The New York Times reports that America’s Eastern European allies are pleading with the Obama administration “not to be forgotten”. It was signed by the revolutionaries of 1989 who wrote “Twenty years have passed since the revolutions of 1989. That is a whole generation. We need a new generation to renew the transatlantic partnership. A new program should be launched to identify those young leaders on both sides of the Atlantic who can carry forward the transatlantic project we have spent the last two decades building in Central and Eastern Europe.”. The NYT writes:
BERLIN — The deep concern among America’s Eastern European allies over improved relations between Russia and the United States spilled into the open on Thursday when 22 prominent figures, including Poland’s Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel, published an open letter to the Obama administration begging not to be forgotten.
In the letter, the leaders urged President Obama and his top policy makers to remember their interests as they negotiate with Russia and review plans for missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Abandoning the missile defense plan or giving Russia too big a role in it could “undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region,” the letter said.
The Economist thinks that a plea based on sentiment may have little chance of prospering in a Washington marching to a different drummer.
It is all fine stuff. The administration’s eastern Europe policy is indeed worryingly vague. But the letter risks sounding plaintive and naïve. Supporting Mr Walesa in the 1980s was both a noble cause and helped speed the Soviet empire’s demise. But Russia does not pose the existential threat to America that Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union once did. Sadly, other stuff matters more. And it is strange to blame the West for complacency about the region: gloom would be a better word. “They are asking us, in principle, to risk world war three in their defence” a savvy American official said recently. “If their country stands for organised crime and economic collapse, that’s a hard sell”.
It is amazing how much that sounds like “you’re on your own, bub.” Well maybe that’s the way it always is.