While Barack Obama is fixated on his golf game, the United States is undergoing a strategic roll-back in virtually every area of the world. Libya is an al Qaeda haven. Syria seems doomed to partition. Iraq is on the verge of complete and irretrievable break-up. Ukraine has been carved up by the Russians. China is resurgent in the South China Sea. Iran is seizing a march on us, creating a dominant position on the ground while continuing its development of a nuclear weapon.
While Obama seems unable to influence events and, indeed, unconcerned about events, American prestige suffers and with it our alliances.
Poland has taken a leadership role in reacting to Russian adventurism in Ukraine. It has a good army, better equipped and much more capable than the armed rabble that Russia fields. It has given aid and encouragement to the Baltic States and it has pushed NATO to show interest despite American apathy. Poland has been either a part of Russia or under de facto Russian rule for most of the time since 1795. It understands what is at stake.
Because of its opposition to Russia, Poland has become a Russian target.
A scandal is brewing in Poland that may topple the government
Interference from "abroad" could be behind the eavesdropping of the compromising conversation between two Polish top leaders, some claim as a political scandal grows and threatens to topple the government in the Eastern European country.
Though no evidence has emerged to that effect, in the current context that's understood as a reference to Russia, whose relations with Poland have worsened due to Warsaw's strong opposition to the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine.
The crisis broke five days ago when the popular weekly magazine Wprost released a secretly taped conversation between Poland's central bank head and the country's interior minister in which they appear to be colluding over how the bank could help the governing party win re-election in 2015. That would amount to a violation of the bank's independence.
Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday that early elections within weeks may be necessary to calm the situation, but he vowed not to step down now.
Today another recorded conversation was released. This one between Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and former finance minister Jacek Rostowski. While the first leaks of taped conversations was aimed at destabilizing Poland's domestic politics, this one seems designed to attack Poland's alliance with the US.
According to a transcript of excerpts of the conversation that was published by Wprost on its Internet site, Sikorski told Rostowski: "You know that the Polish-US alliance isn't worth anything."
"It is downright harmful, because it creates a false sense of security ... Complete bullshit. We'll get in conflict with the Germans, Russians and we'll think that everything is super, because we gave the Americans a blow job. Losers. Complete losers."
According to the transcript, Sikorski described Warsaw's attitude towards the United States using the Polish word "murzynskosc."
That derives from the word "murzyn," which denotes a dark-skinned person and someone who does the work for somebody else, according to the PWN Polish language dictionary.
If some of this sounds familiar, recall back to just before the Ukraine crisis erupted, the private phone calls of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland "appeared" on YouTube. In it Nuland makes disparaging comments about the EU, discusses which Ukraine opposition leaders are favored, and lays out the US strategy for guiding the unrest unfolding in Ukraine.
Though there has been no claim of responsibility, it doesn't take much of an imagination to point a finger at the Russians. The interception of these calls shows technical sophistication, the targets were chosen carefully, the conversations support Russian goals in Poland.
One of these sets of problems, that of the apparent collusion of the government with the central bank, is a self inflicted wound. The second, however, is a direct outgrowth of Barack Obama's barely concealed disdain for our strategic relationship with the Poles. Mr. Sikorski can hardly be blamed for his harsh assessment of US-Polish relations because it is entirely accurate. While the Russians are at work pushing towards their strategic objectives, we send the Poles Joe Biden and John Kerry to make them feel more confident. It isn't really fair.
And as Vladimir Putin plays the diplomatic equivalent of three dimensional chess, Barack Obama is in the middle of a thrilling game of 52 Pickup.