Polish President Blasts Obama on Missile Defense

This week, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski accused the Obama Administration of betrayal, saying, “Our mistake was that by accepting the American offer of a [missile defense] shield we failed to take into account the political risk associated with a change of president.… We paid a high political price. We do not want to make the same mistake again. We must have a missile system as an element of our defences.”

In 2009, President Obama cancelled the deal the U.S. had with Poland and the Czech Republic to build an interceptor site and radar that would provide protection of the U.S. homeland and allies from rogue ballistic missiles. Polish and Czech leaders took on the task of educating their populations of the necessity of defending their populations from Iranian missiles, of collaborating with the U.S. to do this, of having American soldiers on their territory, and—the hardest of all—that the blowback from Russia over the sites was worth it.

It is an American tradition—and not a uniquely Republican or Democratic one—to resolutely stand with America’s friends and confront, if necessary, those who threaten them. It was President John F. Kennedy who said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

The last several years, starting with the abandonment of the missile defense site, President Obama has taken the U.S. down a path that takes a sudden departure from this policy.

Russia claims that U.S. missile defense sites in Eastern Europe undermine its security. It is a fact that it does not. The Obama Administration is not giving the U.S. missile defense systems to be fielded in the European theater the ability to counter long-range Russian missiles. But even if it were, Russia should not be put out by the thought that a U.S. system meant to intercept Iranian missiles might also have the capability of intercepting Russian missiles—unless it wanted to have the ability to launch missiles at European cities.

If this is the case, the U.S. government has a responsibility to take away this ability, and failure to do so would be an abrogation of its security guarantees with its allies. Indeed, the New START resolution of ratification contains a clause—which the Administration accepted—that specifically states that the U.S., as a matter of policy, will not leave itself or its allies vulnerable to nuclear attacks from any source, including Russia.

It isn’t enough to call a country an ally. What America’s allies require of the U.S. is that it keeps its word and sides with them in practical and predictable ways over common enemies that seek to diminish both our security and theirs.

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6 Comments

  1. Why this article says that it’s a fact that US interceptor missile sites do not threaten to unbalance the nuclear parity? It’s a fact that they do, by their ability to intercept (they have such ability and it cannot be disabled) the retaliation launches from Russia.

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  2. Russia is well equipped with both nuclear offensive and defensive weaponry. It is a nation possessing high technology in missiles, also an armed force well in excess of anything Poland and Czech Republic combined could ever activate.

    It must have been a good idea for Poland, Czech Republic and their small nation neighbors to have, at least a nuclear missile deterrent. They would not have to feel like helpless victims in the shadow of one of the world’s great military powers. I believe it was originally proposed during George W. Bush’s term in office, arrangements were being made slowly however. The original theme was deterrent against missiles from Arab-Muslim states. Russia didn’t read it that way. Vladimir Putin objected to it and “the unbalancing of power” in that area of nations.

    I think he was unduly alarmed, the idea for Poland and Czech Republic was to have built a system to repel missiles fired at them, not to have a system to fire at Russia.
    Threats came from Mr. Putin, whom to his credit, is very protective of Russia’s interests.

    As poor luck for Poland and Czech Republic would materialize, Obama was elected to the U.S. presidency and his only negotiating card is “appeasement.” So, he broke the word of G.W. Bush to Poland and Czech Republic. There would be no missile defense system built in either country.
    However, if one would refer to a map of Central Europe, look to the northern Polish border which abuts a state of Russia named Kaliningrad (formerly East Prussia before end WW2). While the heated discussions were ongoing between Poland, Czech Republic, USA and The Kremlin-Russia, Russian missiles were stationed in Kaliningrad which point south towards Poland and Czech Republic.
    Not only was the balance “unbalanced,” but now the two smaller nations live under a Russian missile “balance” from both the East and North. Is that what is meant by “balance?” How odd, it certainly doesn’t appear like “balance” except in Russia!

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    • You are right, neither Poland, nor Czech, would be able to withstand a Russian ground invasion, would it happen. And because of this no one plan to attack them with ICBM so they don’t need anti-missile defense.

      Mr. Putin does not believe that European interceptor missile sites are positioned against Iranian ICBMs because his military experts do not believe in this. And this disbelief have the solid foundation.

      First, the most convenient place to set up such defense is the closest to the launch site. And the natural position is the loyal US ally – Pakistan. Situated there, the missiles would intercept not only Iranian, but Indian ICBMs too, with 100% effectiveness, where they are most vulnerable, right after the start.

      But US decided not only to use the most inconvenient place (under the warheads apogee) but also rejected the Russian offer to use the existing radar station in Gabala (Azerbaijan). This definitely means that the declared and the real targets are not the same. Having this and the broken promises that NATO will not expand to the East, Mr. Putin have no reasons to believe the declared statements.

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  3. Dobriy Dyen, Oleg:

    Thanks for your response. The only problem with it is that Mr. Putin has the right to peacefully disagree, but not the right to decide how Poland or Czech Republic should decide to protect themselves. I know how Mr. Putin feels and what he prefers, but he isn’t thinking of protecting Poland or Czech Republic.

    And, I realize the inherent Russian reaction to any,even isolated thought, of invasion. Russian history going back to invasion by German knights on horses, clad in armor, or even before, is plenty to protect against, and adding the Nazi invasion that created “The Great Patriotic War,” would cause Russia to be apprehensive, or any other nation had it suffered the same.

    Yes, if an Iranian threat evolved, even if Russia helped Iran to reach the point where it became a nuke missile threat (and Iran works toward that goal), it could even backfire upon Russia for which Iran wouldn’t need more than Intermediate missiles to reach, at least the Volga Basin, certainly the major naval base in Crimea.

    Iran seeks a world Islamic caliphate, with Tehran at the center, I think Iran is very intent on promoting itself an ultra major power. It is also intent upon converting all Muslims to the Shia Muslim faith of Islam. Nuclear power can help it towards intimidating Sunni Muslim nations if they are not nuclear. So…now we have a race for superiority within Islam which will cause Islam to be nuclear.

    I certainly agree with the radar station in Azerbaijan, and the Caspian Sea is in a short, direct line flight to Iran.
    Plus, the Russian airdrome there has adequate runways for the largest existing aircraft. It was stupid of the U.S. not to avail itself of the Russian offer. First,the gesture would have brought Russia and USA closer in cooperation, I think a good idea. Of course, Iran would probably regard that as a threat, which in reality it could be, militarily.

    NATO: Its presence does irritate Russia, but it was organized for that reason. Here again, if it wasn’t Moscow concerned with “balance of power,” it was NATO in Brussels. So, what are do,it is what it is. c’est la vie.

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  4. You don’t get the Russian point of view. 🙂 We’re not afraid of being invaded, we buried a hordes of invaders since Tschinghis-Khan. 🙂 We don’t like to fight, but when it’s the only way to get rid of annoying army – all nations unite and fight fiercely. Just don’t force us to do this.

    And since we have a nuclear parity we don’t afraid anyone. The inevitable retaliation strike keeps all hot heads calm. That’s enough for us to get busy with our own internal problems, we have lots of them, believe me. But when someone start to threat to this parity, we are forced to react and we do. Asymmetrically, in most cases. Look, even the threat to destroy the offending interceptor sites with Iskander systems was enough to reconsider the value of these sites. And we really don’t care about Polish and Czhech alarmists, we don’t need their land, we have our own – take a look at the map. What Russia is really concerned of – it’s own security.

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  5. Thank you for your reply. I did not state that Russia was/is “afraid” of being invaded, but in that regard, why were railroad tracks from the Russian border with rest of Europe,built of a different track gauge? It had to be that if Russia wasn’t afraid, invasion was still a hell of an inconvenience, so measures were taken in which trains from any point in Europe west of Russia, had to stop and transfer loads and passengers to trains that would travel on Russian gauge tracks.

    As you state, you’re not afraid. But who are you? One Russian? You have no concept or will not recognize whom are afraid of invasion. I know and will freely admit that many Americans are afraid of invasion of any degree. Why shouldn’t we be? It involves death and destruction. Russia has experienced such tragedy more than any other modernized nation in modernity.

    That is why we want a leader who will keep us prepared, instead of the dysfunctional leader at present. Incidentally, the use of the English “afraid” in this case correlates to “detests” of even simpler,”rejects the possibility.” We both use the vernaculars of English or Russian which both lose meaning in translation for either of us. But, you came to a website where English is used, I have not attempted a Russian website.

    So, if you are happier in the belief that Russia fears no one, at least Russia would have itself feel better about having preparations to deal with all types of threats. Obviously, it has done so. This, I certainly understand and neither you nor I need to be boastful about respective military might.

    You are not able to rationalize what motivated Poland and Czech Republic. They did not enjoy the presence of Soviet intimidation…and that is exactly what it was, whether you now replace the designation “USSR” with the word “Russia.” I am sure you’ll never agree to that, you are more involved with describing what Russia could do to others. I think you don’t take into account what others can do in retaliation.

    I understand your psyche, you are explaining what Russia has, what Russia can do, while I make no such noise concerning the USA. You don’t need to tell me you’re afraid of no one, It is unimportant to me and I consider your braggadocio as gratuitous. I know there will be problems in communication between you and I, but I do get the significance of your intentions.

    Take into consideration that you came to an English-American website, because you believe you can translate from the English to the Russian, and vice-versa. You end your bluster with the one true fact we both know. And, that is Russia is concerned for its own security. That doesn’t make smaller nations facing Russia into alarmists. They were all occupied by USSR, either through puppet governments or directly from Moscow. They do not want more of that. And, they are scared. If the situation was big Poland and a smaller Russia, then Moscow would be alarmed.

    USSR/Russia does not need their land, that is understood. However, “to control” the land was the usual imperialism of the USSR. Russia cannot duplicate USSR, I realize that, but it does want to be the big, aggressive, bear in its part of E.Europe-Asia. (or more)

    Try to understand that I have had no intention of trivializing Russia. I know the map, I know of the Mongols, the Tatars, Kazan,Ukraine, and how I will not discuss.

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