Honestly, have we ever seen this guy’s spine? One wag quoted on Fox News at the Pentagon asked, “What were the terms of the surrender?”
Russian leaders never liked the idea that the United States, Poland and the Czech Republic were cooperating on missile defense to confront an emerging Iranian threat. Kremlin leaders alleged that the system was meant to target Russia, not counter Iran, and they had threatened to scuttle unrelated arms control negotiations with the United States unless Washington backed down.
With the Obama administration’s announcement Thursday that it is indeed abandoning the Polish and Czech sites, Moscow’s complaining appears to have worked. Yet the administration’s capitulation to Russian pressure is a serious betrayal of loyal allies in Warsaw and Prague whose governments pursued politically unpopular positions at the request of the Bush administration to help confront a rising threat from Iran. (Announcing this policy change on Thursday, the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, added unnecessary insult to injury.)
Whatever the official explanation now for not moving forward, many — including the Kremlin — will read this shift as an effort to placate Moscow. Announcing the decision ahead of Obama’s meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev next week reinforces such thinking. The Obama administration has prioritized a follow-up to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and dropping the Polish and Czech sites removes a major obstacle to finalizing agreement.
Yes, Washington has an interest in an arms control deal with Moscow, but Russia’s need for such a deal is much greater: It cannot afford to maintain its aging nuclear weapons, nor could it compete with the United States in any new arms race. That should have provided Washington with significant negotiating leverage, but the Obama administration’s eagerness for an agreement before START expires Dec. 5 has essentially forfeited that leverage.
The people who will be left defenseless in Eastern Europe had an opinion about it, too:
Some of America’s staunchest allies are the East Europeans — and on Thursday, they expressed dismay at what many see as a slight after decades of their support for the U.S.
- Lech Walesa, the former Solidarity leader and Polish ex-president. “I can see what kind of policy the Obama administration is pursuing toward this part of Europe,” he said ruefully, adding: “The way we are being approached needs to change.”
- “Now we can talk about restoration of the strategic partnership between Russia and the United States,” said Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.
- Former Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose government signed treaties with the Bush administration and took a lot of heat from Czechs — went on Czech radio to vent his frustrations. “The Americans are not interested in this territory as they were before,” he said. “It’s bad news for the Czech Republic.”
- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called it “shortsighted and harmful to our long-term security interests. We must not turn our backs on two loyal allies in the war on terror,” he said.
- Aleksander Szczyglo, head of Poland’s National Security Office, characterized the change as a “defeat primarily of American long-distance thinking about the situation in this part of Europe.”
- “It’s quite unfair,” said Petr Boubin, 36, who owns a cafe in the Czech capital. “I think Obama is making too many concessions to Russia.”
Can we say “disgraceful” now? He has abandoned our allies who stuck their necks out for us. He has kowtowed and acquiesced to the Russians — just like he did to the King of Saudi Arabia — all in the name of “favor”. All for some attention. All for the glory.
President Narcissist strikes Again.