The First Draft: Missile defense, Iran and value voters

September 18, 2009

President Barack Obama’s decision to abandon a big, fixed-installation missile defense shield in Eastern Europe is drawing some angry reaction abroad.

Conservatives in Poland, where the Bush administration planned to base interceptor rockets, and the Czech Republic, where a radar installation was planned, accused Washington of buckling to Russian pressure.

OBAMA/Defense Secretary Robert Gates meets Friday afternoon with his Czech counterpart, Martin Bartak, as the administration works to explain its new thinking. It may be a hard sell.

“Betrayal! The USA has sold us to the Russians and stabbed us in the back,” said the Polish tabloid Fakt.

The Czech daily Lidowe Noviny took a similar line. “Obama gave in to the Kremlin,” it said.

Some military experts viewed the decision as a sign of weakness by Obama that Moscow hardliners would try to exploit further.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin described it as “correct and brave,” and followed up Friday with a speech calling for Obama to agree to concessions on trade and technology transfer.

The Bush administration had proposed the shield to counter concerns Iran was developing a long-range missile capability that could strike at the United States.

The Obama administration said Iranian short- and medium-range missiles were a more immediate concern. It said it would scrap the antiballistic missile shield in favor of a more mobile, versatile system targeting shorter-range missiles.

U.S. newspapers were more receptive to that rationale. The New York Times called it “a sound strategic decision” and USA today said it marked the first big break in foreign policy with the former administration.

USA-SHIELD/GATESRepublicans charged that it amounted to a big security concession to Russia, even as the administration said the decision was all about Iran and not Moscow.

The announcement came ahead of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York next week and the start of direct talks in October between Iran and major powers concerned about its nuclear enrichment program.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did little Friday to allay those worries.

Speaking to worshipers at Tehran University, Ahmadinejad said the Holocaust was a “lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim.”

He said it was a pretext to create a Jewish state and that Iranians had a “national and religious duty” to confront it.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a speech looking at her aims for the U.N. General Assembly, said the missile decision was a reaction to Iran, not Russia.

“We would never, never walk away from our allies,” she said.

Obama meets today with Susan Rice, his ambassador to the United Nations, ahead of the General Assembly session.

And the religious right begins its annual Washington gathering — the Value Voters Summit — looking for ways to rally conservative Christians against Obama’s agenda, including healthcare reform.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama discusses missile defense Thursday); Reuters/Yuri Gripas (Gates discussing missile defense Thursday)


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Obama is the weakest Link.He should be tried for treason as he is destroying our great Country!! God help us all

Posted by Jeanne | Report as abusive

Surely people can see what this was all about? 2 weeks ago Obama told Israel to stop immediately on any settlement building in Israel.The appeasement to Russia regarding the missile shield against Iran,this week,and Ahmadinejad coming to America to speak at the UN.Unfortunately it did not work out,the consolidation plan of a leaders meeting between the two,not on the agenda in spite of the political boost it would have given president Obama as his polls are going down.Appeasement politics is dangerous, Israel are not going to let Obama sell them out, they are streets ahead and will do what ever they have to do in spite of Obama.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Give an inch, take a mile. Putin and his Medvedev sock puppet will take the mile, and expect/demand additional unilateral miles. It’s already in progress, as evidenced by Putin’s public statements about Obama’s reorientation of Eastern European missile defense.

The Russians could successfully twist Iranian (or Afghan) arms at any time, if they thought the Iranians (or Afghans) posed a threat to THEM and THEIRS. Remember, Ahmadinejad’s first glory stop after being ‘re-elected’ was where?

It doesn’t add up with Obama. Domestically, it was sit back and look the other way when the $787 billion stimulus pander was in formation. Yet with missile defense involving $70 million dollar missiles — 14 of which could be bought for a SINGLE billion, with change left over — now he supposedly is ruled by cost-effectiveness. So add penny wise/pound foolish to give an inch/take a mile. And domestically, Obama is all stick when it comes to health-care reform via fines, penalties, ‘contributions’, and new taxes. Yet with the Russians, he seems to be all sweet glazed ‘cost-saving’ unilateral carrot.

And where did the ‘good’ intelligence come from that sparked the reorientation of the Eastern European missile defense initiative. The CIA? According to the dems, the CIA routinely ‘lies.’

“We would never, never walk away from our allies,” she said.

Listen carefully when Obama or Clinton speak, to understand why they are not ‘lying’. In this case, Clinton was referring to Putin and Medvedev, not the Poles and the Czechs. And when Obama says illegal aliens won’t be auto covered by health-care reform initiatives, he means concurrent amnesty programs would confer legal status upon them.

And this reorientation of Eastern European missile defense is all for what? To try and get Russia’s vote for further sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council? That isn’t going to happen, no matter how many carrots Obama throws at the bear, unless Iran crosses the line and threatens the Russians directly. If Ahmadinejad is stupid enough to do that, Putin and Medvedev would deal with him directly, and skip the UN circus.

As for ‘costly’ long-range missile intercept, systems don’t actually have to work as well as you would hope they would. But only your enemy has to BELIEVE there’s a good probability they could work.

China has nuclear-armed North Korea to play off against us in the West. It’s in the Russians’ best interest to similarly have a nuclear-armed Iran.

Domestically and abroad, Obama is bad news — for us.

Posted by dom youngross | Report as abusive

The interceptor program works in defensive rings, Israel is the interceptor base for short range BM interception, coming out of the ME, region. That why 43 gave the Israeli’s the radar befor he left office. Poland is for IRBM and LR/FR ICBM’s coming out of the ME, second ring of protection.

While the naval assets provide protection, it is the land bases that provide total protection, while freeing up naval assets for conventional warfare.

Poland will go ahead it will be operation by 2020-25. No drama Obama, it is all about moving the money around the defense budget, Russia knows this is a short term fiscal decision.

I am confident the program will go ahead. Whether it is a dual Soviet/US system is up for discussion. It is difficult to have a dual system to protect from threat that one party is also supporting re: Iran.

Prime Minister Putin told the Iranian President to convince Israel that Iran is not a threat and his statements about the destruction of Israel are not helpful to Iranian security or ME security. The Iranian President reaffirmed his position and that his position is Iranian state policy.

I do not know if Ahmadi was giving the finger to Putin, Israel, the US or all three this time around. Russia has no control of the Iranian regime or influence, the only influence is if they support the Iranian position if they do not then Iran does its own thing. That is not influence or control.

That is why the fixation with seeking Soviet help on Iran is in many ways a western falsehood. It was the US who liquidated the murderer of the Russian diplomats in Iraq, not the Russians even though a contract was ordered. That is just one example of the difference between the 80’s and the current period and Soviet influence in the ME. One no one would touch a Soviet diplomat, second the Soviet would deal with it themselves. So the help the West seeks from the East cannot not be given this is not the 80’s.

All they can do is offer Iran tactile support and limited help in containing Iran to the West, while trying to achieve their own foreign policy objectives. Try to please Iran, try to please the West and further their own objectives, like the temporary removal of the interceptors from Poland.

It is not in Russia interest to confront Iran with a hostile diplomatic position that does not achieve results, as then a nuclear Iran will be an enemy and security threat to Russia with 1000 BM silos in the Perisan desert, next door to Russia. Nor is it in their interest to have 1000 BM’s next door in the Persian desert. It is a catch 22 for Moscow.

It is not in the interest to have a nuclear Iran export their Islamic revolution to groups under a nuclear umbrella. At some stage the revolution will be exported and this also has implications for Russia and it’s fight against Islamic extremists.

All Israel wants is what it wants from the US, is for Russia to look the other way when Israel decides to put the Iranian program back by 5 years. The non-delivery of the S-300 while the threat of an Israel air strike is current has not influenced Iranian policy, so sanctions will achieve nothing, that statement by Russia to Iran carried more weight than any sanctions could.

This why 43 said that Ahmadi and his mates will start WW3, at some stage Russia will have to openly choose a side in all this. I hope that it is Russians making a decision by Russians for Russia and not a decision being made by Ahmadi and his Iranian crew.

From a US perspective it is imperative that if the Iranian issue is not dealt with, that the interceptors are placed in Poland. As I cannot see a resolution in relation to the Iranian issue not now or in the future. I can confidently say that the interceptor program will go ahead.

Welcome to the multi-polar world.

Posted by TCMSOLS | Report as abusive

Apparently the Russians are looking at the alternate navel missile plan that Obama has selected . The cancellation of the land based system,has opened the door for the Russians and the UN to speculate that even this system might not be suitable.They are possibly suggesting a joint missile system that all the main nations in that region will have a voice to whether the missiles can be deployed. This is systematic when it appears that there is a chance for them to use leverage for their benefit.they are not going to support Obama with sanctions against Iran,they are just playing him!

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

I wonder how the fact that Russia has lent money to allow Venezuela – a bitter foe of the US – will affect relations between Moscow and Washington DC. Here’s a run down of what took place: a. Russia may be less of a direct threat, but doesn’t mean it won’t and can’t finance others as a proxy.

Posted by metakid | Report as abusive