Secretary Rice's next stop after Berlin was Warsaw to thank our Polish ally. She met with Prime Minister Marek Belka and thanked Poland for its sacrifice in Iraq (Poland has contributed over 2,500 soldiers to the effort).
It is important that Rice went to Poland, and hopefully the State Department will treat Poland as a full-fledged American ally and allow them to be a part of our Visa Waiver Program like these 27 nations. Poland is an important stop for these reasons:
- Home of the Solidarity movement during the Cold War, Poland understands how vital freedom is to those who are denied it.
- Poland is a rising US ally in Europe with more traditional conservative values that are in many ways closer to our own than Western Europe's.
- Poland played a vital role in supporting the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine and, with its Western-looking focus, will help pull the Ukraine and the EU closer together, acting as a bridge between them, away from the increasingly more non-democratic Russia.
- Poland is a model for governments that are transitioning from totalitarian, centralized rule to democratic, capitalist governments that are responsible to their citizens.
Poland was divided by the Germans and Russians at the outset of the Second World War, and Britain, her defender, was too late and unable to come to her rescue. The horrible acts inflicted by the Nazis and Soviets on Poland and subsequent communist rule leaves Poland with a sharper memory of the pain of tyranny and a natural US ally in Europe, NATO, and beyond. Secretary Rice was right to give Poland the respect it deserves with a visit to Warsaw.