Obama bows to Russia on missile defense in Europe

NY Times:

The Obama administration is expected to announce Thursday that it will shelve plans to deploy its controversial anti-ballistic missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, a move that will be welcomed by Russia but deeply regretted by the two American allies.

In Prague, Prime Minister Jan Fischer said that President Obama confirmed to him in a telephone call that the plan to deploy the shield in the Czech Republic was being abandoned.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the administration was “very close” to the end of a seven-month review of a missile defense shield proposal but did not give more details. As part of the review, officials have been developing alternative plans for the missile shield that would reflect its diagnosis of the most pressing current threats to America and its allies in Europe.

Among the options being considered are the construction of missile launching pads or radar installations in Turkey or the Balkans, while developing land-based versions of the Aegis SM-3, a ship-based anti-missile system, officials in Washington said last month. The changes, they said, would be intended not to mollify Russia, but to adjust to what they see as an accelerating threat from shorter-range Iranian missiles.

So will the Russians be any happier with the alternative? I think not. They have never had a coherent rationale for opposing the original design. The decision will make Europe more vulnerable, especially in the short run.


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