Monday, March 23, 2009

Poland Fears Betrayal by Obama

Posted Monday, March 23, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Alliances: The U.S. has expressed a willingness to barter away missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. Now the Polish foreign minister says he hopes his country doesn't regret trusting the United States.

The Brussels Forum is a privately organized high-level meeting of the most influential North American and European political, corporate and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges currently facing both sides of the Atlantic.

One of the pressing issues discussed at this year's conference was whether the U.S. is serious about bartering away plans for missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic in exchange for vague Russian promises of using its influence on Iran regarding its move toward developing nuclear warheads to put on its long-range missiles.

On Sunday, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski noted that Poland had taken "something of a political risk" in agreeing to the deployment of 10 ground-based interceptors on its territory. "When we started discussing this with the United States," he said, "the U.S. assured us they would persuade the Russians that it was purely defensive and it would be a noncontroversial decision."

Now we are wishing the Iranians, whose missiles our ground-based interceptors are designed to intercept, a Happy New Year and suggesting to the Russians that if they can do something about Iran's nuclear and missile programs, we would reconsider our missile defense plans and saw off the limb our Czech and Polish allies have climbed out on.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates did not ease our allies' fears when he said at a NATO meeting in Krakow, Poland, on Feb. 20, "I told the Russians a year ago that if there were no Iranian missile program, there would be no need for the missile sites."

This comment came not long after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to deploy SS-26 Iskander missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, situated between our NATO allies Poland and Lithuania, targeting the Polish site.

The Poles and the Czechs, who have known true freedom for only a short time after enduring both Nazi and Communist oppression, have experienced the consequences of diplomatic betrayal — first at Munich and later at Yalta.

They sense another betrayal coming in a deal with a belligerent Russian aggressor willing to wage war with the former Soviet state of Georgia, as well as threaten the Ukraine and use the Ukrainian pipeline to starve energy-dependent Europeans of natural gas.

"We hope we don't regret our trust in the United States," Sikorski said to an audience of senior world politicians and other leaders.

At the same event, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who is expected to be named the new U.S. undersecretary for arms control and international security, repeated the administration line that a missile system would not be deployed until it was "proven" to work. It is easier to give away an "unproven" system.

Missile defense has already proved to be eminently workable and successful. According to the Missile Defense Agency, since 2001 there have been 37 successful hit-to-kill intercepts out of 47 attempts, an astounding 80% success rate. We've even shot a decaying and dangerous spy satellite out of the sky.

Former Missile Defense Agency Chief Gen. Trey Obering III has said that after dozens of successful missile intercepts, "Our testing has shown not only can we hit a bullet with a bullet, we can hit a spot on a bullet with a bullet."

Unilaterally scrapping European missile defense could shatter the NATO alliance as we retreat to a Fortress America behind our own ground-based interceptors and Aegis-equipped missile defense destroyers and cruisers.

The basis of NATO's purpose and existence — collective security — would be shredded as we showed a willingness to sacrifice allies for diplomatic convenience. Either we all hang together or we all hang separately.

Our Polish and Czech friends have to wonder: Are we the next Georgia? Are we about to trade away the trust of our allies and our collective security for another empty promise of peace in our time?
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