President Lech Kaczynski came out of his meeting with George Bush at the White House, Monday, sounding much more certain that the anti-missile system is coming to northern Poland.
“It’s a forgone conclusion,” Kaczynski said standing next to a grinning Bush. Only the details, technical details, need to be cleared up.
A few weeks ago it emerged from anguished Polish spokesmen that the talks were not going as well as expected. There were sticking points. But now things seem to have moved forward considerably. So what changed during the pow-wow in the Oval Office?
Kaczynski has apparently been learning some English. Or so we are told. But what’s in his specially produced US visit phrase book, apart from “Hi”, and “I’ll have the cheese burger, just like my buddy George, please.”?
Maybe the phrase book – a slim volume - was filled with a couple of other phrases.
“Visa waver program, please” …and …”More money for the defense budget…..”…..and, “When can we get the hell out of Afghanistan and Iraq, please?”….
But it looks like it is possible that Bush has offered something different. Something more concrete.
Former PiS defense minister Radek Sikorski was on Polish Radio this morning when he said:
“It’s obvious that [the US] has offered them [PiS] something. I think they have given them Patriot Missiles.”
Patriot missiles? They are a tracking missile for anti-ballistic defense. Most varieties of the patriot appear to have a range of 70 kilometers.
They were used in the Gulf wars against Saddam's Skud missiles, and South Korea has them as protection against any missiles whistling over the border from North Korea.
So they are perfect, from Poland's perspective, for hitting missiles coming from a source near one’s own border.
Perfect for fending off any missiles coming from….maybe Russia?
So while the whole anti-missile system is said by Washington and Warsaw to be against ‘rogue’ states, a Poland armed with patriots would feel a little securer against threats from Moscow.
It’s just a theory.
The name ‘Patriot’, by the way, is an acronym for Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept Of Target.
There is also another bacronym: Protection Against Threats, Real, Imagined, Or Theorized.
Poll: 55 percent of Poles oppose hosting U.S. missile defense base