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Shelved missile shield tests NATO unity

By Paul Taylor
September 17, 2009

foghAfter just six weeks as NATO secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen has his first crisis. The alliance may be slowly bleeding in an intractable war in Afghanistan, but the immediate cause is the U.S. administration’s decision to shelve a planned missile shield due to have been built in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The shield, energetically promoted by former President George W. Bush, was designed to intercept a small number of missiles fired by Iran or some other ”rogue state”. But Russia saw it as a threat to its own nuclear deterrent and NATO’s new east European members saw it as a useful deterrent against Russian bullying, by putting U.S. strategic assets on their soil.

President Barack Obama’s decision to drop plans to install it on Polish and Czech territory leaves those former Soviet satellites feeling betrayed — because they expended political capital to win parliamentary support — and more exposed to a resurgent Russia, especially after its use of force against Georgia last year.

Obama’s move is clearly part of a warming of U.S. relations with Moscow from which Washington hopes to gain help in return on supply routes to Afghanistan, pressure on Iran to rein in its nuclear programme, and an agreement on radical cuts in nuclear arsenals. But this “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations has only exacerbated the rift within NATO over Russia.

The three Baltic states and Poland were particularly critical of NATO’s low-key response to Moscow’s military action in Georgia. Some said the refusal of west European allies led by Germany and France to agree at a NATO summit last year to putting Georgia and Ukraine on a path to NATO membership emboldened the Kremlin to act. President Dimitry Medvedev’s harsh attack on Ukraine’s leader in an open letter last month fanned their fears of Russian bullying of its neighbours.

East European officials cite Moscow’s playing with the gas taps and trade disputes, and its apparent determination to keep its Black Sea fleet in the Crimean port of Odessa Sevastopol beyond a 2017 deadline agreed with Ukraine as part of a strategy of tension intended to reverse the “colour revolutions” in Kiev and Tbilisi, and bring other former Soviet republics to heel.

All that makes it a particularly awkward moment for Rasmussen to deliver his inaugural keynote speech on NATO-Russia relations on Friday in Brussels. The former Danish prime minister has put a few noses out of joint in his first weeks by making clear he intends to run NATO in a more results-oriented way, leaving less room and time for ambassadors in the North Atlantic Council to debate any idea to a standstill. He has set strict time-limits on council meetings, streamlined flabby agendas and outsourced the drafting of a new Strategic Concept to a group of 12 experts led by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, on which not all allies are represented.

His personal management style and high media profile (monthly news conferences, a blog and Twitter chatter) has sharpened the traditional Kabuki dance in which a new boss and the old board flex their muscles at each other in mutual suspicion, insiders say. It is the first time a former prime minister, used to running a government and to talking to fellow national leaders, has been picked for the job. Previous secretaries-general were former defence or foreign ministers, more accustomed to being servants of the member nations.

Both camps within NATO (which privately brand each other the “Friends of Russia”, and the “Cold Warriors”) will be watching every word of Rasmussen’s Russia speech to ensure he does not depart from alliance policy. The fact is that NATO has been unable to agree on an overall policy towards Russia since the 1990s, when it declared that Moscow was no longer an adversary.

Rasmussen hopes to launch NATO’s own modest “reset” of ties with Russia, offering closer cooperation on Afghanistan, a joint threat assessment and work on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. NATO officials have received assurances that Moscow will respond positively and breathe new life into the NATO-Russia Council.

None of that will assuage NATO’s east European members, who are likely to press harder now for practical steps to give credibility to the alliance’s Article V mutual defence commitment. That could involve drafting military plans to reinforce the Baltic republics and Poland, and holding joint military exercises on those countries’ territory. The French and Germans have resisted such ideas in the past as unnecessarily provocative to Moscow. If NATO cannot agree to such moves, the United States may have to do more on its own to compensate its jilted friends.

(note: corrects Odessa to Sevastopol in 6th paragraph)

Comments

This is the most promising sign coming out of the US in recent years. This is truly the way forward with Russia and the best signs the new US administration is willing to back it’s words with actions and real change. Thank you Mr. President. You are following up on all of your campaign promises despite a very loud minority of misinformed American that continue to be misled by the constant bombardment of right wing propaganda coming out of some cable news channels.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive
 

who ever trust russians must be a monkey or does not remember the lessons of history

 

OBAMA PROVES THAT THE DOUBTS OF THE LEARNED INDEPENDENTS OF THE WORLD. HE IS A PRODUCT OF AN IDEA TAKEN FORM “THE OMEN’ AND HIS CONDUCT SHOWS ANY LEARNED MIND THAT HE IS THE FINAL CHAPTER OF THIS SAGA.
HE HAS A CRIMINAL MIND SET, LOOK AT THE ORGANIZATION “ACORN” . IN ADDITION, HE IS FAR TOO UNLEARNED AND INEXPERIENCED TO BE A COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF ANY ORGANIZATION IN PARTICULAR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. OBAMA IS A PUPPET, LIKE ANY PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS.
HOWEVER, HE DID NOT WIN IN A RIGHTFUL MANNER, HE WON BECAUSE UNLEARNED MISLED PEOPLE BELIEVED HIS WIN WOULD HELP THE UNITED STATES IMAGE,
HOWEVER THE CURRENCY MANIPULATOR GEORGE SORENSEN OBAMA’S PUPPETEER AND OBAMA’S ROOT SOURCE OF CAMPAIGN FUNDING OF HIM, AND OTHER PUPPETS WHO ARE ELECTED OFFICIALS i.e. BARNEY FRANKS AND SCUM LIKE HIM, FIRST CAUSED WORLD WIDE FINANCIAL CRISES, FOR THE PURPOSES OF DEVALUING THE AMERICAN CURRENCY JUST AS HE DID FOR ENGLAND…
WAKE UP WORLD OR ARE YOU ABLE TO? DUE TO BEING JUST AS STUPID AS THE MAJORITY OF THE VOTERS THAT ELECTED HIM, HOWEVER WEAK THE CHOICE WAS?
THE MISSILE DEFENSE PLAN IS A WEAPON DEFENSE SYSTEM THAT THAT WAS AN IDEA FROM THE Regan era and WILL SERVE THE WORLD, FROM AMONG OTHER UN-TRUST-WORTHY COUNTRIES LIKE RUSSIA…this is peace of mind for you and your family.

Posted by Robert Iles | Report as abusive
 

This is a big mistake on Obama’s part. It will only embolden Russia. Obama clearly does not understand Russian mentality, it will be read in Russia as a sign of weakness, not good will. There is no win-win term in Russian vocabulary, its either you win and I lose or you lose and I win.
Additionally it shows to all potential and current US allies that there is no such a thing as US foreign policy and that deals made with any administration have expiration date of 8 years at best, and any subsequent administration may change the course 180 degrees.
On a separate note, couldn’t they pick some other day to announce this thing? Sept 17 is 70th anniversary of Russian invasion of Poland.

Posted by PwlM | Report as abusive
 

Like someone said, those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it and i doubt obama knows any history besides his own. Loser and a wimp.

 

Hurray and congratulations for dearest Barack Obama a real shift toward global disarmament

 

Having been, to put it lightly, not a fan of BHO, since even before his election, I can’t blame him on this one. Of course if it’s true that Russia promised in return to put more pressure on Iran and North Korea. Iran under crippling sanctions and without modern Russian weapons, particularly air defense, is better for US security than the radar in Poland and missiles in Czech. The same things installed in Turkey have more sense. First, they’re closer to the intended targets, and better positioned to hit Iranian missiles when they’re biggest, slowest, loaded with fuel, and therefore most vulnerable. Over East Europe the same missile would have booster stages ditched (therefore smaller target), and at full speed. Secondly, they would irritate Russia much less because Turkey is away from Russian missile flight path.
As for former Soviet satellites and their desire to stick it up to former boss – they must learn to live with it. Their grand ambitions are not worth a conflict with Russia, even if that conflict is only on diplomatic level.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

This might be a serious miscalculation by Obama.

Russian goodwill is a political oxymoron. There is little Russia has to offer the USA in terms of diplomatic assistance. So America shouldn’t make the effort to be friends.

Russia and China are not only supportive of Iran, but in some cases have provided material support to the country. Including arms sales, and assisting in the creation of it’s nuclear ambitions.

To think that they will now turn their back on Iran and pass sanctions is foolish. All you need to do is watch their pattern of behaviour in the UN security council. Their support of tehran is about as open a secret as it gets.

One must argue that being Russia’s friend is an expensive affair. It requires you to bend over backwards politically, just to keep the resemblence of friendship. It is far better to simply ignore Russia and accept that it will never compromise it’s interests, no matter how often it likes to indicate goodwill.

But as much as I would like Russia to freeze as the almost irrelevent former superpower that it is, it seems Obama is willing to talk turkey. Which makes me very interested in what exactly is at stake.

The only real possibility I see? Obama is using the missile shield as a concession. And the price is Iran. No more Russian missiles on route to tehran, and American military intevention will have a clean run for within the next year or so.

That’s politics, right? Looks like 2010-2011 be interesting times for all concerned.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

Posted by George UL: September 17th, 2009 4:41 pm GMT:
“Hurray and congratulations for dearest Barack Obama a real shift toward global disarmament”. I second that.

It is amazing how people start hiding behind ‘Anon’ when the going gets tough. Robert Iles, you need to go for some anger management classes(posted September 17th, 2009 3:34 pm GMT).

Arms trade is not white-and-black, it is grey, and by keeping quiet, one condones it.

People should sort out their own stuff and finance their own trickery, and at present not trust (false) friends who might blindside them, this is what it has come too.

Posted by Casper | Report as abusive
 

Right. So Russia threatens to point nuclear weapons at Poland, and revelops new classes of multiple reentry warheads. Not to mention pulls out of medium range missile treaty.

Obama decides not to put interceptor missiles in europe, because it interferes in Russian nuclear missile trajectory and hence reduces the effectiveness of their ability to wage nuclear war on Europe/America if it ever arises.

Missiles will instead go to Turkey, where they will not interfere with Russia. And are closer to Iran for actual use during the Iran war, which seems to be on the cards for the next year or so.

Meanwhile, NATO barely functioned during the Georgia mess. It still can’t form a unified front on new entries into NATO. And their “collective defence” seems to be another word for “huddle and hope the issue goes away”. And yet they still seek friendly dialogue with an unfriendly Russia (for some reason, it seemed like a good idea to develop a heavy energy relience on a nation that actively pursues anti-west interests).

Yet people think this all somehow equals a step towards nuclear disarmament. I must be missing something here.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive
 

What was the need to encircle a defeated fomer USSR or present Russia? NATO expanded into Eastern Europe while Russia was very weak in the late nineties. Why NATO had to create a sense of anxiety over a defeated one? When USSR collapsed that was the best chance to end the years of mistrust between West and East, but contrary NATO went on to add more countries close to the borders of Russia stoking fears on it’s borders!

The time is not over. There is still a good chance of a new world order even with a resurgent Russia. Russia is more a competitor than a threat. It wants to surround itself with secure states for its security. The Afghanistan was the last gap that it wanted to complete its cocoon, but unfortunately, the was the source of its very existence. Now it is time for new world order. Congrats OBAMA for pragmatism. Czechs and Poles have a constructive engagement with Russia. Russia will not invade you!

Posted by J.Harsha | Report as abusive
 

Talk to my people of Odessa where my friend lives. They will tell you USA just made them prisoner to Russia. Just Obama can become the first NATO leader after his 8 years are up in the US. Russia said that is our land you get off Obama said ok but remember you owe

Posted by lum | Report as abusive
 

Could somebody explain, why the USA needed missiles in Poland in the first place? I thought they have long range missiles? Is the war between the Teutonic Knights and Alexander not over yet? Did the Teutonic Knights made an aplication for missiles? President Obama obviuously has more knowledge about the US long range missiles arsenal and was informed that actually the war with Newsky is over (for the time being). Good for him. We are glad he is not a member of the Bones & Skull society !

 

Of course this about Russian influence, and UN backing, of Iran. You can not possibly believe Obama when he, or his Obots, say otherwise. The Presidents credibility, has diminished along with his ACORN ties recently. I think Russia has set a trap here for U.S. as recompense for our support to the anti-communist mujahideen in Afghanistan!

“You Lie” has taken on wider connotations it seems.

 

Hmm. Solution seems easy.

Europe needs to secure different energy sources, and stop depending on Russia for gas. After this, Russia has no political power left. The West can do as they please.

The only thing Russia has at the moment is resources. And that only helps them as long as they have a purchaser who depends on them.

After all, who would deal with Russia if they had a choice? Aside from Venezuala or Iran, I mean.

Posted by Spooky | Report as abusive
 

Is it not about time our european partners grew a pair and did their bit in the war against terror.
Britain should insist they send more troops or we pull out and focus on ourselves(home police). Other european countries need to agree on a fair partnership deal for the protection or europe, not rely on the US and UK military to sort out all the problems in europe.
They are all reaping the fiacial rewards for staying away from trouble while the uk falls deeper into national debt we are crazy……

Posted by John Barrat | Report as abusive
 

Europe needs to develop its own mechanism of defense, self defense, power base, however you want to put it,Europe includes part of the CIS, America quite probably already possesses full current capacity of missile defense; expansion to Poland and Czech was just an expansion of its sphere of influence with the pretext of missile defense, which Europe does not need, America’s missiles, missile defense and troops can be put to much better use elsewhere than doing nothing in the middle of Germany i.e., Europe needs to partner with Russia and help it develop, this is the best way to ensure Europe’s security.

On MS America was forced to quit missile defence not because of Russia only, but because Europe’s and Russia’s viewpoint on missile defence geographic deployment makes sense, America’s doesn’t

Posted by Nelson Ernest | Report as abusive
 

I can’t help feeling that this is just a part of the cutbacks due to global recession being felt around the world. Can Russia afford new multiple re-entry warheads? Maybe Obama has good intelligence, remember the Cuban Missile crisis when Kennedy faced down Krushchev? He knew the Russians only had 12 functioning missiles, not the 4000 they claimed at the time.

Posted by Mike B. | Report as abusive
 

I think the US should lead by example, first remove all its nuclear missiles from Europe (and the rest of the world) and then it can comment on how to appropriately position WMD’s for strategic defense.
The US has no credibility in these situations because it has already done to the world all the things we worry so much about other countries doing.
Oh what a tragedy if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons!!! It would begin to restore the balance of power in a region absolutely devastated by US interference and their illegal sale of nuclear weapons to a rogue, fanatically religious, extremely aggressive and illegal state.
Oh my god we must isolate Russia!!! Why?? Wouldn’t you isolate the country who has clearly done the most damage to the world, has fought and killed for the last 60 years to have unprecedented power of empire over us, has covered the free-world in weapons of mass destruction and army bases, whose last president had the IQ of a 6 year old, and who’s ONLY concern – is the USA!!

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive
 

This empire-building bull**** has got to stop. America has been meddling in other countries’ affairs since it emerged the victor in the Spanish-American War. After that war Americans starting worshipping their government; erecting statues and building monuments to war veterans and heroes, writing hymns to America (God Bless America, John Phillip Sousa’s hymns, etc.), and displaying a fanatical allegiance to and reverence toward their leaders. No wonder Americans offered no resistance to the 16th Amendment nor to America’s entry into WWI. They blindly went along with the New Deal and with Roosevelt’s war (WWII) and with every war since. It’s time Americans pulled their head out of their posteriors and view government for what it is; organized force.

Posted by Mufaso | Report as abusive
 

The real Obama begins to show and letting down our allies in NATO is just the beginning. There have been no solutions with N. Korea, no solutions with Iran, we’re now losing the battle in Afghanistan, we treat Russia better than our Allied NATO members and disgrace them in the meantime. Obama is a strong supporter of the Acorn Organization and we see where they are today. It looks like Obama is not a great or even a good leader when it comes to international affairs. It was a smoke screen. He’ll achieve nothing with Israel or Hamas. The West Bank settlements will go on and I support that completely. Israel sees how impotent Obama is with the Arabs and Iranians. They’re on their own and they know it. Let’s see if Obama is willing to see the need for more troops to win the war. Mandaue

Posted by Mandaue | Report as abusive
 

We need each other to survive. Yet we fear the betrayal of others because we know that even though we need each other there is no real trust. Our leaders have been given the power to make decisions
that affect us, and the resources to carry those decisions out.

But because human nature is currently only focused on self gratification, that self serving nature shows itself in corruption, and broken pledges to honor friendships and commitments.

The United States wants Russia to do stuff helpful to “our interests” (the interests of our leaders). And in exchange for this we are only too happy to abandon commitments. For there are no true friendships in the world of politics.

All of this is only human grasping for pleasure and power for its own sake. We cannot continue to live together without coming to the understanding that we must live in love towards each other and concern ourselves with the needs of our brothers and sisters in this place.

We must change within our hearts. And our minds will follow suit.

It can indeed be done.
http://www.kabbalah.info/

Love your neighbor as yourself. Love yourself.

 

PLEASE STOP THE WAR. THERE CAN BE NO PEACE IF OLD HABITS DO NOT STOP. PLEASE PRACTICE PEACE, WITH PEACEFUL WAYS. NO MORE WAR, UNITED STATES NEEDS TO HELP THE AMERICAN CITIZENS, 1ST. PEACE PEACE PEACE. AMEN TO THE ALL NATIONS, THE WORLD AND ALL ITS HUMAN BEINGS AND LIVING THINGS. GO WITH PEACE. PRAY AND WISH FOR PEACE. HELP US ALL WITH PEACEFUL WAYS. PEACE PEACE PEACE. PLEASE PRACTICE WITH PEACE.

Posted by BUBBA | Report as abusive
 

Well, it looks like things might work out after all.

-Russia doesn’t like the idea of a missile shield.
-Iran is the reason for the missile shield.
-Russia currently supports Iran by selling missiles and nuclear equipment.
-US wants economic sanctions, possibly to prepare for military strike in a year or two.
-But at the moment sanctions are blocked by Russia.

So the solution has finally occurred:

-Obama pledges to stop missile shield and stop supporting states on Russia’s border.
-Russia stops selling missiles to Iran and allows economic sanctions.
-Two years later, Iran will either surrender it nuclear ambitions or gets bombed until it resembles New Somalia.

Truly a step for international cooperation. And the last non-west middle eastern power seems to be on borrowed time

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

To me, it is extremely unsurprising that the US has canceled the missile defense shield. What amazes me is that the US started the project. In terms of its intended purpose, the missile defense shield was useless; the interceptors could easily be fooled with simple technology (see Scientific American article “holes in the missile shield”). And even if it could intercept missiles, our current “enemies” would not use missiles. If anything, they would use simple technologies like sticking a nuke in the back of a truck (although the threat of WMD’s are very exaggerated). ICBM’s are traceable, and no nuclear aggressor would want that.

The only logical explanation is that either our country’s leaders are medically insane or that the military industrial complex is using its political clout to enrich itself. I think the latter is more likely.

Posted by Chet Weger | Report as abusive
 

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