Opinia.USOpinia.US Truckee, CA, December 8, 2010 — A secret cable from the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw released by WikiLeaks shows former American Ambassador Victor H Ashe being deeply disappointed and frustrated with the Obama Administration’s treatment of Poland.

The leaked cable lists a number of public diplomacy missteps by the Obama White House, including the President’s decision not to accept the Polish government’s invitation to attend the September 1, 2009 commemoration in Gdansk of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

The Ambassador warns the Administration that many Poles see this kind of treatment of an ally as part of a broader trend of downgrading of U.S. interest in Central and Eastern Europe. He also makes a reference to the July 2009 letter from Central European leaders to President Obama, in which they asked for greater U.S. involvement in the region and warned about the Kremlin’s threatening foreign policy and restrictions of democratic freedoms in Russia. One of the signatories of the letter was former Solidarity leader and former Polish President Lech Walesa. Another signatory was former Czech President Vaclav Havel

President Obama ignored the warnings contained in the letter from the regional leaders. There is no indication that he had read Ambassador Ashe’s cable, which was sent on August 28, 2009, but his warnings were also ignored by the White House.

In another diplomatic blunder, which occurred less than three weeks after Ambassador Ashe’s cable was sent to Washington, President Obama chose September 17, 2009 — the 70th anniversary of the Soviet attack on Poland under the terms of the Hitler-Stalin Pact — to announce his decision to cancel the missile defense system promised Poland by President George W. Bush. Polish government leaders saw it as a major blow to Poland’s security and a betrayal of  U.S.  government’s earlier commitments. The Poles found the historical symbolism of  President Obama’s announcement highly offensive.  

Victor Ashe, former Republican mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee, was nominated to be the United States Ambassador to Poland by President George W. Bush in 2004. President Obama asked him to remain in Warsaw through most of 2009, apparently to make it easier for the White House to present to the Polish government a series of controversial decisions, which the Poles viewed as designed to weaken the U.S.-Polish ties to win favors with the Kremlin for the Obama administration. The leaked cable shows that Ambassador Ashe was a reluctant and critical envoy to Poland for the new president.

Ambassador Ashe was replaced as the U.S. Ambassador to Poland by President Obama’s nominee Lee A. Feinsten who was sworn in on September 28, 2009. President Obama later nominated Victor Ashe to serve as a Republican member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The BBG manages all U.S. civilian international broadcasting, including the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Radio and TV Martí, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN)—Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television

 

Poland would see significant U.S. force reductionsinEurope as the latest in a series of disappointments with the U.S.: in their view, the U.S. failed to deliver promised Iraqi contracts, to bring a loyal Ally into the Visa Waiver Program, and most recently, to appoint an appropriately high-level presidential delegation to the September 1 commemoration in Gdansk of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. Many Poles see this as part of a broader regional trend, a downgrading of U.S. interest in Central and Eastern Europe. Three Polish statesmen, Lech Walesa, Aleksander Kwasniewski and Adam Daniel Rotfeld, were among the signatories of the July letter from Central European leaders to President Obama. The letter warned that the region’s stability and Atlanticist outlook cannot be taken for granted in the face of allegedly waning U.S. engagement.

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