“Some Central European politicians are angling either to remain below the radar screen — don’t speak up and make your nation the target of Putin’s ire — or to ingratiate themselves with Putin and therefore fare better than other allies when the waters get even choppier,” Damon Wilson, the executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, told me. “The issue for many politicians will be how to survive when the Russians are back, nastier than ever . . . and the Americans are remote, available only for genuine 911 calls.”
Remarkably, the wobbling in Eastern Europe comes only a decade after NATO’s big 2004 expansion and a dozen years after Poland and the Czech Republic gratefully and enthusiastically backed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. What happened? As Robert Coalson of Radio Free Europe suggested, one answer can be found in the “open letter” political leaders and intellectuals from those countries sent to Obama in July 2009, when, during his first year in office, he launched his “reset” with Putin’s regime.
“Many American officials have now concluded that our region is fixed once and for all,” the letter warned. “That view is premature.”