Shift in U.S. missile defense policy

The headline in a Polish tabloid calls it a "betrayal." Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is defending the administration's new approach to missile defense in Europe.

The headline in a Polish tabloid calls it a "betrayal." 

In Poland and the Czech Republic, some are voicing concerns over the U.S. decision to scrap a missile defense shield that had been planned for their countries.  The president of Poland says the new strategy leaves his country in a dangerous "gray zone" between Western Europe and the former Soviet bloc. 

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is defending the administration's new approach to missile defense in Europe, saying it will enhance protection of the U.S. and its NATO allies. In a speech at the Brookings Institution, Clinton disputed critics who say President Barack Obama will leave Europe more vulnerable to missile attack.


More coverage on U.S. shift in missile defense program

Move Signals Shift Toward Disarmament

The U.S. shift on missile defense is part of a broader White House strategy to signal its commitment to disarmament and moving toward eventually eliminating America's nuclear-weapons stockpile.

The strategy includes developing and enforcing treaties aimed at banning atomic-weapons testing and the production of weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

"There's more happening this year on the disarmament front than what's occurred over the past decade," said a senior U.S. official working on nonproliferation issues.

The crucial first step, said U.S. officials, is the successful completion of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia by year's end. The treaty aims to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in both countries. President Barack Obama views a signing of the treaty this year, which is by no means assured, as a key signal of its intentions to the international community and Congress.

Republican lawmakers and conservative disarmament experts said they were bracing for a battle.

Developments in Iran's and North Korea's nuclear and long-range missile programs, for example, could make a test ban treaty even more difficult to pass than a decade ago. They also said the speed at which Mr. Obama was pursuing his disarmament strategy could lead U.S. adversaries to try to exploit the shifting environment.

Read more on the Wall Street Journal   


Jon Kyl: Missile move shows 'we'll cave'

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said President Barack Obama’s decision to scrap the planned missile defense shield shows the United States’ rivals that “we’ll cave” if pressured.

“It sends a very bad signal,” Kyl told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday night. “It also diminishes our capability to defend ourselves against ballistic missile attack, coincidentally, because we would be taking out the system that might help the United States and potentially substituting a system that could only protect Europe.”

“It tells the Russians if they play hardball with us, we’ll cave,” Kyl said. “It tells our allies that we’re not a very trustworthy partner. It tells actors in the Middle East, who are trying to decide whether they throw their lot in with the Iranians or with the Americans, that maybe they ought to throw it in with the Iranians.”

Read more on Politico


Congressman: Obama would be 'betraying America' to allow nuclear Iran

President Obama would be "betraying America" to let Iran progress with a nuclear arms program, one congressman said Friday.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) slammed the president's decision to suspend a missile defense program's construction in Eastern Europe, and warned against the administration's policies toward Iran.

"If Iran becomes a nuclear-armed nation, the entire paradigm of world security is profoundly altered," Franks said during an appearance on a conservative news radio show. "And if this president allows that to happen, he will not only be betraying America, he will be betraying our allies and the cause of human freedom itself."

Franks said he was "mortified" for his children by the decisions of the Obama administration, and cautioned voters to pay more attention to the candidates they favor, lest they pay a "terrible price."

Read more on The Hill


U.S. Missile U-Turn Roils Allies

President Barack Obama's decision to drop plans to deploy a ballistic-missile defense shield in Central Europe -- drawing immediate cheers in Moscow and criticism elsewhere -- is a gamble by the U.S. that scaling back its defense ambitions will improve security in the long run.

The U.S. explained the reversal by saying it would lead to a more effective defense because the system that had been planned was designed for the wrong threat, long-range missiles from Iran. Current intelligence suggests shorter-range missiles are more likely to be developed sooner, and they can be better combated by a simpler system, U.S. officials said.

The decision was attacked by Republicans in Congress and Bush-era defense officials, who questioned the new intelligence estimates and accused the administration of putting its relations with the Kremlin ahead of the security of NATO allies in Europe.

Read more on the Wall Street Journal


Missile defense shifts from Star Wars vision

WASHINGTON - The new plan that President Obama laid out for a missile shield against Iran on Thursday turns Ronald Reagan’s vision of a Star Wars system on its head: Rather than focusing first on protecting the continental United States, it shifts the immediate effort to defending Europe and the Middle East.

It is a long way from the impermeable shield that President Reagan  described in glowing terms in 1983, an announcement that turned into a diplomatic triumph even while it was a technological flop.

Ever since, missile defense has always been more about international politics than about new military technology. In the last years of the cold war, it helped nudge the Soviets toward agreements that sharply reduced nuclear arsenals, a process that Mr. Obama hopes to revive at the end of the year.

Read more on the New York Times


Obama's Missile Offense

President Obama promised he would win America friends where, under George W. Bush, it had antagonists. The reality is that the U.S. is working hard to create antagonists where it previously had friends.

That's one conclusion to draw from President Obama's decision yesterday to scrap a missile-defense agreement the Bush Administration negotiated with Poland and the Czech Republic. Both governments took huge political risks—including the ire of their former Russian overlords—in order to accommodate the U.S., which wanted the system to defend against a possible Iranian missile attack. Don't expect either government to follow America's lead anytime soon.

"If the Administration approaches us in the future with any request, I would be strongly against it," Jan Vidim, a conservative Czech lawmaker who voted for the system, told the Associated Press.

Read more on the Wall Street Journal 


Morning Bell: Surrender and Betrayal Do Not Make Us Safer

Last month we reported that news outlets in Poland were saying that the Obama administration had made the decision to abandon our anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Today Czech Premier Jan Fischer confirmed those reports telling reportersthat President Obama phoned him overnight to say that “his government is pulling out of plans to build a missile defense radar on Czech territory.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration is justifying its decision on their determination that Iran’s long-range missile program hasn’t progressed as rapidly as previously estimated. This despite the facts that:

 On February 2nd, Iran successfully launched a satellite into orbit using a rocket with technology similar to that used in a long-range ballistic missile.

 On May 20th, Iran test-fired a 1200-mile solid-fueled two-stage ballistic missile.

 On July 15th, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, BND, announced that Iran will be able to produce and test a nuclear weapon within six months.      BND also stated that it has “no doubt” that Iran’s missile program is aimed solely at the production of nuclear warheads.

 On August 3rd, The Times of London reported that Western intelligence sources concluded that Iran has not only perfected the technology to build and  detonate a nuclear weapon, could assemble a weapon in just six months, and could deliver the weapon on Iran’s Shebab-3 ballistic missile.

 Just yesterday French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: “It is a certainty to all of our secret services. Iran is working today on a nuclear [weapons]  program.”

Read more on Heritage


About-face on anti-missile defense

President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the United States was shelving Bush administration plans to base an anti-missile defense system in Europe and would instead deploy a better, cheaper plan to defend Europe and the United States against the evolving missile threats from Iran.

The decision to scrap the nearly $4.5 billion program, which has been endorsed by NATO allies often over the strong opposition of their citizens, drew quick criticism from Republicans, many of whom favored the Bush administration plan to place 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar site in the Czech Republic.

Russian officials had bitterly complained that the proposed missile defense shield threatened Russia's security — being based inside two of its former Cold War allies, deep in its old sphere of influence — although U.S. officials said the proposed missile shield was aimed at Iran and would not affect Russian security.

Read more on Politico


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