Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk confirmed today that he declined last night to take a call from the U.S. informing him of the decision to scrap planned missile-defense bases in his country.
Two U.S.-based sources close to the Polish government said Thursday that Tusk also rejected a call from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — on the grounds that, as the head of the government, he should speak to the president.
“Hillary called — and the reason he turned it down was because of protocol,” said a source.
Questions about the exchanges surfaced in the Polish press after Obama reached the Czech prime minister late last night to warn of the policy change, but did not speak to the Pole until this morning. And the static offers a glimpse at the distress beneath the diplomatic facade being offered by Eastern European leaders.
Tusk said he declined to speak with President Obama during the night because he wanted to “properly prepare for the discussion.”
A Polish Embassy spokesman noted that Tusk ultimately spoke to Obama, while Clinton spoke to the country’s foreign minister.
This highlights a few facts:
a. As Michael Goldfarb stated yesterday,
the administration did not undertake any serious consultation with the allies affected by this decision, displaying a kind of unilateralism that became one of the core Democratic criticisms of the Bush administration’s diplomacy
b. The president did not see fit to advise in person any of the allies affected, even when they see this decision as potentially catastrophic. They were not called to Washington, instead they got a phone call.
c. Obama does not understand the niceties of protocol, sending the help to do the call to a head of state, instead of doing the calling. Next thing you know Tusk will be getting a set of DVDs as a consolation prize.
Max Boot writes about More Naiveté