Adam Blickstein writes that the Clinton campaign found time to remember the Katyn Massacre — the Soviet mass murder of 20,000 Polish POWs during World War II — just before this week’s Super Tuesday II primaries. The campaign, naturally, made no attempt to connect the dots, but Blickstein and others note that the sizable Polish-American populations of Ohio and Pennsylvania (the latter state will feature in the next set of electoral contests) may have invited just such ethnic politicking.
This is not the first time American politicians have crafted foreign policy to appeal to Polish-Americans, of course. Reagan’s embrace of Pope John Paul II doubtless helped him make inroads in the Midwest, while President Clinton’s push for Poland’s membership in NATO in the mid-1990s was arguably influenced by domestic concerns.
As The New York Times reported in 1996,
White House officials tried to portray the speech [endorsing NATO expansion] as only partly campaign related, saying the President wanted to influence a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in December. The ministers are to set a date for a NATO summit meeting in late spring or summer that will select the first new nations to be added to the alliance and begin the process of negotiating their entrance.
But the officials also acknowledged that the President was delivering his speech in a part of the country with a sizable number of residents who emigrated from Eastern and Central Europe. And Mr. Clinton’s focus on ethnic voters was only underscored when he went from the speech to lunch at the Polish Village Cafe and ingested stuffed cabbage, pierogis and sauerkraut.
Together with the assault on Serbia in 1999, the eastward expansion of NATO was one of the foreign policy moves responsible for alienating the Russians from the US. Since our relationship with Russia should be more important than our relationship with Poland, this policy choice went against American national interest as defined by realists.
In light of the long-term linking of American foreign policy to Polish-American support for American politicians, no doubt Mearsheimer and Walt will be hard at work on The Polish Lobby after completing The Cuba Lobby, The Mexico Lobby, and The Armenia Lobby as follow-ups to The Israel Lobby.
Oh, no, wait, none of those other lobbies involve Jews. My bad.