Poland and Czech Republic Don’t Feel “Abandoned”
Via Steven Taylor, we note that neither Poland nor the Czech Republic feel “abandoned” by Obama’s decision to scrap missile defense replace an expensive, ineffective boondoggle “missile defense system” with a less expensive, mobile, effective land and sea-based SM-3 interceptor force. Here’s the Polish Prime Minister:
Tusk said that Obama’s “proposal of an alternative strategy should not affect the security of Poland” or of Europe.
“I would not describe what is going on today as a defeat for Poland,” Tusk told reporters, adding that he spoke to Obama on Thursday and the U.S. leader signaled to him that “Poland has a chance to win an exclusive position” in the new system.
And here’s the Czech President:
Czech President Vaclav Klaus also brushed off any concerns about the decision’s impact on relations with the United States.
“This decision of the American government did not come as a surprise to those who closely followed the signals over recent months,” Klaus said in Prague.
“I’m 100 percent convinced that this decision of the American government does not signal a cooling of relations between the United States and the Czech Republic.”
It’s also worth mentioning, as Dr. Taylor notes, that the Czech government never actually approved the Bush Administration’s plan in the first place. President Klaus signed the treaty, but it has yet to be approved by the Czech Parliament.
So here’s the thing: if the Czech Republic and Poland aren’t opposed to Obama’s decision, why on earth should we be? For my own part, I’d rather that American tax dollars weren’t spend to defend Europe from what are currently hypothetical threats–I fail to see why Europe can’t shoulder the financial burden to defend itself. That said, if we are going to expend tax dollars in this way, the prudent course of action is to spend those tax dollars wisely on military technology that actually works, not boondoggles whose only purpose is to enrich the pockets of defense contractors and make us feel “tough.”
UPDATE (James Joyner): I agree that 1) there are solid technical arguments to be made in favor of the new plan vice the old one and 2) there is a divide in Eastern Europe on the issue. I did a rather comprehensive roundup this morning on just this: “Obama’s Missile Defense Decision: The View From Europe.” Not only has public opinion there been divided — with the Czechs generally opposed and the Poles lukewarm — but both countries voted out the center-right governments which negotiated the original deal and voted in center-left governments that were less enthusiastic. I do, however, take the official government statements since the announcement with a grain of salt: The decision was a fait accompli.
I disagree, of course, that the purpose of the Bush program was to serve as a sop to the defense industry and think the “boondoggle” descriptor wrong. And I’m a BMD skeptic. We’re not talking about SDI, which may well be impossible to create, but rather theater defense, with which we’ve had much more success. And, of course, sending a man to the moon was impossible until we actually committed the resources to solving the problem.