Saturday, June 09, 2007

More Bush incompetence

Here's an interesting piece by Ann Applebaum, reminding us that when Bush came into office all the pieces were in place for a solidly pro-American bloc in Europe. He was cheered like a conquering hero in Poland, Spain and Italy had center-right governments, all the central European countries had recently undertaken market liberalization, as had Britain, Portugal and Germany, and all were favorably inclined toward the United States. This was "New Europe."

The Iraq war was a big factor, of course, in all these countries (most of them part of the "coalition of the willing") being skepotical and disillusioned with the U.S. now. As Anne Applebaum puts it, "Mortally wounded by Iraq, damaged further by the U.S. administration's lack of interest in its concerns -- change in the U.S. visa regime, military assistance -- New Europe probably will be killed off completely by American plans to build a missile-defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

It didn't have to be so. The Pentagon apparently sprung the plan and announced it publicly before even telling the State Dept., which might have been able to smooth the way. But typical Bush arrogance -- we're America and people should just say yes without us even having to make a case -- has alienated what should have been natural allies.

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