Bush, Putin and NATO

According to EurasiaNet’s Joshua Kucera, President Bush really is committed to leaving Bucharest with Membership Action Plans (the last step before you get the NATO secret handshake) for Ukraine and Georgia. If you look at where the internal faultline lies, it’s pretty much England & New Europe for, and Old Europe (led by France and Germany) against. Remind you of anything?

One official called it the “. . .success of the Gazprom foreign policy.” Turn it around, though, and it can be seen as the failure of the “With us or against us” policy. Either way, what’s surprising is how public the hardening of the opposing lines has been before the actual summit, leaving very little room for reaching an agreement that allows everyone to save face. (Richard Weitz has a full rundown of Ukraine’s application here.)

Between the MAP’s and the far-from-certain force generation question for Afghanistan, this summit could be a disaster for Bush, who is scheduled to fly to Russia to sign a broad strategic roadmap with Vladimir Putin two days afterwards. Frankly, it’s hard to see how that works if Putin leaves Bucharest with more NATO pull than Bush.