Tag: Polish American

Immigration NewsPolish

Future of the Missile Defense Project in Poland Uncertain Under an Obama Administration

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter

Polish President Lech Kaczynski speaks to Barack Obama.

Polish President Kaczynski - Photo: Polish Presidency.

The first phone conversation between Polish president Lech Kaczynski and U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, which took place the Friday after the election, has already caused diplomatic confusion, as apparently they had different understandings of what was said.

The next day, President Kaczynski issued a statement on his Polish-language website saying that Obama “emphasized the importance of the strategic partnership of Poland and the United States and expressed hope in the continuation of political and military cooperation between our countries. He also said that the missile-defense project would continue.”

The last sentence, however, was removed the next day after a quick reaction from Obama’s staff.

“President Kaczynski raised missile defense, but President-elect Obama made no commitment on it,” said Obama’s senior foreign policy advisor Denis McDonough. “His position is, as it was throughout the campaign, that he supports deploying a missile-defense system when the technology is proved to be workable.”

The misunderstanding quickly became fuel for comments in the Polish media.

The second-largest Polish newspaper, left-leaning Gazeta Wyborcza, which is often critical of the conservative Kaczynski, interpreted a memo by Obama’s top foreign policy advisers Tony Lake and Susan Rice as a reaction to that conversation.

As reported by Politico, in the memo sent out to all of Obama’s foreign policy advisers, Lake and Rice wrote: “We ask each of you please do not under any circumstances speak to the press, any foreign officials, or embassies on behalf of the transition or President-elect Obama. (…) It would be highly damaging for foreign government or media to receive information that they believe falsely to represent the views of the President-elect.”

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BrooklynImmigration NewsPolish

Polish American Community Welcomes President-Elect Obama, Expects Attention to Issues of Interest

Polish stores in Greenpoint, Brooklyn -- Anna Majkowska

Polish stores in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Anna Majkowska/Flickr)

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter

Alex Storozynski, a Polish American writer, describes the victory of President-elect Barack Obama as “a victory for intellectualism over ignorance.” He pointed out that it could be very beneficial for the Polish American community:

Obama’s choice of congressman Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff offers Polish-Americans great optimism, because Emanuel, whose Chicago district is heavily Polish, is familiar with our issues, like the missile defense shield, and he has been an outspoken advocate for including Poland in the Visa Waiver Program.

Barack Obama himself has also supported Poland’s inclusion into a Visa Waiver Program, which would allow Poles to enter the U.S. for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa.

Many Polish Americans, regardless of their political views, embraced Obama’s win, hoping he will quickly start working on improving the economy and moving the country in a new direction.

Some community leaders, like Frank Milewski, president of the Polish American Congress Downstate New York Division, were hoping that Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, would get a position in the Obama administration. Brzezinski endorsed Obama as early as August 2007.

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BrooklynImmigration NewsPolish

Polish Americans Divided on US-Poland Missile Agreement

Polish Americans and Polish immigrants living in the US offered a variety of reactions to the missile shield agreement signed this week by the US and Poland. According to US officials the 10 interceptor missiles to be placed on Polish soil are intended to protect the US and its allies from an attack by a rogue state such as Iran.

As part of the deal the Bush administration also agreed to the placement in Poland of a Patriot missile battery – a short-range missile system that theoretically could be used in case of Russia’s attack. Moreover, as the New York Times reported, the deal came with a promise that, “at least temporarily American soldiers would staff air sites in Poland oriented towards Russia, and that the United States would be obliged to defend Poland in case of an attack with greater speed than required under NATO, of which Poland is a member.” The agreement came soon after Russia invaded Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, and a close American ally.

The move infuriated Russia. Shortly after the deal was announced a top Russian general, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, said that Poland risks a military attack, possibly even nuclear, for agreeing to host a US missile defense system on its territory. “Such targets are destroyed as a first priority,” he warned.

It sounded all too familiar to Poles, who, still remembering the times when their country was a Soviet satellite, almost felt a gust of the Cold War era.

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