Yet the bigger surprise of March's Crimea crisis came from the west with Berlin's muted response to Russian aggression, and its rejection of Warsaw's calls for a stronger NATO response.
The German language has a new phrase for the political and business establishment's attitude: Russlandversteher, or "understanding Russia." Over half of Germans claim to "understand" Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea and the bloody conflict it is fomenting in Ukraine—in part blaming America's support for Kiev's democrats for provoking the Kremlin. A similar number oppose further sanctions on Russia. Chancellor Angela Merkel's rhetorically harder anti-Putin line finds little support in Germany.
For the past 25 years, the Poles were told that the new Germany would have their back. After German unification and the eastward expansion of the EU and NATO, as the reassuring slogan went, "When Germans now look East, they see the West"—namely Poland. Germany trades and invests more with Poland than with Russia. Yet Berlin's present approach evokes the memory of a Germany that once carved up Central Europe with Russia. No one's talking of another partition of Poland, but it's sobering to hear Polish officials grumble more about Berlin than about Moscow.
Further west, the continent's divisions get amplified. The French are moving ahead with the $1.6 billion sale of two Mistral naval assault vessels to Russia later this year over the objections of Washington and the newer NATO allies in Poland and the Baltic states. Britain has sold the City of London along with its soul for a pot of dirty Russian money.
Thus, the US remains Poland's only real ally, even under a weak president. One must hope that the next US president is somebody closer to the Reagan legacy than Barack Obama and somebody who would put real pressure on the main European NATO allies.