The expansion of NATO has been hotly debated by American conservatives. As a conservative Catholic Pole living in Poland, I am obviously interested in this debate, not least because Poland and America are part of the same civilization. Any matter of importance to either nation has to be seen within a wider context of the cultural and civilizational challenges faced by the West.

Clearly, One-Worldism—the unholy quest for power around the globe by the anti-Christian managerial elite—has to be stopped. American conservatives, most notably in Chronicles, have shown that this dangerous ideology aims at replacing Christianity with the totalitarian Utopia of liberal democracy. Some of them—such as Samuel Francis—even sketch a long-term strategy for recapturing America from the managerial establishment. But the basis for their opposition to NATO enlargement is more problematic.

Six years ago, watching Pat Buchanan’s campaign for the Republican nomination, I thought his “isolationism” was a proper cure for American imperialism. Moreover, I considered America’s withdrawal from Europe to be healthy for a continent corrupted to the core. Regardless of whatever dangers this would pose to Poland and to my family, I saw the American withdrawal as necessary for re-Christianizing the West. (Of course, “isolationism” was to be accompanied by the abolition of the welfare-warfare state in America, and a renewed interest in a strict constructionist view of the Constitution.)

But nothing like this happened. Conservatives proved incapable of (or uninterested in) changing the status quo. These same “conservatives,” in a moralizing tone, then protest the expansion of NATO to Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. But their opposition is based on a misreading of Russia, both past and present. They believe Russian wrongdoings stem from an unfair distrust of Russia. They allow for some nationalistic, anti-Western, and militaristic tendencies in the Russian bear, but their Russia is an essentially benign, stable, and trustworthy country with strong and vivid cultural ties to Christianity. The problem with this is that such a Russia ceased to exist in the early 13th century, when it was conquered by Mongols. True, the Khans’ rule was abolished at the end of the 15th century and, thank God, both the Slavic language and the Orthodox Church survived. Unfortunately, the subjugation of the individual and of the Church to the Mongol-style political, social, and economic order took hold and continues to this day. How can American conservatives and moralists ignore the Russian imperialism of the last centuries?

Of course, a peaceful cooperation with Russia would be welcome. Cooperation is needed, but an unthoughtful appeasement is the worst possible strategy to help Russia rejoin the West. And more time is needed to see that the long period of Russian imperialism is over. NATO expansion (with more Eastern European countries admitted in the future), perhaps followed by NATO’s dissolution when the new Russia proves stable and trustworthy, could bring Russia back into the European fold while stabilizing foreign affairs for everyone in the process. In fact, it is one of the necessary conditions of rebuilding the true unity of Europe—East and West—and rediscovering its common roots and cultural and religious heritage. To think that this laudable aim can be achieved by leaving Warsaw, Prague, and Budapest defenseless is preposterous.

Admittedly, whatever the needs of Warsaw, Prague, and Budapest, it does not follow that it is the United States’ responsibility to meet them. Indeed, the only legitimate objection to NATO expansion is that it’s not an issue for America: Poles, not Americans, should die for Poland. But if this is so, why doesn’t America disengage from Europe entirely? Because this is not happening, the refusal to admit Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary into NATO can only be seen as the abandonment of these countries to an historically aggressive neighbor.

I neither know nor have the right to deliberate on whether America should help my region, though I personally would consider it a blessing. Only America can decide this. Whether she is still capable (and willing) to think in terms of a wider family of Christian nations, only time will tell.