Union. “We understand what’s happening here,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Germans, who have discovered that they are victims for the first time since Weimar, want to build a monument and archive in Berlin to honor those ethnic Germans who were forced to flee from Poland and elsewhere along the eastern front after the end of World War II. But the pesky Poles protested, explaining to the Germans that, actually, Germans really weren’t the victims in the second world war. According to the Polish press agency PAP, at a press conference in Gdansk, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski met with German President Johannes Rau and signed a declaration expressing regret for all of the dislocations experienced by warring Europeans. (A piece on the proposed “Center against Expulsions” appears in Die Welt.)
Kwasniewski reminded Rau that he is “the president of a country which has had to pit itself against problems of a difficult past. These have to be solved on the basis of the truth but in the spirit of reconciliation. We do not question anything which had place in history but we remember who caused World War II and we believe that a debate on the subject today makes sense insofar as it will help us to communicate better and to reconcile, rather than building new chasms and walls.” In Paris and in Berlin, this was taken as a wildly controversial statement.
Everyplace else on earth, it’s the painfully obvious truth.
The Bossi Beat. The European for the Rest of Us, Italy’s Reform Minister Umberto Bossi–who last week called EU elites “pigs” and pronounced the euro a “flop”–was back on the offensive again this week, suggesting to a broadcast audience that maybe there should be a limit on both immigration and the importation of commodities, thus combining in one sentence humans and things. Horrors! Corriere della Sera carried the indignant report. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi compensated for Bossi’s “hate speech” by releasing a CD of love songs he wrote, according to the BBC. Meanwhile, reports L’espresso, an Italian court has decided that crucifixes must be removed from schoolroom walls because they offend Muslims. Fight back, Vatican High!
Feedback back. After twice touching on the topic of anti-globalization and liberal anti-Semitism, I’m still getting notes from bigots Right and Left. I have a better idea. Direct all your hate-mail to Mark Strauss, who has written a brilliant report on the fashionable new face of left-wing anti-Semitism in the current Foreign Policy. The piece is available here , and it really shouldn’t be missed, even if you aren’t a bigot.
The Singing None. French foreign minister and Bill Maher body-double Dominique de Villepin has written a gaseous plea for peace in Ivory Coast, where the multilateral Iraq option–i.e., France at the head of a U.N. peacekeeping force–is demonstrating its utter incompetence. To make sure the flamboyant document has the greatest possible impact on the citizens of that war-torn West African state, Villepin published his poetic homily in the pages of Liberation, a Parisian daily. The bad news for the citizens of Abidjan? “For its part, France will continue to assume all its responsibilities.” Or maybe that’s the good news. Either way, in Ivory Coast, the French-brokered peace agreement between the Muslim rebels in the north and the government in the non-Muslim (for now) south crumbled a little bit more last week, as this report in Le Point makes clear.
Dead Man Walking. Britain’s permanently vegetative Conservative party decided to unseat uber-tuber Iain Duncan Smith and appears ready to roll toward Michael Howard, a man who once had a career in politics as a former home secretary. The new Tory strategy? Inclusion. A wildly hopeful report appears in the Daily Telegraph.
DWF loves “time-outs” and meaningless agreements. According to the Guardian, Madeleine Albright’s ready to start dating. Happy Halloween!