Friday, September 18, 2009

Feeling Safer?

The Obama Administration's announced yesterday that it is abandoning the missile-defense system in Europe. If you think this is just about defending or not defending Europe, you would be wrong:

It's often forgotten that the now-dead system, which would have placed interceptor missiles in Poland and a powerful X-band radar in the Czech Republic, was also intended to provide an additional layer of defense for the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. from long-range Iranian missiles. Iran already has numerous short- and medium-range missiles, courtesy of its close collaboration with its North Korean ally. It is working on developing a long-range capability, which Pyongyang already has.

The U.S. is protected from the North Korean threat by a series of ground-based interceptors based in Alaska and California. But New York and Washington are a long way from Alaska and California, and the "third site," as the European system was known, was designed in part to provide an additional layer of defense for the American East Coast.

The "smarter" missile-defense system that President Obama announced yesterday won't replace that capability. The mobile and sea-based system could help protect Berlin and Paris from short-range or medium-range missiles, but it won't protect New York from an ICBM. The administration's plan is a blow to the security architecture that protects the American homeland.

Mr. Obama's decision to kill the missile-defense system for Europe imperils the world because it adds to already mounting evidence that the U.S. president is weak and that the U.S. thereby can be intimidated into conforming to the will of less-benignly inspired actors on the international stage. It's a capitulation to pressure from Russia, pressure born of Moscow's openly stated objective to have its way in regard to all affairs of countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Mr. Obama's decision is a setback for U.S. interests. It will imperil Americans, diminish security in Europe and the Middle East, reduce justification for Japan and other countries to abstain from obtaining their own nuclear deterrents. It will also encourage Iran to proceed with its program, encourage Russia in its increasingly aggressive behavior in Europe, encourage European countries to accede to Russian demands and further solidify Israel's conclusion that it will have to deal with Iran on its own.