Appeasement and betrayal

September 17, 2009

It’s nothing short of a national disgrace:

U.S. Shelves Eastern European Nuclear-Missile Shield

President Barack Obama Thursday shelved a Bush-era plan for an Eastern European missile-defense shield, saying a redesigned defensive system would be cheaper, quicker and more effective against the threat from Iranian missiles.

“After an extensive process, I have approved the unanimous recommendations of my secretary of defense and my joint chiefs of staff to strengthen America’s defenses against ballistic-missile attack,” Mr. Obama said in a morning address.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell Thursday said the decision was made to better protect U.S. forces and allies in Europe from Iranian missile attacks.

The U.S. is basing its move on a determination that Iran’s long-range-missile program hasn’t progressed as rapidly as previously estimated, reducing the threat to the continental U.S. and major European capitals, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Czech peace activists demonstrated in February in front of the European Parliament in Brussels against the deployment of a U.S. radar base on Czech soil.

The findings are a major reversal from the Bush administration, which pushed aggressively to begin construction of the Eastern European system before leaving office in January.

“Reversal” is putting this nicely. This is an utter, craven appeasement of Moscow, which has never wanted this system installed in its former empire, making ridiculous claims that it somehow threatened Russia. As originally conceived, the radar stations and roughly a score of interceptor missiles were to protect Europe from a growing Iranian threat. They represented no threat to Moscow. In fact, the Bush administration offered to cooperate in a partnership with the Russians on a European missile shield. Russia’s outrage was in fact a cover for their fear of a continuing loss of influence over their former subject peoples in Central and Eastern Europe.

Poland and the Czech Republic saw this in a similar manner. They cooperated with the US over Afghanistan and Iraq (even sending troops to both places) and agreed to the missile-shield proposal. This was done not just out of a sense of interests shared between fellow democracies, not just out of a sense of worry over Iranian ambitions, but out of a very real geopolitical calculation that closer military ties to the world’s remaining superpower would protect them from a resurgent Russian bear. For the last eight years they have stuck their necks out to help us, and now President Obama has made fools of them.

This is a massive, self-inflicted wound for US foreign policy. Putin and his cronies in neo-czarist Russia have stared us down and won. This is a clear signal not only to Poland and the Czech Republic, but to all of the former USSR and Warsaw Pact nations, that the United States of America cannot be counted on in a showdown, that we will, instead, react with appeasement. And they had better, too. It is a message to Moscow that we concede, that their former satrapies are still their playthings, and that the current president lacks the will Ronald Reagan showed when confronting the Soviets in a much more heated crisis in the early 1980s. And, on top of that, it whitewashes the very real near-future threat of nuclear missiles in the hands of millenarian Islamic fanatics.

In the past, I’ve referred to our dealings with Iran as a “1930s watch” as a way to draw a parallel with the foolish years of appeasement that lead up to World War II. Obama’s decision will not make us safer, but it will make the world more dangerous. In his dealings with Russia (and Venezuela, and Cuba, and North Korea, and the Palestinians), President Obama has truly showed he is the heir of Chamberlain, not Churchill.

One other thing: This news comes out on an auspicious date – the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.

I’ll bet they’re feeling the warm fuzzies in Warsaw, right now.

LINKS: Jonathan Adler; The Weekly Standard ( here, here, here, and here); Fausta; David Riddick; Eric Cantor; Hot Air; Heritage Foundation; the London Times has a scathing analysis of what Obama got in return (hint: nothing). John Bolton calls it preemptive capitulation. Polish reaction. Gird your loins: Vice-President Biden says Iran is not a threat. The Telegraph calls it a total victory for Putin. Clifford May – “Defenseless.” The Republic of Georgia gets the shaft, too. Nancy Pelosi congratulates the Administration. The IAEA (!) makes Obama look like the fool he is. Michael Goldfarb goes on a rant. Tom Donnelly looks at the Czech reaction: “…not good news for the Czech state, for Czech freedom and independence.” Sister Toldjah calls it scary. She’s right. At Exurban League, the photo says it all.

FINALLY: It’s not as if he didn’t warn us.

EDITED: On 3/27/2012 to replace a broken video link.