The Poles and Czechs endured decades of Russian Soviet oppression. We should help empower them to defend themselves. Instead Obama's policy is a slap in the face < no matter how his administration spins it. To the Russians and the Iranians, against whose developing ballistic missile program the defenses offered protection, Obama's pusillanimous maneuver further demonstrates weakness.
Russian president Dmitri Medvedev applauded Obama's decision, just as a shrewd negotiator insincerely compliments the strength of an adversary he recognizes to be weak. The Kiev Post explained, "Russian diplomacy is largely a zero-sum game and relies on projecting hard power to force gains."
That is, Russia plays hardball and plays for keeps.
In his speech to the U.N., Obama tossed about platitudes: "the yearning for peace is universal" and "the most powerful weapon in our arsenal is the hope of human beings." But "yearning for peace" is not universal - certainly not among governing authorities in places like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea who routinely trample "the hope of human beings" in their own country and in others.
"Two great threats facing the survival of the modern liberal West," cautions Lee Harris in The Suicide of Reason, are "exaggerated confidence in the power of reason" and "profound underestimation of the forces of fanaticism."
Because most western nations haven't faced a direct threat to their placid existence in more than a generation, we too readily forget that the majority of the world's inhabitants live their entire lives governed not by reason and rule of law but by the law of the jungle and the iron fist of an oppressive government.
Reagan understood that regimes that threaten, attack and oppress peaceful neighbors are indeed "evil" and that they can be deterred only by strength and determination. Much of the world criticized him when he stood up to "the evil empire," when he walked away from arms deals that would have weakened us and strengthened our adversaries, and most notably when he exhorted Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."
Today we know that Reagan's critics cowered because they lacked his vision.
History is replete with leaders like Obama whose sincere desire for peace blinded them to devious designs of others. Seeking peace is laudable, but lasting peace is rarely attained by those who appear desperate for it.