In the few short weeks since inauguration day, President Obama has gone a long way to making the United States a more dangerous place. His first act as President was tying the hands of the people interrogating terrorists, and closing Gitmo Prison. He followed that with a “suck up” interview on Arab TV network that made the US seem weak. When he tried to implement his promised policy of making nice and “engaging” terrorists, Iran smacked his hand away.
President Obama’s next move in weakening the defense of the United States may be reversing a move by President Ronald Reagan, he is looking to negotiate away the Strategic Defense Initiative “Star Wars” program.
When President Reagan began the Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983, the only ones who took it seriously were the Soviets.
Their global ambitions depended on an America inhibited and even intimidated by the threat of nuclear war. They still do. Just ask Georgia.
When Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev met Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland, in October 1986, he hoped Reagan would be willing to trade SDI away in exchange for arms-control agreements and vague promises of making nice with America.
But America held all the cards and didn’t fold.
Reagan refused to negotiate SDI away. He opposed the proposed nuclear freeze and put Pershing missiles in Europe to counter the Soviet SS-20 threat. He put America’s security in the hands of American technology, not the goodwill of its enemies. That policy may soon be reversed.
William Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, spent two days in Moscow last week “to listen to the Russians and explore any new avenues that might be available,” department spokesman Gordon Duguid said.
Burns says the “United States is quite open to the possibility of new forms of cooperation” with Moscow on missile defense, Iran and “the whole range of security issues with Russia.”
Regarding Iran, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week: “If we are able to see a change in behavior on the part of the Iranians with respect to what we believe to be their pursuit of nuclear weapons, you know, then we will reconsider where we stand.”
Certainly Iran’s recent satellite launch is not evidence of change but rather evidence that we should deploy ground-based interceptors in Poland and tracking radar in the Czech Republic, pronto.
Iran’s satellite launch was its first, and a nation that can put a satellite in orbit is not far from being able to put a nuclear warhead anywhere on this planet.
Do we really need the permission or cooperation of the Russians to shoot it down? We may find out when Clinton meets her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva next month.
Obama’s waffling on the issue is legend. In a post-election phone call, Obama had called Polish President Lech Kaczynski. In a Polish press statement about the call, Kaczynski is reported to have been told by Obama “that the missile defense project would continue.”
The Obama transition team then almost immediately issued a rebuttal echoing his stated opposition to missile defense: “President-elect Obama made no commitment on it.”
His position is as it was throughout the campaign — that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable.”
No one, of course, wants to deploy an unworkable system. But 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 80% success rate.
Hoping to exploit his ambivalence, within hours of the election of Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that Moscow would deploy SS-26 Iskander missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad situated between our NATO allies Poland and Lithuania. Medvedev wants U.S. missile defense to go away, particularly in Europe.
Medvedev said in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro published last Thursday that “we are ready to abandon this decision to deploy the missiles in Kaliningrad if the new American administration, after analyzing the real usefulness of a system to respond to ‘rogue states,’ decides to abandon its anti-missile system.”
It was Reagan’s adherence to SDI that eventually doomed the Soviet Union in a race it could not win and helped end the Cold War.
He didn’t give it away, and neither should we. No foreign power should have a veto on whether or how we defend ourselves.