Russia Shouldn't Have A Veto On Missile Defense




 
--
Russia Shouldn't Have A Veto On Missile Defense
 
February 11th, 2009  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Russia Shouldn't Have A Veto On Missile Defense


Russia Shouldn't Have A Veto On Missile Defense
Wall Street Journal
February 11, 2009
Pg. 15

European leaders relied on U.S. commitments.
By Milan Vodicka
Prague -- If the United States builds a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of the missile defense program developed by the Bush administration, it's likely that the Russians will target the Czech Republic with their tactical nuclear missiles. But many Czechs are fearful of an even greater danger than Russia: The possibility that the U.S. may decide not to deploy the defense system. Unfortunately, Vice President Joseph Biden suggested this prospect last week in Munich when he said, "We will wait for what the experts say and then we will see."
Czech politicians and their Polish counterparts have invested a lot of political capital in the missile defense project. If the Obama administration doesn't follow through, supporters of the missile shield would feel abandoned by the U.S.
What's worse, Czech and Polish leaders would lose credibility among their opponents and, most importantly, Russia. Moscow would see the failure to build the radar system as proof of its influence over Central Europe, and as recognition of its veto power over European security policy.Mr. Biden doesn't seem to appreciate that the missile defense project isn't just about American interests. It's about the Czechs and the Poles, too.
The Americans wanted the radar and the interceptors, and they wanted them within the borders of our countries. Our leaders went to great lengths to meet Washington's requests. They stood firm in the face of passionate protests at home and intimidation from Russia. Recently, Moscow backed down from its threat to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, but it stands ready to follow through if missile defense becomes a reality.
It's beginning to look as though the Americans were taking us for a ride. Now that there's a new driver in the White House, they think they can just drop us off at the curb.
Even if the Obama administration wants to backtrack on missile defense, doing so won't return relations with Russia to the status quo ante. This is because Russia has transformed the issue of the missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland into evidence of its growing influence. Russia has turned this into a question of its power beyond its borders.
If it weren't for Russia, there would be little difficulty in Washington's change of heart. Yet Russia's involvement makes the game a different one entirely. While several interceptors in Poland can stop individual missiles, they can't prevent a massive strike by a nuclear power like Russia. This is because the system is aimed at Iran, not Russia.
Moscow's rigid position has hardened the resolve of Prague and Warsaw, which fear that the Kremlin is attempting to dictate the limits of Czech and Polish sovereignty and foreign policy. We have experienced this before.
This, at least, is how the situation appears from the Czech point of view. I can already anticipate the Obama administration's conclusion: that missile defense is an expensive diversion with uncertain benefits and unpleasant side effects. Such an outcome is all the more likely given the global economic crisis and the difficult fiscal situation in the U.S.
There's no doubt that Russia would profit from a scenario in which the U.S. put the missile defense project on hold. Just consider the situation in Georgia last summer.
During the conflict in South Ossetia, it was alarming how many observers in the U.S. press implied that NATO enlargement was a mistake. The tone of these articles strongly suggested that expansion of the Atlantic alliance only caused the U.S. more trouble with Russia. They also implied that the U.S. and other Western powers were less than fully committed to their new eastern partners.
In this light, it's clear that American retreat on the missile defense program would hand Moscow a huge victory. Washington can't afford to leave the Czechs out in the cold.
Mr. Vodicka is senior writer for the Czech newspaper Mladá Fronta Dnes.
 


Similar Topics
Tough Sell For U.S. Overseas Missile Defense Bases
Sea-Based Missile Defense System Shows Promise
The Future Of U.S. Missile Defense
Pentagon Invites Kremlin To Link Missile Systems
A Radar Unit's Journey Reflects Hopes, Snafus In Missile Defense