By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: September 17th, 2009
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I blogged a couple of weeks ago that the Obama administration was about to abandon its plans for Third Site missile defence installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. I wrote then that “if enacted, this would represent a huge turnaround in American strategic thinking on a global missile defence system, and a massive betrayal of two key US allies in eastern and central Europe. Such a move would significantly weaken America’s ability to combat the growing threat posed by Iran’s ballistic missile program, and would hand a major propaganda victory to the Russians.”
It now looks as though the president has surrendered to Russian demands to kill off Third Site. Michael Goldfarb at The Weekly Standard is reporting that:
“According to reliable sources, Obama administration officials are on their way to Poland and the Czech Republic to deliver very bad news. The administration intends to cancel completely the missile defense sites that had been promised to these governments by the previous administration.”
Goldfarb also links to a post by leading defence expert Gary Schmitt, who writes:
“Guess who’s coming to dinner (in Warsaw)? Four senior Obama officials, including Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security “Sandy” Vershbow, are apparently in the air right now on their way to Poland. Why? If the Washington hot rumor mill is right, to deliver the news to the Poles and then the Czechs that the administration has decided not to go forward with a missile defense system for Europe and the United States against the budding missile threat from Iran.”
This is bad news for all who care about the US commitment to the transatlantic alliance and the defence of Europe as well as the United States. It represents the appalling appeasement of Russian aggression and a willingness to sacrifice American allies on the altar of political expediency. A deal with the Russians to cancel missile defence installations sends a clear message that even Washington can be intimidated by the Russian bear.
What signal does this send to Ukraine, Georgia and a host of other former Soviet satellites who look to America and NATO for protection from their powerful neighbour? The impending cancellation of Third Site is a shameful abandonment of America’s friends in eastern and central Europe, and a slap in the face for those who actually believed a key agreement with Washington was worth the paper it was written on.