Friday, September 18, 2009

Good News/Not So Good News

Yesterday I noted that press reports predicted that President Obama would be shelving at least part of the Missile Defense System that had the Russians so upset. While I had hopes that the entire concept of installing the fantasy system in Eastern Europe to defend our allies from Iranian missiles would be shelved in its entirety, that wasn't exactly what Defense Secretary Gates and President Obama announced later in the day.

"Son of Star Wars" was to be scrapped, but a new system, one with more reality based technology will be phased in according to a time line issued by the White House. At least initially, the missile component will be aboard ships rather than in Poland, and will be in place seven years sooner than the project envisioned by George W. Bush. A radar display will be built in a European country to be named later. We're still going to be spending billions of dollars to defend against an Iranian nuclear missile program still in its relative infancy, but at least it's one that might work, were it actually needed.

Both Secretary Gates and President Obama made it clear that the US was still in the business of protecting NATO countries from attacks emanating from the East. The military industrial complex would continue to receive its annual infusion from the Treasury. That, however, didn't stop Republicans (and their perennial ally, Senator Joe-not-Avigdor Lieberman) from profound outrage at the idea. The NY Times noted this response from the GOP's House leader:

The decision drew immediate Republican criticism. “Scrapping the U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic does little more than empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our allies in Europe,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader. “It shows a willful determination to continue ignoring the threat posed by some of the most dangerous regimes in the world.”

Say, what? Defense Secretary Gates, a hold-over from the Bush administration, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff all agreed with the decision made by President Obama. Does Mr. Boehner know something they don't?

And how, exactly does this "empower" Russia? That country's leaders have been sitting back and watching the Bush administration piss away tens of billions of dollars on a weapons system that clearly was never going to work anyway. Further, the placement of the system at Russia's back door gave its leaders plenty of fuel to denounce the US as a dangerous aggressor, much the same way a US administration would should Russia decide to place missiles in, oh, say, Cuba. But facts have never deterred the Republicans, and they certainly didn't yesterday.

From a purely pragmatic point of view, President Obama did execute a rather nifty almost balletic move yesterday. While I'm no fan of the kind of military expenditure that the new system will require, I have to admit that the shift by President Obama makes some sense, something that Bush's Military Defense System never did.

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Anonymous larry, dfh said...

Yeah, it seemed too good to be true. For a day there I thought that Washington was finally realizing that the MIC is a 'luxury' we can't afford. Silly me.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

I hope this the right move in the right direction for our country.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous constant gina said...

once weapons of mass destruction...again..?

11:39 PM  

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