Saturday, September 19, 2009

Restoring America’s Image in the World

One of the biggest campaign issues last year was America's image overseas. Democrats claimed that the country's reputation was tarnished by the Bush Administration's policies. They promised that an Obama Administration would restore the United States' standing in the eyes of the world through enlightened leadership.

President Obama announced one of these policy changes Sept. 17 when he cancelled anti-missile defenses promised to Poland and the Czech Republic. The timing was particularly ironic, coming as it did on the 60th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland when Communist forces joined hands with their Nazi cousins in destroying the Polish state.

The Poles and Czechs are not happy with this shift in American policy.

According to an Associated Press report by Vanessa Gera on Sept. 18:

Poles and Czechs voiced deep concern Friday at President Barack Obama's decision to scrap a Bush-era missile defense shield planned for their countries.
"Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back," the Polish tabloid Fakt declared on its front page.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was concerned that Obama's new strategy leaves Poland in a dangerous "gray zone" between Western Europe and the old Soviet sphere.
Recent events in the region have rattled nerves throughout central and eastern Europe, a region controlled by Moscow during the Cold War, including the war last summer between Russia and Georgia and ongoing efforts by Russia to regain influence in Ukraine. A Russian cutoff of gas to Ukraine last winter left many Europeans without heat.
The Bush administration's plan would have been "a major step in preventing various disturbing trends in our region of the world," Kaczynski said in a guest editorial in the daily Fakt and also carried on his presidential Web site.

According to the AP report, the Czechs are no happier with Obama's policy reversal than are the Poles:

An editorial in Hospodarske Novine, a respected pro-business Czech newspaper, said: "an ally we rely on has betrayed us, and exchanged us for its own, better relations with Russia, of which we are rightly afraid."
The move has raised fears in the two nations they are being marginalized by Washington even as a resurgent Russia leaves them longing for added American protection ... "No Radar. Russia won," the largest Czech daily, Mlada Fronta Dnes, declared in a front-page headline.
Reportedly, the Russians offered no concessions in return for scrapping the missile shield plans.

This new policy gained nothing for the United States and betrayed the trust of two allies, both of whom have reason to distrust their aggressive neighbor to the east.

Still, there is at least one major foreign leader who appreciates this policy shift by the Obama Administration:

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