Friday, May 30, 2003
Jonathan Eyal - The Straits Times -- Mr Bush's itinerary in Europe makes it clear that Washington may be in a mood to forget, but it is not ready to forgive what has happened over the last few months.
True, the US leader is visiting Russia, supposedly in order to mark the 300th anniversary of the city of St Petersburg, the jewel of a town which also happens to be Russian President Vladimir Putin's original political base.
And, yes, he has to be in France, if only because the French are hosting this year's Group of Eight (G-8) summit.
But he could not resist a visit to Poland, the biggest country in the former communist East, the one-half of Europe which regards the Americans as liberators from Soviet domination, and which overwhelmingly supported Washington's policy on Iraq.
So, the message of the visit is clear from the start: Russia and France represent diplomatic duties which the American leader has to fulfil; Poland and the rest of eastern Europe are a question of pleasure, the representatives of half of the European continent now being viewed in Washington as America's true allies.