Sunday, May 29, 2011

He Hath Come

As the British were quite confused and a little amazed that Royal Fever caught on in the States before the Royal Wedding, I too stood a little confused at the general excitement that President Obama was coming to visit.  I've referred to Obama several times in this blog (only in jokes, actually), but this is the first time I'll take a semi-serious crack at what it means.  In reality, it means almost nothing.  He was here for twenty-two hours, and during that time parts of the city were shut down.  Obama's visit came when Poland is holding the rotating EU presidency, and the general feeling in Europe and around the globe is that Poland really is one of the few countries in the world (in more so in Europe) that has its shit together.  Just look at the comparison between Poland and Ukraine for readiness for the EuroCup.

Granted, not all Poles were enthusiastic about Obama's visit.  To them, it meant that several important arteries were going to be blocked off for three hours at a time, making it so they couldn't get home after work.  But, to others, it meant that the most powerful man in the world was gracing Poland with his presence at long last.  (NOTE:  The Poles were snubbed when Obama failed to show at the Kaczyncy's funeral, choosing to go golfing instead (that volcano eruption was to blame.))  The Poles have long felt that the US has ignored them for a long time and not lived up to its end of the deals (Iraq, Afghanistan.)  They saw this as an opportunity for Obama to set things right.
He gave vague promises that the visa restrictions for Poland would be lifted; he praised Polish democracy (something the Germans would never do (this is a joke for those who don't get it.  Look up what a 'Polish Parliament" is.)); he pointed his finger and Byelarus, a country no one particularly cares about, and said that they muffed things up; he also said/did some other things I have not recounted on this page.

Overall, I'm pretty bummed I missed out on a chance to see the VC-25, but I did get to see a snazzy C-17 that preceded the visit (no picture, sorry.)


ajuc said...

Obama got as a gift from Polish PM a Polish export bestseller - game "The Witcher 2" :)

Somebody at CDPR marketing department (the developer company) has been very smart.

Nom de Plume said...

nice :D

Sleemac said...

Great post, also I simply had to:

"...Poland really is one of the few countries in the world (in more so in Europe) that has its shit together. ..."

Yes, we are full of shit indeed. I myself find it hard to like my own country

Jason Worlledge said...

@ Ajuc - That was a great move and if it was by acident, I would quickly sponsor PO and the PM. But how cool is it to be the PM and sponsored by a giant sword wielding badass. Hire one of him to attend meetings with you and I am sure that you would find opposition parties more amenable.

As an American, I should be all flag waving and patriotic to honestly, his visit was pretty egotistical and America centric. We want to exploit Poland for the shell gas. We'll buy it, of course, but why do want Poland's gas and not the INSANE amount that we have in the US? Uh, because the extraction method is probably the ecologically damaging process known to man. Iraq, Afghanistan, troops in Poland and selling more F-16s... What has the US really given Poland in all of these years of "cooperation and friendship"?

And remember, this is a country that htinks it was responsible for bringing down the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism and the Soviet Union. That includes Poland!

I like the blog, keep it up and have a look over on mine :)

Anonymous said...

About "what has USA ever done for Poland" - it was USA that supported independence of Poland after 1st WW in 1918, and it was USA that helped Solidarnosc in 80'. People remember.

So in 1989 USA have had great PR in Poland. It changed slowly, nowadays it's neutral leaning towards bad, because of the popular feeling the USA have used us in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we don't get anything in return. We still feel we need USA for security reasons (bordering Russia you have to be careful, even if today they aren't threatening), but USA-Poland relations increasingly looks like master - slave, and this isn't popular among Poles. We have few options, one of them is turning to EU for security, but military Europe is weak and divided, and everybody knows this. The other option is scandinavia, we are somehow strenghtening our friendship with Sweden, and I think it's great direction, but USA will still be needed to ensure security here.

About F-16 - these are not bad planes in the version we got (Block 52), certainly more battle proven than Grippen or Eurofighter, in modern air warfare electronics is the most important, and it has great radar and avionic. Where cooperation failed is the offset contract for F-16. I don't know whose fault it was, I suspect Americans just did what was more profitable, and Polish bureauocracy wasted money like it always do.

I don't know what did you mean by "And remember, this is a country that thinks it was responsible for bringing down the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism and the Soviet Union. That includes Poland!".

Poles was forced to become communist country after WW2 (althought it was never part of USSR, only satellite state), and communism was never popular here (it was seen as just another russian occupation). So being the cause of the fall of USSR is adventage from Polish POV :)

Paddy said...

I don't think Brits were that surprised Royal wedding fever caught on in the US - which is well known for loving our Royals!

Piotrek Dakanowski said...

I agree with you. Traditionally, we love Americans. But (perhaps) now is the time for America to start using the win-win strategies in relations with their allies. I understand that Obama represents American interests mainly (only?), but there is no need to produce a new enemies in place of very American-friendly people.