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Bad Timing:

I'll leave the question of whether President Obama's decision to abandon a planned missile defense of Poland and the Czech Republic is good or bad policy. As a matter of timing, however, it's surely bad politics. There's surely a better day to make such an announcement than the 70th anniversary of Stalin's invasion of Poland.

UPDATE: The NYT reports on the unfortunate timing as well.

SECOND UPDATE: The NYT story linked above no longer makes reference to the timing, but this other NYT story does.

ruuffles (mail) (www):
Why does it matter, if we are to believe the Bush administration's justification that it's to counter the Iranian threat?
9.17.2009 9:18am
M (mail):
Hmm, I'd heard about this several weeks ago. Maybe those were just reports that this was "going to be done", but they were certainly reported as if it was certain and a done deal. I think that maybe the Washington Post is just a few weeks behind.
9.17.2009 9:21am
thatguy (mail):
Did they fire they entire protocol department? Or are they such raging egomaniacs that they don't even comprehend that other people exist? I;m no doctor, but i saw one on TV:
Common characteristics of those with psychopathy are:

* Grandiose sense of self-worth --CHECK
* Superficial charm --CHECK
* Criminal versatility
* Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others
* Impulse control problems
* Irresponsibility--CHECK
* Inability to tolerate boredom
* Pathological narcissism --CHECK
* Pathological lying --CHECK
* Shallow affect --CHECK
* Deceitfulness/manipulativeness --CHECK
* Aggressive or violent tendencies, repeated physical fights or assaults on others
* Lack of empathy
* Lack of remorse, indifferent to or rationalizes having hurt or mistreated others--CHECK
* A sense of extreme entitlement --CHECK
* Lack of or diminished levels of anxiety/nervousness and other emotions--CHECK
* Promiscuous sexual behavior, sexually deviant lifestyle
* Lack of personal insight--CHECK
* Failure to follow any life plan
* Abuse of drugs including alcohol
* Disregard for conventional moral right and wrong --CHECK
9.17.2009 9:22am
Tim McDonald (mail):
Well, I ain't no lawyer, but I am pretty sure Congress passed a law in the 70's that if they appropriated money for something, the President has no choice but to spend that money. (In response to Johnson and Nixon pissing them off by NOT spending money on some pet project or another).

So, if Congress as passed a budget bill funding this, how can Obama legally decide not to spend the money?
9.17.2009 9:23am
early bird (mail):
thatguy,

Who the heck are you talking about? And what does it have to do with Adler's post?
9.17.2009 9:25am
Anderson (mail):
Good catch, Prof. Adler!

... I favor scrapping the system if Russia will now play along re: containing Iran, but that doesn't make the Bush administration wrong to've started the project. It's perfectly legit to create a bargaining chip in this manner.

... Ruuffles, it matters b/c the Poles are ABSOLUTELY PISSED at us for scrapping the system. Some very unhappy Poles were on NPR this morning.
9.17.2009 9:35am
M (mail):
Here's what I'd read a few weeks ago:

http://defensenews.com/story.php?i=4253068&c=AIR&s=TOP

So, it's no surprise to anyone involved. If anyone acts like it was, they are being dishonest. This is the "official" announcement, but the decision was made a while ago and everyone involved knew it.
9.17.2009 9:36am
ruuffles (mail) (www):

... Ruuffles, it matters b/c the Poles are ABSOLUTELY PISSED at us for scrapping the system. Some very unhappy Poles were on NPR this morning.

The Bush administration tried so very hard to make it about Iran, and not Poland.
9.17.2009 9:38am
luci:
Why do you say that it is unfortunate timing? It depends what signal the Administration plans to send. Having the announcement of abadoning Poland and the Czech Republic on the anniversary of Stalin's invasion sends a signal that is clear as a bell. The Administration will receive political cover from the media, here, but our former allies in Eastern Europe will get the message.
9.17.2009 9:39am
Richard Riley (mail):
Prof. Adler is reaching pretty far to find a way to bash the Obama administration here. The Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1 is an anniversary acknowledged worldwide. September 17, not so much. I don't doubt it's an important day of remembrance for some people, but it's silly to pretend this is a widely acknowledged anniversary.
9.17.2009 9:44am
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Having the announcement of abadoning Poland and the Czech Republic on the anniversary of Stalin's invasion sends a signal that is clear as a bell.

Why the repeated mention of Poland and CR? Bush tried sooooo hard to make it about Iran!
9.17.2009 9:44am
Bpbatista (mail):
Obama is well on his way to passing Jimmy Carter as the weakest, most feckless and most incompetent President since James Buchanan.
9.17.2009 9:46am
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Obama is well on his way to passing Jimmy Carter as the weakest, most feckless and most incompetent President since James Buchanan.

Let me guess, you just want him to bomb bomb bomb Iran? Amirite?
9.17.2009 9:48am
guest:
so, did you take this from drudge report or did drudge report take it from you? if the latter, you should ask matt for a hat tip.
9.17.2009 9:52am
Cornellian (mail):
Let them pay for their own damn defense. Why shouid that be our responsibility? I'd like to see more countries take responsibility for defending themselves instead of free loading on US taxpayers.
9.17.2009 9:53am
KenB (mail):
Dubya Bush thought it made sense
To give Eastern Europe missile defense.
Barack Obama says au contraire,
With Eastern Europe he will not share.

We used to fear proliferation,
Because it could lead to conflagration.
We said that our defense we'd share,
If from the bomb you would forbear.

The message now is loud and clear:
If you're a target and danger is near,
America won't protect you pukes.
You better go get your own damn nukes.
9.17.2009 10:01am
Constantin:
He just didn't know. The guy is ignorant of history, and economics, and pretty much everything besides how rad he is. Russia invading Poland doesn't have anything do to with him, so what difference does it make?
9.17.2009 10:03am
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Russia invading Poland doesn't have anything do to with him, so what difference does it make?

It doesn't have anything to do with Bush either, since he made it all about Iran.
9.17.2009 10:04am
Houston Lawyer:
I guess that everyone posting before acknowledges that Russia is strongly against the missle shield and that this will be seen as a win for Putin. By the way, Russia is doing all it can to ensure that Iran has the capacity to make nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them by missle.

Poland is one of our staunchest allies. Of course, Obama is not interested currying favor with our actual allies. I would say that this was a deliberate action, like the treatment of the Brits.
9.17.2009 10:05am
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Poland is one of our staunchest allies.

But but Bush tried so hard to make it about Iran and not Poland. Why do you keep disappointing him?
9.17.2009 10:06am
sputnik (mail):
good move.
That defensive shield in Poland against Iranian's supposedly available in a few years nukes supposedly with the aim at Europe(why would Iran want this? Know geography?) was a neocon lie right from the beginning.

I also heard a Polish official interviewed who said that they really didn't care about the missile defense part, they just wanted a military base with a sizable number of American troops.
9.17.2009 10:10am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Poland has been a very good friend to the United States for a very long time. Polish generals fought on our side in the Revolutionary War. Tragically, after the collapse of Communism (thanks in no small part Poland and its American-leaning sentiments), our country has pretty much ignored them, subjecting them to visa hassles and other petty snubs.

Of course the missile defense was only partly about Iran. Are you folks seriously claiming that President Bush should have publicly picked a fight with Russia and said: "yes, we don't trust you, Russia, and we want to put a missile defense in your backyard?" Not very good diplomatic strategy, you fans of nuance, you.

Cornellian... the missile defense in Poland would largely be helping protect OUR interests. We learned, at our great expense, in WWII, that our fate is intertwined with Europe's. If totalitarianism overtakes half of that continent again, we will be the poorer for it.

Richard Riley... it's not a matter of whether Sept. 17 is recognized internationally. It's a matter of whether it is recognized widely within Poland and within Russia. I can't think of a clearer way to say FUCK YOU, POLAND, then to announce this on the anniversary of Stalin's invasion. Having been to Poland, I know that they pay attention to history and important dates.

I wonder if ruufles could be a conservative moby, trying to discredit the left by pretending to be a lefty and saying the stupidest, most irrelevant things possible?
9.17.2009 10:10am
rick.felt:
Why does it matter, if we are to believe the Bush administration's justification that it's to counter the Iranian threat?

Because it's in poor taste to expose Poland to foreign aggression on the anniversary of foreign aggression against Poland.
9.17.2009 10:12am
sputnik (mail):
Constantin likes to put his self descriptions out there
9.17.2009 10:13am
_Drew_ (www):
I haven't heard anyone offer any sufficiently coherent discussion of the strategic political calculus on this decision as a policy move so far... anywhere.

But it IS a story that does contain concepts like "missiles" "less missiles" &"Obama"... so it MUST, without any further analysis or knowledge necessary, prove that Obama is a feckless, evil leader who hates missiles and loves Russia.

Welcome to American political discourse, circa 2009.
9.17.2009 10:14am
sputnik (mail):
rick. felt,
what aggression Poland is exposed to now without the shield?
9.17.2009 10:15am
A.S.:
Poland is WAS one of our staunchest allies.

Fixed.
9.17.2009 10:16am
Prosecutorial Indiscretion:
We're getting our strategic butts kicked by a guy whose hobby is posing shirtless for ridiculous propaganda shots. That's just embarrassing.
9.17.2009 10:17am
Joe T. Guest:
They had to announce it today because October 25th is already slated for announcing the new regulations governing Wall Street.
9.17.2009 10:22am
egd:
Prosecutorial Indiscretion:

We're getting our strategic butts kicked by a guy whose hobby is posing shirtless for ridiculous propaganda shots. That's just embarrassing.

Sure it is, but he was elected President of the United States. Elections have consequences and all that.
9.17.2009 10:24am
fnook (mail):
Having been to Poland, I know that they pay attention to history and important dates.

Thanks for the tibdit, PatHMV. How're the MENSA meetings going? You're credibility on this issue is obviously beyond reproach. I've been to Poland too, but just can't recall whether or not they actually pay attention to history and important dates.
9.17.2009 10:24am
CatoReansci (mail):
As Chamberlain and Daladier betrayed the Czechs and Poles to the Germans in 1938, Obama betrays the Czechs and Poles to the Russians in 2009. As the Democrats in Congress betrayed South Vietnam and Cambodia in 1974 and 1975, the Democrats in Congress tried (and may yet succeed) to betray Iraq in 2008 and will betray Afghanistan in 2009 or 2010. As Carter was 'shocked' by the Iranian Revolution and its attack on American diplomats, and 'shocked' by the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Obam will be 'shocked' by......
9.17.2009 10:28am
sputnik (mail):
so, Cato, who is Obama_ Hitler or Chambarlain ?

As Chamberlain and Daladier betrayed the Czechs and Poles to the Germans in 1938, Obama betrays the Czechs and Poles to the Russians in 2009.

you RW raped in the brain by FOX lying propaganda douche bags are so confusing...
9.17.2009 10:33am
fnook (mail):
CatoReansci: As Chamberlain and Daladier betrayed the Czechs and Poles to the Germans in 1938, Obama betrays the Czechs and Poles to the Russians in 2009. . . . [blah blah blah]

Thanks for the facile historical analogies. Obama derangement syndrome anyone?
9.17.2009 10:34am
Can't find a good name:
Joe T. Guest: I understand that your comment was rhetorical and not literal, but if Obama were going to use Oct. 25 as a day to announce new regulations of Wall Street, he could plausibly portray that as a good thing to do. "Today, on the 80th anniversary of the stock market crash of 1929, I have proposed a new plan for Wall Street, which is intended to prevent not only events like the 1929 crash which marked the start of the Great Depression, but also major drops in the stock market such as the one we saw in 2008 ...."
9.17.2009 10:35am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Well, fnook, they scheduled their first free elections for July 4, a date they did not merely pick at random. To me, that indicates that as a culture, they do generally care about dates and history and anniversaries and the symbolism involved with such.
9.17.2009 10:35am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
sputnik, it's entirely clear, from the mere grammar of CatoReansci's sentence, that he is comparing President Obama to Prime Minister Chamberlain. Let's review basic sentence construction, shall we?

As C. and D. betrayed the Poles to the Germans in 1938
Obama betrayed the Poles to the Russians.

See the structure there? Obama replaces Chamberlain and Daladier. Russians replace Germans.

Sheesh. I thought you liberals liked to claim you were the more educated bunch. Did you get 400 on your SAT?
9.17.2009 10:39am
_Drew_ (www):
So what sorts of pottery techniques do they favor, and how would you say this impacts their culture's take on, say, their the use of negative space?
9.17.2009 10:39am
Seamus (mail):

As Chamberlain and Daladier betrayed the Czechs and Poles to the Germans in 1938, Obama betrays the Czechs and Poles to the Russians in 2009.



No, no, they're betraying the Czechs and Poles to the *Iranians*. Didn't you read the Bush Administration talking points? Those missiles had nothing to do with Russia.
9.17.2009 10:40am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Now, rather than merely hurling ad hominem insults, can any of you folks attacking the conservative arguments made thus far provide any reasoned defense for President Obama's actions today, or the timing thereof?

Is Poland an ally we should insult? Is Russia so strong that we should do what they want? Has the President cut a deal with Russia behind the scenes so that we drop missile defense but place a large U.S. Army base just outside of Warsaw?
9.17.2009 10:41am
John T. (mail):
But but Bush tried so hard to make it about Iran and not Poland. Why do you keep disappointing him?


Russia made it about Russia by complaining loudly. In fact, I'll concede that the Poles themselves were split on the idea when Bush was talking about Iran and saying that it had nothing to do with Russia, but once Russia started complaining so loudly about it, Polish public opinion turned in favor.

And regardless of whether it's aimed at Iran or Russia, everyone concedes that it's being abandoned because of Russian objections. Poland is naturally going to be annoyed at that.

An analogy, for ruuffles and others: Sarah Palin complained about "death panels" based on a provision in the law about counseling. In response to the furor, Obama and the Congressional Democrats dropped the provision. Does dropping the provision prove her right, that the provision [i]was[/i] about death panels? No more so than dropping the missile shield due to Russian objections proves that the Russian objections were right, and the missiles were aimed at Russia.
9.17.2009 10:41am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Seamus, I addressed that already. Are you saying that you wanted President Bush to diplomatically confront the Russians, calling them bellicose to their face, thus escalating tensions with them? Do you not understand ANYTHING about basic diplomacy?
9.17.2009 10:43am
John T. (mail):
No, no, they're betraying the Czechs and Poles to the *Iranians*. Didn't you read the Bush Administration talking points? Those missiles had nothing to do with Russia.


They're dropping the missile shield due to Russian objections. That doesn't mean that the missiles were aimed at Russia, but it does mean that the Obama Administration is heeding Russian interests over Polish ones.

In response to Joe Wilson's outburst, the health care bills have been modified. Does that mean that he was right, and Obama [i]was[/i] lying until the bills were amended?
9.17.2009 10:44am
_Drew_ (www):
"Now, rather than merely hurling ad hominem insults, can any of you folks attacking the conservative arguments..."

The... what, again? I'm sorry, but could you point me to some?

"Is Poland an ally we should insult? Is Russia so strong that we should do what they want? Has the President cut a deal with Russia behind the scenes so that we drop missile defense but place a large U.S. Army base just outside of Warsaw?"

I actually don't know the answers to any of these questions. But I'm likewise convinced that no one here does, or even has the information necessary to give informed answers at this point. I look forward to seeing this debated in Foreign Policy.

But I am relieved to know that, regardless of the long term strategic pros and cons of this decision, we're all decided from the outset that Obama is a hapless jerk who is scared of Russia, that the chattering natives of Poland take great offense to numerical superstitions, and that the question of dates that some random person decided to seize upon because they were too busy to come up with a longer entry in the routine ribbing of a political enemy is an issue of great import and relevance to the wisdom of various foreign policy decisions.
9.17.2009 10:53am
pot meet kettle (mail):
This announcement provides great aid and comfort to communist leftist fascist appeaser Hitlers everywhere! Yippee!
9.17.2009 10:54am
KenB (mail):
Was the missile shield about Russia or Iran? Were the missiles aimed at Russia?

The missiles were part of an ABM system, so they would have been aimed at incoming missiles, whether they came from Iran or Russia. Russia complained more loudly than Iran, so apparently Russia was bothered more by the prospect of interference with nuclear extortion.

But since Bush talked about Iran, we need not worry about this, right? Russian nuclear extortion would be a problem only if Bush had mentioned it, right? As it is, we can feel comfortable with Russian nuclear extortion, right?
9.17.2009 10:54am
sputnik (mail):
But,_Drew_,
how will we defend Europe from all those Iranian nukes that will be used to destroy Israel??? Oh wait…
9.17.2009 10:56am
Papa Ray (mail):
Jeez...BDS is still alive and well. Catch up please.

No matter how strong America is, bottom line you still have to make friends and influence enemies in this world just like you do in your life.

Obama has managed to piss off all of our friends and make them doubt our friendship. Meanwhile he caters to and actively assists the world's tyrants and dictators.

I for one don't think this a good deal for America or the world and this latest renege of an American President's promise is not a good thing at all.

Papa Ray
West Texas
9.17.2009 10:57am
Mark Buehner:
The date was stupid, but ultimately this isn't exactly Munich. Neither are we in the bitter throws of the cold war, where we believed every gesture or minor concession was capitulation.

Let's think about the utility of the issue. There is no physical reason Poland of Czech is a better launch pad for missile defense than Germany or Denmark. Politically, we feel the Eastern nations are probably more pliable (for the moment), so there is some sense in that. But those locations _were_ chosen to plant our Western flag in the Eastern block. It was a thumb in the eye of Russia (or a warning shot to Putin depending on your point of view).

Changing course obviously does present some ramifications quite aside from the physical. Our relations with Poland and Czech will suffer to some degree (hardly major, or what kind of relationship is it in the first place?). Russia will doubtless take it as a sign of Obama/American weakness, and we can expect to be pressed on other issues.

On the other hand Russia loses this issue as a bargaining chip on every other negotiation, such as Iran. This was always a convenient monkey wrench Russia would throw in the works when they wanted to up the ante on other subjects, now they lose that bit of leverage. And that IS important, not so much in dealing with Russia, but in keeping our NATO and other allies on board with our agenda.

So in the end we lose very little except face. How important you think reputation is likely how big of a disaster you think this move has been.
9.17.2009 11:02am
Anderson (mail):
I don't doubt it's an important day of remembrance for some people

I am not surprised that the date registers a bit more strongly with the Poles than with us, since Poland was the nation being devoured.

... The whining about "our friends, the Poles!" is childish. Look at a map, people. A dubious "missile shield" and Polish goodwill are not worth pissing off Russia, particularly given the history b/t Poland and Russia.

Poland was *such* a good friend, they let us torture people on their territory. Hate it for 'em.

(... n.b. bonus quote @ the link from not-yet-notorious-then Marc Garlasco, whose interest in every square inch of Polish territory is doubtless purely academic.)
9.17.2009 11:05am
Angus:
The missile system was an expensive joke from the start. It would not have affected Russian nuclear missiles at all. Due to proximity to Russia, the interceptors could not have caught up to any Russian ICBMs before they hit their targets. However, the radar stations associated with the missile defense would have been able to monitor the entirety of western Russian airspace. How would we like it if the Russians built an extensive missile/radar complex in Cuba? Oh, wait....

To sum up:
1) The missile system was expensive and had dubious test performances
2) The system would have been on Russia's doorstep, but unable to block any Russian missiles
3) The radar system was extraordinarily provocative against a nuclear power, and Russia was preparing to move short range missiles in place to target the complex
4) There was no real reason given for building it in the first place given that Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons and has no delivery systems that can reach outside the middle east

Expensive, ineffective, provocative...sounds like a proposal conservatives should love.
9.17.2009 11:05am
John T. (mail):
The missile system was an expensive joke from the start.


Ok, but realize that the Administration is not
scrapping missile defense. It's proposing an alternative system.

An alternative system that the CBO found was more expensive, would take longer to build, and be less effective at protecting the continental United States.

The system being built would be useless against Russia, but it would still piss them off apparently. That is an argument against it, but please don't assume that we're not going to spending as much money on a different, more delayed missile system.
9.17.2009 11:09am
Strict:
The majority of Poles did not want a US missile defense system in their country.

The majority of Czechs did not want a US missile defense system in their country.

This is hardly analogous to WWII.

This is not "abandoning" those countries to Russian or Nazi aggression.

The missile defense system was not intended to protect Poland, the Polish people, the Czech Republic, or the Czech people.

It's also possible that installing such systems there would make those places targets of aggression.
9.17.2009 11:11am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Mark,

Thanks for providing some coherent discussion of the issues.

The flip side of your penultimate paragraph is that we, also, have given up a bargaining chip on every other negotiation, without, apparently, getting anything in return.

"Old Europe" does not care much for missile defense generally, it's true, and so we do probably improve our relations with France and Germany this way. On the other hand, "Old Europe" also does not care a whole lot for "New Europe," and have been fairly resistant to embracing Poland, the Czech Republic, and other former Soviet satellites. My own impression is that Old Europe figures they did perfectly well when the Soviets controlled Eastern Europe, so they don't care that much to prevent it from happening again, particularly in the milder form such domination and control is likely to happen today.

Certainly we can afford to insult Poland and the other countries some, if we must. It's distasteful and unworthy of us to do so, in my opinion, but as you say they will remain fairly reliable allies, if only because they have no other place to turn to for security.

I would feel more comfortable about the deal if I knew we were actually getting something in return. Too often in the past, the U.S. has made concrete concessions in return for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises... all lies and jests, as Paul Simon might say. Did France and Germany make a concrete promise to take specific steps against Iran? Did Russia agree to not oppose stationing U.S. troops in Poland? Did Russia agree to support specific sanctions against Iran? Perhaps. I don't demand that any President conduct all foreign diplomacy in public. But I've seen little, so far, that the U.S. has received in return for a number of apparently unilateral concessions made by the President. I hope that he has a long-term plan he's pursuing.
9.17.2009 11:16am
wfjag:

Let them pay for their own damn defense. Why shouid that be our responsibility? I'd like to see more countries take responsibility for defending themselves instead of free loading on US taxpayers.

Damn right! Isolationism and weak defense worked so well for the US in the 1930s that we barely had to spend anything on defense or foreign affairs in the 1940s, which led to peace, prosperity and liberal political and individual freedoms and democracy the world over.
9.17.2009 11:20am
Anderson (mail):
we, also, have given up a bargaining chip on every other negotiation, without, apparently, getting anything in return

If Russia continues to thumb its nose at us re: Iran, we can always decide that maybe the missile shield is a good idea after all ... so long as Poland's not going anywhere.

I daresay that if Russia were building a "missile shield" in Cuba or Nicaragua, we would take it poorly.
9.17.2009 11:22am
Bpbatista (mail):
This sends a message of abject weakness and fecklessness. Throwing the Poles and Czechs under the bus and exposing Europe and the U.S. to attack just to appease Putin and the Mullahs. Brilliant.
9.17.2009 11:27am
Dave N (mail):
Strict,

I didn't realize you moonlighted as a pollster in Poland and Czech Republic. Who knew?

Or are you just talking out of your hat because you have your Kos talking points and are mindlessly repeating them?

I would note that one of the criticisms of the Bush Administration was that we were disdainful of our allies and went out of our way to piss them off.

So, the Obama Administration went out of its way to be disdainful of two allies (and fellow members of NATO) and pissed them off.

Hope and Change we can believe in.
9.17.2009 11:27am
Chris MM (mail):
Two words: NATO. Wait, look, I did it with one, even if it's an acronym for four words.

If we were truly interested in protecting Poland, putting a missile defense system that wouldn't protect Poland from anything, including nuclear attack wouldn't be the way we would do it. If we were interested in just using Poland, we'd do that, though.

If we were really interested in protecting Poland, we'd allow them to be a member of NATO, so that any attack on Poland would require an American military response. What's that? Poland joined NATO in 1997, you say? Oh, so all this talk of missile defense is just silly posturing? Figures.
9.17.2009 11:30am
_Drew_ (www):
I'm not sure whether or not we get something in return is necessarily important if we decide that some policy isn't beneficial to our interests or long term strategy in the first place.
9.17.2009 11:30am
Strict:

The majority of Czechs did not want a US missile defense system in their country.




Strict,

I didn't realize you moonlighted as a pollster in Poland and Czech Republic. Who knew?


Czechs

70% of Czechs polled opposed the system; 25% favored it.

Poles

63% of Poles polled opposed the system; 23% favored it.

This isn't propaganda. This is common knowledge.
9.17.2009 11:32am
Strict:

So, the Obama Administration went out of its way to be disdainful of two allies (and fellow members of NATO) and pissed them off.


Most Czechs and Poles and not pissed off. Most Czechs and Poles are cheering and chanting "Obama! Obama!"

Have you ever been to the Czech Republic or Poland? Have you ever spoken with people there? I have.
9.17.2009 11:34am
_Drew_ (www):
"Have you ever been to the Czech Republic or Poland? Have you ever spoken with people there? I have."

Can YOU explain their overall feelings on pottery-making?
9.17.2009 11:42am
Anderson (mail):
Dave N: I didn't realize you moonlighted as a pollster in Poland and Czech Republic. Who knew?

Or are you just talking out of your hat because you have your Kos talking points and are mindlessly repeating them?


Strict: [cites polls].

Ouch.
9.17.2009 12:00pm
resh (mail):
Onlooker alert: the above posts are intended for amusement only. Now you know why it's a legal blog-and would be wise to remain one.
9.17.2009 12:01pm
conlaw2 (mail):
I'll leave the question of whether President Obama's decision to abandon a planned missile defense of Poland and the Czech Republic is good or bad policy. As a matter of timing, however, it's surely bad politics. There's surely a better day to make such an announcement than the 70th anniversary of Stalin's invasion of Poland.

I think you meant to say missile defense IN poland and Czech Republic. Then you will realize that there is no better way to honor that anniversary than having a foreign country decide not to increase the number of arms in your land.
9.17.2009 12:04pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Chris MM... Poland can, I think, be forgiven for not putting much faith in mutual-defense treaties.
9.17.2009 12:06pm
pot meet kettle (mail):

Czechs
70% of Czechs polled opposed the system; 25% favored it.
Poles
63% of Poles polled opposed the system; 23% favored it.
This isn't propaganda. This is common knowledge


ZING!
9.17.2009 12:06pm
_Drew_ (www):
"Then you will realize that there is no better way to honor that anniversary than having a foreign country decide not to increase the number of arms in your land."

But but but, that would require an arbitrary superstitious interpretation of historical symbolism that DOESN'T support our political prejudices of the moment!
9.17.2009 12:07pm
Mark Buehner:

The flip side of your penultimate paragraph is that we, also, have given up a bargaining chip on every other negotiation, without, apparently, getting anything in return.

That's a very good point. From a realpolitik point of view, its a rather pointless move. On the other hand if we DID tie this in directly with a move on Iran, etc, that would certainly intensify the feeling that we were selling out Eastern Europe (I think this is overblown, however), and it creates the problem that if Russia reneges on the deal we'd almost have to shift our policy again to follow suit.
9.17.2009 12:13pm
Mark Buehner:

This isn't propaganda. This is common knowledge

Common knowledge, the most accurate source of data there is. If it's so common, how about a, um, source?
9.17.2009 12:16pm
LN (mail):
Yeah strict, why not post some links? Sheesh.

Isn't this embarassing?
9.17.2009 12:18pm
Hugh59:
Angus, I believe the point of the missile defense system was to provide Europe with protection from the handfull if IRBMs that Iran might threaten our allies with. The proposed number of interceptors, 10, was meaningless as a defense against Russian missiles since Russia has hundreds of short ranged and medium ranged missiles to throw.

Russia is helping Iran develop its nuclear program and its missile programs. Iran will eventually be in a position to threaten Europe with nuclear attack; the only defense would be the likely nuclear retaliation. But one must wonder how effective the threat of retaliation will be when you have a former Iranian president boasting that the country was willing to suffer millions of deaths if it could wipe out "the zionist entity."
9.17.2009 12:23pm
Balkan Ghost (mail) (www):
Iran should indeed be scared of the reconfiguration. The U.S. is scrapping plans for land-based missile defenses and instead relying on the sea-based Aegis. Aegis is the same system that in 1988 misidentified an Iranian passenger plane as a missile and shot it down, killing all 290 civilians on board.
9.17.2009 12:24pm
Bruce:
It would be pretty hard to find a day on which Poland was not invaded.
9.17.2009 12:31pm
Strict:

Common knowledge, the most accurate source of data there is. If it's so common, how about a, um, source?


Yes, it's common knowledge that Czechs and Poles don't want foreign military presences in their territories. Why is that counterintuitive or why should we assume otherwise?

What some Czechs and Poles object to is the idea that the US decision to abandon the project is a result of pressure from Russia and not a result of consulting with the Czechs and Poles on the issue.

In other words, I'm sure most Czechs and Poles agree with the result, but among those are some who disagree with the means of arriving at this result or the motives for arriving at this result.
9.17.2009 12:36pm
pot meet kettle (mail):

If it's so common, how about a, um, source?


He'd provide it, but that would require you to know how to read.
9.17.2009 12:37pm
Strict:

Russia is helping Iran develop its nuclear program and its missile programs. Iran will eventually be in a position to threaten Europe with nuclear attack; the only defense would be the likely nuclear retaliation. But one must wonder how effective the threat of retaliation will be when you have a former Iranian president boasting that the country was willing to suffer millions of deaths if it could wipe out "the zionist entity."


So is Israel part of Europe here? Will the proposed ten missiles in the Czech Republic be able to stop an Iranian missile into Israel?

I don't fear aggression by Iran (I think their saber rattling is defensive), but if a war with Iran did start (regardless of who is involved or who started it), I do believe they would be able to summon vast human resources and to endure extreme casualties. Khomeini once threatened to raise an army of 20 million.
9.17.2009 12:45pm
egd:
Strict:

Poles

63% of Poles polled opposed the system; 23% favored it.

This isn't propaganda. This is common knowledge.

First link: "August 11, 2006"

In case you forgot, some time thereafter this happened.

More recently this poll of Poles was taken.

58% of Poles polled favored the system.

Although if you have more recent statistics, I would be happy to see them.
9.17.2009 12:52pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Look, I think that Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran's neighbors and our allies. The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles. As long as the threat from Iran persists, we should go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven. If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security, and the driving force for missile defense construction in Europe will be removed.

Would anybody like to cogently disagree with me?
9.17.2009 12:54pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
OMG; I agree with Angus 100% on this one. This defense system was needlessly antagonistic, and a boondoggle. Look, the Cold War is over; Russia has alot of domestic problems on its plate, more than enough for us to be worried about them as an existential threat.
9.17.2009 12:54pm
_Drew_ (www):
"Would anybody like to cogently disagree with me?"

Well, there's assumption that the system is cost-effective or proven, which seems pretty contentious. Then there's the problem that the planned installations don't really seem to address ANY of the purposes they supposedly serve in the first place.

Here's a sampling of folks who support the move, and who also have some professional credibility on the issue of defense and diplomacy:

Tom Nichols

Robert Farley

From the latter: "Let's be clear; this is a huge victory for common sense over fantasy, and for responsible defense budgeting. This project had no function other than to serve the pecuniary interest of the missile defense industry, and to sate the ideological lust of conservatives infatuated with St. Reagan. No convincing strategic logic could ever be provided for the program; advocates careened wildly between arguments, desperately trying to see if they could make anything stick. Protecting Europe from Iranian missiles? Nobody in Europe was particularly concerned, or, outside of Poland and the Czech Republic, really wanted the defense. Protecting from the Russians? By the admission of advocates, the shield could not have served as a deterrent to Russian attacks. Necessary to demonstrate our commitment to the Poles? Meh; I'd rather get them something they could actually use."
9.17.2009 1:03pm
Strict:


More recently this poll of Poles was taken.

58% of Poles polled favored the system.

Although if you have more recent statistics, I would be happy to see them.


Thanks egd.

Well, there's this poll from March 2009.

53% opposed the missile shield; 22% supported the missile shield.

Polls are bad or Poles are fickle, I'm not sure.

But 22% support is the most recent number, and that's pretty bad, right?
9.17.2009 1:06pm
eyesay:
John T. wrote, "In response to Joe Wilson's outburst, the health care bills have been modified. Does that mean that he was right, and Obama [i]was[/i] lying until the bills were amended?" No, it means that the bill already said that illegal aliens aren't covered, and it's been amended to declare even more strongly that illegal aliens aren't covered, so people like Joe Wilson will stop lying about it, or to make it even more obvious when they do lie about it.
9.17.2009 1:06pm
Strict:
Question:

If President Obama ignored a reportedly unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Bush-appointed Secretary of Defense Gates to abandon the project, and instead proceeded with the project, what would the right wing think? That Obama has no respect for the concerns and opinions of our military leadership? That Obama is pulling a Hitler by ignoring all the well-reasoned advice of his generals? .
9.17.2009 1:10pm
Fact Checker:
Would anybody like to cogently disagree with me?

Well first of all, what is this "cost-effective and proven" anti-missile system that you speak of? Missile defense (even against tactical missiles--look at the record of the PAC-2 in the second Gulf War, the only thing it succeeded in shooting down was allied aircraft) is far from cost-effective or proven.

Secondly, look at the freaking map and the membership list of NATO. Other than England (and Canada) what is the one of the last countries it would make sense to base missiles in to intercept missiles coming from Iran? It sure isn't Greece, Turkey or Italy.
9.17.2009 1:13pm
Talkosaurus:
Invoking the wisdom of 'You can't be a little bit pregnant', the US is either:

1. Not involved in projection of military power outside of it's (close) borders

-or-

2. Involved in international tug o' war over strategic interests, largely colored by school yard 'Who's the biggest, baddest?' antics.

It's one or two, there's no mythical Goldilocks 'Just Right' option where we're perusing objectively proven, crystal clear goals that delicately balance just the right amount of saintly world policeman with a dash of strategic self-interest. That model is the fantasy of career diplomats and the NYT editorial page. In the real world. for every country, for all of recorded history, it's option 1. or option 2.

And since we obviously aren't pursuing option 1. as national policy, and (most) commentators don't seem to be defending this as a step towards option 1., we must view this through the prism of option 2. And where exactly do we come off looking like the strong horse here? Russia, a country that's routinely brutally militarily subjected it's neighbors on and off for hundreds of years, recently attacked Georgia, is propping up Iran (the country the whole 'dispute' is nominally about) and Venezuela, is spinning this as a huge domestic 'Bigger than you' win' and we're getting what? No concessions, and in fact Russia is even trumpeting the fact that there's no concessions.

I'm not playing warhawk here, I'd probably prefer option 1., and I certainly don't have all the international answers. But I do see plainly, if we're playing at option 2., we get taken to the wood-shed here for seemingly nothing in return.

PS- And I hope nobody is taking seriously the Gates/Administration line of 'we just found out that a *different* missile shield works better in a *different* place. Yeah, that's the ticket.' Missile shield tech hasn't miraculously evolved in the past 3 years, and I don't believe that geography has magically warped around the globe either. But yes, suddenly Gates decides current short-range missile technology in traditional PC-safe sites like Germany like totally protect our interests better. I guess he just had a brain-freeze when he recommended the complete opposite a few years back. Totally not transparent 'Trying to sound tough CYA'. No sir.
9.17.2009 1:15pm
DangerMouse:
So Obama is now Putin's bitch, I guess.
9.17.2009 1:15pm
Joe T. Guest:
@ can't find a good name:

October 25th is the date of the start of the October Revolution. The Stock Market Crash of 1929, to which you refer, could best be dated to either October 28th, or October 24th.
9.17.2009 1:17pm
_Drew_ (www):
Actually, Talkosaurus, what Gates actually said was not that missile tech had changed, but that their threat assessment of Iran's capabilities had, requiring a different strategy.

But, please, do continue telling us how it's totally crazy to ever change your military strategy in response to new information and situations, thus making Gates a flip-flopper. How WILL you protect us all from the threat of Genghis Khan's cavalry again?

Or perhaps you could explain how installations that even SUPPORTERS of the plan acknowledge would not deter Russia in the event of attacks... would help deter Russia. Should we continue to do something we don't think is a good idea in the first place JUST because someone we don't like might like it?
9.17.2009 1:24pm
RPT (mail):
"PatHMW:

Seamus, I addressed that already. Are you saying that you wanted President Bush to diplomatically confront the Russians, calling them bellicose to their face, thus escalating tensions with them? Do you not understand ANYTHING about basic diplomacy?"

Wasn't that the John Bolton approach that worked so well?
9.17.2009 1:31pm
egd:
Strict:

Thanks egd.

Well, there's this poll from March 2009.

53% opposed the missile shield; 22% supported the missile shield.

Polls are bad or Poles are fickle, I'm not sure.

But 22% support is the most recent number, and that's pretty bad, right?

Good job finding that, I wasn't able to find any Pole polls from 2009 on the topic (Google news). That doesn't change the fact that polls are a poor basis for decision making. If they were President Obama's stock-in-trade, he would have dumped health care/insurance reform long ago.

While I generally think removing the shield would have been a good move, two things bother me about it:
1) announcing the decision on the anniversary of Russia's invasion.
2) not getting anything in return from Russia.

While the first is merely a lack of knowledge of foreign history, the second shows a lack of knowledge of foreign policy and good judgment. The latter was supposed to be Obama's selling point, the former Biden's.
9.17.2009 1:46pm
Talkosaurus:
But, please, do continue telling us how it's totally crazy to ever change your military strategy in response to new information and situations, thus making Gates a flip-flopper. How WILL you protect us all from the threat of Genghis Khan's cavalry again?

Or perhaps you could explain how installations that even SUPPORTERS of the plan acknowledge would not deter Russia in the event of attacks... would help deter Russia. Should we continue to do something we don't think is a good idea in the first place JUST because someone we don't like might like it?


We're at war with Russia/Iran? We have a 'military strategy'?

The whole point of my post is we've got the option to completely disentangle ourselves from international politics, or we play the ugly game of 'Baddest Dude on the Block'. The majority of this thread is gumming up with apparent bona-fide experts in missile defense arguing about where/when/how etc. This is always a handy tactic to obscure a conversation about end-goals. Let's assume that the missile-shield is 25% functional and 75% 'Know your place Russia'. Guess what, that's the type of game *everybody* play's on the world stage. It's the game Russia is playing. So the simple question: What does this move buy us? We certainly take a hit on the international stage, and Russia doesn't appear to be moving an inch in it's support of Iran (or it's ramping up relations with Venezuela). Maybe the Russians climb down in the neat future, and the move looks good. But for now it looks like the worst of worlds within option 2. - the US takes a weaker position while still remaining heavily fiscally/militarily obligated to countries under potential threat by Russia/Iran/etc.
9.17.2009 1:48pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Thank you, Drew and Fact Checker. I will inform the President of your disagreement with his point of view. This is what he told the people of the Czech Republic when he spoke in Prague just last April:

So let me be clear: Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran's neighbors and our allies. The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles. As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven. (Applause.) If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security, and the driving force for missile defense construction in Europe will be removed. (Applause.)
9.17.2009 1:52pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
RPT... if you dislike the John Bolton approach, you can't logically criticize President Bush for those occasions on which he did not follow that approach, can you? If you want to damn him for being a cowboy, you can't at the same time damn him for being diplomatic. I mean, you can, and plenty of wingnut lefties do, but it makes one look exceedingly hypocritical.
9.17.2009 1:54pm
Derrick (mail):
So Obama is now Putin's bitch, I guess.


I guess in the same way that Reagan was Gorbachev's.
9.17.2009 1:58pm
LN (mail):

Let's assume that the missile-shield is 25% functional and 75% 'Know your place Russia'.



Here's a BBC story from 2007.


Where does the threat come from?

The National Missile Defense Act of 1999 states: "It is the policy of the United States to deploy as soon as is technologically possible an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate)..."

The system is not designed to defend the US from an attack on the scale that Russia would have the ability to mount.

It is designed to be effective against attack from countries with limited missile programmes, such as North Korea and Iran



Blah blah blah...
9.17.2009 2:02pm
_Drew_ (www):
egd: "1) announcing the decision on the anniversary of Russia's invasion.
2) not getting anything in return from Russia."

And I think both of these complaints are absurd. The first is not only symbolic instead of substantive, but whether the symbolism is good or bad depends entirely on how you frame it, making it an utterly arbitrary "offense." I also don't really support the idea of people who know a concern is utterly irrational playing it up with the excuse that OTHER people might irrationally care about it. The reality is that political enemies of Obama will find some angle, date association, symbolic or otherwise, to characterize the decision in their preferred light: as appeasement. That tells us everything about how they frame the issue right from the start, but nothing about the worth of the move.

The second issue is only relevant if you really think that this is a bad move strategically in the first place. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but the idea that we should keep doing something just because Russia doesn't like it is, well, just really goofy.

Talkosaurus: "Guess what, that's the type of game *everybody* play's on the world stage."

Not everyone sees the game in the same way: you seem locked into a very particular set of concerns and way of seeing Russia (not to mention just the seemingly obsessive focus on Russia as if it were still the major opposing player), wherein all that matters is who's poking who harder in the eye. But as far as I can tell, the situation is much more complicated.

I don't see any evidence that we've taken "weaker" position here at all. How are we any weaker for deciding not to deploy something which was probably ill-conceived in the first place? We stopped doing something that was basically a symbolic, but not particularly meaningful, irritation to Russia because we want to start doing something more important and relevant other than relive the glory days of Cold War exceptionalism.

But maybe we should build a really really huge tank. So big that it can barely move. And then Obama can cancel it, and you can call him weak for doing so, because giant tanks are super bada$$.
9.17.2009 2:04pm
Anderson (mail):
So Obama is now Putin's bitch, I guess.

Maybe Obama looked into his eyes?

I've also just learned that, in an act of stunning insensitivity, the Framers signed the Constitution on the anniversary of Stalin's invasion of Poland! Obviously, they cared nothing for their future relations with the Poles.
9.17.2009 2:16pm
Anderson (mail):
9.17.2009 2:17pm
_Drew_ (www):
PatHMV, I don't see any disagreement there at all. Iran is a major threat. Those two countries were part of of our strategy. But now we've reappraised our strategy after conducting this review and revamp.

Nice try though!
9.17.2009 2:19pm
egd:
_Drew_:

And I think both of these complaints are absurd. The first is not only symbolic instead of substantive, but whether the symbolism is good or bad depends entirely on how you frame it, making it an utterly arbitrary "offense." I also don't really support the idea of people who know a concern is utterly irrational playing it up with the excuse that OTHER people might irrationally care about it. The reality is that political enemies of Obama will find some angle, date association, symbolic or otherwise, to characterize the decision in their preferred light: as appeasement. That tells us everything about how they frame the issue right from the start, but nothing about the worth of the move.

The second issue is only relevant if you really think that this is a bad move strategically in the first place. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but the idea that we should keep doing something just because Russia doesn't like it is, well, just really goofy.

Whether validly or not, Russia took this as an affront by the United States against Russia. Obviously the Poles thought so as well, national support for the system increased after Russia invaded Georgia.

This system was a bargaining chip with Russia, we wanted it, they didn't. We also had other interests that we wanted from Russia: help in Iran, supporting Chavez, help in Afghanistan, nuclear disarmament, and a host of other things. This could have been used as a lever to get Russia to the table, or to get some concessions from them.

As for the timing of the announcement, from the NYT article linked, it looks like this wasn't intentional. The story started to leak on the final decision, and a late-night call was made to the Czech &Polish presidents to preempt the story. Furthermore, arguing that September 17 is not an important date for Poland is just silly.
9.17.2009 2:24pm
Hugh59:


The IAEA believes that Iran is on the verge of having nukes...and they are working hard to perfect their delivery systems.

Let the fun begin.
9.17.2009 2:30pm
Angus:
This system was a bargaining chip with Russia, we wanted it, they didn't.
Except that no one wanted it, even us. Bush was the only person on earth who seemed to want it. The Polish and Czech people were against it. NATO was against, too. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary were all unanimous against it.

Unnecessarily pissing off a strong foreign power in order to get concessions from them isn't diplomacy, it's amateurish. If Russia announced today that they were building a missile complex in Cuba, would that mean the United States owed them concessions to get them to cancel it?
9.17.2009 2:35pm
Talkosaurus:
Not everyone sees the game in the same way: you seem locked into a very particular set of concerns and way of seeing Russia (not to mention just the seemingly obsessive focus on Russia as if it were still the major opposing player), wherein all that matters is who's poking who harder in the eye. But as far as I can tell, the situation is much more complicated.

I don't see any evidence that we've taken "weaker" position here at all. How are we any weaker for deciding not to deploy something which was probably ill-conceived in the first place? We stopped doing something that was basically a symbolic, but not particularly meaningful, irritation to Russia because we want to start doing something more important and relevant other than relive the glory days of Cold War exceptionalism.

But maybe we should build a really really huge tank. So big that it can barely move. And then Obama can cancel it, and you can call him weak for doing so, because giant tanks are super bada$$.


You, and to be fair a lot of other commentators, are making it seem as if the Obama administration made the missile defense decision in some sort of complete vacuum. As if Obama just wandered out of the Oval Office one night with some stat sheets in his hand and said 'Gosh, the numbers say we're better in Turkey!'. This decision clearly comes after much posturing and ramp up by Russia, and coincidentally right before a big Russia-US summit. Whatever yours, mine, or whoevers take, it's markedly disingenuous to down-play that fact.

I'm also curious, as if it's a pre-stamped one-size fit's all answer, where all this 'You're just stuck in the Cold War' talk is coming from. I wonder if that's the preferred line out of JournoList, or whatever center-left meme factory is in business these days. The point remains the same, international power projection is a messy, school-yard game. I'd prefer it if the US was out of everywhere, and we just let the world handle it's own problems while we worked on our own. But that's the not the world we have. In this case, the US *clearly* plays the weaker hand to Russia, what do we get? If Russia climbs down on Iranian sanctions and arms build-up for Venezuela in the near-future, Okey-dokey, I get the move. If not, this is a pointless gesture.
9.17.2009 2:36pm
sputnik (mail):
Here's Gates:

To say that the Obama administration was scrapping missile defense, Mr. Gates said, is "misrepresenting the reality of what we are doing." He added that the new configuration "provides a better missile defense capability" than the one he had recommended to Mr. Bush.

Administration officials said the Bush missile defense architecture was better designed to counter potential long-range missiles by Iran, but recent tests and intelligence have indicated that Tehran is moving more rapidly toward developing short- and medium-range missiles. Mr. Obama's advisers said their reconfigured system would be more aimed at that threat by stationing interceptor missiles closer to Iran.


So USA is actually increasing the missile defense of Israel from Iran.
9.17.2009 2:45pm
_Drew_ (www):
egd: "As for the timing of the announcement, from the NYT article linked, it looks like this wasn't intentional. The story started to leak on the final decision, and a late-night call was made to the Czech &Polish presidents to preempt the story."

Which makes seizing on it as negative symbolism even more absurdly opportunistic.

"Furthermore, arguing that September 17 is not an important date for Poland is just silly."

But no one argued that. It just doesn't mean that anything that happens on that date magically must be interpreted only through the lens that critics of the decision would see. People choose to do that, or not, and worse: other people snidely encourage it even if they agree its irrational and irrelevant. And that's what's silly. Especially since they'd simply come up with some other connection/reference no matter what.
9.17.2009 2:47pm
subpatre (mail):
The alleged (Poland) survey results are strictly dependent on the statement —of unknown veracity— that Poland would have no autonomy over Poland-based missiles.

"Rzeczpospolita [the polling newspaper] reported that Washington wanted any missile base built in Poland to be subject to U.S. rather than local law."

Ten out of ten Americans would oppose an American-based missile system that Americans had no jurisdiction over; it is surprising any Poles supported the system with those conditions. So Strict and PotMeetKettle's claim that it is "common knowledge" is just another common deception.

A different survey, by different advocates, shows [drumroll] the exact opposite result;

(MDAA) " Fifty-eight percent (58%) of adults in Poland support the deployment of a missile defense system in their country. Two in three adults (67%) believe that a missile defense site in Poland would be a contribution to strengthening NATO and 70% think their country should continue negotiations with the United States to establish a site. The vast majority of people in Poland, eighty-nine percent (89%), are aware of Russian President Putin's opposition to a missile defense system in Poland. Providing security for Poland is the top reason missile defense supporters in Poland support it, with only half as many citizens saying European security is their most important consideration."

To MDAA's credit, the survey's cross tabs are freely available ; and the organization reports that the Czechs are split on the issue of a missile radar based on their soil.

On a general note, without access to the actual questions —the case with everything 'Strict' has posted— the results are meaningless; like his Chinese article about a Polish report of an American acronym's survey. There might be fire somewhere, but there's an awful lot of smoke.

This is NOT the same as Chamberlain's acts. But for a President who made a point of emphasizing diplomacy and alliances, Obama has careened from botch to boner. President Obama makes Bush seem positively European [shudder] while his 'progressive' administration happily acts the part of the bungling ugly American.

The bottom line is America's interests, and certainly the timing —official or not— somewhat hurts America's position among the Polish people. Perhaps progressives like Anderson don't give a rat's patootie about it, proving their hypocrisy for recently emphasizing the nuance needed with our allies. Those technical snarks won't help Poles care for —or cooperate with— America.
9.17.2009 2:49pm
LN (mail):
The missile defense system was not there to protect Poland or the Czech Republic.
9.17.2009 2:55pm
Strict:

Good job finding that, I wasn't able to find any Pole polls from 2009 on the topic (Google news). That doesn't change the fact that polls are a poor basis for decision making.


The poll I linked> was a 2009 Pole poll.

22% support among Poles.

The 2009 Czech poll provides a 29% support among Czechs.

So both 2009 polls show very weak support in both Poland and the Czech Republic.

I agree that polls are a poor basis for decision making. I never suggested that Obama did, or should, make such decision son the basis of these polls.

But they do rebut the argument that "The Poles and Czechs are now really pissed off and now they hate America and Obama and they feel like they've been thrown under the bus." Nope. Obama did what the strong majority of Poles and Czechs wanted to be done.

Further, I've seen no evidence that Iran poses a threat to either Poland or the Czech Republic. If, and that's a big if, Iran decide to take direct aggressive action against a nation state (instead of covertly funding and training and arming rebel groups within other nation's territories), what are it's likely targets?

1. Iraq
2. Israel
3. Saudi Arabia.
4. Turkey
5. United States
6. Kuwait
7. Bahrain
8. United Kingdom (Khamenei recently declared England the most evil nation in Europe).

I chose this order randomly, but now that I look at it, the order probably has some significance.

The suggestion that Iran wants to drop a nuclear bomb on Brno is insane and paranoid.

---------
As far as the timing, there are many dark days in Polish history. Which day could Obama make an announcement that wouldn't coincidentally fall on some date of historical importance?
9.17.2009 2:58pm
_Drew_ (www):
"You, and to be fair a lot of other commentators, are making it seem as if the Obama administration made the missile defense decision in some sort of complete vacuum."

Actually, it came out of fairly involved military review of everything we were doing, which had been going on for some time. I'm sure the impact on Russia was taken into account, but the only thing disingenuous here is pretending that what Russia does or wants is the only relevant thing on the table.

"The point remains the same, international power projection is a messy, school-yard game."

I'm not sure how this somehow means that we can never reappraise our strategies. You're wedged into a false dilemna where canceling any deployment, even if it also means increasing deployments elsewhere, is somehow reducing our engagement or weakening our stance. And for some reason that just because Russia doesn't like a particular move that this is de facto a good move for us. It was a both a poke in the eye for them AND yet also not particularly effective as deterrence: the worst of both worlds.

It's hardly a pointless gesture to abandon an expensive Cold War-holdover boondoggle and refocus efforts that a heck of a lot of defense and diplomatic folks think is likely to be more effective.
9.17.2009 2:59pm
_Drew_ (www):
9.17.2009 3:01pm
Strict:

the case with everything 'Strict' has posted— the results are meaningless; like his Chinese article about a Polish report of an American acronym's survey. There might be fire somewhere, but there's an awful lot of smoke.



What? What does this even mean? An American acronym's survey? Are you referring to the Polish polling institute's poll results that I posted?

"American acronym's survey"?

First, your "Missile Defense Advocacy" link you posted is from 2007. Second, the first line of the report reads: "A survey of public opinion in the Czech Republic conducted by Opinion Research Corporation indicates that 51% of the population of the Czech Republic do not support a proposed radar that would be linked to a broadly-based system anchored by the US missile defense system."

Even your own link shows that a majority of Czechs did not (in 2007) support the missile system. By 2009, the level of support dropped even further.
9.17.2009 3:11pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Drew, your contortions are amazing. I quoted President Obama, without attribution. You criticized what I said. I pointed out that they were the President's words, not mine, and you see no disagreement. Loony.
9.17.2009 3:14pm
Strict:
CBOS

Unfortunately, the CBOS report on the missile shield from March 2009 is only available in Polish, not English.

Here's the CBOS report from March 2009.

At the bottom is the contact information. If a Slavic-speaker here wants to contact CBOS and get the March 2009 poll report on the missile sheild, that would be awesome.
9.17.2009 3:23pm
_Drew_ (www):
Shrug. You presented that as a position that you held today, in the context of all your other arguments, not one held in April, prior to the review and reappraisal of the strategy.

The fact that the President once said something closer to your position than mine isn't particularly relevant to my argument: I've been defending the decision, not Obama's rhetoric or its consistency in the past.
9.17.2009 3:23pm
John425:
I am so glad President Obama has set about repairing relations with our world allies, aren't you? So far, we can now count on the French, British, German, Polish and Czechs as former friends. We can now embrace Chavez and Castro as new found friends and hey, let's get together Saturday night and screw Honduras.
9.17.2009 3:26pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
So you ARE saying you disagree with the President's words in April. They were wrong because a review and reappraisal of the strategy shows that his position in April was not the best policy for the United States. You are, then, necessarily saying that had the review and reappraisal been made before April that the President would have said something different back then. Will you go so far as to admit that perhaps the President shouldn't have made such a sweeping and direct promise to the Chzech public until the appropriate policy review and reappraisal had been made?
9.17.2009 3:27pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
I mean, there's nothing inherently wrong with being for missile defense in Poland before being against it, but it would be nice to admit that there has in fact been a change in the President's own policy, not just from his predecessor's policy, and an explanation of what has led to the policy change.
9.17.2009 3:29pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
PatHMV,

I rather think that _Drew_ didn't notice that the unattributed text and the text attributed to Obama were the same. At least, not until just now.
9.17.2009 3:32pm
Strict:

an explanation of what has led to the policy change


Obama did give some reasons for the decision. I think he said a different plan would be cheaper and more efficient.

But anyway, there are diplomatic and strategic reasons for not explaining everything publicly. For example, there are strategic reasons for the US, as a matter of policy, to never (or almost never) confirm or deny that a particular alleged spy is actually a spy.

Also, there could be negotiations and back door channels that we don't even know about.
9.17.2009 3:36pm
Spanky von Spankowitz:
John425- Don't forget the hilarious spectacle of the Indian rep dressing down Hillary Clinton for suggesting that his country remain in the stone ages so that the upper West Side feels good about itself and their carbon emissions. One of the most hilariously inept acts of "diplomacy" we've seen.

Of course that was before today. I understand that Obama is scheduling Summit between the US and Japan next August 6th. When questioned about the purpose of the summit, Obama announced "[d]on't worry, it will be the bomb." He then announced that, due to the gift-giving embarrassment earlier this year, he's having all of the Japanese attendants custom fitted for radiation suits in American flag colors.

There's an attorney I work with who insists that Obama is really just a Yale plot to embarrass HLS. I'm beginning to think he's not kidding.
9.17.2009 3:49pm
egd:
_Drew_ (www):

Which makes seizing on it as negative symbolism even more absurdly opportunistic.

My position isn't that the Obama administration is malicious, merely that they are incompetent. Pointing out the stupid acts of a President is still valid, right?

I don't think that is too fine a distinction to make.

Strict:

The poll I linked was a 2009 Pole poll.

Yes. Good job. I wasn't able to find it despite my frantic five minutes of searching. You were able to find it. Hence the phrase, "Good job finding that."
9.17.2009 3:49pm
Strict:
egd,

Oh. My bad.
9.17.2009 3:52pm
Bpbatista (mail):
If this is such a great idea, and the Poles and Czechs really don't want these systems on their territory, why did Obama deliver the message out of the blue with late night phone calls and without prior consultation with the Polish and Czech governments?

Just wondering.
9.17.2009 4:12pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Bpbatista,

Self-evidently, Obama wanted no prior hint to dilute the governments' unalloyed joy at having been relieved of the deeply unpopular burden of American military presence that Bush (and even Obama himself, in an uncharacteristic moment of weakness) had led them to believe would be theirs. Can't you understand the urge to spring such fantastic good news as a surprise?
9.17.2009 4:24pm
Angus:
Interesting that so-called fiscal conservatives insist we should go ahead and spend tens of billions of dollars on a missile system that no one wants and that won't work for what we need it to do.
9.17.2009 5:52pm
vic:
Below is what george freidman at stratfor has to say about this:


Ballistic missile defense (BMD) as a military system had no significance for either Poland or the Czech Republic. It was not designed to defend them. Rather, its presence was a symbol to both countries that the United States was prepared to defend them, because it has a vital strategic asset in their countries. The shock in Poland and Czech Republic is about a symbolic shift from their point of view.

What we need to analyze is whether this has any substantial meaning. The question at hand is the state of U.S.-Polish/Czech military cooperation in other areas. Beneath this is the commitment of the United States — outside the context of NATO — for a bilateral relationship, particularly with Poland. Will the United States substitute increased military cooperation for the loss of BMD?

As the news spins that the United States has decided to shelve its plans for a BMD system in Poland and the Czech Republic, it seems as if the Americans have given a major concession to the Russians, who have been staunchly opposed to the system.

The timing of the decision is clearly intended to induce Russian cooperation with the United States over Iran. The question is whether there was any prior understanding with Russia regarding this matter. Does the United States have some understanding of a quid pro quo with Russia? The Russian-U.S. tussle over the issue of BMD in Central Europe was never really about BMD. The system never gave Poland anything. It was about the future of U.S.-Polish military cooperation. This is what defines Russia's view of its relationship with the United States.

It is expected that a lot of noise will come out of Poland on the BMD issue, but this by itself has no influence on that unless it is a general redefinition of the U.S. relationship with Poland.

The key here is to focus on U.S.-Russian relations in the aftermath of this deal and focus on it in terms of, first, Russia's next actions on Iran and, second, whether the United States is making substantial shifts on Poland.
9.17.2009 6:10pm
vic:
here is more from stratfor:

Russia's initial response to the United States' scrapping its plan for ballistic missile defense (BMD) in Poland and the Czech Republic indicates that Russia is not convinced that the change in plans is any sort of concession. The BMD issue was symbolic of a greater U.S. plan to build up Poland's national security with a U.S. presence — but more importantly, to forge a series of military agreements that would build up Poland's own defenses. Although the United States theoretically has given in on its former plans for BMD (though other plans could be in the works), there are no signs that Washington will give up its other projects in Poland.

The rest of the world might view the change in BMD plans as a major concession from the United States to Russia, but the Russians obviously do not. Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitri Rogozin, called the shift "a mistake that is now being corrected," but quickly added that it was in response to a Russian agreement to allow the United States to transit military supplies through Russia and Central Asia to its troops in Afghanistan. Rogozin also warned against U.S. plans (still being discussed) to deploy Patriot air defense batteries in Poland.

The Russians are letting the United States know they do not see the scrapping of the planned BMD system as a concession — and certainly not something that would spark a concession from Russia, such as Moscow ceasing its support for Tehran. Instead, Russia is linking the BMD move to the deal on Afghanistan. As far as the Russians are concerned, they owe the United States nothing until real concessions are made.

Though the United States and Russia look to be in the same dangerous holding pattern they were in before the BMD announcement, the United States' move does open the door for further negotiations with Russia. Before entering into such talks, Moscow is letting Washington know that it is not falling for all the rhetoric surrounding the BMD plan change.

This response from Russia is only its initial response. The next thing to watch is the Sept. 23 meeting between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Both sides' positions on everything from Polish security deals to Iranian sanctions and NATO expansion should be closely watched between now and the date of that meeting.
9.17.2009 6:40pm
vic:
while i do not always agree with all of stratfors viewpoints, at least they give a somewhat non ideaologically tainted well thought out " realist" perspective, that is at least a good starting point for thought and analysis.

and PatHMV

really appreciate your well reasoned comments

just dont get too frustrated with responding to some of the "tards" you have been doing battle with. for whatever it is worth sometimes it is better to let the loons rant
9.17.2009 6:44pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
vic,

See, this is what I don't quite understand. What has Russia to fear from Poland? I loved Anderson's coy reference upthread to "the history between Poland and Russia":

... The whining about "our friends, the Poles!" is childish. Look at a map, people. A dubious "missile shield" and Polish goodwill are not worth pissing off Russia, particularly given the history b/t Poland and Russia.

Yeah, like all those times that Poland invaded Russia, conspired to divvy it up into chunks with other nations, &c. It's like talking about the "history" between Germany and Belgium. With a soupçon of "Why die for Danzig?" added.

If the importance of this change so far as the Russians were concerned was symbolic, isn't it a symbolic defeat for us? If the new plan is clearly superior to the old one, there would be no reason for not announcing it in broad daylight and with open deliberation beforehand. Instead, it appears to have been, well, sprung on our allies in the literal dead of night, which seems a little ungenerous.
9.17.2009 6:52pm
vic:
more analysis on simillar klines from Stratfor:

Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer confirmed Sept. 17 that the United States no longer plans to install ballistic missile defense (BMD) sites in Poland. BMD in Central Europe has been a sticky issue between the United States and Russia. But an even trade — U.S. BMD plans for Russian support on Iran — is not so clear.

Analysis
Related Special Topic Page
A Shift in Ballistic Missile Defense Strategy
Related Links
U.S., Russia, Iran: A Possible Deal on Missile Defense
U.S.: Backing Down on BMD
There has been confirmation that the United States has scrapped its plans for ballistic missile defense (BMD) in Poland and Czech Republic, according to an announcement from Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer Sept 17. There was a flurry of meetings with a U.S. delegation — including Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Alexander Vershbow — in Poland and Czech Republic. U.S. President Barack Obama held a phone call with Fischer. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is preparing to have a meeting with Russia's NATO envoy, Dmitri Rogozin. And Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov — who is one of the country's specialists on the issue of BMD — is in Poland.

The issue of BMD has long been one of the larger points of contention between the United States and Russia. Russia viewed the U.S. intentions to set up missiles on its former Soviet border as a serious encroachment in Moscow's sphere of influence. Washington constantly reassured Moscow that the missile system was not targeting Russia, but was to guard against Iran's growing military capabilities. But for Moscow, it was not as much about the BMD system as it was having U.S. military presence in Central Europe. Russia saw this as the United States moving their presence east from Germany into former Warsaw pact territory — Poland and Czech Republic — not to mention U.S. lily-pad bases popping up in Romania.

The U.S. military moves in Central Europe were part of the overall encroachment viewed by Russia in which NATO had expanded to the Baltics, and then the former Soviet states of Ukraine and Georgia came under NATO membership consideration. Russia also had just watched a wave of pro-Western (and Western-backed) color revolutions sweep across its former territory in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.

But Russia has been pushing back on the West's influence, turning the political tide in Ukraine, with its August 2008 war with Georgia, solidifying its influence in Central Asia and the rest of the Caucasus and also in warming relations with Germany, and to a lesser extent, Poland.

As part of its push back on the United States, Russia increased its support for countries like Iran — one of the largest thorns in Washington's side. Russia has been helping build Iran's nuclear power plant, Bushehr, even though Moscow has not completed its contract on the plant to keep the issue alive as part of their arsenal of threats against the United States. The same goes for Russia's military contracts with Iran for advanced military technology like variants of the S-300 air defense system. Russia has also routinely blocked hard-hitting sanctions on Iran in the U.N. Security Council.

But the situation with Iran has been heating up in the past few months and the United States has been considering everything from crippling sanctions on Iranian gasoline to a military strike. The problem has been that Russia could complicate either move by either skirting the sanctions and providing their own gasoline to Iran or providing military equipment to Iran, which would complicate a potential U.S. or Israeli military strike against Iran.

The Russian demands for not complicating the Iranian dilemma have been simple: concessions from the United States on respecting Russia's sphere of influence — which includes backing down on NATO expansion, its relationship with Kiev and Tbilisi, and military expansion in Poland and the Czech Republic.

According to statements from the Czechs and other political moves, the United States appears to have folded on the BMD issue.

But an even trade — U.S. BMD plans for Russian support on Iran — is not so clear. There are many issues that STRATFOR is now watching:

First, the most important question is if this is enough of a concession for Russia. Russia is very concerned with U.S. support of NATO expansion as well as its support of the governments in Kiev and Tbilisi. Also, the United States appears to be backing off BMD, but does this include their other military plans in Central Europe, like helping build up Poland's military? The BMD deal in Poland was not just about missile defense. It was also an overall plan for U.S. military inside the country, including ramping up Poland's defensive military capabilities. Russia sees all of these issues interlinked and will not be satisfied with just a concession on the BMD issue.
With a concession on BMD and pending any confirmation on further U.S. concessions with Poland, Ukraine and Georgia, Russia is expected to drop its support of Iran. But Russia will act cautiously in relinquishing its valuable Iran card completely, so how will Russia show its side of the concessions to the United States? Will Russia also now become involved in the U.S.'s plans for sanctions against Iran or simply cease fulfilling its contracts on Iran's nuclear program and military?
How does Iran react to a possible U.S.-Russia entente? Tehran has never believed that Moscow would not sell it out should the United States offer the right price. Iran and Russia have held a tense alliance in recent years. But with U.S. pressure bearing down even further on Iran, how does Iran react to losing one of its biggest supporters? What are the alternatives for Iran without Russian backing?
How does the rest of the Eurasia region see the U.S. fold on support for Poland and the Czech Republic? Much of Europe — especially the Central and Eastern regions — will now view the United States as unable to fulfill its promises to its allies in the face of a strengthening Russia. The ripples across Eurasia will be deeply felt in the domestic politics of these countries — in their relations with one another and with outside powers — and with Russia also gaining the momentum from the U.S. concession to push further within and beyond its sphere of influence.
9.17.2009 6:54pm
vic:
Just because a certain section of the american intellegensia/ ruling elite wishes that the "Great Game" would go away if everyone just talked reasonably, doesnt mean that their utopianism will succeed.

Human nature was formed in the crucible of an evolutionary process that was "sharp of tooth and claw". Ther game of life was untill recently a zero sum game. Just because in the west/ first world there si today an abundance of basic resources ( not true yet in most other parts of the world) doesnt mean that suddenly our evolutionary psychology has changed.

Russsia is in the throes of yet another reorientaion, a last hurrah if you will, in the middle of a inexorable demographic dead end. It is led by a ex KGB cold warrior, well schooled in the dynamics of power and power projection. Russia, without a ring of vassal states ( the FSU) is vulnerable and unprotected.

What it is effectively demonstrating to the states of the FSU is that they better be scared of russian resolve and that america is a paper tiger that will abandon them at the first sign of opposition. Unfortunately it appears that our body politic is controlled by clueless ones who seem bent on espousing 60's peace and love mantras.

The path to hell is paved with good intentions they say. Constant posturing and snarling by combatants arouses a healthy fear of the other and actually keeps actual violence levels down. it is in situations when one of the adversaries starts turning the other cheek/ unilatrally disarming that sometimes initiates violent confrontaion as unnecesaary meekness on one side provokes the antagonist into opportunistic aggression.

In the absense of a behind the scences deal, Obamas naivette and incompetence may create unforseen trouble.
9.17.2009 9:31pm
Thales (mail) (www):
To those concerned about "Obamas [alleged] naivette and incompetence" [sic]: I'm curious about the actual evidence, or otherwise, for a) the efficacy of any ballistic missile defense system and its cost justification and b) Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon and that the mullahs running the country are interested in committing self-destruction by nuking Israel or attacking the West. The onus is really on you, I believe.
9.17.2009 9:40pm
vic:
thales:

did you miss what i said
the game is best played as a game of posturing and bluff and keeping the other side guessing about your capabilities and intentions

unilateral disarmament is a game played by fools

and the one's inepttitude is showing up more and more with every passing day

the emperor has no clothes
9.17.2009 10:13pm
DiversityHire (mail):

Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around.

Who'd have thought they'd lead ya (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)
Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya)

Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've hot him on the spot, welcome back,
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
9.17.2009 10:59pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Houston Lawyer:

I guess that everyone posting before acknowledges that Russia is strongly against the missle shield and that this will be seen as a win for Putin. By the way, Russia is doing all it can to ensure that Iran has the capacity to make nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them by missle.

So you think Putin is clever enough to have outwited us, yet not smart enough to know Russia has as much to fear from Iranian nukes as we do?
9.17.2009 11:07pm
Mark Poling (mail):
Pardon, but the NYT piece as of now doesn't mention the timing at all. Was it scrubbed?
9.17.2009 11:20pm
M Kunert (mail):
_drew_ wrote:

............
"egd: "As for the timing of the announcement, from the NYT article linked, it looks like this wasn't intentional. The story started to leak on the final decision, and a late-night call was made to the Czech &Polish presidents to preempt the story."

Which makes seizing on it as negative symbolism even more absurdly opportunistic."
..............

So you're arguing that the Obama administration is simply incompetent, not historically tone deaf or plain dumb. In fact, so incompetent, that they'd let a story spill out on the one day out of 365 that would cause the most damage with one of US's most staunchest allies in recent years.



__drew__ further wrote:
...............

"Furthermore, arguing that September 17 is not an important date for Poland is just silly."

But no one argued that. It just doesn't mean that anything that happens on that date magically must be interpreted only through the lens that critics of the decision would see. People choose to do that, or not, and worse: other people snidely encourage it even if they agree its irrational and irrelevant. And that's what's silly. Especially since they'd simply come up with some other connection/reference no matter what.
.............

You serious, Drew? You don't understand human nature, etiquette, diplomacy, historical symbolism. So if the US was attacked on July 4th, it would just an arbitrary day or that Americans should not judge the attack through the prism of the date? Or how about Obama apologizing to the Japanese for WW2 on Dec 7th? You're really saying that? Wow.
9.17.2009 11:47pm
TmjUtah (mail) (www):
Ossetia in the spring. And I think that the Balts will probably start to feel pressure by early next winter.

When the EU starts to make noises, watch Putin start a well publicized round of theater missile tests.

Obama... not content to destroy the fabric of the Republic, he's making sure that not only are we no longer the economic pivot of the planet, he's making sure to dismantle our strategic superiority in CCC and force projection.

Any fool between Brussels and Beijing already knows that the cop is off the beat.
9.17.2009 11:50pm
M Kunert (mail):
Richard Riley wrote,
"
Prof. Adler is reaching pretty far to find a way to bash the Obama administration here. The Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1 is an anniversary acknowledged worldwide. September 17, not so much. I don't doubt it's an important day of remembrance for some people, but it's silly to pretend this is a widely acknowledged anniversary.
"
... except in Poland. Which is the country that counts and got hammered by Russia on Sept 17th.

But you're right, in India, South East Asia, and most of Latin America, its not widely acknowledged.
9.17.2009 11:51pm
AST (mail):
Smart diplomacy: apologize to our enemies and offer to talk while they prepare for war, then betray our allies by reneging on our promises to them. I don't think that Iran would be dumb enough to attack Europe unless they think it's desirable to trigger Armageddon, but I do think it's unwise to encourage Putin in his obvious desires to reestablish a Russian empire.
9.17.2009 11:52pm
madawaskan (mail):
Look far be it for me to bring up the fact that we actually do have military stationed over in Europe.

I know Democrats never consider them to be full US citizens or the ground of embassies or naval ships to be US dominion....especially when attacked-but what the hell-just thought I'd toss that out there.

While I'm at it-good luck getting co-operation in the future- our allies now know not to stick their necks out there-because the political winds here can change by the next election cycle, and better yet our enemies got the exact same message.....
9.18.2009 1:58am
Rabel (mail):
His defenders and the isolationists here should realize that President Obama still favors a missle defense system land-based in Poland and the CR.
"A second phase in about 2015 will field an upgraded, land-based SM-3 in allied countries, and discussions are underway with Poland and the Czech Republic on basing the missiles in their territory, Gates said."
If his administration is to be believed, he has simply kicked the can down the road...again.
But to the point of Adler's post, yes the timing of the announcement was grossly incompetent and indefensible.
9.18.2009 2:14am
JM Hanes:
Haven't had a chance to read this whole thread, so this may be a repeat.

Unless both Jonathon Adler and Tom Maguire were both having the same senior moment simultaneously, the NYTimes has apparently scrubbed the reference to timing. Maguire excerpts an entire paragraph which no longer appears in the story -- unless I'm the one who needs stronger reading glasses.
9.18.2009 4:11am
vic:
What abunch of bumbling idiots

from stratfor again:

THE UNITED STATES on Thursday announced plans to redefine its missile defense system, away from one that would be based in Poland and the Czech Republic -- and which was intended as a global system -- to a phased system, ultimately built around U.S. destroyers based in the Mediterranean and the North Sea and intended primarily to defend Europe. The principle of missile defense remains intact -- the first phases are to be deployed more quickly than in the earlier plan -- but the basing in Central Europe is gone.

This has generated a crisis of confidence in Central Europe -- particularly in the Czech Republic and Poland, which see the decision as an abandonment of the U.S. commitment to the region. The Poles and others are obviously aware that the presence of missiles and radar on their soil does nothing to increase their national security, but they saw the weapons as a practical commitment to their defense. With the missile systems located there, the thinking went, the United States would regard Poland and the Czech Republic as critical to American national security, and that it therefore would defend them against an increasingly assertive Russia. With the defense system redeployed offshore, the American commitment to missile defense is no longer linked to Polish or Czech national defense; hence the feeling of abandonment.

This is particularly the case in the current strategic environment. Talks with Iran -- against which the missile defense system was intended -- begin on Oct. 1. The American plan was to impose "crippling" sanctions against Iran if it persists with its nuclear program. The Russians made clear that they would oppose any sanctions, thus rendering them ineffectual if implemented. With the Israelis threatening unilateral action if sanctions were not imposed, the United States needed Russian support. Russia saw the missile shield, in Poland particularly, the same way the Poles did -- as a bilateral U.S. commitment to Polish defense -- and the Russians wanted the missiles out. Therefore the Poles saw the American decision as a capitulation to the Russians in hopes that it would cause the Russians to reciprocate on Iran.

"In other words, the Russians have already paid for the missile shield, and the price for collaboration on Iran would be much higher."

For their part, the Russians quickly announced that while they saw Washington's decision as a positive step, they had already made concessions to the United States by opening a supply route through Russia and the former Soviet Union to Afghanistan. In other words, the Russians have already paid for the missile shield, and the price for collaboration on Iran would be much higher. This has been the consistent Russian position and is no surprise. Still, we assume -- based on Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's statements -- that this move opens the door for bargaining with the Russians over Iran sanctions. That by itself would place pressure on Iran.

The Czechs and Poles clearly knew that this decision was coming, but the timing surprised them. Indeed, the timing seems to have surprised the Obama administration, which spent the early morning hours in Washington scrambling to notify Prague and Warsaw of the decision. There were reports in Washington that though the decision had been made, the rushed notification was triggered by a news leak before the diplomatic proprieties had been completed. There was a lot of scrambling, and the timing made it appear to the Central Europeans that the Americans were bargaining away their interests in the hopes of enticing the Russians over Iran -- making their reaction even worse, without coming near to enticing the Russians.

In the end, BMD is a symbolic rather than meaningful issue to the defense of Central Europe. The delivery of 48 F-16s with advanced systems to Poland is enormously more important to Polish defense than the BMD was. The defense of Poland is a matter of conventional forces under any circumstances. The Russians are demanding recognition of their sphere of influence in the former Soviet region, but this is something the United States continues to reject. Therefore, the Russian dream of a neutral Poland is a fantasy. In some ways, the withdrawal of the BMD plan gives Poland and other countries in the region far more leverage with Washington for the transfer of weapons and training. The clumsy manner in which the announcement was made opens Washington up to demands from the region for other, more real and less symbolic, offers.

If the BMD announcement is a peace offering to the Russians, it is insufficient in itself to entice them. Iran as a thorn in the American side is worth far more to the Russians than what the United States has given them so far. As a practical matter, the decision has no effect on Polish or Czech security, but actually gives these states greater leverage with Washington. Therefore, as a strategic move, the decision has limited significance. It may well be a rational move from a technological standpoint, if the new system is indeed as effective as it is claimed. But the sheer confusion on Thursday morning raised serious questions about the bureaucratic processes in Washington. It also created more problems than were necessary -- and the decision certainly did not move the Russians, if that was the purpose
9.18.2009 7:29am
vic:
The New York Times:

" all the news that fit to read - for the rubes"

or should we say Pravda lives
9.18.2009 7:32am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Considering how many times Russia has invaded Poland, it would be difficult to schedule a day that didn't have some unpleasant (from a Polish perspective) associations.

There was nothing special about Stalin's policy regarding Poland.
9.18.2009 2:50pm
Josephine (mail) (www):
Obama is a weakling and pathetic attempt at being a president.

I wrote this article in commemoration (check out my link in my url above)
9.18.2009 6:36pm

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