Today's Reading Assignment: The "Hot Mic" Moment
Retired Army Colonel (turned syndicated columnist) Austin Bay, on that illuminating exchange earlier this week between President Obama and his outgoing Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev. Not realizing his microphone was already on, Obama reassured Medvedev that he would have "more flexibility" on missile defense "after his election."
Missile defense is [incoming Russian President Vladimir] Putin's favorite Cold War ember. In the last decade, the U.S. and NATO have built the diplomatic and technological framework to deploy an anti-missile defense designed to stop an Iranian missile volley. Turkey agreed to host a key radar site. The multilayered shield is actually rather robust, though Obama weakened it in September 2009 when he eliminated ground-based interceptors (GBI) deployment. GBIs have anti-ICBM capabilities but were no counter-force to Russian strategic missiles.
Still, Russia objected. Obama dumped the GBIs, despite howls from U.S. ally Poland.
Would Khomeinist Iran try to politically blackmail Europe with a nuclear-armed ballistic missile? Japan and South Korea decided missile defense was a sane response to North Korea's nuclear extortion racket. Exposing London and Paris to the nuclear whims of millenarian religious nuts is utterly stupid diplomacy. Countering NATO's shield thus puts Iran's ayatollahs in political debt to Russia. Putin's Moscow prefers sphere of influence to a sphere of shared security.
So, with that brief comment, Mr. Obama essentially sold our allies down the river, while enhancing Russia's geopolitical position. And Colonel Bay forgot the President's plans to share technical data on missile defense with our "partners" in Moscow. Russian scientists, engineers and defense planners must be doing cart-wheels over that one. With one brazen promise, Obama saved the Russians billions of rubles that would be devoted to R&D on counter-measures for missile re-entry vehicles, decoys and related systems.
Meanwhile, there has been nary a peep on this issue from the various GOP presidential contenders. It's a ready-made campaign issue, but we haven't heard much on this from Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. One reason is that the first three have no military experience; Dr. Paul served as an Air Force physician in the early 1960s, and he would probably argue that we invited this situation by "antagonizing" the Russians, Iranians and the rest of our adversaries. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama is already planning for his second term, and more "agreements" with our friends in Moscow.
Labels: missile defense; U.S.; NATO