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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » September 30, 2009
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From the NEWS editor
September 30, 2009   
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This year has so far been a mixed bag for Polish sports fans. Poland's track and field athletes started off with a bang when they brought home a slew of medals from the World Championships but the national soccer team blew its chances of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup after fizzling out against lower-ranked teams. Later, though, the news turned sensational when the national volleyball team won the European championships. What was most surprising was that Poland won all eight tournament matches despite having three players out with injuries. The victorious volleyball team's homecoming turned downtown Warsaw into a street festival. The euphoria could only be compared to that seen when Polish ski jumper Adam Małysz was bringing home the medals.

The die is cast. The anti-missile shield is not to be. The agreements that then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed in Prague and Warsaw last year proved not to be worth the paper they were written on. That the Obama administration was intending to review the project in light of its costly and unproven technology-and that it was keen to defrost relations with Moscow-had been obvious for months. The Polish and Czech governments stoically played along while holding out for a breakthrough that never came. Washington has announced the construction of an alternative anti-missile system over the next few years. Interceptor missile bases or installations might appear in Central Europe some time in the future but no specific time frame has been set. Suffice to say that nothing will happen before 2015. This leaves the Polish and Czech governments with a bitter pill to swallow. The opposition in Poland has been quick to parcel out blame, heaping criticism on the prime minister, the foreign minister and everyone else involved in the negotiations with the Americans.

In the collective memory of the Polish nation, Sept. 17 is associated with the treacherous stab in the back the Soviet Union dealt a Poland desperately defending itself against German aggression in 1939. The country, which had reappeared on the map of Europe only 21 years previously-after 123 years of having been partitioned by Russia, Prussia and Austria-fell over the next couple of days. The Soviet Union's aggression, and its annexation- subsequently sanctioned with the approval of both the U.S. and Britain at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences-of more than half Poland's territory in 1939, is still a highly contentious issue for Polish people, even 70 years after the event. Moscow's systematic attempts to not only gloss over their own policies during the build-up to World War II, but to throw the blame onto others, including Poland, keep the wound open.
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