Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Anne Applebaum Loses It

Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum succumbed to a fit of spluttering rage and incoherent cursing recently. About the plan to install components for missile defense against Iran in the Czech Republic and Poland, she screams:

A mere four years later, New Europe no longer exists. . . . Mortally wounded by Iraq, damaged further by the American administration's lack of interest in its concerns -- change in the U.S. visa regime, military assistance -- New Europe will probably now be killed off completely by American plans to build a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

. . . . .

Yet it seems no one in the Pentagon ever imagined that there might be objections to the project, or that the locals might want some extra reassurance, or that a bit of judicious diplomacy might have smoothed the way in advance. According to some, the State Department didn't even know the missile shield was going ahead until the Pentagon had made the decision. Sound familiar?

And all of this, every bit of it, was avoidable. Indeed, New Europe is expiring just as France and Germany have acquired leaders distinctly more pro-American than their predecessors. With a bit more attention and a bit less arrogance, the transatlantic alliance might now be reinvigorated instead of being angry and resentful. When we get around to assessing Bush's foreign policy, the damage done on the old continent may loom almost as large as the damage done in Iraq.

OK, that's not exactly a screed, but it is as close to one as Anne Applebaum -- a pundit for whom the word judicious might have been invented -- will ever get. When she talks like that, she must be very worried and very upset. A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture by some Mongolian officials (current and former diplomats) and in between the cautious phrasing, for the first time they seemed genuinely worried that the US might push them into hosting something similar. They are worried both about the effect on Russia and about the general impression that this administration is completely oblivious and unpredictable.

Adding everything together, I feel the same way.

Oh well. Add my name to the number of former supporters filing for "divorce" from this administration -- and feeling a salutary sense of shame and humiliation.

P.S. for a rational take on Iran by Peter Hitchens, go here.