Monday, September 28, 2009

Great “strategery”

Did anyone notice the cooperation between Russia and the U.S. during the UN meetings and G-20 summit last week?

This cooperation is due to President Obama scrapping the long-range missile defense system that was to be installed in Poland and the Czech Republic. Of course, the reaction from those on the far right was to immediately find Obama guilty of being “weak on defense”. These people refuse to admit that the long-range missile defense system does not really exist. The interceptor rockets don't work. After years of trials and billions of dollars of research, a prototype tested in Alaska still cannot tell real missiles from decoys. It cannot bring down missiles that change course in mid-flight. There is nothing developed that is capable of knocking out long-range ballistic missiles. The basic point is that the system was designed to intercept ballistic missiles in the stratosphere and low orbit. At this point it has never been successful beyond the drawing board.

Long-range missile defense had become an expensive fantasy.

The Czechs and the Poles at one time had hoped that the system would somehow protect them against Russian aggression. But polls now show that as many people were opposed to the missile defense plans as those who felt protected by it: In the Czech Republic, only 38 percent support the plan, and in Poland support slipped from 58 percent to 41 percent this year.

Obama abandoned long-range missile defense because it was a nearly trillion dollar boondoggle that owed more to make-believe than to on-the-ground realities. This missile defense program has caused nothing but problems for Washington, not only costing billions of dollars needed for more realistic defense programs, but it also has played a large part in Moscow's increased aggression toward its smaller neighbors just to show Washington who is boss in the region. More importantly, Russia would not use long-range missiles to hit countries that are just across the border; they would use short-range missiles. But what ultimately killed off long-range missile defense was the news that Iran has nothing like the kind of long-range, Soviet-style ballistic missiles that the system was supposed to stop.

Russia is not the problem. Iran is the problem.

Iran has nothing like the kind of long-range, Soviet-style ballistic missiles that the missile-defense system was supposed to stop. It's important to remember that plenty of short- and medium-range missiles exist in the Middle East (remember Patriots and Scuds?); no country in the Middle East actually possesses the kind of missiles that could reach the United States, or even Northern Europe.

It makes a world of sense that instead of continuing to spend billions more on a Star Wars system based out of Poland (a piece of technology that is still many years away from reality), Obama is going to fund smaller missile-defense systems designed to knock out rockets during the boost, or takeoff phase, when the rocket is much easier to hit. That's best done from somewhere much closer to the problem than Poland – from Kurdistan or Kuwait.

This is realistic national defense for right now – in this year. It will keep the U.S. and its allies much safer. So, why are the conservatives wailing about scrapping Star Wars? A missile-defense system is a great symbol of power, even when it doesn’t really exist. It is about crowing and beating the nation’s collective chest. (Remember the WMDs that Saddam was supposed to have? It made Saddam look too powerful – scaring everyone.)

Obama put relations with Russia on a firmer footing by his decision to revamp a missile-defense system. If it paid us extra dividends in helping to win Russian support for tougher sanctions against Iran, then the process of tossing out a theoretical weapon system that does not work that supposedly protected us from a threat that does not exist was the right move.

I believe Obama made this move because he knew what was going on in Iran. That is why he is surrounding Iran with missiles and, at the same time, using his gift of speech and great diplomacy to bring the nations of the world over to the United States' point of view. If this ever turns into a military strike, he will have most of the nations standing with us.

Chalk this up as great “strategery”. Way to go, Mr. President!

Note: For those who do not remember, "strategery" was one of President Bush's mangled words. He was trying to say "strategy".