Vice President Joe Biden began a trip to Eastern Europe including Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania this week. The trip comes on the back of the disastrous announcement by the Obama administration abandoning third site missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of improving relations with Russia.
Biden is making a weak attempt to reassure Eastern Europe, especially Poland, of continued U.S. partnership as he is trying to force them into accepting the new reality.
Yet no matter how hard Biden tries to persuade, threaten and sweet talk, it is inescapable that Eastern Europe lacks the confidence in the Obama administration’s promises. Many in Eastern Europe feel that Obama and Biden have abandoned them for the sake of improved relations with Russia. After all, it was not too long ago that Eastern Europeans were forced into the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the way their land was divided after the Second World War. These two events still shape Eastern Europe’s views on Russia and Russian ambition in Eastern Europe.
Adding to Biden’s weak promises is the deployment of SM-3 missiles in Poland. However, even this is being thought of as only a secondary deployment for sometime in the future yet to be defined.
In short, the purpose of Biden’s trip to Eastern Europe is to tell them that they have to accept the new reality, where Russian relations and interactions take precedent over Eastern European relations.
Despite this bleak massage from Biden, a bit like a loyal wife who stands by a continuously philandering husband, Eastern European leaders seem to consistently refrain from criticism of the Obama administration. Instead, they are constantly trying to get any, no matter how cursory, reassurances about the future of American-Eastern European relations.
In its limited experiences with freedom, Eastern Europe has not only been one of the closet groups of people to the United States but one of the staunchest defenders and promoters of freedom. Biden and Obama should not forget this when dealing with Russia and Eastern Europe.
Nicholas Connor currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm