Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama Statement on Visit of Polish President Lech Kaczynski

Obama Statement on Visit of Polish President Lech Kaczynski
Monday, July 16, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today released the following statement on the visit of Polish President Lech Kaczynski to the United States:

“I welcome Polish President Lech Kaczynski to Washington. Recognizing the rich history of cooperation between our two countries, I am happy to say, Witam Serdecznie w Washingtonie [Welcome to Washington].”

“The Polish President's visit reminds us that for the last 200 years America and Poland have been linked in the struggle for freedom. Today there is a strong legacy of sacrifice between the two nations – sacrifice for the cause of American and Polish freedom alike.”

“As early as the Revolutionary War, Polish patriots like Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko fought alongside American patriots – from Germantown to Saratoga – to help win our country’s independence.”

“During World War I, Ignacy Paderewski, an unparalleled musician, helped lead the fight for a free and independent Poland. He became Prime Minister after the war, only to be forced into exile by the Nazi Occupation. After he died in exile in the United States, America gave this great friend of freedom a place alongside our honored dead in Arlington National Cemetery. There he would rest, in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, ‘until Poland would be free.’”

“It was a moving sight when, in 1992, President George H. W. Bush escorted Paderewski's ashes home to Poland. No one will forget seeing thousands of Poles lining the streets over the miles from the airport to the city center, waiting to see the horse drawn carriage.”

“It was the world’s good fortune that a Pole infused with this same dedication to freedom and the dignity of all people was elected Pope at such a critical time. Polish-Americans were thrilled at the election of Karol Wojtyla as Pope, a man who kept the faith when faith was forbidden.”

“At the same time, American Polonia’s dedication to freedom in their native Poland was vital in ensuring that Soviet totalitarianism would not succeed. Millions of personal packages were sent to friends and family back home, and each package was a message of hope in dark days – like the imposition of Martial Law in 1981 – of the Soviet Union.”

“The razing of the Iron Curtain provided opportunities to renew the linkage between Poland and America. Two centuries after the deaths of Pulaski and Kosciuszko, Poland and America became formal allies in NATO, institutionalizing the faith in freedom our countries have shared for centuries.”

“Since joining NATO in 1997, Poland has become one of America’s most important strategic partners, dedicating troops and resources to our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

“We now have an opportunity to build on this long and deep relationship. Here is how we can.”

1. Renew the unity of purpose of the Transatlantic Relationship. “The Bush Administration's policy of splitting Europe into “old” and “new” was not just wrong, it was counterproductive. Poland should not have to choose between its vital interest in closer integration with Europe and its alliance with the United States. America must repair its relationship with Europe as a whole, so that Poland and our other Central European allies are never put in that position again.”

2. Finish building a Europe whole and free. “Poland has been a steadfast champion of liberty in the countries to its east. America and Poland should stand together to help Ukraine build a strong and stable democracy, and to help the people of Belarus regain their human rights. We also share an interest in working with Russia to meet common security threats and to encourage Russia’s integration into Western institutions. But we should also embrace, not abandon, those in Russia working to preserve their hard won liberty, and draw clear lines against Russia’s intimidation of its neighbors. 21st Century Europe cannot be divided into 19th Century spheres of influence.”

3. Meet global challenges together. “Not long ago, we looked to Poland as a country that needed American help in its own efforts to be free and secure; now we look to Poland as a critical partner in building a safer, freer world. We should work with Poland to secure more European troops, with stronger rules of engagement, to stabilize Afghanistan. And we should work together to send an unmistakable signal to Iran that its insistence in pursuing a nuclear weapons program is a profound mistake.”

4. Energize the alliance to confront new challenges. “From Poland to the United States, we are facing a new kind of threat – in the form of energy insecurity and climate change. The North Atlantic community has always joined forces to confront and defeat new challenges, and we should be doing the same now by, among other things, sharing best practices on energy conservation, inviting India and China to join the International Energy Agency, and dedicating our significant resources to establishing a global cap and trade on greenhouse gas pollution.”

5. Prudently but decisively prepare for emerging threats. “The Bush Administration has been developing plans to deploy interceptors and radar systems in Poland and the Czech Republic as part of a missile defense system designed to protect against the potential threat of Iranian nuclear armed missiles. If we can responsibly deploy missile defenses that would protect us and our allies we should – but only when the system works. We need to make sure any missile defense system would be effective before deployment. The Bush Administration has in the past exaggerated missile defense capabilities and rushed deployments for political purposes. The Bush Administration has also done a poor job of consulting its NATO allies about the deployment of a missile defense system that has major implications for all of them. We must not allow this issue to divide “new Europe” and “old Europe,” as the Bush Administration tried to do over Iraq.”

6. Invite Poland to join the Visa Waiver Program. “We should work to include countries like Poland that are members of both the EU and NATO into the Visa Waiver Program. Today’s visa regime reflects neither the current strategic relationship nor the close historic bonds between our peoples, and is out of date.”

“These are important steps, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to implement them.”

“It is wonderful to welcome the Polish President at a time in which America and Poland share the same freedom. Our two nations share a common legacy and destiny, and I am honored to welcome President Kaczynski to Washington.”

The Betrayal of Poland 1939-1945
by Patrick J. Buchanan
August 29, 1997

With Poland's membership in NATO at issue, a question has arisen as to whether America owes a debt to the Polish people for Franklin D. Roosevelt's having "betrayed" the Polish nation to Joseph Stalin at Yalta.
Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat has lately raised the issue of a moral debt to Poland for the 1945 summit where FDR accepted Stalin's assurances of free elections. Eizenstat was taken to task by columnist Lars-Erik Nelson for repeating a "50-year-old right-wing slander." Robert Novak defended the "betrayed" thesis.

Nelson's point: By 1945 Stalin had 12 million troops in Eastern Europe, and Dwight Eisenhower only 4 million in the West. Conservatives who condemn FDR for Poland's fate, says Nelson, are joining the "Blame America First" crowd. We couldn't save Poland!

But, in truth, Yalta was only the final betrayal of Poland, and not only FDR but Winston Churchill bears moral responsibility for a half-century of communist enslavement of the Polish people.

The first betrayal came with the British guarantee to Poland, after Neville Chamberlain was exposed as a dupe when Adolf Hitler tore up his Munich pact and marched into Prague. As Hitler pressed Poland for the return of Danzig, stripped from Germany after World War I, and demanded rail and road transit to the city across a "Polish Corridor" also taken from Germany, Warsaw, encouraged by British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, refused even to negotiate. The Poles were assured that if war came, Britain would be at their side.

But when Hitler invaded Poland from the west and Stalin invaded from the east, Britain declared war on Germany alone. Then, the British sat behind the Maginot Line while Poland was crucified. The British had goaded the Poles into standing up to Hitler though they had no plans to save or rescue Poland. Six million Poles would die as a result of having trusted in a British alliance.

The second betrayal occurred at Teheran in 1943, when FDR moved into the Soviet embassy compound and assured Stalin he would not object to his keeping the half of Poland and the Baltic states Hitler had ceded to Stalin in their infamous pact. As Robert Nisbet wrote in "Roosevelt and Stalin: The Failed Courtship," FDR asked only that word of his concession not leak out before the 1944 elections, so Polish Americans would not react in rage. FDR told one visitor to Hyde Park he was "sick and tired" of East Europeans and their constant clamoring about boundaries and sovereignties.

The third betrayal occurred in the summer of '44. The Polish Home Army in German-occupied Warsaw, heeding appeals from Radio Moscow, rose up against the Nazis. As the Home Army was loyal to the free Polish government in London, which was demanding an investigation of Stalin's murder of Polish officers at Katyn, Stalin halted his own Red Army outside Warsaw to give the Nazis a free hand in crushing the Polish uprising.

British and Americans sought to aid the Poles with air drops of food and munitions. But Stalin refused to let the allies use air fields behind his lines to refuel for the return flight to England. Churchill drafted a strong letter to Stalin, asking that the allies be allowed to use the air fields assigned them, but to appease Stalin, FDR cravenly refused to sign the letter. The Home Army was butchered.

By February 1945, Poland had been overrun by a Red Army that could not be dislodged short of a new war. Yalta, writes Nisbet, "is not the source of the Soviet possessions in Eastern Europe ... Teheran is. But Yalta performed a service that was almost as important to Stalin. ... This was the invaluable service of giving moral legitimation to what Stalin had acquired by sheer force."

Britain had gone to war and lost 400,000 men and an empire for Poland's independence. Yet, as Poland receded into the darkness, not once did Churchill vent upon Stalin the oratory he used so often on Hitler. The rape of Poland by Hitler and Stalin was the moral cause that precipitated the war. Yet, Churchill and FDR, to appease Stalin, meekly acquiesced in the betrayal of that moral cause.

"Of one thing I am sure," FDR said at Yalta, "Stalin is not an imperialist." How explain his naivete about Stalin, to whom he gave everything, including a third of the Italian fleet and recognition of his puppet government in Poland? "Puerility," writes George F. Kennan. FDR once told his friend, ambassador William Bullitt: "I think if I give him (Stalin) everything I possibly can, and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of peace and democracy."

And thus was Poland betrayed.