It was precisely in the interests of advancing that ambition that the Russians assiduously opposed the deployment of the Third Site. They absurdly claimed the ten interceptors in Poland would threaten the deterrent power of the many hundreds of nuclear warheads they could rain down on Europe. Vladimir Putin even threatened thermonuclear attacks on the Poles and Czechs if they did not abandon the NATO-agreed plan.
Despite efforts by the then-Bush administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his Foggy Bottom counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, to try to find some programmatic accommodation with the Russians, in the end President Bush stood firm. And fierce opposition in certain quarters domestically did not preclude the Polish and Czech governments from doing the same.
Today, however, President Obama pulled the plug on the Bush Third Site. Although he professed an abiding commitment to the security of Poland and the Czech Republic and pledged "a new missile defense architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America's allies," no one should be under any illusion: With his capitulation to Russia, Barack Obama has just affirmed what I call the Obama Doctrine: Undermining our friends, emboldening our enemies and diminishing our country.
The claim made by the President and Bob Gates, still serving as the Pentagon chief, that revisions in the U.S. intelligence assessments justifies cancelling the Third Site is preposterous. Even if it were true that Iran's longer-range missiles are coming along more slowly than had previously been anticipated (which seems unlikely, given the intelligence community's past, politicized and erroneous judgments about Iranian weapons programs), no one should assume that such missiles will not be deployed and threaten our allies and us in due course. The idea that we would eliminate now our capability to deal with them down the road is transparently a political decision, not a national security-minded one.
The true nature of that political decision is also clear: Team Obama believes that by cancelling missile defenses we absolutely will need in the future and leaving our allies in the lurch, the United States will secure assistance from the Russians in minimizing the Iranian threat. There is, sadly, no reason to believe that such help will be forthcoming.
To the contrary, all the evidence suggests otherwise: Vladimir Putin is enabling that Iranian threat, with nuclear technology, anti-aircraft defenses and political protection against any effective international sanctions on Tehran. Worse yet, he has now been rewarded for such behavior by an act of naked appeasement with respect to the Third Site.
These strategically tectonic shifts will have far-reaching, if not entirely predictable, consequences. The U.S. deployment of additional sea-based defenses and ultimately the placing more ashore somewhere may help mitigate some of the near-term missile threats Iran is now posing to our allies and forces in the Mideast. But it is a safe bet that they will not begin to offset the damage that the Obama administration has done to our own security and to our relations with key allies worldwide by resetting" relations with Russia in a manner that amounts to rank capitulation.
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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