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Thread: Missile Defense (General thread)

  1. #121
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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Russia, Missiles: It’s All About Iran

    September 17, 2009 - 10:31 AM | by: Michael Tobin
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev


    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

    Just a couple of weeks ago, I was speaking with Shabtai Shavit, the former head of Israel’s Mossad, about what it would take to get Russia on board with sanctions against Iran and to block the sale of the S-300 air defense system to Iran. He told me the Russians want the US to end support of breakaway former Soviet republics like Georgia and Ukraine .” And he said they want the US to shelve the missile defense plan that puts missiles and radars in Eastern Europe.

    Yesterday Czech Premier Jan Fisher told reporters that President Barack Obama told him “His (the US ) government is pulling out of plans to build a US Radar on Czech territory.” The same, he said, was true of the plan to put missile interceptors in Poland .

    Also Yesterday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev did a 180 from his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who, last week, ruled out imposing sanctions on Iran . Medvedev said “Sometimes, you have to embark on sanctions and they can be right.”

    Hello, back room deal.

    Meir Javedanfar, author of, “The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and the state of Iran” says the deal “would include economic and most likely the military sphere.” Therefore, while Russia supports sanctions it will not sell and support a controversial missile defense system for Iran at the same time.

    Trade sanctions against Iran usually run into objections of two permanent members of the UN Security Council; China and Russia . China , it seems anyway, will now be all alone and under pressure to drop its objection.

    While sanctions simmer and pressure Iran toward negotiations, Israel is then discouraged from launching a unilateral strike on Iranian Nuclear facilities.

    Here’s the glaring vulnerability in the back room deal: No signing ceremony, no piece of paper that guarantees Russia won’t do another U turn, No public pressure. Javedanfar believes the US would have needed plenty of reassurance before it angered Czech leaders, who stuck their necks out for the American missile defense plan, and before the US gave up such a potent bargaining chip. “If Washington had any hint that its move would not be reciprocated,” He says “It’s extremely unlikely that such a decision would have been taken.”

    Dan Diker, Director of the think tank: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, believes the Obama administration was faced with either having the Russians as opponents or allies in the Middle East . “It’s kind of like a hail Mary policy,” he says. “The US says ‘let’s make nice and hopefully you won’t bite us.’”

    One thing is certain: Russia has forced its way onto the Middle East Playing field again and is back in the game.

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  2. #122
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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Obama Offered Deal to Russia in Secret Letter

    By PETER BAKER
    Published: March 2, 2009

    WASHINGTON — President Obama sent a secret letter to Russia’s president last month suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons, American officials said Monday.

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    Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti, via Associated Press

    The letter was hand-delivered to President Dmitri A. Medvedev, above, three weeks ago.
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    The letter to President Dmitri A. Medvedev was hand-delivered in Moscow by top administration officials three weeks ago. It said the United States would not need to proceed with the interceptor system, which has been vehemently opposed by Russia since it was proposed by the Bush administration, if Iran halted any efforts to build nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.

    The officials who described the contents of the message requested anonymity because it has not been made public. While they said it did not offer a direct quid pro quo, the letter was intended to give Moscow an incentive to join the United States in a common front against Iran. Russia’s military, diplomatic and commercial ties to Tehran give it some influence there, but it has often resisted Washington’s hard line against Iran.

    “It’s almost saying to them, put up or shut up,” said a senior administration official. “It’s not that the Russians get to say, ‘We’ll try and therefore you have to suspend.’ It says the threat has to go away.”

    On Tuesday, a press secretary for Dmitri A. Medvedev told the Interfax news agency that the letter did not contain any “specific proposals or mutually binding initiatives.”

    Natalya Timakova said the letter was a reply to one sent by Mr. Medvedev shortly after Mr. Obama was elected.

    “Medvedev appreciated the promptness of the reply and the positive spirit of the message,” Ms. Timakova said. “Obama’s letter contains various proposals and assessments of the current situation. But the message did not contain any specific proposals or mutually binding initiatives.”

    She said Mr. Medvedev perceives the development of Russian-American relations as “exceptionally positive,” and hopes details can be fleshed out at a meeting on Friday in Geneva between Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev will meet for the first time on April 2 in London, officials said Monday.

    Mr. Obama’s letter, sent in response to one he received from Mr. Medvedev shortly after Mr. Obama’s inauguration, is part of an effort to “press the reset button” on Russian-American relations, as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. put it last month, officials in Washington said. Among other things, the letter discussed talks to extend a strategic arms treaty expiring this year and cooperation in opening supply routes to Afghanistan.

    The plan to build a high-tech radar facility in the Czech Republic and deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland — a part of the world that Russia once considered its sphere of influence — was a top priority for President George W. Bush to deter Iran in case it developed a nuclear warhead to fit atop its long-range missiles. Mr. Bush never accepted a Moscow proposal to install part of the missile defense system on its territory and jointly operate it so it could not be used against Russia.

    Now the Obama administration appears to be reconsidering that idea, although it is not clear if it would want to put part of the system on Russian soil where it could be flipped on or off by Russians. Mr. Obama has been lukewarm on missile defense, saying he supports it only if it can be proved technically effective and affordable.

    Mr. Bush also emphasized the linkage between the Iranian threat and missile defense, but Mr. Obama’s overture reformulates it in a way intended to appeal to the Russians, who long ago soured on the Bush administration. Officials have been hinting at the possibility of an agreement in recent weeks, and Mr. Obama’s proposal was reported on Monday by a Moscow newspaper, Kommersant.

    “If through strong diplomacy with Russia and our other partners we can reduce or eliminate that threat, it obviously shapes the way at which we look at missile defense,” Under Secretary of State William J. Burns said about the Iranian threat in an interview with the Russian news agency Interfax while in Moscow last month delivering Mr. Obama’s letter.

    Attending a NATO meeting in Krakow, Poland, on Feb. 20, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said, “I told the Russians a year ago that if there were no Iranian missile program, there would be no need for the missile sites.” Mr. Obama’s inauguration, he added, offered the chance for a fresh start. “My hope is that now, with the new administration, the prospects for that kind of cooperation might have improved,” he said.

    The idea has distressed Poland and the Czech Republic, where leaders invested political capital in signing missile defense cooperation treaties with the United States despite domestic opposition. If the United States were to slow or halt deployment of the systems, Warsaw and Prague might insist on other incentives.

    For example, the deal with Poland included a side agreement that an American Patriot air defense battery would be moved from Germany to Poland, where it would be operated by a crew of about 100 American service members. The administration might have to proceed with that to reassure Warsaw.

    Missile defense has flavored Mr. Obama’s relationship with Russia from the day after his election, when Mr. Medvedev threatened to point missiles at Europe if the system proceeded. Mr. Medvedev later backed off that threat and it seems that Moscow is taking seriously the idea floated in Mr. Obama’s letter. Kommersant, the Moscow newspaper, on Monday called it a “sensational proposal.”

    Mr. Medvedev said Sunday that he believed the Obama administration would be open to cooperation on missile defense.

    “We have already received such signals from our American colleagues,” he said in an interview posted on the Kremlin Web site. “I expect that these signals will turn into concrete proposals. I hope to discuss this issue of great importance for Europe during my first meeting with President Barack Obama.”

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Russia and Germany welcome US missile move

    18.09.2009 @ 09:24 CET

    Russia and Germany have welcomed a US decision not to build missile shield bases in Eastern Europe, but the move has caused bitterness in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a TV address that the US pull-back will help in upcoming talks on nuclear disarmament: "The statement made in Washington today shows that quite good conditions are evolving for such work."


    Russia's Dmitry Medvedev said the shift will help in nuclear disarmament talks

    Russia's ambassador to Nato, Dmitry Rogozin, described it in more colourful terms.

    "It's like having a decomposing corpse in your flat and then the mortician comes and takes it away," he said in UK daily The Guardian. "This means we're getting rid of one of those niggling problems which prevented us from doing the real work."

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel also reacted positively. "I see the decision today as a very hopeful signal that we can overcome the difficulties with Russia and develop a united front to counter the threat of Iran," she said.

    US President Barack Obama earlier on Thursday (17 September) confirmed he will no longer build a missile silo in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, as agreed under George W. Bush.

    The shift comes after US intelligence downgraded the coming missile threat from Iran from 2012 to between 2015 and 2020. The US will now deploy mobile anti-missile batteries which will tour Europe from 2015 onward.

    It will also install Patriot missiles in Poland, capable of shooting down small-scale rockets.

    The scale-down has caused consternation in Poland and the Czech republic, where the Bush-era plan was widely seen as offering extra US guarantees against potential Russian aggression.

    President Obama's announcement came out on the 70th anniversary of Russia's invasion of Poland on 17 September 1939, with Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski informing US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in a phone conversation of the "awkwardness of the timing."

    It is the second recent instance of painful US-Polish diplomacy, after the White House declined to send a senior figure to Poland's commemoration of the 70th anniversary outbreak of World War II on 1 September.

    "I can see what kind of policy the Obama administration is pursuing towards this part of Europe. The way we are being approached needs to change," former Polish president and anti-Communist icon Lech Walesa said, AFP reports.

    "This is a very bad signal for Poland. The Russians will have a voice in the affairs of this part of Europe," former Polish defence minister Aleksander Szczyglo said.

    Czech socialists welcomed the move, saying it will raise US prestige among the large proportion of ordinary people who had voiced opposition to the scheme.

    But the recently ousted centre-right Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, also interpreted the move as a betrayal. "The Americans are not interested in this territory as they were before," he said on national radio. "It's bad news for the Czech Republic."

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  4. #124
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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Cost Concerns Fueled U.S. Missile Pivot

    The Obama administration's scrapping of long-range missile interceptors in Europe came down to money.

    Wall Street Journal
    FOXNews.com

    Saturday, September 19, 2009

    WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's scrapping of long-range missile interceptors in Europe wasn't just about security and diplomacy, according to people close to the process: It also came down to money.

    "A ground-based interceptor is generally about a $70 million-per-missile asset going after a $10-$15 million [Iranian] missile," a senior administration official told arms-control analysts Thursday at a briefing explaining the rationale, according to a recording heard by The Wall Street Journal. "The trade is not a good one economically. It's not a good one from a military strategy position."

    On Sept. 10, senior administration officials presented the case for substituting medium-range missile interceptors at a cabinet meeting at the White House. The presentation was the culmination of studies launched in 2006 by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, then serving in the same job in the Bush administration, to look at the efficacy of two separate missile-defense tracks. The "upper-tier" track included powerful rockets in Alaska and California as well as the small battery of interceptors in Poland.

    The "lower tier" included ship-based Aegis missile defenses; the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system, whose first operational deployment in Israel is set for the coming weeks; and more established Patriot missiles.

    Gates has said he began to have a change of heart about his embrace of the European system as intelligence made it clearer Iran was struggling with its ICBM program. Tehran, however, was becoming an innovator in short and medium-range missile technologies, officials believed.

    Pentagon officials said Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff whose previous job was heading the military command responsible for missile and space weapons, became increasingly influential in these debates: He argued that focusing on Iranian long-range missiles was leading the Pentagon to build ever-more expensive defensive systems to counter an increasingly elusive threat.

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Obama's anti-Iran missile defense overhaul is fraught with danger

    DEBKAfile Exclusive Analyis

    September 19, 2009


    The day US president Barack Obama announced he was abandoning plans for a missile shield and radar position in Poland and the Czech Republic Thursday, Sept. 17, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak was quoted as saying in a press interview: "Iran does not constitute an existential threat against Israel" and "I am not among those who believe Iran is an existential issue for Israel."

    Responding to a question about Iran's nuclear program, he went on to say: "Israel is strong, I don't see anyone who could pose an existential threat," although he did view Iran as a challenge to the whole world.

    Asked in private what he meant, Barak shifted slightly by explaining: At this minute, Iran does not threaten Israel's survival."

    Brig. Tal Rousso, head of operations in the IDF chief command, echoed the minister's theme in a radio interview Saturday, Sept. 19,

    Are we to understand from these statements that the Iranian menace has suddenly gone away?

    Hardly, when Friday, Sept. 18, the Israeli minister's reply came from the horse's mouth: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again termed the Holocaust "a lie" and declared "Israel has no future," while Tehran's mouthpiece in Beirut, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, used his favorite language to call Israel "a tumor which must be rooted out."

    Both addressed mass-events marking "Jerusalem Day," which is dedicated annually to the struggle against Israel. Ahmadinejad said every Muslim is bound to participate in this "struggle" as his sacred duty.

    The defense minister's over-confident downgrade of the Iranian menace recalls former chief of staff Dan Halutz's boast just before the 2006 Lebanon war, an eruption he failed to predict, that Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas were no threat to Israel's survival.

    Four years later, Israel has still not rid itself of the missiles and rockets the two terror groups point against its population, or recovered from the strategic fallout of failing to defeat them, the most prominent outcome being Iran's elevation to the status of regional power.

    DEBKAfile's political sources suggest a pragmatic context for Barak's controversial U-turn:

    Next week, straight after the New Year festival, he and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu set off for the United States. Netanyahu stays in New York to address the UN General Assembly, while the defense minister heads to Washington for talks at the Pentagon and National Security Council, where he hopes for a red carpet welcome.

    But he will find a much more complex situation there than he expects.

    Obama's decision is running into heated opposition in the US capital. To fend off charges that he surrendered to Moscow, his administration released a new intelligence assessment Friday night, Sept. 18, according to which early US estimates of Iran's ability to attain long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, set for 2012-2015, have been scaled down to 2020 and are therefore a decade away.

    Defense secretary Robert Gates was even more reserved: "I am more familiar with the risk of over-reliance on intelligence than anybody because I've seen how often it's been wrong," he said, adding "The system proposed by Obama was flexible enough to be adjusted if the Iranians develop a capability sooner than the intelligence is saying."

    In justifying the decision to shelve the missile -radar interception program in favor of a revamped land-and- sea-based system, Gates and others have nonetheless relied on intelligence reports which estimate that Iran is now emphasizing medium- and short-range missiles that could not be shot down from Poland.

    A retired head of the Pentagon's missile defense agency, Henry "Trey" Obering, said he was very surprised by the new assessment which "was dramatically different from what we were told last spring. To me, it flies in the face of what is observable," he said.

    He called the Obama administration's hope for Moscow to reciprocate by influencing the Iranians to disarm or not pursue their nuclear program as risky. "There are a lot of eggs in that basket," Obering warned.

    DEBKAfile's Washington sources stress that the Obama administration's approach to Iran's missile development, reflected in the Israeli defense minister's astonishing change of tune on Iran, is part and parcel of its approach to Iran's nuclear program.

    In both cases, the White House acknowledges Iran is close to, or at, the penultimate steps of a capability to produce long-range ballistic missiles and a nuclear bomb, but assumes that the rulers of the Islamic Republic have stopped short before ordering the last step, namely, making them operational.

    The Obama administration, like its predecessor, appears to be willing to leave Tehran with the option of crossing that last threshold when its radical rulers see fit, partly in order to cut defense costs at a time of recession.

    But Israel cannot afford this luxury; nor can its Arab neighbors or the hundreds of thousands of US troops spread across the Middle East and Southwest Asia. European leaders should not sleep too quietly either.

    DEBKAfile's military experts advise them all to take into account Iran's heavy investment in ballistic missile development and its attainment of a high level of advanced technology. Missiles are assigned to be Iran's primary aerial assault arm and substitute for its ageing air force. Updating an air fleet based on jets of 1950s vintage would require a multibillion dollar outlay for purchasing new aircraft and training air crews, whereas the price tag for missiles is a lot smaller.

    At present, the Iranian industry is turning out large numbers of ballistic missiles with a range of 2,500 km.

    As for long-range versions, missile experts agree that since launching a two-stage, solid-fuel-power rocket into orbit, Iran has shown itself capable of producing missiles for striking any point on earth with a targeting error margin of no more than 20 meters.

    It is true that Tehran is not known to have given the go-ahead for full production of these long-range weapons as yet, but unknown to Western intelligence, the first stages of production may well be secretly in progress synchronously with Iran's hidden nuclear device and warhead programs.

    Obama's decision to scrap US anti-missile weapons deployments in Europe ignores Iran's rapidly advancing long-range missile program, just as the Bush and Clinton administrations turned a blind eye to the uranium enrichment infrastructure Tehran set up for military purposes during their tenures.

    In Israel, the game-changing significance of the US president's decision to overhaul America's defense strategy against the Iranian missile threat and the Gates exegesis were played down or not fully comprehended.

    Both resorted to polished diplomatic, audience-friendly language to make the surprising decision go down smoothly when they made their announcement Sept. 17.

    But Gen. James Cartwright, US Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, who followed their announcements, gave it straight from the shoulder by clearly listing the United States order of priorities:

    The US homeland, such as the (hypothetic) narrow strip down the East Coast from Philadelphia to Washington, which we must defend;

    Second: US forces around the world;

    Third: NATO countries, our allies;

    Fourth: Friends like Israel.

    This order of priorities ought to have acted as a wake-up call for Jerusalem, a word of warning not to try and shelter under the umbrella of a world power which places Israel's security or indeed survival only in fourth place on its scale of priorities. Obama's determination that America's safety is assured after his decision to abandon its missile defense system in East Europe does not make Israel secure by any means.

    Israel's defense minister needs to open his ears to America's real agenda and scan his immediate neighborhood rather than dancing to the Obama tune.

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  6. #126
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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    THE JOURNAL EDITORIAL REPORT
    SEPTEMBER 21, 2009
    With Friends Like These

    A transcript of the weekend's program on FOX News Channel.



    Paul Gigot: Coming up next, the administration gives the back of its hand to two more American allies, shelving plans for a missile-defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. And lessons from the Lehman collapse. One year later, what have we learned, and are we better prepared to stop the next financial meltdown? Plus, President Obama risks a trade war with China to help his union friends. Are there more favors to come? The "Journal Editorial Report" starts right now.
    ***

    Gigot: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    Well, it may be risky to be an American adversary, but it's more dangerous these days to be a friend. The latest allies to get slapped by the Obama administration: Poland and the Czech Republic. The administration announced this week that it is shelving plans to install a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe, citing a change in the perceived threat posed by a nuclear Iran. Plans for the missile shield had angered Russia, a country President Obama has promised to "reset" relations with.

    Joining the panel this week, Wall Street columnist and deputy editor Dan Henninger, columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady, and deputy editor and foreign-affairs columnist Bret Stephens.

    So, Bret, the president pitched this as saying, Look, we needed to change the policy because the intelligence changed. That is, the threat from Iran became more urgent regarding short- and medium-range missiles, not the long-range missiles that the defense system--previous defense system that the Bush administration had put in place had protected against. So, why shouldn't the policy change if the intelligence does?

    Stephens: Well, because there's some disingenuousness to that claim.

    Gigot: You're not buying it?

    Stephens: No, I'm not buying it for the following reason: Democrats, people close to Obama, were putting it about even before he took office that he intended to make precisely this kind of deal, which was to shelf these anti-ballistic-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, which had angered the Russians, in exchange for Russians cooperation on sanctioning the Iranians at the United Nations. So if this intel is--this intel would have to be over a year old for that to make any kind of sense whatsoever. This is something they've wanted to do, and they're fitting the intel simply for their political purposes.

    Gigot: Boy, that's a pretty serious charge, Dan. Basically, he's saying that they are skewing the intel interpretation to fit the policy with--the new policy.

    Henninger: Well, it's been a longstanding position of the Democratic Party, even since Reagan, you know, announced what Ted Kennedy described as "star wars," to get rid of missile defense. They don't really believe in it. And I think what they've done here smacks, as much of the Obama foreign policy does, of being basically "not Bush." In order words, they simply reverse something that George Bush did.

    I think one of the biggest problems is, it's very difficult to discern the strategic rationale behind Obama's foreign policy. When you do something like this, all the other players in the world, whether it's Poland, the Czech Republic the Eastern Europes, are trying to figure out why you are doing this. and there is no really underlying intellectual rationale.

    Gigot: Wait a minute. Here is the rationale as I understand it. They're whispering this, OK? Never mind the missile-defense thing for a second, but they're saying, Look, Iran is a more urgent threat. We need to stop their nuclear-weapons program. We can only do that if we're going to impose sanctions and everybody agrees, so we have to get the Russians on board. So if we need to pay them off with this--if we get Russian supports on sanctions and we stop Iran, that's a much bigger strategic victory.

    Henninger: Why then would the Russian foreign minister, the day after it was announced, say that sanctions against Iran would be a mistake?

    Gigot: Well, because you can't sell--because the Russians maybe do this on the q.t.; it's a private deal, not a public deal. That's the thing.

    O'Grady: Well, the thing is, I think that this is a calculation about a way to lower the tensions with those regimes around the world that the Bush administration, quote, "was not able to get along with." We're going to show that we can get along with these guys; we're going to bring the world together against really what we consider to be the really bad actors. The problem with that is that, you know, it's sort of--first of all, it's alienating the Eastern Europeans.

    Gigot: Our friends. That's for sure. They're very upset.

    O'Grady: And I think the administration is doing the same kinds of things in Latin America, alienating our friends and trying to reach out to those regimes that quote, unquote, "the Bush administration couldn't get along with," and sending a very dangerous signal, I think, to the world.

    Stephens: The other point that's important is I think that the Obama administration fundamentally misunderstands Russian interests vis-à-vis Iran. They think that at some level the Iranians--the Russians, excuse me--will go along with us. What Russia really wants is to keep the Iranian crisis on a low boil for as long as they can. Why? For one reason, it drives oil prices up, which is in their interest. It keeps America--and it also keeps America engaged in a crisis. And most importantly, it allows the Russians to dole out diplomatic favors at the U.N. in exchange for material concessions. Now it was the missiles in the Czech Republic. The next time, it's going to be the nature of the government in Georgia or Ukraine.

    Gigot: OK, Bret, you're making a judgment about Putin's interests, and you may be right. But what if the administration is right--and they have some assurances from Medvedev and Putin, Dan, that in fact they are going to cooperate in Iran and we get their cooperation to come down hard on Iran. Is this a--is this calculation, this trade, these missile-defense sites, which won't be on line for several years anyway, worth Russian support against the Iranian nuclear threat?

    Henninger: I suppose one could argue it is. I think it's a weak deal. You're relying on the good faith of the Russians to hold up their end of a bargain, and in return relying on this intelligence about Iranian missile capability, which also, I would suspect, is weak. Keep in mind that in May they did test a long-range 1,500-mile missile, right?

    Gigot: And I think it's in the reach of Warsaw, is it not?

    Henninger: Exactly, yeah.

    Stephens: Within reach of a one-ton payload in Warsaw, and a solid-fueled rocket. I mean, this intelligence that they claim to have seems to me somewhat questionable, given what we know of what Iran is capable of doing. We also know that the Iranians are cooperating very closely with the North Koreans. And we're seeing North Korea steadily making advances in terms of producing long-range missile capabilities. This particular missile Dan was referring to seems to be based on a Chinese model. So it's wrong to think that this is not a problem.

    Gigot: These defenses in Europe were also able to defend the East Coast of the United States. So that will no longer be the case.
    All right, thank you.

    When we come back, lessons from Lehman. One year after the financial giant's collapse, are we any better prepared to stop the next big meltdown?

    ***

    Gigot: It's been one year since Lehman Brothers collapsed into bankruptcy and sent the U.S. economy into a tailspin. Marking the anniversary, President Obama traveled to Wall Street this week to press his case for an overhaul of the financial regulatory system.

    President Obama: One year ago, we saw in stark relief how markets can spin out of control, how a lack of common-sense rules can lead to excess and abuse, how close we can come to the brink. One year later, it is incumbent upon us to put in place those reforms that will prevent this kind of crisis from ever happening again.

    Gigot: We're back with Dan Henninger and Mary O'Grady, and also joining the panel, assistant editorial page editor James Freeman.

    All right, Mary, so how much progress has--how much sturdier is the financial system now than a year ago, and can we have what happened last year happen again anytime soon?

    O'Grady: I think it would be very hard to argue that the system is sturdier.

    Gigot: Really?

    O'Grady: I mean, there really hasn't been any changes done. I think you probably wouldn't have any kind of a crisis anytime soon because we're still in the process of reflating, if you will. But the problem is that if you do have a crisis, on the fiscal side, the government doesn't have any money to step in. On the monetary side, the Fed can't lower interest rates any further.

    Gigot: It's flooding the zone.

    O'Grady: You still have a lot of the financial institutions doing proprietary trading. You still have--

    Gigot: That's trading on their own account, even if they take insured deposits--

    O'Grady: Yeah, taking risks.

    Gigot: --they invest their own money rather than just making loans.

    O'Grady: Exactly. And you still have the Federal Housing Administration making very aggressive loans, so, really--

    Gigot: Subprime lending, only on the taxpayer's dime.

    O'Grady: Exactly.

    Gigot: But let me play devil's advocate here for a second, because it seems to me the financial system is sturdier in this respect: The panic has subsided. Banks have raised their capital standards. Some of them have had that old Adam Smith discipline imposed, saying "we're not going to make some of these really bad loans." And most of the banks are making money, because the interest rates are so low, they can borrow very, very cheaply, almost for nothing, and then lend out at 5%, 6%. So more than a year ago, the system is in better shape.

    O'Grady: Well, I think what you're saying is conditions are better for the system to be stable.

    Gigot: Right. Right.

    O'Grady: But the point I'm making is that any kinds of guardrails or defenses that you have for distortions in the market to get out of line have not--those sorts of things haven't changed.

    Gigot: You're talking about the larger structural changes that need to be made.

    O'Grady: Yeah, there are no protections.

    Gigot: It's the same old thing, only just conditions are better, so we don't have panic.

    O'Grady: Because right now, we're not being--right now, we're being careful because we just went through a period where we got burned. But my point is that it could happen again because we still still have a system that basically privatizes rewards and socializes risk.

    Gigot: All right. And that brings the question to one of are favorite subjects, James, which is "too big to fail." Mary's basically saying, Look, the incentives haven't changed. and it may be worse, because what happened is we bailed out some of the failures--Citigroup in particular is one of the most egregious--and we didn't punish them very much at all.

    Freeman: That's right, the media played Mr. Obama's visit to Wall Street this week as a message that there are no more bailouts, when in fact he's saying exactly the opposite. His plan that is currently stalled on Capitol Hill would extend bailouts not just to banks, but, for the first time explicitly, to companies that aren't banks, allowing the FDIC, which has its hands full with banks, to rescue and/or bailout companies outside banking.

    Gigot: But he's talking about a resolution agency. OK? He's saying a resolution agency. That isn't quite the same as a bailout. I would argue that Wachovia wasn't rescued. it was put out of business, OK? Citigroup was rescued, all right? And maybe even Goldman Sachs was rescued. GE Capital, GE Capital probably was rescued by some of these federal guarantees. So is that really fair to say everybody would get a bailout?

    Freeman: Well, it is a bailout because it's not bankruptcy. And I think the hope is that bankruptcy comes back into fashion. People realize that the freedom to fail is very important. As mutual-fund, money-fund investors, today is our first day of freedom in a year. This is the first day we're allowed to fail, and it feels terrific.

    Gigot: You're thrilled with that, are you? I mean, your money-market fund can go, can lose money?

    Freeman: And let's hope that that trend continues. CIT was the lender this summer that people made the same fact-free arguments--it's interconnected, it's all over the economy, it has its hands in everything. And the government wisely decided not to rescue it.

    Gigot: Ah, but hold on. Yeah, life has gone on, but the lesson of that is, don't be too small. Get bigger, get really big, because if you're poor CIT and you're small, we won't save you. You're gone, fella. But if you're big enough--

    Freeman: There's been very little evidence, no evidence, for the bailouts of the big guys. What the government has said is, We're really smart and the world would come to an end and we can't give you the details because--we can tell you, but it would kill your portfolio. So just trust us that these really large institutions need to be bailed out.

    Gigot: We'll tell you what a systemic risk is.

    Freeman: Yeah.

    Gigot: Dan, quickly, pay restrictions. The government is going to impose sweeping pay restrictions on bank executives. Is this going to make any difference to the incentives?

    Henninger: I think they'll make them worse. It's the one point, I think we haven't made is that while the government has thrown a big regulatory blanket over the system, they have not created real upside growth incentives at all. This happened simultaneously with the recession. Where is strong economic growth? Where is the risk taking going to come from?

    Gigot: But you still want to--so you want to give incentives for people to make the money is what you're saying?

    Henninger: Absolutely. And they just haven't done that. The state has simply smothered the system and scapegoated the participants.
    Gigot: OK. Al right, when we come back, President Obama's big labor payback. He's risking a trade war with China to help his union friends. Are there other favors in the offing?
    ***

    Gigot: The United States moved closer to a trade war this week as China threatened retaliation for President Obama's decision to slap a 35% tariff on tire imports. The United Steel Workers Union had sought the surcharge, and it is perhaps just one of many paybacks coming from the administration for big labor's political support.

    We're back with Dan Henninger and Mary O'Grady, and also joining the panel, Washington columnist Kim Strassel.

    All right, Mary, politically, in Washington, the trade has kind of slipped under the radar. The administration dropped this tire-tariff news out on late Friday. But overseas, it's very big news. What's the reaction been?

    O'Grady: Yeah, I think the administration thinks that this is just something little they can do for their friends in the union and that nobody's going to notice. But in fact, China immediately reacted by threatening to retaliate with tariffs on chicken and auto parts from the U.S. But I think a lot of our other trading partners around the world are noticing that, even though the president keep saying he's not a protectionist, what he does speaks more loudly. He has refused to put through some free-trade agreements that were signed by George Bush--three of them that are important. And he's also--

    Gigot: Colombia, Panama, South Korea--all pending. All pending, all very significant.

    O'Grady: Yeah. You know, and the other thing that I think is very important here is that the administration doesn't recognize the importance of trade to the United States. I mean, this is not just about how other countries will retaliate, but the U.S. has to remain open if it's going to remain a competitive producer of exports. It imports inputs and different components that it uses, and those supply chains are totally connected throughout the globe. If he starts breaking those supply chains, he's going to damage not only our export business, but our ability to produce in this country.

    Henninger: Well, to Mary's point, you know, Obama had a press conference this week with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They were trying it work out their own trade tensions. And in that press conference, Stephen Harper said that he hoped the United States and Canada could manage their relations in a way that would be a model for other countries. What Mr. Harper was talking about was leadership. The United States is supposed to be in a leadership role on an issue like trade, and President Obama is running his trade policy as though we were just another Podunk country. The result of this is, according to Global Trade Alert, an association of trade analysts, the number of discriminatory trade policies around the world are outnumbering liberalizing trade policies by 6 to 1. Discriminatory policies are rising in the world. The United States should be pushing back against that.

    Gigot: Kim, politically did the president feel, Look, I did--big labor helped me so much in the election, I really--and this was the first big decision they're really watching. Health care, labor supports the public option. That probably is not going to pass the Congress. Therefore, he had to do this on trade no matter what the risks that Mary and Dan makes so clear. Might be?

    Strassel: He didn't--I mean, he didn't have to do anything. What you are seeing is, yes, they did help him get elected, and what we've seen since this president came to office is a series of paybacks. And this is really just the latest. You've had executive orders giving unions special access to federal work. You've had special considerations for them in the health-care legislation to make sure that their plans don't get taxed. You've had discussions--look at the auto bailouts, in which the unions were placed ahead of the creditors in those cases. So this has been a series. We have also buy-America provisions in the stimulus bill. And so this is just the latest. There's going to be a long string of more. And the concern, as Mary and Dan both pointed out, is that what labor is most focused on is trade. And so it's these questions of deals. You've now had U.S. Steel come up and ask for more punitive levies on Chinese steel pipe imports. So we're going to have a lot more of this coming up.

    Gigot: What about the argument, Mary, though, that look, this idea of unilateral free trade is naive in this world. If you really want to get the other countries to open up, like China, and play fair, you've got to whack them once in a while. And that means you have to impose tariffs. You get their attention. They might rattle the saber a little bit about retaliation, but in the end you'll get them to open up. So in a sense, a little protectionism equals more free trade. That's the logic of a lot of people.

    O'Grady: There's a real problem with that. If you're looking actually at the evidence of what happens with trade, countries that are open, regardless of the access that other countries--the market access that other countries give, countries that are open are more competitive, they have higher standards of living, and they're able to produce and export even when they don't have special trade agreements. So the idea that by closing up--and we saw it all through the 20th century. Latin America completely closed up, lost all its competitiveness. Its standard of living dropped, and it didn't make gains backward--back to where it was in the 1920s until it started to open again.

    Gigot: And Dan's point about leadership is crucial here, because the United States is the world's leading economy. If it doesn't--if it starts to abandon that trade leadership, everybody else could say it's every country for itself, and then you don't know where we're going to be going.

    All right, we have to take one more break. When we come back, our "Hits and Misses" of the week.
    ***

    Gigot: Time now for our "Hits and Misses" of the week. Bret, first to you.
    Stephens: Well, some good news. This last week has been like the soundtrack to Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust." Terrorists have been killed--top al Qaeda terrorists have been killed--in Somalia, in Pakistan and in Indonesia. Some of these people planned hotel bombings. In one case, someone I know quite well was very nearly killed. We point to the problems we're facing in Afghanistan. We should remember that al Qaeda's problems are even graver than ours, and for those who have suffered from what they've perpetrated, this is justice to celebrate.
    Gigot: All right. Kim?

    Strassel: Well, somebody--this may be fish in a barrel, but someone has to give a miss to Serena Williams and Kanye West. Maybe some people were amused to watch a tennis star go all John McEnroe at U.S. Open and yell at the line judge, or to watch the rapper storm the MTV stage and tell this woman she doesn't deserve to win. But there is such a thing as good sportsmanship and losing with grace, and one of the uplifting parts this week was listening to the chorus of boos from the audiences in both of these places who realized they were witnessing two people who thought the rules didn't apply to them anymore. And they do.

    Gigot: All right, thanks, Kim. James?

    Freeman: Paul, with thanks to reader Zachariah Edwards, posting on our OpinionJournal.com web site, I'd like to give a hit to the real community organizers. These are people not living on government grants or shakedowns of job-creating businesses, but people who run Boy and Girl Scout troops, Neighborhood Watch, Kiwanis Club, and do not get paid for it. True volunteers.

    Gigot: All right. And also this week, Acorn was defunded.

    Freeman: Yes.

    Gigot: By the--the Acorn community-organizer group, by the House of Representatives, and on housing funds by the Senate. So we'll see if that can continue. That's very good news.

    All right, James, thanks.

    And remember, if you have your own "Hit or Miss," please send it to us at jer@foxnews.com. That's it for this week's edition of the "Journal Editorial Report." Thanks to my panel and to all of you for watching. I'm Paul Gigot. We hope to see you here next week.

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Sep 19, 2009
    Obama drops a missile bombshell
    By M K Bhadrakumar

    With his eight-month presidency seemingly weakening, United States President Barack Obama struck. A familiar pattern in his political career is repeating. His decision on Thursday to scrap the plans of his predecessor George W Bush to build a land-based anti-missile shield in the heart of Europe overlooking Russia's western borders may appear justifiable, but is nonetheless a stunning national security reversal.

    It was to be a missile defense system of unproven technology, paid for with money that America could ill-afford to waste, and conceived against a threat that probably doesn't exist. Still, missile defense is a Republican obsession that goes back to Ronald Reagan and the "Star Wars" system. The Republicans shall not flag or fail and they shall go on to the end. They shall fight on the seas and oceans, in the air, on the beaches and landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets, in the hills, and they shall not surrender. They shall attack Obama for blinking in the face of Russian blackmail.

    Obama has opened another front just when his healthcare plan is on the frying pan and he is barely coping with the war in Afghanistan. Maybe he can make financial and diplomatic capital out of dropping the missile defense plan. The anti-missile shield needed to be developed at enormous cost and he can use the savings elsewhere. The plan was a bone of contention with Russia and he can now advance nuclear arms-reduction talks with Moscow and even count on the Kremlin not to cast a veto in the United Nations Security Council on a new round of sanctions against Iran.

    Not only Central Europe and Ukraine and Georgia but also Iran will huddle in heightened anxiety to ponder the implications of what Obama has done. His decision rests on the argument that the threat posed by Iran is currently in the nature of short- and intermediate-range missiles that is best countered through a reconfigured system of smaller SM-3 missiles based on proven and cost-effective technologies that can be deployed using the sea-based Aegis system as early as 2011.

    The revised approach envisages that as technologies evolve, the future threats can be met in a phased manner, while the US currently counters any threat much sooner than the previous program.

    Significantly, Obama concluded with an offer to Moscow. "Now this approach is also consistent with NATO's [North Atlantic Treaty Organization's] missile defense efforts and provides opportunities for enhanced international collaboration going forward," he said. The announcement comes hardly a week before Obama's scheduled "private" meeting with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session.

    Equally, on the eve of Obama's announcement, new NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for an "open-minded and unprecedented dialogue" with Russia to reduce security tensions in Europe and to confront common threats. He revealed that NATO officials would travel to Moscow to hear the Kremlin's views on how NATO should develop strategically in the long term.

    "We should engage Russia and listen to Russian positions," he said. He underscored the need for an "open and frank conversation [with Moscow] that creates a new atmosphere" that would lead to a "true strategic partnership" in which the alliance and Russia collaborated on issues such as Afghanistan, terrorism and piracy.

    Rasmussen concluded, "Russia should realize that NATO is here and that NATO is a framework for our trans-Atlantic relationship. But we should also take into account that Russia has legitimate security concerns." He offered that NATO was prepared to discuss Medvedev's proposal for a new security architecture in Europe. Rasmussen had just visited Washington.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry lost no time in responding to Obama's announcement on missile defense. "Such a development would be in line with the interests of our relations with the United States," a spokesman said. He subsequently refuted suggestions of any quid pro quo behind the US decision. He said any sort of grand bargain with the US was "not consistent with our [Russian] policy nor our approach to solving problems with any nations, no matter how sensitive or complex they are".

    However, the fact remains that Obama's decision, while significantly boosting US relations with Russia, also puts pressure on the Kremlin. The "Iran Six" process [1] over Iran's nuclear program enters a new phase on October 1. The big question is whether Moscow would actually veto a UN Security Council resolution if push came to shove. The crunch comes just a week after the Obama-Medvedev meet when the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns comes face-to-face with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

    True, the last exposition of the Russian position given by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a week ago was unequivocal. He made it clear Moscow wouldn't block any new rounds of tough sanctions against Iran and he dismissed a US timetable for securing progress from Iran as regards ending its uranium-enrichment program.

    Lavrov said, "I do not think these sanctions will be approved by the United Nations Security Council ... They [Iran] need an equal place in this regional dialogue. Iran is a partner that has never harmed Russia in any way." Lavrov added that even an expected US move to drop plans to station a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe wouldn't be seen as a concession to Russia, as, according to him, such a move would merely correct a previous US mistake.

    But then, a week is a long time in politics. Four days after Lavrov spoke - and two days before Obama spoke - Medvedev said. "Sanctions are not very effective on the whole, but sometimes you have to embark on sanctions and it is the right thing to do." The West's Russia hands promptly perceived a "subtle shift" in the Kremlin's position, whereas the US-Russia differences over Iran are far too deep and fundamental to be easily sidestepped.

    Obama's decision will stimulate thinking in the multipolar world within the Kremlin. As a top scholar on NATO at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy, Vladimir Shtol, pointed out gently, any US rethink of the missile defense system would probably be the result of economic pressures connected with the global crisis, and not a political deal with Russia. "I don't believe the US would ever fully back out of the missile shield, because it is in their long-term interests and closely connected with their strategy in Europe," Shtol said.

    The realists in Moscow will note that even as Obama spoke in Washington, Dennis Blair, America's intelligence boss, was releasing the latest National Intelligence Strategy report of the US, which is compiled every four years. The report specifically warned that Russia "may continue to seek avenues for reasserting power and influence that complicates US interests".

    On Tuesday, Russia signed defense agreements with Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, allowing Moscow to maintain military bases there for the next half-century. The Russian military headquarters in Abkhazia will be in the Black Sea port of Gudauta, which ensures that even if the pro-US regime in Kiev forces the closure of Sevastopol, Moscow will thwart US attempts to turn the Black Sea into a "NATO lake".

    Put in perspective, therefore, Moscow will carefully weigh Obama's "overture". The litmus test will be the US's willingness to abandon NATO expansion. The eastern European countries' integration into Western Euro-Atlantic structures was contrary to the understanding held out to former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev. Again, Russia is not the Soviet Union, but cold warriors cannot grasp this. Moscow's concept of national sovereignty and its claims of special interests in the post-Soviet space provoke negative feelings in the West.

    Moscow sees no reason to settle for the role of a junior partner when it estimates that the US is a declining power and the locus of world politics is shifting eastward. Besides, Washington pursues a policy of "selective engagement, selective containment". Over Afghanistan or Iran, Washington needs Russian support, while the problem of the post-Soviet space remains acute and Russia feels excluded from the Euro-Atlantic security arrangements pending, while a "demilitarization" of relations between Russia and the West remains elusive.

    The smart thing for Obama will be to cast his decision on missile defense within a working format of "resetting" ties with Russia rather than as a move that deserves a quid pro quo over Iran. Moscow will only assess Obama's decision as a pragmatic step necessitated by the US's economic crisis. Meanwhile, Russia will cooperate on fresh START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) talks or help out the US in Afghanistan, which is in its interests too.

    Notes:
    1. The "Iran Six" nations are the permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China - plus Germany.

    Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

    Copyright 2009 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved.

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  8. #128
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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Obama's Strategic Confusion

    His move on missile defense raises troubling questions.



    By BRIAN T. KENNEDY

    President Obama's decision Thursday to abandon the so-called Third Site of missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic already is generating fierce debate and causing great consternation. The decision is a slap to America's Polish and Czech allies, who had braved Russian intimidation in agreeing to host the sites. But Mr. Obama's step also will have profound implications on many of America's other alliances, especially in Asia.

    One major problem is the flimsy strategic rationale offered by the administration for its decision. The cancellation of the Third Site supposedly is justifiable because Iran's long-range ballistic missile program is not sufficiently advanced to pose an immediate threat. But of course that is exactly when such a defensive system should be built, tested and put into operation. Such a system, along with other components of a multilayered missile defense, would discourage the Iranians from finishing such a program by convincing them it would not succeed. Instead the U.S. proposes an underfunded 10-year plan to address shorter-range threats. That the administration would offer such a shallow explanation for ending the Third Site sends a bad signal about the seriousness with which Mr. Obama views nuclear threats in general.

    That is only one aspect of Mr. Obama's mistake, however, because the Third Site was only partly about missile defense. No one ever believed that the basing of radars in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptors in Poland was a masterstroke of defensive strategic geometry. The interceptors could indeed stop a handful of Iranian long-range ballistic missiles, but sea- or space-based technologies remained the ultimate goal.

    Rather, a central purpose of missile defense in Europe, on the doorstep of Russia, was alliance building. Its virtue was that it persuaded America's allies that our common defense included a global ballistic missile defense system. In the near term it was to demonstrate that when it came to the threat posed by Iran, the U.S. and its NATO allies would stand together: Iran—aided and abetted by Russia—would not hold Europe hostage and the NATO powers would confront the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical Islamic regime. Mr. Obama's biggest mistake is that, just as the Third Site was meant to build alliances, its cancellation will undermine them.

    This will set America's allies in Asia to worrying. After all, with the Obama administration having effectively abandoned Europe, what can allies in Asia, such as new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in Japan and President Ma Ying-jeou in Taiwan, take from Thursday's announcement?

    Mr. Hatoyama will have to wonder how far the U.S.-Japanese security partnership now extends. The U.S. alliance with Japan, now into its seventh decade, is not one we can relinquish or take for granted. Yet Mr. Obama's Third Site move raises questions about whether the U.S. will be willing or able to help Japan address two significant threats: the military build-up within China, and North Korea's nuclear program. The best approach for everyone concerned would be for the U.S. and Japan to build defenses together that would protect both themselves and the rest of Asia. Yet absent such leadership from Washington, today Japan is being forced to develop alone a sea-based missile defense system to stop an attack on the Japanese homeland.

    Meanwhile, Beijing's short- and medium-range missiles must certainly worry Taipei and Washington. Although there are enormous economic reasons for there to be good relations between mainland China and Taiwan, those missiles have been placed there for a reason. They are meant to warn Taiwan that military resistance will be futile and that under certain circumstances, the people on Taiwan could be obliterated. But serious U.S. discussion about missile defense for Taiwan is nowhere to be found and is now unlikely to happen.

    The simple reality is that, absent a missile defense that can stop Chinese ballistic missiles, the U.S. will be hard pressed to maintain security commitments in Asia given the advances China has made to its offensive nuclear forces. The U.S. Seventh Fleet, however capable, cannot withstand the kind of nuclear missiles and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles that China could employ against it. And because America lacks adequate conventional military means as well, the U.S. would have to resort to full-scale nuclear war to defend its Asian allies from an attack by China. While no one would ever envision hostilities rising to this level, no serious policy maker can prefer this state of vulnerability to the kind of stability a robust defensive system provides. And this isn't even to discuss the threat posed by nuclear weapons in the hands of an unstable, unpredictable regime like Pyongyang.

    Current land-based systems in Alaska and California can perhaps stop a handful of North Korean missiles launched at the West Coast of the U.S. But until the U.S. is prepared to build a multi-layered system—including using space-based interceptors—to stop any Russian or Chinese missile, the U.S. cannot truly defend the free world. During such time both Russia and China will be able to exert what influence they can since the U.S. appears unwilling to confront their objections even when it comes to America's national survival.

    The cancellation of the Third Site demonstrates the Obama administration's complete confusion over strategic defense. Any real system would include the defense of the U.S. homeland and allies around the world. Such a system would be prepared to stop any ballistic missile that could cause the U.S. or its allies harm. With Mr. Obama's Third Site move, the U.S. is not merely abandoning a system to stop long-range Iranian ballistic missiles from hitting Europe but are also foregoing a system to stop Russian or Chinese ballistic missiles from destroying the U.S. Is it any wonder we can abandon Europe or Asian allies when we do not believe the American homeland worthy of defense?

    This strategic vulnerability cannot last forever. Either the U.S. and its allies will realize the folly of their ways and build strategic defenses or a day will come when they will pay a heavy price.

    Mr. Kennedy is president of the Claremont Institute in California and a member of the Independent Working Group on Missile Defense.

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    September 21, 2009
    Russia Wants Swiss to Mediate Euro - Security Revamp
    By REUTERS

    Filed at 4:29 p.m. ET

    BERNE (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, keen to build on Washington's decision to drop its plans for anti-missile defence, Monday said Switzerland could mediate his efforts to refashion Europe's security arrangements.

    Medvedev visited Switzerland on his way to the United States where he will take part in the U.N. General Assembly, the summit of 20 leading economies and meet U.S. President Barack Obama -- his partner in "resetting" thorny U.S.-Russian relations.

    Medvedev welcomed Obama's decision last week to scrap plans to deploy elements of a U.S. anti-missile shield in eastern Europe, viewed by Moscow as a threat. Kremlin officials said the move provided an impetus for breakthroughs in other areas.

    A new binding pact on European security, designed to prevent a return to the divisions of the Cold War era, is one of Medvedev's top diplomatic goals but it has so far has received little support from the West.

    "We believe everyone is interested in creating a new security architecture, especially those not engaged in (military) blocs," Medvedev told a news conference after talks with Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz.

    "Switzerland is a neutral state and it is not indifferent to what will happen in Europe," he added. "When negotiating the basics of a new European security architecture, we count on the services of Swiss mediation."

    He received no immediate response from Mertz, who spoke in favour of improving European security in general terms.

    COLD WAR LEGACY

    Moscow believes the current security arrangements in Europe, shaped in the era of confrontation between NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact, are out of date and disadvantage Russia.

    But most Western nations believe the NATO alliance continues to serve the continent's security needs well and have been sceptical of Medvedev's calls for a new start.

    Russian officials say that at Wednesday's meeting in New York, Medvedev and Obama will discuss the new opportunities created by the removal of a major stumbling block in their relations -- the U.S. anti-missile plans in Europe.

    The primary goal of the encounter is to foster moves towards a new pact on nuclear arms cuts, which aims to replace the 1991 START-1 treaty that expires in December. The latest expert talks on START took place in Geneva Monday.

    "The plan is to provide as much time as negotiators need to get a new treaty ready for signing by Dec 5." said Michael Parmly, a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva.


    Redrafting European security arrangements will likely be tricky for Russia, whose reputation was badly hurt by last year's war with ex-Soviet Georgia.

    The West largely sided with Georgia in that conflict.

    As well as improved relations with Washington, Russia will need the support of some European states if it is to dispel concerns that its plan is an attempt to divide up the continent into spheres of influence.

    (Additional reporting by Robert Evans in Geneva; Editing by Jon Boyle)
    Last edited by vector7; September 22nd, 2009 at 14:50.

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Obama Doctrine Imperils Allies, Emboldens Enemies

    Monday, September 21, 2009 4:14 PM

    By: Frank Gaffney Jr.

    Undermine our allies. Embolden our enemies. Diminish our country.

    Those nine words define the Obama Doctrine with respect to American security policy. All three elements were much in evidence in the president's benighted decision last week to cancel the "Third Site" for intercontinental-range missile defenses in Eastern Europe. They will be on display as well during this week's several conclaves with foreign leaders.

    The cumulative effect is predictable: A world in which the United States has fewer friends, more enemies, and less options for assuring its security.

    Let's start with the decision to abandon defense of our allies and the American people with interceptors based in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic. President Barack Obama and his minions at the Defense Department tried to confuse the issue by claiming that revised intelligence assessments of the Iranian threat justified such a step.

    Rubbish. Anyone following Iran's ballistic missile developments knows that the mullahs are determined to acquire missiles of sufficient range to be able to attack not only Israel and other targets in the Middle East but our allies in Europe and Americans here at home. This is evident in the strides Tehran has recently made with solid-fuel rockets and with space-launch vehicles.

    If, against all odds, the latest intelligence estimates are right that it will take Iran a bit longer to get such long-range missiles, it would mean that we just might be able to have defenses against them in place before they are needed. That would have meant a powerful boost to the confidence and solidarity of the NATO alliance, whose Eastern European members could especially use it in the face of ever-more aggressive Russian behavior.

    Instead, the Obama administration has: rewarded that Russian behavior; undermined NATO's confidence and solidarity; and debased American credibility and reliability. It has also left the United States naked to the sorts of intercontinental-range threats Iranian missiles will constitute in due course.

    This will be the case no matter how many additional defenses the Pentagon puts in place at sea or ashore (welcome as those are) against the shorter-range missiles Iran is now deploying. The difference is, as Mark Twain once put it, like that between lightning and a lightning bug: Team Obama has unmistakably capitulated at the geo-strategic level and no amount of obfuscations about revised intelligence or "stronger, smarter, and swifter" missile defense architectures will conceal that fact.

    Unfortunately, in the process of capitulating, Obama has not only emboldened the Russians. To be sure, they will see no reason now to abandon their Iranian allies. Read: no help to us on new, more effective sanctions against Iran; no cessation of nuclear cooperation with Tehran; completed delivery of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft systems to protect Iran's nuclear sites from Israeli or (hard as this is to imagine at the moment) our attacks, etc. The Kremlin will also drive an even harder bargain in the strategic arms negotiations now underway, pressing an all-too-willing American president to denuclearize the U.S. arsenal in ways that may suit Russia's agenda but disserve our security interests.

    The president has also further emboldened the Iranian mullahs. They now know that — no matter what they do — they will be able to realize their nuclear weapons ambitions. They will even be allowed to hold Europe and America at risk. They need simply run out the clock for a few more months, which can be accomplished with or without further conversations demeaning their feckless Western interlocutors.

    Make no mistake: With such steps, Obama is systematically diminishing the United States, effecting its transformation from what was once called "the world's only superpower" to a nation subordinated to the demands of international consensus, organizations, "peer competitors" and even rogue states.

    We can expect to see this doctrine in full flower during the president's forays this week into Middle East peace-making, nuclear disarmament and reordering the world economic system.

    For example, during Obama's scrum with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the so-called "president" of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, he will not only try to coerce our ally to make political and territorial concessions to Palestinians who hate Israelis and us. There will also likely be a push for a new round of "peace" negotiations in Moscow jointly sponsored by the U.S. and Russia. No good can come of legitimating, let alone supporting, the machinations of Vladimir Putin's Kremlin in the Mideast.

    Then, at the U.N., Obama will personally preside over a Security Council session at which he will, evidently, affirm his commitment to a "world without nuclear weapons" — without evident regard for the fact that the only nation he can possibly denuclearize is ours. Suffice it to say that the exercise will be one big pander to transnationalism and enhancing the preeminence of the United Nations, and America's submission to its superior moral legitimacy and authority.

    Finally, the economic version of the Obama Doctrine will play out in Pittsburgh at the so-called "Group of 20" summit. There, efforts to affirm and consolidate sovereignty-sapping global financial regulatory schemes will be accompanied by attempts to formalize a new "multi-polar" world. Bribes will be offered to emerging powers like China, India, and Brazil in the form of promises of development assistance, technology transfers, and institutionalized power if only they accede to "climate change" arrangements that will savage U.S. and Western economies.

    Saul Alinsky would be proud.

    Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated Secure Freedom Radio.

    © 2009

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    September 21, 8:47 PM
    Men of Honor?
    Norfolk Military Affairs Examiner
    Nate Hale


    The protocol goes something like this: in the U.S. military, senior officers (and their civilian counterparts) provide advice and counsel to our elected leaders. During the discussion and formulation stages, military officials are free to disagree with the politicians and suggest alternative courses of action. But once the policy is set, leaders of the armed forces fall in line behind the commander-in-chief, except for the most extraordinary circumstances.

    Those "conditions" include orders that are illegal or immoral. Under those circumstances, senior officers--indeed, all military members--have an obligation to ignore such commands. It's a lesson taught in the earliest days of basic training, and in various commissioning programs.

    But "extraordinary circumstances" also cover events that are more complex and sometimes fall in gray areas in terms of practicality or legality. An example would be a policy or directive that military leaders consider dangerous to American security, the nation's military, or both. Under those conditions, senior officers and civilians may resign or request early retirement.

    This practice serves two purposes; first it gives the military official an "exit," removing them from the position of endorsing or executing a policy they cannot abide; and secondly, it gives the president a chance to fill the post with someone more supportive.

    Given those rules, we were expecting the resignation of at least one senior military official last week, after President Obama announced his new plan on missile defense for Western Europe. Canceling plans for interceptor missiles in Poland (and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic), Mr. Obama committed the U.S. to a policy that is both misguided and dangerous.

    Consider this: With last week's decision, Mr. Obama achieved a trifecta of stunning security blunders. First, he betrayed some our most loyal--and important--allies in eastern Europe, countries that have stood with America on issues ranging from Iraq to terrorist detention. But such support apparently means little to the commander-in-chief; for his second mistake, President Obama puts appeasement of Russian ahead of supporting our allies, raising new fears about our commitment to the region's fledgling democracies.

    By placating Moscow, Obama is hoping for assistance on such issues as Iran and North Korea. But the Russians have been unhelpful with Tehran, and offered little meaningful assistance in the Six-Party Talks, aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear program.


    Mr. Obama's third mistake is both strategic and operational. By shifting to sea-based missile defenses in Europe, the President is denying the same level of protection afforded to the Pacific Region. Moreover, the revised strategy leaves the administration vulnerable to the same pressures that prompted cancellation of those land-based systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    Consider these rather inconvenient facts. To be most effective, U.S. ballistic missile defense ships, equipped with SM-3 Block IV interceptors, should be positioned in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, among other locations.

    Gee, don't suppose Moscow will protest semi-permanent presence of Aegis cruisers and destroyers in waters that touch their shores? Or, the potential basing of land-based SM-3s and THAAD batteries at bases in Germany and Turkey?

    And, never mind that the revised scheme will still lack the over-lapping, redundant coverage found in the Pacific, where U.S. territory (and that of our allies) is protected by a combination of land and sea-based systems, including sea-based SM-3s; long-range, ground-based interceptor missiles (based in Alaska and California) and THAAD batteries for point defense, linked together with a sophisticated sensor and command-and-control network.

    Given those disturbing realities, you'd think that Defense Secretary Robert Gates or a member of the JCS would step down in protest. But Mr. Gates and senior military officers have offered support for the plan. In a press conference following the president's announcement, Dr. Gates said the revised system offers the best approach for protecting the "short and medium-range missiles from Iran," that currently posed the greatest threat.

    That assessment, for what it's worth, is based on a recent intelligence study. Of course, that raises a rather obvious question; is there any reason to believe that the missile analysis is any better--or less political--than the infamous 2007 assessment on Tehran's nuclear program which claimed (famously) that Iran had temporarily abandoned its weaponization efforts. Subsequent events have largely disproved that thesis; a recent International Atomic Energy Agency report indicates that Tehran could have a bomb within a year. You don't achieve that sort of progress by taking an extended break in the middle of the development cycle.

    Secretary Gates and the JCS also tout the "early deployment" of sea-based missile defenses, the integration of additional sensors and (of course) the projected costs savings. But those arguments are something of red herrings; the Aegis/SM-3 combination always figured in regional missile defense plans. They are now moving to the forefront because sea-based defenses are literally our only option until land-based SM-3s become available more than a decade from now. In fact, the installation plan for that system is about 2-3 years later than the projected GBI deployment.

    In other words, the Obama plan will actually delay installation of a more comprehensive shield, one that will still lack the GBI element. True, the SM-3/THAAD combination is cheaper than the GBI system, but those missiles won't approach the latter system's capabilities until sometime after 2020 (emphasis ours).

    This represents missile defense on the cheap, offering rudimentary capabilities against a growing Iranian threat, while delaying introduction of other systems desperately needed to provide over-lapping coverage. It is also a glaring example of geopolitical timidity, short-changing the defense of our allies in hopes of currying favor from a hostile regime--to help us in deterring another hostile regime.

    It's no surprise that President Obama, a long-time opponent of missile defense, would favor such an approach. More disturbing is the fact that senior military leaders are going along with the plan, despite its obvious flaws. If there was ever an opportunity for a uniformed officer to take a principled stand on a security issue of vital importance, this one was it. The refusal of senior officers (and civilians) to take such a stand speaks volumes about our current crop of military leaders.

    Sometimes, the honorable course of action means stepping down and taking the fight to another arena, rather than offering blind support to a feckless--and reckless--policy.

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Monday, September 21, 2009
    Obama's bid to 'reset' Kremlin relations signals a US policy shift


    ANALYSIS: While US president Barack Obama struggles to wade through the quagmire of health reform at home, he is making bold and significant strides in central and eastern Europe, writes
    DAN McLAUGHLIN

    His abandonment of plans to build a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic has been welcomed wholeheartedly in Russia – which saw itself as the real target of a project ostensibly aimed at countering Iran – and by most Poles and Czechs, who “hosted” quite enough foreign troops during the Soviet era and had little enthusiasm for new US bases.

    But the alarm bells rung by the usual US suspects – mostly the right-wing cold warriors who championed the missile scheme – are also tinkling in the ears of some of Russia’s neighbours, who still fear that any perceived diplomatic victory for Moscow must carry a dangerous corollary for them.

    Lech Walesa, a founder of the Solidarity movement and former Polish president, said Obama’s decision marked an unfortunate shift in US thinking in relation to central and eastern Europe, where history has instilled not only a deep distrust of Russia but a suspicion of deals between major powers in which the futures of smaller satellite states are used as stakes at the negotiating table.

    For people of such a mind, Obama’s declared bid to “reset” relations with the Kremlin is looking dangerously one-sided.

    Russia has not been made to pay, financially, diplomatically or militarily, for the war it prosecuted with Georgia in the dying days of the Bush administration. Moreover, it continues to undermine the Tbilisi government with warnings of further clashes and a campaign to convince countries to recognise the independence of the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    Venezuela has now joined Russia and Nicaragua in acknowledging the sovereignty of these Kremlin-controlled enclaves, with President Hugo Chavez announcing the move during a visit to Moscow that saw him sign a huge arms deal.

    While Russia strengthens links with abrasive leftist governments in Washington’s backyard, it remains determined to keep pulling the strings in its own, where the Kremlin and its local allies continue to undermine Ukraine’s pro-western leaders ahead of January’s vital presidential election.

    Moscow is also fighting hard to maintain its grip on the strategic Caucasus and Central Asia region, where it is stymying US and EU efforts to strengthen relations and secure the oil and gas that would help them wean themselves off the unpredictable flow of Russian energy.

    Central European critics of Obama’s “reset” policy point out that Russia has made no concessions on these issues since he came to power. They argue that scrapping missile defence in Poland and the Czech Republic only strengthens hawks like prime minister Vladimir Putin.

    Supporters counter that the more aggressive administration of George W Bush made no progress with Russia on these matters, hardened Moscow’s position on many of them and only served to highlight the limits of western influence in places like Georgia during last year’s war.

    Obama appears to hope that by not treating Moscow as a pariah, it will be less hostile to US allies like Georgia and Ukraine, more amenable to the west’s pursuit of energy deals across the old Soviet Union, and less likely to launch more “gas wars” or conflicts of any other kind.

    Obama has also made clear distinctions between Russia’s leaders: the hardline Putin, whom he accused of still having one foot in the cold war, and the more liberal president Dmitry Medvedev, whom he has praised as a intelligent, pragmatic and modern.

    Russian analysts believe the US administration hopes a less confrontational approach will strengthen the more emollient Medvedev, or at least help him hold his ground against Putin and an entourage of former KGB men who may still see US-Russian relations as a zero-sum game.

    Both Russian leaders praised Obama’s decision on missile defence. But Putin immediately pushed for more concessions from Washington on technology transfers to Russia and on its bid to enter the World Trade Organisation jointly with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

    Obama will meet Medvedev in New York this week, and hope for a sign that he really is a man with whom he can do business.

    The meeting will be closely watched in central Europe, where there is a general sense of relief that the missile shield will not be built.

    The political fallout has also been minimal, with Poland’s government performing strongly and having little riding on a deal largely championed by its predecessor, and Czech politics in limbo under a caretaker government before early elections.

    What last week’s decision rammed home to leaders in Prague and Warsaw, Tbilisi and Kiev, was that they are still not part of the biggest games played by the US and Russia.

    In the months ahead, Washington and Moscow should be able to find agreement on nuclear arms reductions and ensuring the continued flow of supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan.

    But consensus will be more elusive on how to neutralise the perceived threat from North Korea and, especially, Iran.

    Russia is the builder of Iran’s known atomic facilities and supplier of its nuclear fuel. It is the prospective provider of advanced air-defence missiles which Israel fears could dangerously alter the strategic balance in the Middle East.

    Moscow has long resisted pressure for tougher sanctions on Iran, and Putin and Medvedev insist that there will be no automatic quid pro quo for Obama’s missile defence move when the UN Security Council meets Iranian negotiators on its nuclear programme on October 1st.

    Some analysts note that Moscow has little economic incentive to stabilise the Middle East, given its preference for high oil prices and few reliable energy-exporting rivals in the region.

    If Obama can sway the Kremlin on the issues, then relations between the US and Russia will really have been “reset”, to the benefit of eastern Europe and the rest of the world.

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Don’t mention the Russians! Barack Obama’s Missile Defence claims are ridiculous

    By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: September 21st, 2009
    2 Comments

    The White House must think the American people were born yesterday if it believes they will buy the president’s claim that last week’s missile defence surrender had nothing to do with Russian pressure. As for the leaders and citizens of Poland and the Czech Republic, they have been contemptuously cast aside as expendable pawns on a Russian manufactured chess board. On CBS’s Face the Nation, Barack Obama responded to his critics by declaring:

    “So my task here was not to negotiate with the Russians. The Russians don’t make determinations about what our defense posture is. We have made a decision about what will be best to protect the American people as well as our troops in Europe and our allies. If the by-product of it is that the Russians feel a little less paranoid and are now willing to work more effectively with us to deal with threats like ballistic missiles from Iran or nuclear development in Iran, you know, then that’s a bonus.”


    Watching Obama’s performance, it was as if the ghost of Neville Chamberlain had reappeared claiming his Peace in our Time proclamation had nothing at all to do with Nazi German aggression and intimidation. No matter how hard the Obama administration tries to spin its shameful betrayal of American allies in central and eastern Europe, this was appeasement on a grand scale, the likes of which have not been witnessed since the late 1930s. Obama’s denials that Moscow’s opposition had dictated his decision were about as convincing as Gordon Brown’s ludicrous assertion that the freeing of the Lockerbie bomber had nothing to do with the Labour government.

    There has been a great deal of misinformation put out by the Obama team over the past few days claiming the decision to renege on its Third Site missile defence commitments was based on a reassessment of the Iranian threat, and the development of alternative sea-based missile interceptors. This is simply a smokescreen for what it cynically calls the “resetting” of relations with Moscow. The missile defence move was purely political – it had nothing at all to do with advancing American security interests.

    The dropping of Third Site was all about bowing before the Russian bear as part of a broader effort to clinch an agreement on nuclear arms reduction. Obama’s naïve vision of moving towards a nuclear free world trumped any concerns over US national security or the defence of its European allies. Little wonder Vladimir Putin has been smiling like a Cheshire cat.

    As last week’s missile defence deal showed, President Obama is obsessed with his strategy of engagement with dictatorial regimes and hostile powers, whether in the form of Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, Burma or Sudan. It is based on disdain for American global power, and a belief that the leader of the free world must constantly apologize for his country’s past. It represents the humbling of a superpower on the world stage, and is the most assured path to American decline.

    The great Polish freedom fighter Lech Walesa put it well when asked about the White House’s concessions to Moscow: “the Americans only cared about their interests. They used everybody else’s”. Barack Obama is abandoning America’s allies while currying favour with her enemies and strategic competitors. The Obama administration’s reversal on missile defence will damage America’s standing in Europe for a generation, and projects a clear message that America will desert its friends and kowtow to its foes in the name of the new Obama doctrine.

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Missile Defense's Shelving Reflected Military's Concerns

    Cost, Speed of Response Were Issues

    By R. Jeffrey Smith
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Call it another revolt of the generals. More than 13 years ago, the nation's military leaders told civilian defense officials they wanted to limit spending on missile defenses and to emphasize the protection of forces deployed overseas over defense of the American homeland against a long-range missile threat.

    Last week, after a lengthy internal Pentagon review and against the backdrop of new limits on overall military spending, the generals again threw their weight behind a relative contraction of the effort to defend against long-range missile attacks. They cited needed budgetary savings and more immediate threats in demanding faster work to protect overseas forces and bases against shorter-range attack.

    The latest shift shelved a plan to deploy in Europe an advanced radar and interceptors of long-range missiles by 2017. And it adds impetus to the Pentagon's request earlier this year for a cut of about 15 percent in overall missile defense spending, a scaling back of the deployment of long-range missile interceptors in Alaska and California, and the cancellation of three costly Reagan-era missile defense programs that officials say had threatened to balloon out of budgetary control.

    "I believe what's happening is what you witnessed happening in the Clinton years," said Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund and a longtime critic of the focus on national missile defense. "The military never liked this stuff; they were willing to support it as long as the budget was increasing, as the president's pet rock. But as soon as the budget starts contracting, they're willing to throw this overboard."

    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Thursday emphasized that defense of the U.S. homeland remains a priority, and that some related research is being expanded even as deployments are being deferred. Gates, after touring the Alaska site in June, expressed confidence that its interceptors could field an attack from North Korea.

    But last week's announcement is clearly another step in a steady evolution of the $125 billion program's central focus from President Ronald Reagan's grand vision of a national shield, popularly known as Star Wars, to a more limited defense of U.S. assets in foreign theaters.

    Robert G. Joseph, an undersecretary of state and a missile defense advocate during the Bush administration, said it reflects in part the traditional focus of uniformed officers on short- and medium-range missile threats, and also their conviction that advanced defenses to protect the United States are a competitor for resources.

    But Joseph said he thinks that instead of striking the right balance, as he believes the Bush administration did, Obama's decision will lead to "a weakening of our capability against long-range threats." He also said that any decision not to protect against blackmail and intimidation by foreign leaders armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles would be relying on "dangerously outdated" theories of warfare.

    Gates, responding to similar criticism in a New York Times op-ed Sunday, said: "I have found since taking this post that when it comes to missile defense, some hold a view bordering on theology that regards any change of plans or any cancellation of a program as abandonment or even breaking faith."

    Technical obstacles, as well as political shifts, have dictated the downward slope of the program's ambitions.

    As the Cold War ended in the late 1980s and Iraqi Scud missiles rained on U.S. and allied military targets in Saudi Arabia and Israel during the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, the space-based smart rocks and chemical or nuclear-pumped lasers that galvanized Reagan's excitement and ignited fierce technical controversy at the outset of the Strategic Defense Initiative were abandoned as impractical, unnecessary and inappropriate.

    In 1993, President Bill Clinton added new emphasis to theater missile defenses in an entity he renamed the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. But the simmering financial resentments of uniformed officers found voice in a 1996 decision by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, a top decision-making group headed by one of Cartwright's predecessors on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The group declared bluntly that the missile defense budget should be constrained to "save dollars that can be given back to the Services to be used for critical recapitalization programs."

    North Korea's 1998 launch of a Taepo Dong missile over Japan helped provoke Congress to enact the National Missile Defense Act of 1999, which ordered the deployment "as soon as is technologically possible" of a homeland defense.

    But former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard C. Clarke said the Bush administration took that idea and ran too far with it. Clarke faulted Bush's other national security aides for caring more about reinvigorating national missile defense than about al-Qaeda.

    Bush upgraded the program by placing it under the control of an independent agency, exempt from normal Pentagon oversight and regulations meant to compel a rigorous weighing of its merits against the value of other defense programs. "I am committed to deploying a missile defense system as son as possible to protect the American people and our deployed forces," Bush said as he abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002.

    But his expansion of the annual missile defense budget from $3.7 billion to an all-time high of $9 billion in 2007 provoked controversy inside and outside the Pentagon. So did his deployment of long-range missile interceptors in a system that the Pentagon's testing office said did not offer "a high degree of confidence in its limited capabilities."

    Military resentment at the program's special treatment was expressed in an August 2008 study by the Institute for Defense Analysis. It called for "increased interaction between the MDA and other relevant parts of DOD" -- a polite way of demanding the program pay more attention to real-world military needs and applications.

    The defense budget realities also changed this year, as Obama made clear that the department will enjoy a growth of only a few percent annually in the coming years. Gates decided to review the program more rigorously and to cancel three legacies of the Reagan era: a complex airborne laser and what are known as the Multiple Kill Vehicle and Kinetic Energy Interceptor programs, each aimed mostly at defending against medium- or long-range missile threats.

    Of the airborne laser, Gates said: "I don't know anybody at the Department of Defense . . . who thinks that this program should, or would, ever be operationally deployed." He described the latter, which had once been intended for deployment by 2010, as one of several missile defense concepts that were "fatally flawed . . . [or] sinkholes for taxpayer dollars."

    A spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency said that even with last week's decision to concentrate more resources on an earlier deployment of defenses against Iran's short- and medium-range missiles, spending related to long-range threats would still remain between a quarter and a third of the nation's overall effort.

    But as a senior military official told reporters at the White House, the reason the administration's decision came last week is that the military services are "building their budgets" for fiscal year 2011. The newly revamped program, he said, "costs less to develop and field and operate."

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    September 20, 2009 at 18:19:33

    Black Sea Crisis Deepens As Threat To Iran Grows

    For OpEdNews
    Rick Rozoff - Writer


    Tensions are mounting in the Black Sea with the threat of another conflict between U.S. and NATO client state Georgia and Russia as Washington is manifesting plans for possible military strikes against Iran in both word and deed.


    Referring to Georgia having recently impounded several vessels off the Black Sea coast of Abkhazia, reportedly 23 in total this year, the New York Times wrote on September 9 that "Rising tensions between Russia and Georgia over shipping rights to a breakaway Georgian region have opened a potential new theater for conflict between the countries, a little more than a year after they went to war."
    [1]

    Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh ordered his nation's navy to respond to Georgia's forceful seizure of civilian ships in neutral waters, calling such actions what they are - piracy - by confronting and if need be sinking Georgian navy and coast guard vessels. The Georgian and navy and coast guard are trained by the United States and NATO.

    The spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry addressed the dangers inherent in Georgia's latest provocations by warning “They risk aggravating the military and political situation in the region and could result in serious armed incidents.” [2]

    On September 15 Russia announced that its "border guards will detain all vessels that violate Abkhazia's maritime border...." [3]

    Russia would be not only entitled but obligated to provide such assistance to neighboring Abkhazia as "Under mutual assistance treaties signed last November, Russia pledged to help Abkhazia and South Ossetia protect their borders, and the signatories granted each other the right to set up military bases in their respective territories." [4]

    In attempting to enforce a naval blockade - the International Criminal Court plans to include blockades against coasts and ports in its list of acts of war this year [5] - against Abkhazia, the current Georgian regime of Mikheil Saakashvili is fully aware that Russia is compelled by treaty and national interests alike to respond. Having been roundly defeated in its last skirmish with Russia, the five-day war in August of last year, Tbilisi would never risk actions like its current ones without a guarantee of backing from the U.S. and NATO.

    Days after last year's war ended then U.S. Senator and now Vice President Joseph Biden flew into the Georgian capital to pledge $1 billion in assistance to the nation, making Georgia the third largest recipient of American foreign aid after Egypt and Israel.

    U.S. and NATO warships poured into the Black Sea in August of 2008 and American ships visited the Georgia port cities of Batumi and Poti to deliver what Washington described as civilian aid but which Russian sources suspected contained replacements for military equipment lost in the conflict.

    Less than a month after the war ended NATO sent a delegation to Georgia to "evaluate damage to military infrastructure following a five-day war between Moscow and Tbilisi...." [6]

    In December a meeting of NATO foreign ministers agreed upon a special Annual National Program for Georgia and in the same month Washington announced the creation of the United States-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership.

    In the past week a top-level delegation of NATO defense and logistics experts visited Georgia on September 9 "to promote the development of the Georgian Armed Forces" [7] and on September 14 high-ranking officials of the U.S. George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies arrived at the headquarters of the Georgian Ministry of Defense "to review issues of interdepartmental coordination in the course of security sector management and national security revision." [8]

    The ongoing military integration of Georgia and neighboring Azerbaijan, which also borders Iran - Washington's Georgetown University is holding a conference on Strategic Partnership between U.S. and Azerbaijan: Bilateral and Regional Criteria on September 18 - by the Pentagon and NATO is integrally connected with general military plans in the Black Sea and the Caucasus regions as a whole and, even more ominously, with joint war plans against Iran.

    As early as January of 2007 reports on that score surfaced in Bulgarian and Romanian news sources. Novinite (Sofia News Agency) reported that the Pentagon “could be using its two air force bases in Bulgaria and one on Romania's Black Sea coast to launch an attack on Iran...." [9]

    The bases are the Bezmer and Graf Ignitievo airbases in Bulgaria and the Mihail Kogalniceanu counterpart near the Romanian city of Constanza on the Black Sea.

    The Pentagon has seven new bases altogether in Bulgaria and Romania and in addition to stationing warplanes - F-15s, F-16s and A-10 Thunderbolts - has 3,000-5,000 troops deployed in the two nations at any given time, and Washington established its Joint Task Force-East (JTF-East) permanent headquarters at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase in Romania.

    A U.S. government website provides these details about Joint Task Force-East:

    "All U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force training operations in Romania and Bulgaria will fall under the command of JTF–East, which in turn is under the command of USEUCOM [United States European Command]. Physically located in Romania and Bulgaria, JTF East will include a small permanent headquarters (in Romania) consisting of approximately 100-300 personnel who will oversee rotations of U.S. Army brigade-sized units and U.S. Air Force Weapons Training Deployments (WTD). Access to Romanian and Bulgarian air and ground training facilities will provide JTF-East forces the opportunity to train and interact with military forces throughout the entire 92-country USEUCOM area of responsibility. U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) and U.S Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) are actively involved in establishing JTF-East." [10]

    The four military bases in Romania and three in Bulgaria that the Pentagon and NATO have gained indefinite access to since the two nations were incorporated into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004 allow for full spectrum operations: Infantry deployments in the area and downrange to Afghanistan and Iraq, runways for bombers and fighter jets, docking facilities for American and NATO warships including Aegis class interceptor missile vessels, training grounds for Western special forces and for foreign armed forces being integrated into NATO.


    Added to bases and troops provided by Turkey and Georgia - and in the future Ukraine - the Bulgarian and Romanian sites are an integral component of plans by the U.S. and its allies to transform the Black Sea into NATO territory with only the Russian coastline not controlled by the Alliance. And that of newly independent Abkhazia, which makes control of that country so vital.

    Last week the Romanian defense ministry announced the intention to acquire between 48 and 54 new generation fighter jets - American F-16s and F-35s have been mentioned - as part of "a new strategy for buying multi-role aircraft, which means to first buy aircraft to make the transition to fifth generation equipment, over the coming 10-12 years." [11]

    With the recent change in government in the former Soviet republic of Moldova - the aftermath of this April's violent "Twitter Revolution" - the new parliamentary speaker, Mihai Ghimpu, has openly spoken of the nation merging with, which is to say being absorbed by, neighboring Romania. Transdniester [the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic] broke away from Moldova in 1990 exactly because of the threat of being pulled into Romania and fighting ensued which cost the lives of some 1,500 persons.

    Romania is now a member of NATO and should civil war erupt in Moldova and/or fighting flare up between Moldova and Transdniester and Romania sends troops - all but a certainty - NATO can activate its Article 5 military clause to intervene. There are 1,200 Russian peacekeepers in Transdniester.

    Transdniester's neighbor to its east is Ukraine, linked with Moldova through the U.S.-concocted GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) bloc, which has been collaborating in enforcing a land blockade against Transdniester. Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko, whose poll ratings are currently in the low single digits, is hellbent on dragging his nation into NATO against overwhelming domestic opposition and can be counted on to attack Transdniester from the eastern end if a conflict breaks out.

    A Moldovan news source last week quoted an opposition leader issuing this dire warning:

    "Moldova's ethnic minorities are categorically against unification with Romania.

    "If we, those who are not ethnic Moldovans, will have to defend Moldova's
    statehood, then we will find powerful allies outside Moldova, including in Russia. Along with it, Ukraine, Turkey and Bulgaria would be involved in this fighting. Last year we all witnessed how Russia defended the interests of its nationals in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Why does somebody believe that in case of a civil war in Moldova Russia will simply watch how its nationals are dying? Our task is to prevent such developments." [12]

    Indeed, the entire Black Sea and Caucasus regions could go up in flames if Western proxies in GUAM attack any of the so-called frozen conflict nations - Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Georgia, Nagorno Karabakh by Azerbaijan and Transdniester by Moldova and Ukraine. A likely possibility is that all four would be attacked simultaneously and in unison.

    An opportunity for that happening would be a concentrated attack on Iran, which borders Azerbaijan and Armenia. The latter, being the protector of Nagorno Karabakh, would immediately become a belligerent if Azerbaijan began military hostilities against Karabakh.

    On September 15 news stories revealed that the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, DC, founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, had released a report which in part stated, "If biting sanctions do not persuade the Islamic Republic to demonstrate sincerity in negotiations and give up its enrichment activities, the White House will have to begin serious consideration of the option of a U.S.-led military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities." [13]

    The report was authored by Charles Robb, a former Democratic senator from
    Virginia, Daniel Coats, former Republican senator from Indiana, and retired General Charles Wald, a former deputy commander of the U.S. European Command.


    Iran is to be given 60 days to in essence abandon its civilian nuclear power program and if it doesn't capitulate the Obama administration should "prepare overtly for any military option" which would include "deploying an additional aircraft carrier battle group to the waters off Iran and conducting joint exercises with U.S. allies." [14]

    The main Iranian nuclear reactor is being constructed at Bushehr and would be a main target of any U.S. and Israeli bombing and missile attacks. As of 2006 there were 3,700 Russian experts and technicians - and their families - living in the environs of the facility.

    It has been assumed for the past eight years that a military attack on Iran would be launched by the United States from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and by long-range Israeli bombers flying over Iraq and Turkey.

    During that period the U.S. and its NATO allies have also acquired access to airbases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan (in Baluchistan, bordering Iran), Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in addition to those they already have in Turkey.

    Washington and Brussels have also expanded their military presence into Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania on the Black Sea and into Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea bordering northeastern Iran.

    Plans for massive military aggression against Iran, then, might include air and missile strikes from locations much nearer the nation than previously suspected.

    The American Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced plans last week to supply Turkey, the only NATO member state bordering Iran, with almost $8 billion dollars worth of theater interceptor missiles, of the upgraded and longer-range PAC-3 (Patriot Advance Capability-3) model. The project includes delivering almost 300 Patriots for deployment at twelve command posts inside Turkey.

    In June the Turkish government confirmed that NATO AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) planes would be deployed in its Konya province.

    The last time AWACS and Patriot missiles were sent to Turkey was in late 2002 and early 2003 in preparation for the invasion of Iraq.

    On September 15 the newspaper of the U.S. armed forces, Stars and Stripes, ran an article titled "U.S., Israeli forces to test missile defense while Iran simmers," which included these details on the biannual Juniper Cobra war games:

    "Some 1,000 U.S. European Command troops will soon deploy to Israel for a large-scale missile defense exercise with Israeli forces.

    "This year's Juniper Cobra comes at a time of continued concern about Iran's nuclear program, which will be the subject of talks in October.

    "The U.S. troops, from all four branches of service, will work alongside an equal number of Israel Defense Force personnel, taking part in computer-simulated war games....Juniper Cobra will test a variety of air and missile defense technology during next month's exercise, including the U.S.-controlled X-Band." [15]

    The same feature documented that this month's exercise is the culmination of months of buildup.

    "In April, about 100 Europe-based personnel took part in a missile defense exercise that for the first time incorporated a U.S.-owned radar system, which was deployed to the country in October 2008. The U.S. X-Band radar is intended to give Israel early warning in the event of a missile launch from Iran.

    "For nearly a year, a mix of troops and U.S. Defense Department contractors have been managing the day-to-day operation of the X-Band, which is situated at Nevatim air base in the Negev Desert." [16]


    The same publication revealed two days earlier that the Pentagon conducted a large-scale counterinsurgency exercise with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade last week in Germany, "the largest such exercise ever held by the U.S. military outside of the United States...." [17] The two units are scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively, but could be diverted to Iran, which has borders with both nations, should need arise.

    What the role of Black Sea NATO states and clients could be in a multinational, multi-vectored assault on Iran was indicated in the aftermath of last year's Georgian-Russian war.

    At a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels a year ago, Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin "said that Russian intelligence had obtained information indicating that the Georgian military infrastructure could be used for logistical support of U.S. troops if they launched an attack on Iran." [18]

    Rogozin was further quoted as saying, "What NATO is doing now in Georgia is restoring its ability to monitor its airspace, in other words restoring the whole locator system and an anti-missile defence system which were destroyed by Russian artillery.

    "[The restoration of surveillance systems and airbases in Georgia is being] done for logistic support of some air operations either of the Alliance as a whole or of the United States in particular in this region. The swift reconstruction of the airfields and all the systems proves that some air operation is being planned against another country which is located not far from Georgia...." [19]

    Early last October Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Security Council "described the U.S. and NATO policy of increasing their military presence in Eastern Europe as seeking strategic military superiority over Russia.

    "The official added that the United States would need allies in the region if the country decided to attack Iran." [20]

    Patrushev stated, "If it decides to carry out missile and bomb attacks against Iran, the US will need loyal allies. And if Georgia is involved in this war, this will pose additional threats to Russia's national security." [21]

    Later last October an Azerbaijani website reported that 100 Iranian Air Force jets were exercising near the nation's border and that "military sources from the United States reported that territories in Azerbaijan and in Georgia may be used for attacking Iran...." [22]

    Writing in The Hindu the same month Indian journalist Atul Aneja wrote of the effects of the Georgian-Russian war of the preceding August and offered this information:

    "Russia's military assertion in Georgia and a show of strength in parts of West Asia [Middle East], combined with domestic political and economic preoccupations in Washington, appear to have forestalled the chances of an immediate strike against Iran.

    "Following Russia's movement into South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev acknowledged that Moscow was aware that serious plans to attack Iran had been laid out. 'We know that certain players are planning an attack against Iran. But we oppose any unilateral step and [a] military solution to the nuclear crisis.'

    "Russia seized control of two airfields in Georgia from where air strikes against Iran were being planned. The Russian forces also apparently recovered weapons and Israeli spy drones that would have been useful for the surveillance of possible Iranian targets." [23]

    The same newspaper, in quoting Dmitry Rogozin asserting that Russian military intelligence had captured documents proving Washington had launched “active military preparations on Georgia's territory” for air strikes against Iran, added information on Israeli involvement:

    "Israel had supplied Georgia with sophisticated Hermes 450 UAV spy drones, multiple rocket launchers and other military equipment that Georgia, as well as modernised Georgia's Soviet-made tanks that were used in the attack against South Ossetia. Israeli instructors had also helped train Georgia troops." [24]

    Rather than viewing the wars of the past decade - against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq - and the concomitant expansion of U.S. and NATO military presence inside all three countries and in several others on their peripheries as an unrelated series of events, the trend must be seen for what it is: A consistent and calculated strategy of employing each successive war zone as a launching pad for new aggression.

    The Pentagon has major military bases in Kosovo, in Afghanistan and in Iraq that it never intends to abandon. The U.S. and its NATO allies have bases in Bulgaria, Romania, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, Bahrain (where the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet is headquartered) and other nations in the vicinity of the last ten years' wars which can be used for the next ten - or twenty or thirty - years' conflicts.

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Russia hasn't abandon missile defense plans, says General Staff Chief

    www.chinaview.cn 2009-09-21 17:05:20

    ·Russia has not abandoned its plans to install short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad.

    ·"There is no decision to that effect so far," chief of Russia's General Staff Nikolai Makarov said.

    ·"I cannot make this decision; that is a responsibility of the president," he said.

    MOSCOW, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Russia has not abandoned its plans to install short-range Iskander missiles in its western Kaliningrad enclave, chief of Russia's General Staff Nikolai Makarov said on Monday.

    "There is no decision to that effect so far. It must be a political decision," the Inter fax news agency quoted him as saying.

    "I cannot make this decision; that is a responsibility of the president," he said.

    Makarov also stressed that the United States actually "will develop the missile defense network, but it will be sea-based."

    The saying contradicted with what Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin had said Saturday.

    "Reason prevailed over ambitions, and there is no need in deploying tactical Iskander systems in Kaliningrad," Popovkin told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

    "Naturally, we will cancel the measures that Russia planned to take in response to the deployment of U.S. missile defense systems in the Czech Republic and Poland. One of these measures was the deployment of Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region," he said.

    Makarov also expressed a negative attitude towards possible U.S. deployment of missile shield in the Caucasus region.

    "Our general attitude is negative," he said, while reiterating that Russia intended for joint development of a global missile defense system.

    "As for missile defense, we view it negatively, unless we build it jointly," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Makarov as saying.

    U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday announced decision to abandon Bush-era missile defense shield program while initiating a"phased, adaptive approach" of the plan in Eastern Europe.

    The Bush administration planned to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of its European missile shield to protect its European allies from missile threats from "rogue states."

    Russia strongly opposes the measure, saying it poses threat to its security.

    Editor: Chris

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    The Ballistic Missile Defense Decision and the Global System

    Politics / GeoPolitics
    Sep 21, 2009 - 06:18 PM
    By: STRATFOR

    The United States announced late Sept. 17 that it would abandon a plan for placing ballistic missile defense (BMD) installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. Instead of the planned system, which was intended to defend primarily against a potential crude intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) threat from Iran against the United States, the administration chose a restructured system that will begin by providing some protection to Europe using U.S. Navy ships based on either the North or Mediterranean seas.

    The Obama administration has argued that this system will be online sooner than the previously planned system and that follow-on systems will protect the United States. It was also revealed that the latest National Intelligence Estimate finds that Iran is further away from having a true intercontinental missile capability than previously thought, meaning protecting Europe is a more pressing concern than protecting the United States.

    Poland and the Czech Republic responded with a sense of U.S. betrayal, while Russia expressed its satisfaction with the decision. Russian envoy to NATO Dmitri Rogozin said Moscow welcomes the decision and sees it as an appropriate response to Russia’s offer to allow U.S. supplies to flow into Afghanistan through Russia. Later, the Russians added another reward: They tentatively announced the cancellation of plans to deploy short-range ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad, which they previously had planned as a response to the components of the U.S. BMD system planned for Poland and the Czech Republic.

    Polish Despair and Russian Delight

    Polish despair (and Warsaw seemed far more upset than Prague) and Russian satisfaction must be explained to begin to understand the global implications. To do this, we must begin with an odd fact: The planned BMD system did not in and of itself enhance Polish national security in any way even if missiles had actually targeted Warsaw, since the long-range interceptors in Poland were positioned there to protect the continental United States; missiles falling on Poland would likely be outside the engagement envelope of the original Ground-based Midcourse Defense interceptors. The system was designed to handle very few missiles originating from the Middle East, and the Russians obviously have more than a few missiles.

    Given that even small numbers of missiles easily could overwhelm the system, the BMD system in no way directly affected Russian national security: The Russian strike capability — against both Poland and the continental United States — was not affected at all. Indeed, placing the system on ships is no less threatening than placing them on land. So, if it was the BMD system the Russians were upset with, they should be no less upset by the redeployment at sea. Yet Moscow is pleased by what has happened — which means the BMD system was not really the issue.

    For Poland, the BMD system was of little importance. What was important was that in placing the system in Poland, the United States obviously was prepared to defend the system from all threats. Since the system could not be protected without also protecting Poland, the BMD installation — and the troops and defensive systems that would accompany it — was seen as a U.S. guarantee on Polish national security even though the system itself was irrelevant to Polish security.

    The Russians took the same view. They cared little about the BMD system itself; what they objected to was the presence of a U.S. strategic capability in Poland because this represented an American assertion that Poland was actively under the defense of the United States. Of particular note from the Russian point of view was that such a guarantee would be independent of NATO. The NATO alliance has seen better days, and the Russians (and Poles) perceive an implicit American security guarantee as more threatening than an explicit one from NATO.

    This whole chain of events was an exercise in the workings of the Post-Post-Cold War World, in which Russia is a strong regional power seeking to protect its influence in the former Soviet Union (FSU) and to guarantee its frontiers as well — something that in the West has often been misinterpreted as a neurotic need for respect. Poland is the traditional route through which Russia is invaded, and the Russian view is that governments and intentions change but capabilities do not. Whatever Washington intends now, it is asserting dominance in a region that has been the route for three invasions over the last two centuries. By the Russian logic, if the United States has no interest in participating in such an invasion, it should not be interested in Poland. If the United States chooses Poland of all places to deploy its BMD when so many other locations were willing and possible, the Russians are not prepared to regard this choice as merely coincidence.

    Overall, the Russians desire a new map of the region, one with two layers. First, Russia must be recognized as the dominant power in the former Soviet Union. The United States and Europe must shape bilateral relations with other former Soviet states within the framework of this understanding. Second, Central Europe — and particularly Poland — must not become a base for U.S. power. The United States and Europe must accept that Russia has no aggressive intent, but more to the point, Poland in particular must become a neutral buffer zone between Russia and Germany. It can sign whatever treaties it wants, attend whatever meetings it wishes and so forth, but major military formations of other great powers must remain out of Poland. Russia sees the BMD system as the first step in militarizing Poland, and the Russians have acted accordingly.

    From the standpoint of the Bush administration and the Obama administration early on, the Russian claims to great power status, rights in the former Soviet Union and interests in Poland represented a massive overreach. The perception of both administrations derived from an image developed in the 1990s of Russia as crippled. The idea of Russia as a robust regional power, albeit with significant economic problems, simply didn’t register. There were two generations at work. The older Cold War generation did not trust Russian intentions and wanted to create a cordon around Russia — including countries like Georgia, Ukraine and, most important, Poland — because Russia could become a global threat again. The newer post-Cold War generation — which cut its teeth in the 1990s — wanted to ignore Russia and do what it wished both in Central Europe and the former Soviet Union because Russia was no longer a significant power, and the generation saw the need to develop a new system of relationships. In the end, all this congealed in the deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    For Russia, Poland mattered in ways the United States could not grasp given its analytic framework. But the United States had its own strategic obsession: Iran.

    Iran: The U.S. Strategic Obsession

    The Islamic world has been the focus of the United States since 9/11. In this context, the development of an Iranian nuclear capability was seen as a fundamental threat to U.S. national interests. The obvious response was a military strike to destroy Iranian power, but both the Bush and Obama administrations hesitated to take the step.

    First, a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be no one-day affair. Intelligence on precise locations had uncertainty built into it, and any strike would consist of multiple phases: destroying Iran’s air force and navy, destroying Iran’s anti-aircraft capability to guarantee total command of the skies, the attacks on the nuclear facilities themselves, analysis of the damage, perhaps a second wave, and of course additional attacks to deal with any attempted Iranian retaliation. The target set would be considerable, and would extend well beyond the targets directly related to the nuclear program, making such an operation no simple matter.

    Second, Iran has the ability to respond in a number of ways. One is unleashing terrorist attacks worldwide via Hezbollah. But the most significant response would be blocking the Strait of Hormuz using either anti-ship missiles or naval mines. The latter are more threatening largely because the clearing operation could take a considerable period and it would be difficult to know when you had cleared all of the mines. Tankers and their loads are worth about $170 million at current prices, and that uncertainty could cause owners to refuse the trip. Oil exports could fall dramatically, and the effect on the global economy — particularly now amid the global financial crisis — could be absolutely devastating. Attacking Iran would be an air-sea battle, and could even include limited ground forces inserted to ensure that the nuclear facilities were destroyed.

    The country most concerned with all of this is Israel. The Iranians had given every indication that they plan to build a nuclear capability and use it against Israel. Israel’s vulnerability to such a strike is enormous, and there are serious questions about Israel’s ability to use the threat of a counterstrike as a deterrent to such a strike. In our view, Iran is merely creating a system to guarantee regime survival, but given the tenor of Tehran’s statements, Israel cannot afford to take this view complacently.

    Israel could unilaterally draw the United States into an airstrike on Iran. Were Israel to strike Iran by any means, it most likely would lack the ability to conduct an extended air campaign. And the United States could not suffer the consequences of airstrikes without the benefits of taking out Iran’s nuclear program. Apart from the political consequences, the U.S. Navy would be drawn into the suppression of Iranian naval capabilities in the Persian Gulf whether it wanted to or not simply to keep the Strait of Hormuz open. Even if Iran didn’t act to close off the strait, Washington would have to assume that it might, an eventuality it could not afford. So an Israeli attack would likely draw in the United States against Iran one way or another. The United States has had no appetite for such an eventuality, particularly since it considers a deliverable Iranian nuclear weapon a ways off. The U.S. alternative — in both administrations — was diplomatic.

    Israel and Complications to the Diplomatic Alternative

    Washington wanted to create a coalition of powers able to impose sanctions on Iran. At meetings over the summer, the Obama administration appears to have promised Israel “crippling” sanctions to prevent any unilateral Israel action. At an April G-8 meeting, it was decided that Iran must engage in serious negotiations on its nuclear program prior to the next G-8 meeting — on Sept. 24 — or face these sanctions.

    The crippling sanctions foreseen were some sort of interruption of the flow of gasoline into Iran, which imports 40 percent of its supply despite being a net exporter of crude. Obviously, in order for this to work, all of the G-8 nations (and others) must participate, particularly Russia. Russia has the capacity to produce and transport all of Iran’s needs, not just its import requirements. If the Russians don’t participate, there are no sanctions.

    The Russians announced weeks ago that they opposed new sanctions on Iran and would not participate in them. Moreover, they seemed to flout the ineffectiveness of any U.S. sanctions. With that, the diplomatic option on Iran was off the table. Russia is not eager to see Iran develop nuclear weapons, but it sees the United States as the greater threat at the moment. Moscow’s fundamental fear is that the United States — and Israel — will dramatically strengthen Ukraine, Georgia and other states in the FSU and on its periphery, and that Russia’s strategic goal of national security through pre-eminence in the region will be lost.


    From the Russian point of view, the U.S. desire for Russian help with Iran is incompatible with the U.S. desire to pursue its own course in the FSU and countries like Poland. From the U.S. point of view, these were two entirely different matters that should be handled in a different venue. But Washington didn’t get to choose in this matter. This was a Russian decision. The Russians faced what they saw as an existential threat, believing that the U.S. strategy threatened the long-term survival of the Russian Federation. The Russians were not prepared to support a U.S. solution for Iran without American support on Russian concerns. The Americans ultimately did not understand that the Russians had shifted out of the era in which the United States could simply dictate to them. Now, the United States had to negotiate with the Russians on terms Moscow set, or the United States would have to become more directly threatening to Russia.

    Becoming more threatening was not an option with U.S. forces scattered all over the Middle East. Therefore, the United States had to decide what it wanted.

    American attention in the run-up to the Oct. 1 talks with Iran was focused by Israel. The Obama administration had adopted an interesting two-tier position on Israel. On the one hand, it was confronting Israel on halting settlement activity in the West Bank; on the other hand, it was making promises to Israel on Iran. The sense in Israel was that the Obama administration was altering Washington’s traditional support for Israel. Since Iran was a critical threat to Israel, and since Israel might not have a better chance to strike than now, the Obama administration began to realize that its diplomatic option had failed, and that the decision on war and peace with Iran was not in its hands but in Israel’s, since Israel was prepared to act unilaterally and draw the United States into a war. Given that the Obama diplomatic initiative had failed and that the administration’s pressure on Israel had created a sense of isolation in Israel, the situation could now well spiral out of control.

    Although all of these things operated in different bureaucratic silos in Washington, and participants in each silo could suffer under the illusion that the issues were unrelated, the matters converged hurriedly last week. Uncertain what leverage it had over Israel, the United States decided to reach out to the Russians. Washington sought a way to indicate to the Russians that it was prepared to deal with Russia in a different way while simultaneously giving away as little as possible. That little was the redeployment of BMD components originally planned for Poland and the Czech Republic to ships. (Money already has been allocated to upgrade additional Atlantic-based Aegis warships to BMD capability.) Whatever the military and engineering issues involved, whatever the desire not to conflate U.S. strategic relations with Israel with pressure on the settlement issue, whatever the desire to “reset” relations without actually giving the Russians anything, the silos collapsed and a gesture was made.

    From the Russian point of view, the gesture is welcome but insufficient. They are not going to solve a major strategic problem for the United States simply in return for moving the BMD. For that, the United States got access to Afghanistan through Russia if desired, and the removal of missiles in Kaliningrad. The Americans also got a different atmosphere at meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at the United Nations next week. But the sine qua non for Russian help on Iran is Russia’s sphere of influence in the FSU. The public relations aspect of how this sphere is announced is not critical. That the U.S. agrees to it is.

    This is the foreign policy test all U.S. presidents face. Obama now has three choices.

    He can make the deal with Russia. But every day that passes, Russia is creating the reality of domination in the FSU, so its price for a deal will continue to rise from simply recognizing their sphere of influence to extending it to neutralizing Poland.

    He can select the military option of an air campaign against Iran. But this means accepting the risk to maritime traffic in the Persian Gulf and the potentially devastating impact on the global economy if oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz are impacted significantly.

    He can wait to see how things unfold, and place overwhelming pressure on Israel not to attack. But this means finding a way to place the pressure: Israel in 2009 does not have the dependence on the United States it had in 1973.

    The Importance of Poland

    Ultimately, the question of Iran is secondary. The question of U.S.-Russian relations is now paramount. And ultimately, policymakers don’t really have as much freedom to make choices as they would like. Under any of these scenarios, the United States doesn’t have the power to stop Russian dominance in the FSU, but it does have the ability to block further Russian expansion on the North European Plain. Preventing an amalgamation between Russia and Europe is a fundamental interest to the United States; neutralizing Poland and depending on Germany as the Russian-European frontier is not inviting — especially as Germany has no interest in reprising the role it played from 1945 to 1991.

    The United States has an Iran crisis, but it is not its fundamental geopolitical problem. Interestingly, the Iran crisis is highlighting the real issue, which is Russia. It is Russia that is blocking a solution to Iran because Russian and American interests have profoundly diverged. What is emerging from Iran is the issue of Russia. And obviously, when Russia becomes an issue, so does Poland. If the United States acts to limit Russia, it will act in Poland, and not with BMD systems.

    The Obama administration’s decision to withdraw BMD is insufficient to entice Russia into assisting with Iran. An agreement to respect Russian rights in the FSU would be sufficient (and in a way would merely recognize what is already in place). Obama might quietly give that assurance. But if he does, the United States will not add Poland to the pile of concessions. The greater the concessions in the FSU, the more important Poland becomes. The idea of conceding both Russian hegemony in the FSU and the neutralization of Poland in exchange for Russian pressure on Iran is utterly disproportionate.

    The United States has already completed delivery of 48 late-model F-16C/Ds with advanced offensive capabilities to Poland. That matters far more to Polish national security than BMD. In the U.S. tradition with allies — particularly allies with strong lobbies in the United States, where the Polish lobby is immense — disappointment on one weapon system usually results in generosity with other, more important systems (something the Poles must learn).

    As the United States has a strong military option in Iran, redrawing the map of Europe to avoid using that option — regardless of Polish fears at the moment — is unlikely. Moreover, Washington also could decide to live with an Iranian nuclear capability without redrawing the map of Europe. Ultimately, the United States has made a gesture with little content and great symbolic meaning. It is hoping that the Russians are overwhelmed by the symbolism. They won’t be.

    For their part, the Russians are hoping the Americans panic over Iran. The fact is that while Russia is a great regional power, it is not that great, and its region is not that critical. The Russians may be betting that Obama will fold. They made the same bet on John F. Kennedy.

    Obama reads the same reports that we do about how the Russians believe him to be weak and indecisive. And that is a formula for decisive — if imprudent — action.

    By George Friedman

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Analysis: Obama snubs allies over missile shield

    By Emanuele Ottolenghi, September 24, 2009

    President Obama’s decision to scrap plans to deploy a radar station in the Czech Republic and 10 missile interceptors in Poland, as part of a long range ballistic missile defence network, may come down to budget cuts alone — the Administration does not have the funds to support a costly military programme at this difficult economic juncture.

    He should have used the programme as a bargaining chip in the political game with Russia. But instead, he clumsily performed a policy U-turn, barely a year after his predecessor had sealed the deal with Poland and the Czech Republic, in a manner that brings little gain to America and sends the wrong signals to friend and foe alike.

    BMD was designed as a response to future long-range ballistic missiles — the ones America’s foes in Iran, Syria and North Korea do not have yet but are busy developing. Mr Obama’s justification for dropping BMD is that this threat is many years away, unlike already existing shorter range Iranian missiles, which can be confronted with cheaper, existing technology.

    Still, it leaves us unprotected for the future. It therefore signals to Iran and its travelling companions that America has less resolve to confront them.

    It signals to Iran that America has less resolve to fight them

    It is a dangerous signal to send your foes, as it is bound to embolden them.

    This is true especially because Mr Obama has deliberately chosen to give allies the cold shoulder. Though BMD was designed to confront Iran mainly, Russia exploited it as a pretext for a new round of confrontational politics, turning Poland and the Czech Republic into vulnerable recipients of its ire.

    Moscow threatened deployment of Iskander tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave as a response to BMD. Mr Obama could have bargained a deal with Russia — instead he received no concessions on Iran’s sanctions, on Russian supplies of nuclear technology or advanced weaponry to Iran, let alone on Iskander deployment. This signals to America’s allies that their erstwhile supportive patron may be too fickle to rely upon.

    Mr Obama has reneged on Mr Bush’s promises to Ariel Sharon regarding the settlements from 2004, has stalled an already sealed free trade agreement with Columbia, has sanctioned Honduras for protecting its constitutional freedom and now he has left Poland and the Czech Republic — both staunch allies in the war on terror — to confront Russia alone.

    Meanwhile, Mr Obama has made overtures to Iran, at a time when it has brutally crushed domestic dissent. Any American ally must be nervously wondering if they will be next.

    When Mr Obama knocks on their doors to ask for more troops and political capital to back his policies, he may discover he accomplished little, except demeaning America’s word of honour.

    Emanuele Ottolenghi is director of the Transatlantic Institute in Brussels

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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Here is a sobering assessment.

    I downloaded it over a week ago and got around to hearing it over the weekend.

    Not good; I think this interview was done just before we ditched missile defense in Eastern Europe on 9/17/09.


    Peter Huessy Interview

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 11:15 PM

    Jeff Nyquist interviews Peter Huessy, President of GeoStrategic Analysis, a Potomac, Maryland national security consulting firm.
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    Default Re: Missile Defense (General thread)

    Monday, September 28, 2009
    Sarah Palin was right: Obama's missile defense cuts are reckless, Part 2

    I mentioned a couple days ago about the problematic issue with Iran, its nuclear facilities and missiles, while Obama is dismantling ours. It's a situation which shows that Sarah Palin was right about missile defense.

    Now that we have been threatened by North Korea, which bluffed and now warned by Iran… how off is Sarah Palin now concerning Missile Defense in our own country? Even Defense Secretary Gates is beginning to wonder what the deal is and is saying that letting Afghanistan go is a bad idea, even after the administration and Congress ended production of the F-22 air superiority fighter. What is Congress thinking now? Meanwhile, Obama seems to be letting the Gitmo detainees out one at a time to keep from drawing attention.

    It really doesn’t matter. We are at the mercy of what Iran's mullahs may do. Israel has long urged the U.S. to stand up and take action, but sadly it looks as though the tiny democracy is on its own. But the United States is under the missile bubble as well. Yet Obama just grins and campaigns as usual, this time for an extended school session. Isn’t there something more pressing than worrying about the length of the school year? How about keeping Americans and their children safe?

    I also mentioned that Venezuela is seeking its own uranium, possibly with help from Russia. I said that China would be involved. It seems I was right about that as well, but one country that I thought would be on our side, India, is preoccupied with building up its own nuclear arsenal, and it's anyone's guess when Pakistan is going to get into the mix.

    So while all this is going on in the world, we should be on high alert. But, no, House Democrats are too focused on their push to give healthcare to illegals. Where was Obama's plan to grant them U.S. citizenship?

    None of this is good news. In fact, this is depressing news. Is there anything positive about the Obama Administration's lemming march over the cliff?

    I hope Sarah Palin and others who value the nation's security, will we speaking out on these issues at upcoming events. This is not the time for silence, nor is it the time to look past the issues that are staring the world in the face.
    As I was writing this, the Iranians fired two medium range missiles. Say an Our Father. (The 23rd Psalm might also be appropriate. - JP)

    From Reuters.com:
    Iran has test-fired medium-range missiles, state TV reported on Monday, a day after the Islamic Republic's elite Revolutionary Guards launched short-range missiles as part of several days of war games.
    So, Mr. President, should Americans be concerned about the mad mullahs and their missiles yet?

    - u

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