When a concession isn’t…missile shield switcheroo
Sometimes, international relations resemble the theater of the absurd. Everyone knows their role, the acts are scripted, but the audience has difficulty determining what is real and what staged. Such is the case when it comes to President Obama’s roll-back of the Bush policy on the European missile shield. The Republicans cried foul, leading some of the popular but not astute commentators to allege that Obama has bent in the face of Russian pressure and put the US at risks. The howls of the tea party supporters will no doubt echo on the streets again shortly.
However, if you actually watch what happened in reality, rather than how it is dressed for the audience, this was a very astute move for the US. Firstly, the Republicans objections are in the most scripted t0 appeal to the Russians. There are some Republican representatives who really think this was a policy misstep, but frankly there are some Republican representatives will believe whatever a Glenn Beck or a Rush Limbaugh says. That is one of the challenges of the current opposition as it absent an intelligentsia to correct such thinking. Anyway, the Republicans in the know howl protest, which makes Russia feel all warm and fuzzy about how they cowed the Americans. This leads the Russians to the conclusion that there is no immediate need to beard America further and ship the contested S300 missiles to Iran. Here is how the Republican protests played out in the press for effect:
“Scrapping the US missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic does little more than empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our allies in Europe,” the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, John Boehner, told Fox News.
Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator for South Carolina, said: “It will empower the Russians and it will scare the crap out of the Poles, Czechs, Ukrainians and Georgians. It is a huge mistake.”
Jon Kyl, Republican senator for Arizona, called Obama’s decision “dangerous and short-sighted”. In a statement, Kyl, the Senate minority whip, said: “Not only does this decision leave America vulnerable to the growing Iranian long-range missile threat, it also turns back the clock to the days of the cold war, when eastern Europe was considered the domain of Russia.”This will be a bitter disappointment, indeed, even a warning to the people of eastern Europe. The message the administration sends today is clear: the United States will not stand behind its friends and views ‘resetting’ relations with Russia more important.”
However, the US Defense Department had already decided, despite the bait and switch for the Russian’s benefit, that the threat from Iran was more likely short and medium range missiles. This is why President Obama slipped in to his speech that the shield would be adapted to a naval platform and deployed close-up in the region. This makes all the US allies in the Middle East, and especially Israel feel a whole lot safer. It also sends a much stronger message to Iran as the missile shield in now right on top of them. If that isn’t enough to convince you that you have been tricked by the show, take into account that the US Defence Department had already decided a mobile missile shield was a more effective solution, and had ordered it built as we reported earlier this month. Tricky switcheroo, but the real message is not missed by the players involved just, sadly, by the populist commentators and their media channels.
The 47,500-pound interceptor could be flown to NATO bases when required on Boeing-built C-17 cargo planes, swiftly put up on a 60-foot trailer stand and removed when safe, according to the report.
“If a fixed site is going to be just too hard to get implemented, politically or otherwise, we didn’t want people to think that the only way you needed to use a GBI was in a fixed silo,” Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s vice president and general manager for missile defense, told Reuters at a US Army-sponsored missile-defense conference in Huntsville, Alabama.
Boeing had just started briefing the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency on the proposal, Hyslop said. The project could be completed by 2015, and would probably cost less than had been planned for the silo-based interceptors, he said
Boeing unveils new anti-missile idea for Europe | International | Jerusalem Post