The Therapy Sessions
Sunday, December 28, 2003
I found the cure to anti-Americanism: Come to Poland.
After two years of traveling almost exclusively to Western Europe and the Middle East, Poland feels like a geopolitical spa. I visited here for just three days and got two years of anti-American bruises massaged out of me. Get this: people here actually tell you they like America — without whispering. What has gotten into these people? Have all their subscriptions to Le Monde Diplomatique expired? Haven't they gotten the word from Berlin and Paris? No, they haven't. In fact, Poland is the antidote to European anti-Americanism. Poland is to France what Advil is to a pain in the neck. Or as Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign affairs specialist, remarked after visiting Poland: "Poland is the most pro-American country in the world — including the United States."
What's this all about? It starts with history and geography. There's nothing like living between Germany and Russia — which at different times have trampled Poland off the map — to make Poles the biggest advocates of a permanent U.S. military presence in Europe. Said Ewa Swiderska, 25, a Warsaw University student: "We are the small kid in school who is really happy to have the big guy be his friend — it's a nice feeling."