George Bush isn't just a lame duck, he's a dead duck president in the eyes of French president Nicolas Sarkozy. That much is apparent in Sarkozy's decision to join Russia in condemning the US anti-missile battery deployments to Poland and the Czech Republic.
Sarkozy and Medvedev have agreed to stage an international summit next year to hammer out a new security agreement for Europe. The invited will include Russia, all 27-European Union nations and, presumably, the United States. In making the announcement, Sarkozy didn't pull any punches about how he views the America missile battery deployment. From The Guardian:
"Deployment of a missile defence system would bring nothing to security in Europe. It would complicate things," said the French leader, who currently chairs the EU. As he attacked the plan, Czech and Polish ministers met in Prague to affirm their support for the installations and send a signal to the Obama administration, pleading for it to go ahead.
"I'm 100 per cent sure that Obama won't kill missile defence," Alexandr Vondra, the Czech deputy prime minister, told the Guardian. "The European pillar of missile defence is in the interests of everyone who wants to keep Nato strong."
The French alignment with Russian aims will upset pro-US leaders in western and eastern Europe, but will enjoy support in Germany and Italy, which are eager to draw Russia in as a partner despite the recent invasion of Georgia."
It's clear that Obama isn't going to be given much time to weigh America's role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and whether he's ready to continue the Bush policy of treating NATO as America's Foreign Legion. If major players such as Germany and France openly break with the White House on European security, that just could be the end of NATO.
For France to launch this European security initiative on its own, without consultations with Washington, also suggests that Europe is looking for a new understanding with America, one in which the US is no longer the first and final word on matters the Europeans consider their business.