Bush & Putin make nice at the Olympics, while Russians tanks rumble across Georgia. But, hey! Dubya knows how to play checkers! Tonight's lead story from the BBC:
Poland has signed a preliminary deal with the US on plans to host part of its new missile defence shield. Under the agreement, the US will install 10 interceptor missiles at a base on the Baltic coast in return for help strengthening Polish air defences.
So, we're ratcheting things up in northern Europe, which depends on Russia for a big chunk of its natural gas. I keep thinking there's real problems with the recurring stories of Turkey bombing the Kurds in Iraq. Not exactly "Cumbaya" moments swirling about us...
This missle defense thing is supposedly against "rogue nations". In Poland? The only nukes in the general region are in Russia, and Putin's long opposed it. Hey, isn't there a different guy supposed to be running Russia now? What's his name?
Anyhow - with characteristic British sardonic understatement:
[T]he deal is expected to heighten tension between the US and Russia, already strained over Georgia.
No shit, Sherlock!
So, Russia didn't like this. Said it would target its missles at any new bases. So, says the BBC, Poland insisted on more arms buildup for its own military as part of the deal.
"We have crossed the Rubicon," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, referring to U.S. consent to Poland's demands after more than 18 months of negotiations.
The world needs this? And about those Polish demands, from the New York Times:
He said the deal also includes a "mutual commitment" between the two nations to come to each other's assistance "in case of trouble."
That clause appeared to be a direct reference to Russia, which has threatened to aim its nuclear-armed missiles at Poland -- a former Soviet satellite -- if it hosts the U.S. site.
A commitment for military action (under who knows what kind of vaguely phrased conditions)? Call me naive, but that sounds like a friggin' treaty they're talking about. Isn't there customarily a place for the Senate in that sort of agreement? Or have we reached the point where the Executive is so Unitary that it's taken over the Legislative Branch's role in treaties, too?
This just doesn't sound right to me. But that's because I have a vague, passing knowledge of what's in the U.S. Constitution. That seems to matter less and less these days. Even though the Founding Fathers rather specifically wanted to avoid an individual king being able to ruin a nation on an unchecked whim. Let's be clear what the Poles expect to have delivered:
"Poland and the Poles do not want to be in alliances in which assistance comes at some point later -- it is no good when assistance comes to dead people. Poland wants to be in alliances where assistance comes in the very first hours of -- knock on wood -- any possible conflict," Tusk said.
There were a coupla diaries about this earlier in the day, but they didn't get a whoppin' lotta attention. This story's worth repeating.
It's always something with this crew, isn't it? I keep remembering how Bush I invaded Somalia on their way out the door in December 1992. Dubya may be morphing into a lame duck, but I figure Cheney's more like a cornered animal, quite capable of inflicting a lot more damage with the time he's got left in power.
There's a thought to inspire a peacful night's sleep!