Wednesday, November 05, 2008

About that Test...

While President-elect Obama basks in the glow of his electoral victory, our adversaries are apparently working on that "test" that Joe Biden talked about.

Just hours after Mr. Obama president-elect, Russia announced that it will base surface-to-surface missiles within range of our planned missile defense site in Poland.

According to Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, Moscow will deploy short-range SS-26 Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region to "neutralize" the planned missile defense system. He also stated that Russia plans to jam a radar located in the Czech Republic, used to detect in-bound missiles and guide the Polish-based interceptors.

With a range of at least 400 km, Iskander missiles based in Kaliningrad would be able to target the defensive site in Poland. The proposed deployment is the most serious challenge to U.S. plans to base missile defenses in eastern Europe. Washington has stated (repeatedly) that the defensive shield is designed to protect the continent from missiles launched from rogue states, such as Iran. Moscow rejects that argument, claiming that the system is actually aimed at Russia.

While Moscow has long opposed U.S. missile defenses in Europe, the timing of today's announcement is no accident. Mr. Medvedev and his political puppet master, Vladimir Putin, are quite aware of yesterday's election results in the United States. With the departure of George Bush, who championed the deployment, the Russians are mounting a challenge to his successor, who is opposed to "unproven" missile defense systems.

In some respects, the SS-26 movement to Kaliningrad is the first "shot across the bow" of the incoming administration. Moscow is waiting to see if Obama has "steel in his spine," and will stand up to a deliberate Russian provocation. So are our eastern European allies, who wonder if the new president will stand with them against the Russian bear.

On a related note, Iran is warning the U.S. "not to violate its airspace." Get ready for that 3 a.m phone call.


J.R. said...

Those SS-26 missiles absolutely threaten the Polish site... but why would Russia bother to knock out our interceptors? And why would the presence of Russian missiles be a "serious challenge" to our ability to stop incoming Iranian threats?

Pres. Bush and the Congress have only authorized a handful of interceptors (the number is not likely to grow under an Obama Presidency) whereas the Russians maintain a large force of SS-18 and SS-19 ICBMs (10 and 6 RVs each, respectively). A single regiment of either variety contains more targets than we have interceptors to shoot down. To the extent that Russia believes the interceptors are a threat to their nuclear deterrent, the Polish site is a legitimate military target. Of course they're going to target it!

If Russia strikes the interceptor base or jams the radar to clear the way for an Iranian launch into Europe, there'd be hell to pay -- Russia complicit in missile strikes on Europe?

No, this is Russian posturing for the cameras: they want to sell Iskander-E (the export version) to their thug buddies down in the desert, Medvedev wants to assure his constituents that they still have their nuclear deterrent (Russia's people are as proud of their nuclear force as we are of our movie industry), and they also want to see if they can get some concessions out of a twitchy US. We'll see if Pres. Bush (or Pres-elect Obama) thrashes around and dances for them or just blows them off.

I wouldn't sweat it, though.

Crufty said...

not to mention poland is used to missiles being aimed at them. namely, ours.

prudent move would be to ignore the rabble rousing publicly.

RPB said...

Agree with JR. This is simple posturing.

Why do we care about Iranian missiles threatening Europe? Simple MAD or in this case, IAD, policies should be sufficient to stop Iran from using nukes. Place a trip wire force in Iraq and we have workable policies. Iranian subversion through Iraqi insurgency should be countered with like actions. Nukes are inherently a defensive weapon. Their offense utility is less than zero.

If there is one place they can strike us with ambiguity it would be to sneak in a few bombs through our ports. And even in that case I believe we would still turn Iran into a sea of broken glass.

Iranians may be radical, but they are not suicidal. Their dreams of a Persian middle east predicate on their survival.

Hustla said...

Why keep bothering with Europe on defense, this gets back to pulling out of NATO and letting the Europeans stand up for themselves. It is trying to do so via the EU economically, make them do so defensively.

NATO should be replaced with an Anglospheric alliance either way, because other than with a few exceptions it's mainly the US, British, Canadians and Aussies doing all the fighting anyway.