Limping Out of Bucharest

This CFR interview with Charles Kupchan is about as good a rundown of last week’s NATO summit and the subsequent meeting between Presidents Bush and Putin as any I’ve read. Both the summit and bi-lateral meeting were mixed bags: not enough failure to resemble disaster, but not enough enthusiasm to resemble success. Despite the alliance’s high-profile rebuke of Bush on MAP’s for Ukraine and Georgia, Kupchan observed that Bush has actually done a good job of repairing relations with France and Germany. But in that he’s been helped by a changing of the guard in both countries, as well as in Europe in general. In fact, he and Putin are the last men standing from the 9/11 era, an era that is drawing to a close withRussia back as a force on the European and global scene and America weakened.

But it’s not just America that is weakened. The takeway, besides the fact that the entire world is basically waiting for next January before they make any real moves with America, is Kupchan’s sense of a West that no longer enjoys any real solidarity. From EU construction to NATO operations to global warming initiatives arrived at between sovereign nations and American states, we’ve entered into a generalized historical moment of case-by-case approaches and situational Coalitions of the Willings. Perhaps the genius of Donald Rumsfeld was to have seen its inevitability before anyone else, but his folly was to believe that in accelerating its arrival he might strengthen American power.