I'm going to admit that I got suckered into believing that Pres. Obama was going to stage some sort of enlightened retreat from Bush's transparently political decision to persuade former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe to allow the U.S. to deploy 'missile shields' in their countries to counter a non-existent threat from Iranian missiles.
The reasoning behind the Bush administration's planned deployment of these 'missile interceptors' to Europe had nothing at all to do with some Cold War threat from Russia or China, according to Secretary of State Condi Rice, who told reporters during a trip to Germany in February 2007 that, "There is no way that 10 interceptors in Poland and radar sites in the Czech Republic are a threat to Russia or that they are somehow going to diminish Russia’s deterrent of thousands of warheads.”
What is it then which compelled the Bush State Dept. and the Pentagon to ramp up the peddling of these missile systems to these European countries, unsettling decades of peaceful cooperation with their communist neighbors? There was a familiar theme which accompanied the fearmongering militarism of the Bush regime. Secretary Rice spelled it out after claiming Russia had nothing to fear from the new, planned expansion of U.S. military influence in their backyard.
However, Iran has no intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S. continent. Iran's longest range missile is the Shahab-3, which has a target radius of 620 miles. The Pentagon has been claiming for almost a decade that Iran is developing up to three new generations of the Shahab to increase its range.
There has been absolutely no evidence presented by the Bush or the Obama administrations that Iran possesses missiles threatening the U.S or has even threatened the U.S. with missiles, yet, this entire escalation of concern which had supposedly prompted the Bush regime (and now the Obama White House) to step up the hawking of these dubious systems throughout Europe is predicated on their unspecific claims of an Iranian threat.
It suited the Bush regime's short term agenda to isolate Russia and China in hopes of forestalling the coming shift in energy resources away from the U.S. as Russia and China bargain for a bigger share of the world's oil, and have made multi-billion dollar deals with oil-rich Iran, to the consternation of the U.S. and their Saudi benefactors who are desperate to stifle the influence of the Iranian oil on the world market.
The Bush regime saw the prospect of Russia’s shifting alliances as threats to the U.S. 'national security'. The administration would have liked nothing more than for Russia and China to be regarded as pariahs in the world community. Bush and Cheney (and Rice) would have been more than satisfied to isolate Russia, and China with a manufactured pall of suspicion and fear, making oil-producing nations reluctant to do business with them out of fear of U.S. retaliation and making existing deals with Iran appear sinister and threatening.
Now it appears that the Obama WH is content to allow the prospect of the realization of Bush's destabilizing, cynical deployment of these dubious 'missile interceptors' overshadowing their promised diplomacy with Iran. Vice-President Biden's statements indicating future support from the administration for some form of missile shield as a deterrent to a potential threat from Iran is a departure from the posture Pres. Obama assumed last July while campaigning.
Candidate Obama had responded to Iran's reported missile tests last summer with a call for direct diplomacy and economic sanctions, if necessary. In contrast, his republican opponent, John McCain, had called for an acceleration of Bush's efforts to persuade Eastern European countries to sign on to the administration's paranoid missile defense ploy. Obama said at the time that he would listen to his national security team to decide whether Iran's reported tests "indicated any new capabilities on Iran's part."
Likewise, early in the transition, Pres. elect Obama's courtesy call to Polish President Lech Kaczynski resulted in reports from Kaczynski's office that Obama had assured him that "the missile defense project would continue."
The Obama transition team quickly put out a statement denying such a promise was made to the Polish president: "President-elect Obama made no commitment on it. His position is as it was throughout the campaign -- that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable."
The last part about waiting for a 'workable' missile defense system was the hook I had relied on to convince myself that Obama had no intention of committing the U.S. to such a destabilizing boondoggle. I now believe the rhetoric about missile defense from Mr. Obama throughout the campaign - always couched in the 'workability' argument - was designed to give voters the impression that the new administration would walk away from Bush's obviously mischievous provocation. I bought it, anyway.
Now, with Biden's meaningless hedge about accepting a missile defense system that "works and is cost-effective," all that stands in the way of moving forward with Bush's destabilizing ploy is some assurance given by the holdover cronies in the Pentagon that the bugs have been worked out and the system is good to go.