Neo-conservatives and unrepentant Cold Warriors may not have slept easily last night knowing that Obama had withdrawn plans for a battery of missiles in Central Europe. Just about everyone else, however, is content. Hawks and doves alike welcome the shift for taking some of the heat out of relations with Russia, and focusing military energies on more effective means of deterring Iranian threats. Below, the best new arguments for and against dropping the missile shield:
- Not in Our National Interest to Re-Start Cold War, writes Cheryl Rofer at Phronesisaical. "Is it in our national interest to irritate Russia for a missile emplacement that is poorly suited to its ostensible job? Is it in our national interest to prolong the post-Soviet fears of some in the former satellites and republics? That is getting to be twenty years back, now."
- Military Chiefs Back Obama, writes Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs. "A lot of people are angry at President Obama for this decision (surprise!), but it should be pointed out that the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously recommended this course of action. Are they all wrong?"
- Sound Decision, Terrible Execution, says Zbigniew Brzezinski in an interview with the Daily Beast. "The Bush missile-shield proposal was based on a nonexistent defense technology, designed against a nonexistent threat, and designed to protect West Europeans, who weren't asking for the protection...[But[ The way it was conveyed to the Czechs and Poles could not have been worse."
- Improvement to Middle East Security, writes Thomas P.M. Barnett, a strategic planner who has "worked in national security affairs since the end of the Cold War." He applauds Obama, saying, "We have VERY important friends much closer in than Eastern Europe. If we cannot stop Iran from getting nukes, then we need to demonstrate--close-in--that we are willing and able to provide defense options and retaliation capabilities. This is how we do it."
- Eastern Europe Values U.S. Commitment, Not Missiles, says Robert Farley in the Guardian. "[T]he deployment was never very popular with the people - 70% of Czechs opposed the system, for example. While the decision to cancel it may lead to some short-term problems, it doesn't seem likely that long-term US relations with either Poland or the Czechs will be harmed given the Nato commitment to defence of the two countries, and separate US agreements to modernise the Polish and Czech armies."
- Critics Are Disingenuous, writes the editorial board of the New York Times. "Missile defense has long been an article of faith and politics, more than reason, for many Republicans...Not even the insistence of Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- once a champion of the Bush plan -- that the new system could be deployed faster and provide greater security against a more immediate threat could quiet their complaints."
- Missile Defense Always the Wrong Path, writes Pavel Podvig in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in an excellent analysis of the flaws, virtues of missile defense in an actual nuclear confrontation. "Missile defense will never make a shred of difference when it comes to its primary mission--protecting a country from the threat of a nuclear missile attack...In a real confrontation, missile defense would be irrelevant at best."
- "Rewarding Russian Bad Behavior," chides David Kramer in the Washington Post. Kramer served under Bush as deputy assistant secretary of state for Russia. He says Obama made a mistake in linking negotiations over offensive nuclear weapons with a defensive missile system. "Ten interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic were never a threat to Russia...Yet Obama's efforts to placate the Russians come at the expense of U.S. relations with Eastern and Central European governments that are already uneasy about the U.S. commitment to their region."
- Abandoned Allies Now Have to Arm Themselves, writes the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. "The Bush Administration sought to develop a global defense posture in part to reassure allies that they don't need their own nuclear deterrent, even as rogue regimes seek nuclear arms and the missiles to deliver them. America's Europe reversal tells other countries that they can't rely on the U.S. so it's best to follow the Israeli path and develop their own weapon and defenses."