By Nick Thorpe
President George Bush arrives in Poland on Friday to fete his strongest European ally after the United Kingdom.
General Andrzej Tyszkiewicz will head the Polish peacekeepers
These are heady days for the Polish Government, which is enjoying its new weight in international relations.
Mr Bush is just the latest in an unbroken line of US presidents since Richard Nixon, to pay homage to Polish loyalty.
His visit comes as Poland, at the US's invitation, is poised to command one of only three peacekeeping sectors in Iraq - an operation fraught with many risks, and many opportunities.
"This is a great challenge," says defence analyst Wojciech Luczak.
A great success in Iraq will immediately launch Poland... into the first league of the decision-makers
Defence analyst Wojciech Luczak
"A great success in Iraq will immediately launch Poland from the group of the not-so-significant countries in Europe, into the first league of the decision-makers."
He adds: "I deeply trust that we will somehow be lucky, and that we will succeed that mission without any bloodshed."
But Poland's alliance with the US on Iraq is already having a profound affect on relations between the new and old members of the European Union.
When Poland accepted the mission, its leaders expected that an existing international battalion - including German soldiers - would form the core.
What we are bringing to the European community, this is the confidence of the United States
Marek Siwiec, presidential security adviser
But the Germans said No.
The Polish willingness to take on the role has already angered some German commentators, who accuse her of being a Trojan horse - or more insulting still - a Trojan donkey for the Americans in Europe.
"What does it mean to be an American agent? What does it mean to be donkey? What does it mean to be a Trojan horse, whatever? It doesn't mean anything!" says Marek Siwiec, national security adviser to the Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski.
"What we are bringing to the European community, this is the confidence of the United States. And this confidence is very much required to build future transatlantic relations - on one side the United States, on the second side United Europe."
Need for friends
Earlier this year, the Poles bought 46 F-16 fighters from the Americans - in preference to European alternatives - in exchange for massive US investment in their country.
But they have also been co-operating with Spain on the production of a new aircraft wing - which Poles hail as an important step on the road to incorporating the Polish aerospace industry into a European and Global market.
The United States can count on us, and when - hopefully never - a day will come when Poland will need to count on her allies, we will then be able to count on the United States
Daniel Passent, Polityka foreign affairs writer
Daniel Passent, a veteran writer on foreign affairs at the weekly Polityka, says that the Polish decision to get involved in Iraq should be understood above all in the context of Poland's history - her own need, so close to Russia, for powerful friends.
"I think Poland is going to Iraq because it wants to prove to the United States that we are a reliable ally.
"That the United States can count on us, and when - hopefully never - a day will come when Poland will need to count on her allies, we will then be able to count on the United States," he says.
For now though, Poland has the unenviable task of piecing together a stabilisation force of her own - with a little help from Nato.