Thursday, September 17, 2009

Obama Scraps Eastern European Missile Defense Shield

Obama has now scrapped the Eastern Europe Missile Defense Shield. It is not as if the need for such a system has gone away (Berman Post: Why we Need a Missile Shield). This is not a complete surprise. There was word that Obama wanted to drop the shield and as a face saving measure of sorts wanted a Russian pledge to help with Iran (Berman Post: Obama to Drop Missile Shield For Russian Help Stopping Iran?) which they rejected out of hand (Berman Post: Russia Will Not 'Haggle' Over Missile Defense and Iranian Nukes). Obama tried again more directly (Berman Post: Obama to Russia - 'Stop Iran From Going Nuclear And we Will Scrap Missile Shield') and not only did they not agree, but they deployed a shield of their own (Berman Post: Russia Deploys a Missile Defence Shield to North Korea Border?).

I have already opined on why the missile shield is important, but independent of the missile shield this is still a bad move. Not only does this scream weakness to the Russians, but it sends a horrible message to our allies; 'Hey Poland, thanks for siding with us over the Russians, but about all that help you were promised, well, it is not coming...'. You can insert any ex-Soviet Block country where Poland is in the last sentence. Not that Israel expects (nor should expect) much from the Obama administration (Berman Post: Obama Administration Attacks Israel Over 'Settlement' Construction and Berman Post: Only Four Percent of Israeli Jews Think Obama is Pro-Israel), but if this just further cuts against that. In a case of amazingly bad timing, Obama seems to be appeasing the Russians by throwing Poland to them on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland (

To be fair to Obama, he does not appear to be completely scrapping the missile shield concept. He will be shifting to the older water based system. Still, if I was in Poland I would feel like I was being thrown to the wolfs (or should I say bear), and if I was a leader of another country close to Russia I would think twice about who to side with.

"Reversing years of Bush administration policy, the White House announced that it has scrapped plans for an Eastern European component of the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) shield. Instead of placing radar and interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic, the Obama Administration will instead deploy anti-missile capable warships in southern Europe and/or Turkey.
The system that former-President Bush hoped to set up in Eastern Europe would mimic the anti-ICBM installations already completed in Alaska and California. Called the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GBMD), the system involves a kill vehicle that locates and slams into an incoming warhead. The GBMD program has been plagued with problems, including the inability of the kill vehicle to differentiate between active warheads and decoys, and it is estimated that the program could run as much as $1.5 billion over budget.

Instead of a Poland-based GBMD, the Obama administration will deploy ship-based SM-3 missiles. The SM-3 has a more proven track record of interception than the GBMD kill vehicle, is far cheaper, and is already complete. Additionally, the SM-3 is more versatile, and was even used last year to shoot down a satellite.

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