The fruits of Smart Power: Czechs walk out on missile defense

June 16, 2011

It may come as a surprise to the Smartest President Ever(tm) and his brilliant foreign policy team, but when you pull the rug out from under an ally in order to appease the guys they fear, they aren’t likely to want to play with you anymore:

The Czech Republic is withdrawing from U.S. missile defense plans out of frustration at its diminished role, the Czech defense minister told The Associated Press Wednesday.

The Bush administration first proposed stationing 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an advanced radar in the Czech Republic, saying the system was aimed at blunting future missile threats from Iran. But Russia angrily objected and warned that it would station its own missiles close to Poland if the plan went through.

In September 2009, the Obama administration shelved that plan and offered a new, reconfigured phased program with an undefined role for the Czechs. In November 2009, the Czech Republic was offered the possibility of hosting a separate early warning system that would gather and analyze information from satellites to detect missiles aimed at NATO territory.

Defense Minister Alexander Vondra told the AP that the Czech Republic wanted to participate but “definitely not in this way.”

“Shelving the plan” is much too antiseptic a description for what really happened. As I wrote at the time:

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.

And Washington expected Prague to accept a consolation prize? Seriously? Why not give them some DVDs, too?

Way back when, Ed Morrissey points out, the Obama Office of the President-Elect (1) transition team promised to “restore our standing in the world.” This is just the latest example of how that’s working out in practice.

The building of alliances and friendships between states is the result of painstaking diplomacy in which each side not only seeks to meet its own best interests, but to assure the other side that such an alliance is in their best interests, too. It’s a mutual exercise in trust-building that includes confidence that one party won’t stick a knife in the other’s back.

And like the husband who comes home to find someone else in his bed, it only takes one betrayal to wreck all that effort. As with Britain, as with Israel, and as with Poland, Obama administration foreign policy seems to be all about pimp-slapping our friends to appease our rivals, going out of its way to betray that trust, as if telling these nations “you won’t leave us; you’ve got nowhere else to go.”

Except the Czech Republic decided otherwise and left. As Team Obama pursues the “Welcome Back Carter” (2) style of diplomacy, don’t be surprised to see other nations decide their best interests are served elsewhere, too.

Footnotes:

(1) I’d forgotten about this bit of egoism.

(2) Glenn Reynolds famously worried that “Jimmy Carter, part two” might be the best-case scenario. I’m worried he’s right. Though, while reading Schweizer’s book “Reagan’s War,” the resemblance between Carter and Obama’s approach to national security is stunning.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Bill Whittle: Obama is making us a “turncoat nation”

May 27, 2011

Bill Whittle returns today with a video that absolutely savages the “Smart Diplomacy” of Barack Obama and his administration. Noting that it takes years and decades of efforts to build up trust between nations, Whittle shows with devastating clarity how, one by one, Obama is trashing those relationships and, in the process, harming our national security and turning us into a nation of turncoats:

Two things from the video I’ll point out: first, I had a feeling Bill was a big fan of Victor Davis Hanson. I am, too, and I can’t recommend his books highly enough, whether you’re interested in Military History, Ancient Greece, the decline of California, or current affairs in general. Hanson has a way of using the past to illuminate the present that few can match. Whittle points to one of his books, How The Obama Administration Threatens Our National Security, part of the Encounter Broadsides series. Not only do I second Bill’s recommendation of Hanson’s book, but I’m a fan of the entire series. They’re inexpensive, brief polemical works on important issues that will give you the arguments you need to deal with liberal co-workers and friends.

The other item Bill mentions is the stab-in-the-back betrayal of Poland and the Czech Republic in 2009 after they stuck their necks out for us by agreeing to host missile defense sites over strenuous Russian objections. At the time I was outraged and called it “appeasement and betrayal,” and my opinions haven’t changed. Barack Obama’s, amateurish, ham-handed, and ideologically driven foreign policy is wrecking America’s traditional alliances and gaining nothing —nothing— in return.

At this point, I don’t care if the Republican nominee in 2012 is Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, John Huntsman — or even Alf! We have got to vote him out of office.

RELATED: Two good articles you may want to look at. In the first, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy describes Obama’s Middle East policy as “ObamaCare for Israel.” It’s an apt analogy, and McCarthy uses it as an example of Obama’s Alinskyism as applied to foreign relations. After that, check out Stanley Kurtz’s article on Obama’s hard-Left leanings in foreign policy: “Pro-Palestinian-in-Chief.” Kurtz wrote the brilliant Radical in Chief, a political biography of Obama chronicling his lifelong attachment to Socialism. The book discussed the implications of Obama’s radical Leftist politics for domestic policy; “Pro-Palestinian” can be considered a companion piece for foreign affairs.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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.