One of President Bush’s small victories at April’s NATO summit was the alliance’s vote of confidence, despite Russia’s very vocal opposition, for the American missile defense system based in Eastern Europe. But judging by how much the Polish military is expecting in return for hosting the interceptors, the deal is far from a sure thing. The Poles want $20 billion for a serious overhaul of their armed forces, whereas one State Department official dismissively put the upper limit at $20 million. That’s quite a bit of daylight.
Twenty billion is a lot, even when you factor in Moscow’s threat to add Polish ZIP codes to its nuclear warhead mailing lists. But when you consider that we’ve already spent $550 billion to pre-empt a non-existent Iraqi threat, $20 billion more for a non-existent Iranian threat seems like a bargain.