Tales of the Interregnum

First, Radoslaw Sikorski told Gazeta Wyborcza. Then Donald Tusk told the German newspaper whose web site is better than it used to be.

Sikorski — who is Poland’s foreign minister, used to be its defense minister and is married to Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum — said that proceeding with the proposed American missile defense sites in his country would definitely have political costs, and it was not clear whether something might change on the American side. His country was not prepared to incur definite costs for something that might not come to pass anyway.

Translation: Bush is out of power in 368 days (not that anyone’s counting), and his administration can go and whistle.

Tusk told the Frankfurter Allgemeine essentially the same thing. He was more tactful, of course, saying decisions about the program didn’t have to “be a race.” His Czech counterpart, Mirek Topolanek, was equally circumspect. He said that quality was more important than speed.

Translation: Prime Ministers let their cabinet colleagues speak more directly, but really, Bush is out of power in 368 days (not that anyone’s counting), and his administration can go and whistle.

So it’s an interesting period in transatlantic relations. Bush-administration initiatives are getting shelved, the succession is unclear, and what the successor’s policy will be like is even more unclear. Politics and vacuums being what they are, some unusual things could bubble up at the working level, or unexpected players could be taking initiatives. But as the Czech and Polish leaders are pointing out, pet projects of the outgoing US administration that are widely opposed in their countries will not find much favor.

I had hoped that Daniel Davies would work up another nifty model for when people would stop paying attention to Bush, but it looks like we have empirical data.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Governments and parties, Not Europe, Political issues by Doug Merrill. Bookmark the permalink.

About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

6 thoughts on “Tales of the Interregnum

  1. Bush will be out of power in a year, but Europe has been out of power since 1945. By all means, keep counting the days, if it gives you something to do. We change our government at regular intervals; good luck changing the EU. You didn’t even get to vote on whether to join it.

    We do not absolutely need the early warning system in Europe, although it would be nice to have. By the time Iran develops a missile capable of reaching us, we will have developed a method of detecting and destroying that missile. Earlier warning means less demand on the proposed defense system, so it would provide a margin of safety for us. It might have been a first line for Europe, but Europe can deploy its strategic appeasement system instead.

  2. Over time, a small but select number of commenters have embarrassed themselves by failing to realize that I am American. From this patriot’s point of view, Bush has been an umitigated disaster of a president. As I’ve been saying since 2001, the American republic will survive George W. Bush, but it is a pity that it has to. Soon I will change that last verb to “had,” and that will be some small satisfaction.

    The original six members set up organizations through treaties signed by elected governments. Many of the states that have since joined held referenda, the rest acceded by duly ratified treaties. This is how representative democracy works; did they teach you nothing at Chicago?

    Missile defense is best understood as corporate welfare on a truly grand scale, with propaganda supplied by the true believers. After more than two decades (just less than the time span between von Braun’s arrival in the US and Armstrong’s feet on the moon, for reference), the systems cannot pass tests under the most controlled of circumstances. Will any president bet an entire city (or more) that strategic missile defense? Only if he is a far greater fool than even the present Bush.

    The strategic goals could be accomplished far more effectively by other means, but that would not shovel money to select companies and their friends. Hence, the missile defense boondoggle continues unabated.

    Iran has the GDP of Alabama. For people who are not hell-bent on finding enmity behind every difference of interest, it presents completely manageable challenges. Effortless superiority is one of the benefits of being a superpower, yet another obvious thing the present administration has either forgotten or never knew in the first place. Election day cannot get here soon enough.

  3. Over time, Fistful of Euros has managed to strip out most identifying marks for its various contributors. Not only was your name *not* on the post in question, but your comment tag doesn’t even make clear which Doug you are. I’d guess Merrill because Muir rarely behaves in such a repulsive and asinine manner as you just have, whichever Doug you might be.

    In other news: Me? Not the Mitch above. Fistful of Euros: irritating American Mitches from coast to coast!

  4. Merrill. Credit where credit is due.

    We’ve had some technical issues and are presently running on a stripped-down version so that comments will work at all. With luck, the full version will return soon, so our gentle readers will know just who is dishing out the snark.

  5. By the time Iran develops a missile capable of reaching us, we will have developed a method of detecting and destroying that missile.

    Explain the rationale behind this rather large statement.

    Ballistic rocket missiles have worked reliably since the 1940s; nobody has managed to make a useful mid-course interceptor yet. This is because one problem is much more difficult than the other.

    The only bits of the system that have managed to hit anything that wasn’t broadcasting to help it are the forward deployed boost-phase ones.

    Oh, that Chicago Boyz thing still exists? Bwaahaahaaa.

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