Just when the Czech Republic is enjoying a visit by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that would produce an agreement on planting a MD radar on the Czech soil, Poland is fighting the hangover caused by the rejection of the American offer to host a base for the MD interceptors. And the actions of the government may be regarded as inconsistent or chaotic - unless taken for a perfect camouflage.
First, mid last week, Poland's main negotiator returned from the US and presented the results of his talks to the prime minister with a Mona Lisa smile on his face, as shown in a few media appearances. He remained tight-lipped but unofficial leaks suggested the deal is closed. Then, out of the blue, amid a frenzy of bilateral consultations both at home and with the White House, the prime minister Tusk says the offer is unsatisfying. But as soon as the shock wave went through the press and political circles, the foreign minister Sikorski took a swift trip to Washington DC, to talk to Mrs Rice, Obama and McCain in what was seen as a last ditch attempt to strike the deal or to see what the next US president thinks. As the meeting in the State Department produced nothing more than a statement, Poland raised the stakes even hihger. The defence minister, Mr Klich said that Poland expects in return for hosting the MD's "third site" not only a permanent deployment of a Patriot missiles battery - something that Americans opposed from the beginning - but also a transfer of technology that would allow for production of the system at home. A demand as bold as could be - taking into consideration the capabilities of Poland's defence industry and reluctance of the US to share the newest military technology. And to many observers - one based on wishful thinking rather than on realistic approach to the issue.
The question asked here now is whether that all is a carefully considered negotiating strategy of a much smaller but tough partner vis-a-vis the world's sole superpower or a „headless chicken" behaviour of a mediocre, underdeveloped country, frightened of its own bravery and now scared of being left empty handed. Most opinion makers quietly hope that Poland is very close to the deal and the current commotion is a directed PR excersise of little known goals. But the developments of the last few days could make the MD and US supporters weary and pessimistic about the result. This path may lead to a dead end that would not only put in question some of Poland's basic security paradigms but complicate the strategic situation in the region, probably also undermine the NATO ambitions of countries like Ukraine and Georgia. The resposibility Poland takes is not only for its own future.