Timothy Garton Ash in the New York Review of Books:
Poland’s normal condition seemed to be that of occupation, backwardness, frustration, and alienation from the foreign-controlled state. The virtues for which it became famous were endurance, cultural vitality, and heroic but doomed resistance. Pierced by foreign arrows, its white eagle bled to produce the national colors of red and white. Its heroes were martyrs. Even a historian as sympathetic to the Polish cause as Norman Davies could write in 1983 that “Poland is back in its usual condition of political defeat and economic chaos.”
Anyone looking at Poland today must conclude that the country’s basic situation has been transformed. Poland is now a free country. As sovereign as any other European state on a close-knit continent, it has enjoyed unprecedented security in NATO since 1999 and been a full member of the European Union since May 1, 2004. Some analysts already identify Poland as one of the “big six” inside the EU of twenty-five member states, along with Germany, France, Britain, Italy, and Spain. Its gross domestic product has grown by some 50 percent since it recovered independence in 1990.