September 17, 2009, the date when the Obama administration scrapped plan
s for a missile shield based in Poland (supported by a radar installation in the Czech Republic). Some sort of alternative system will eventually be put in place, but the initial decision (and, doubtless, subsequent hesitation
) was seen in the region as a statement of weakness in the face of Russian pressure. The fact that it was announced on
the seventieth anniversary of the USSR’s 1939 invasion of Poland — a date well-remembered in a part of the world that knows its history — only added a perception of American ignorance to American weakness.