Last March, during a visit to Moscow, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was made to look foolish when she presented her host, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, with a box festooned with a button marked "Reset" in English. The idea was to have a photo-op designed to symbolize President Obama's ambition to put U.S. relations with the Kremlin on a new, more positive footing after the bilateral strains of the George W. Bush years.
Unfortunately for the Secretary, her crack State Department team mistranslated the term and the word on the box in Russian meant "overcharge" not "reset." Based on the President's decision announced to scrap the planned deployment of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, however, we now know, that Team Obama's version of resetting would best be translated as "capitulation."
Mr. Obama came to office evincing the reflexive hostility of many partisan Democrats to the idea of anti-missile protection for the United States. This bizarre, not to say dangerous, attitude has its roots in the theology of the Cold War during which the Left embraced arms control in general and, above all, the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In practice, that accord precluded the United States from deploying any missile defense of its territory - a state of grace Democratic legislators and operatives were horrified to see President Bush abandon in December 2001 with the formal abrogation of the ABM Treaty and the subsequent installation of interceptors and radars at two sites, one in Alaska and the other in California.
In addition, to enhance the protection of American territory and to provide at least a modest defense of Europe against the growing threat of ballistic missile attack, Mr. Bush proposed a so-called "Third Site" in Eastern Europe. The Polish and Czech governments saw this collaborative effort as a means not only of contributing to their own security and that of their NATO allies (who voted twice unanimously for the Third Site) against Iranian missiles. These key post-Cold War allies also saw it as a tangible expression of the U.S. commitment to their security in the face of assiduous Russian efforts to reassert a sphere of influence that would turn the clock back, reestablishing in some form their unhappy status under the Kremlin's thumb.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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