US Missile Defense: The End Game

US president Barrack Obama plans to give the “European speech of the year” next month in Prague. To the Czechs’ delight, this will surely herald a new era of transatlantic cooperation and strategic partnership. But aside from the much anticipated bluster and reassuring rhetoric to comfort the edgy small nation now hosting the rotating EU presidency, there is great concern in central Europe that the entire harebrained scheme may be scrapped. This would be a good thing.

However, the Czech and Poles fear such a move might leave them exposed to the Russians’ expansionist designs. Such thinking is perhaps delusional and paranoid. But when reviewing the region’s endless history of domination and repeated sinister betrayal (mostly by the West — Munich in 1938, Yalta in 1945), the central Europeans may have reasons to feel unease. But then this isn’t 1938, 1945, or even 1968. ‘New Europe,’ despite its recent tribulations, is firmly anchored and embedded within both the EU and the US-led NATO. The region’s fortunes are now tied, for better or worse, to those in Brussels; not in Moscow anymore.

Russia: The Key to Global Stability

For various reasons, which are becoming increasingly evident, and despite the diplomatic obfuscation deployed by Brussels and Washington, the West cannot afford to lose Russia.

Missile defense piled up, next to their border like some futurist ‘Maginot line risks alienating a key strategic partner. The West needs Russian help for a host of vital logistical, technical, and diplomatic reasons in dealing with so called rogue states. Those incubators and so called sponsors of ‘terrorism’ and drug trafficking, like Afghanistan, Iran and, to a lesser extent North Korea (for cooperation in nuclear weapons proliferation), without Russian pressure on them will only become more bold and unwieldy.

Obama’s new team knows this. They have made semi-successful attempts at resetting and recalibrating the bilateral relationship (such as this week’s aborted trade-off on Iran and the missiles); but Moscow doesn’t want to bargain when it has the upper hand.

Moreover, the doormat approach to Russia, under Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II, during the two decades since the implosion of the Soviet Union, has been the mainstay or leitmotif of the US approach to the former superpower, and has dismally backfired.

Russia, today, is the indispensable player, both in its backyard and beyond. The US missile defense plan (despite the benefits to General Dynamics, Raytheon and other US corporations on the Pentagon’s payroll) is just too high a price to pay for losing the Russians. Therefore, the West needs them on their side as never before since the end of the cold war.

Taking Notice of Russia

Russia’s comeback has taken the west by surprise. Throughout the 1990s, the cowed, beaten, and tamed bear which lost the cold war and the arms race to the other superpower, danced to the tune of free market ‘reforms’ while Western ‘democracies’ steadily encroached on its turf in the Baltic States, the Balkans (Serbia, Kosovo), central Asian republics, Afghanistan, and the Black Sea area (Georgia).

With the rise of a more self-assertive nation under what some call the ‘ruthless rule’ of Vladimir Putin, and funded by an energy bonanza or resource boom earlier in this decade, Russia has returned with a vengeance to the world stage. However, this is not to everyone’s liking.

Moscow proved its military savvy in Caucasia last August with its adroit and lightning counter-attack against Georgia’s bungled incursion into disputed territory. On a wider global scale, the Kremlin has strengthened ties with China by means of the ‘NATO of the east’ — the Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCC). And there is speculation that Iran might join eventually. Western pressure, such as threats of squeezing Tehran with further sanctions, may hasten such a possibility.

President Obama: Post Cold War Warrior or a Kissinger Realist Ready for Détente?

As for Osama’s speech next month in Prague, the much anticipated address will most likely disclose Washington’s real intentions regarding the missile defense scheme: that it was a dismally planned and misconceived Bush project aimed against Russia and was deliberately designed to further weaken the would-be rival. The new man in the White House will deal with Moscow differently, it is assumed — in a manner more attuned to Moscow’s legitimate security interests in the ‘New Europe” and in Eurasia.

Officially, and ostensibly, the plan seeks to install radar, and anti-missile interceptors, and even station US troops perhaps permanently in Poland and the Czech Republic to prevent attacks from states like Iran.

Russia is adamantly opposed to this unilateral move. It perceives it as an outright provocation, a hostile act, and inevitably a first step in restarting an arms race in the region, which could easily spiral out of control. Who can blame them?

But the veil of deception is becoming evermore transparent and fading fast. In Brussels, one of the US’s closest NATO allies and an old standing bulwark against Russia, Turkey, almost admitted that the ‘defense shield’ is meant to threaten Russia and not Iran, as is officially stated.

In an article which appeared in the Turkish English daily Today’s Zaman [“Turkish FM Babacan courts Russia, questions missile defense system”, March 6th, 2009], a newspaper closely affiliated with the governing AKP party, Turkey has questioned the wisdom of the defense deal in central Europe. Ankara believes “that it [the defense shield] appeared to be aimed at Russia and not Iran, as the United States insists.”

This position was clarified by the Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan who, at a NATO foreign ministers meeting this week, expressed doubts about Washington’s assertions that the Polish missile/Czech radar duo is supposed to ward off an Iranian attack. “First we have to make clear who this project is aimed at. Who is the threat in mind when this system is built?” the top Turkish diplomat questioned.

He went on to say: “”If the target was really Iran, we would not have had the problems we have today between Russia and the United States … It means there are other aspects to the matter.” And those aspects he seems to be inferring are Russia’s outspoken objections to this plan, which could heighten tensions not only in central Europe but also in the Black Sea area. The minister’s remarks were meant, perhaps, to warn Washington not to proceed with the scheme. He added in a somewhat worrisome tone: “Whenever there is tension in ties with Russia, both sides of the tension lose. We believe threatening or being threatened should not be an element of relations. Every country may have security concerns, but they all must be resolved through discussion,” Babacan asserted.

Iran or Russia the Bad Guy?

Iran is supposed to be perceived as the antagonist here, and is cast as the bad guy. Yet it is Russia, as Turkish diplomacy clearly sees, that is being targeted by the missile scheme and not Iran. Furthermore, the fact is this whole plan has been initiated by the US and is, seemingly, part of an overall recontainment strategy against its erstwhile cold war rival. The counter spin coming out of Washington seeks to allay such ‘unfounded’ and ‘exaggerated’ fears. American officials argue (until they run out of oxygen, it seems) that the military inhalations are meant to dissuade an attack from states like Iran. This is flummery. Beyond the Iranian bogeyman smokescreen lies the ‘real deal’ and goal of the US and NATO backed plan — to further subjugate the former superpower which today is referred to as ‘re-emerging Russia’ while providing a big fillip to the American arms industry.

Yet not everybody is buying, it seems. As the Turkish foreign minister rightly puts it, “Policies that make Russia feel besieged are wrong.” Indeed they are mistaken, and so are the recklessly-conceived plans known as the Missile Defense Shield.

Michael Werbowski is a graduate of post communist studies from the University of Leeds, UK. Read other articles by Michael.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Kenny said on March 10th, 2009 at 12:01pm #

    I don’t think that the missiles are any more directed against Russia than against Iran. They are directed against Western Europe. The latter is a vital lynchpin in the defence of Israel (which is the only aim US foreign policy pursues!). For obvious geographical reasons, providing military backup for Israel is much more difficult if Western Europe cannot be used as a staging post. It must therefore be kept subjugated and NATO must be propped up. Since Europe had no choice but to kowtow during the cold war, why not just re-create the cold war? Like so many of the neocons’ “smartass” plans, this one also blew up in their faces. It scared the daylights out of war-sick Europe, drew it closer to Russia and made it see that NATO was being hijacked. The scheme is actually counter-productive. That, more than cost or unworkable technology, is what is making Obama pull back.

    Be careful of saying that “Czechs” or “Poles” feared Russia. Polls (sic!) show a large majority in both countries has always been opposed to this scheme. Some of the old guard politicians may have feared Russia, but not the population. A good part of that is that Russians have been circulating in the rest of Europe for the last 15 years and we all know that the Russian people have no intention of going to war with anyone. One assumes that Medvedev knows that as well. The Russians didn’t show “military savvy” in Georgia. They merely showed that the Georgian military are even more incompetent than they are. The savvy, and the victory, was political. Nobody now believes that the US will defend a European country against anyone.

    I therefore wouldn’t count on NATO lasting that long!

  2. bozh said on March 10th, 2009 at 1:26pm #

    it does seem to me that russia does not want to expand by warfare.
    however, siberia looks mighty good [cuz warming] to accomodate settlers from americas.

    once- and if- US annexes [or s'mhow controls] russia, the plan is to expell all blacks and latinos from n. america and settle them in the empty land.

    we know that whites wld like get to rid of the two ‘inferior’ races. and since US/Europe/Israel don’t want pal’ns, they might wind up in birobidjan.

    russia can complain all it wants and take military counter measures, if uncle sam wants missiles pointed at russia or which wld swivel around pointing even at US from time to time, then, ucle does it.
    that’s all folks! tx

  3. Shabnam said on March 10th, 2009 at 2:04pm #

    This paper has written to serve both the interest of Israel and Russia against Iranian and the US interest, to promote Israelis’ position where has been forced upon their servant, Obama, by the zionist lobby in Washington. The zionists knew Brzezinski’s policy, as an advisor to Obama before the election, advocated containment of Russia working with Iran and other states in the region to pursue the interest of the United States. The missiles are not going to be directed toward Iran, because Iran is not a threat, rather Russia. Russia and Israel work very closely and sometime secretly together against the US interest. This paper is advocating the interest of Israel and Russia. Both Israel and Russia want a weak Iran which is AGAINST THE INTEREST OF THE UNTIED STATES. Russia like the US and Israel is an expansionist force. This point can be proven by reviewing the history of Russia for the past few centuries. On the other hand, Iran has not attack any country for the last 200 years. Iran has suffered greatly at the hand of Russian, extremely brutal and arrogant. Russia has gone after her own interest since the demise of the Soviet Union and wants to avoid any clash with the United States and hasrepeatedly expressed that is willing TO WORK ON AN EQUAL FOOTING WITH THE UNITED STATES TO RULE THE WORLD. Russia has greatly benefitted from the zionist policy in Washington and has cooperated with Israel especially on Iranian Policy, and as a result Busher reactor where should have been finished more than 10 years ago still is not finished and Russia use this as a bargaining chip to gain more concession from the US using the power of zionist lobby in Washington and delivering cookies to Israel and sabotaging Iranian enrichment program which is legal under NPT.

    Obama like Clinton wants to fool the ‘international community’ that he is interested in ‘diplomacy’ but Iran does not respond accordingly. This policy has been written in Israel and given to their fifth columnists to implement according to Israel’s interest. Israel is pushing for tougher sanction against Iranian children and workers like in Iraq.
    Israelis have told Obama that Israel has no patience for open ended negotiation; therefore, Israel has encircled Obama with all her trusted Zionist agents including Holbrook, Clinton and Dennis Ross. Dennis Ross who knows SHIT about Iranian history and politics has been selected by the lobby to advice Obama on Iran, to carry out ‘negotiation’ with Iran, of course, Palestinian style. He knows his game very well. He will use the word ‘diplomacy’ anytime he moves, but using tricks demands certain policies from Iran that no Iranian leader can accept.
    The servant of zionism, Hillary, has already trumpeted, the Israeli‘s line:
    “Hillary expressed doubt that Iran would respond to the Obama administration’s diplomatic initiatives toward Tehran on nuclear and other issues.”

    Obama has shown he can be brought under submission faster than other presidents and after 6 weeks in office he responded to suggestion of a former Mossad agent possitively.
    Shabtai Shavit, former chief of the Mossad intelligence agency warned Obama:
    “I don’t believe there is a political solution which can be achieved through negotiations with Iran,” and thus, he suggests changing the world’s geostrategic situation first in MOSCOW and only afterwards proceeding with Tehran.”
    And soon enough Obama did EXACTLY what he had been told to announce his policy to isolate Iran further on Israelis’ demand:
    “President Barack Obama is telling Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev that U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe might be unnecessary if Moscow helped block Iran’s progress toward building long-range missiles, senior administration officials said Tuesday.”

    People who are following the situation know that a weak Iran is not in the interest of anyone EXCEPT Israel and Russia. Furthermore, people know that Israel has secret relations with Russia for her interest in case US does not place Israel’s interest ahead of US interest, helping her expansionist and extermination policy toward Palestinian and Arabs.
    We do not need another hegemonic power to be added to the present one to rule the world. This is a policy that Israel is advocating and the puppets in Washington are implementing. American people must wake up and smell the danger and destroy Zionism before it destroys us all. The recommendation of this paper strengthen the zionist lobby and beneficial to Israel. Furthermore, Iran is not a terrorist state, US and Israel are.

  4. Peter said on March 10th, 2009 at 6:54pm #

    A majority of Czechs oppose the missile defense system and a great many Poles do also. Although the missile defense system could have as much an impact on neighboring Germany, Austria and all of Europe, the USA did not consider the rest of Europe’s opinion on the system at all. Former German Chancellor Schroder is emphatically against the system as are many other Germans although most German politicians have not voiced an opinion (perhaps for political reasons).

    The USA claims the system is aimed at Iran to prevent an Iranian missile fitted with a nuclear bomb from hitting Europe. The problems with this claim is Iran does not have a nuclear bomb, it claims it does not want to develop a nuclear bomb and it does not have a missile that reaches Europe. Iran is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and under that treaty everything it is doing is perfectly legal. It claims its nuclear technology is being developed for commercial purposes.

    The missile defense system could be used against Russia and that is why Russia said if the USA went ahead with its system, Russia would place missiles in the Russian region called Kaliningrad on the Polish border. If Russia did this, these missiles would be a threat to all of Europe.

    Very few people in Europe want the missile defense system, but the USA never asked any country in Europe their opinion on the system (besides the Czech Republic and Poland). This despite the fact that the current president of Poland, Lech Kaczyński stated the missiles stationed in Poland could be used against its NATO ally Germany if need be. That is correct, the President of Poland said the missiles stationed in Poland could be used against Germany. He is a nut and that opinion is shared by most Europeans and many Poles also.

    The Germans said nothing. That is the state of affairs in Europe today. Germany is the biggest contributor to the EU budget, which helps the struggling nations such as Poland and other eastern European countries to improve their standard of living, but the Polish President makes veiled threats against Germany.

    The USA does not consider other nations in Europe when making decisions. This despite the fact that the missiles in Poland, the radar system in the Czech Republic and the missiles the Russians said they would put in Kaliningrad are all former German and Austrian territories. The missiles in Poland would be located on Poland’s Baltic Sea coast (former German territory taken from Germany after WW I) and the radar system to be located in the Czech Republic was former Austrian territory taken from Austria after WW I to create the new country of Czechoslovakia. WW II was a direct result of the seizure of these territories with big German populations living on those areas.

    Kaliningrad was known as East Prussia for almost 800 years and its population was 100% German until the Soviet Union brutally drove out the German population in 1945-1947. The population is 100% Russian today.

    So the two locations of the American missile defense system (todays Poland and Czech Republic) and the Russian retaliatory missiles (Kaliningrad, Russia) were all former German and Austrian territories, but these countries have no say in whether these system’s should be developed or not. This despite the additional fact that the Polish President threatened the use of the missiles against Germany.

    This is the state of affairs in the world and Europe today. Incidentally, I visited Kaliningrad, Russia for the first time in July 2008 to see the city and home where many of my relatives once lived.

  5. Beauty_wild said on March 28th, 2009 at 10:10am #

    I would like to see the inscription “to be continied”:-D