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.