Polish President Dies in Crash: Taking Stock of the Loss

The U.S. loses a good friend and Russia and Poland lose a chance for closer relations

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Polish President Lech Kaczynski is dead, killed in a plane crash with dozens of other Polish officials while en route to commemorate the Katyn massacre in Russia. Commentators begin to explain the depth of the loss:

  • 'The West Has Lost a Good Friend,' says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. "When Georgia and Ukraine went through tribulations with Russia, Kaczynski was a dependable voice for self-determination in eastern Europe."
  • Albeit a Controversial One within Europe, Morrissey acknowledges. Judy Dempsey for The New York Times offers some extended analysis on this point. "Mr. Kaczynski forged very close relations with Ukraine and Georgia, determined to bring them closer to NATO and eventually have them admitted to the American-led military organization"--Kaczynski "believed passionately that a strong NATO would prevent Russia from reasserting its influence over Eastern and Central Europe." But that didn't always sit well with EU members, who worried "an expanded NATO would ... lead to new East-West tensions." Then too, Kaczynski wasn't always a full EU supporter, concerned about "protect[ing] Poland's sovereignty against Brussels."
  • A Good Friend to the U.S. and to Holocaust Remembrance  "President Kaczynski," writes William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, "went out of his way to honor Ronald Reagan for the fight to free Poland from communism when he visited the United States in 2007." He also "worked to acknowledge the Holocaust and the extermination of millions of Polish Jews during World War II, including honoring Poles who risked their lives to save Jews."
  • Cruel Irony  Jacobson and Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall are two among many to note the double misfortune of Kaczynski's and his accompanying officials' untimely death: they were headed to Russia for a commemoration of the Katyn massacre, in which Soviet soldiers, tasked with the extermination of the Polish officer corps, murdered thousands of Polish officers in their custody as prisoners of war. This joint commemoration would have been a step towards better Russian-Polish relations.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.