Editorials on the Missile
Shield: 'Time for Confrontation is Over'
can only hope that his strategic U-turn will bring about the intended positive
consequences. Otherwise, the situation Obama confronts in the U.S. as well as
the wider world will become so problematic that the Bush Mafia may regain the
upper hand in Washington."
“With the reversal of his
predecessor's policy of strength, U.S. President Obama has put on record a
cost-benefit analysis which says: The time of confrontation with Russia is
over; the U.S. draws no benefit from threats. Of course, Obama's abandonment
of the plan shows neither weakness nor rejection of the declared purpose of
preventing Iran's ascent as a nuclear power. On the contrary: Those who want to
have an influence on Iran’s nuclear plans must take national interests into
account - so Obama must refrain from alienating its close ally, Russia. Even
Obama's goal of a nuclear-free world cannot be achieved without disarmament. Up
to now the U.S. defense system has instead worked as a catalyst to the expansion
of the nuclear potential of Iran and North Korea.
In the Oval office recently, there
has sat a “Mr. President” capable of sympathizing with what others have to say.
Obama has understood the fears that the proposed missile shield has triggered
in Russia: Just another attempt by the U.S. to encircle its former opponents.
He has taken these concerns seriously. For now he's putting all of his cards on
diplomacy. Bush's old plan didn't grasp this concept.
"The relief is palpable
everywhere, in Berlin no less than Brussels, Moscow and Washington. The
announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama, to dispense with the missile
shield planned by his predecessor George W. Bush, provides new opportunities
for diplomacy. And Barack Obama's about-face provides yet another chance: to
enter into serious disarmament talks. The U.S. President has already announced
this vision in numerous speeches. Concrete talks can now follow. The nuclear
arsenal held by the superpowers is, based on recent estimates, capable of
laying waste to the planet at least 10 times over. To contain this madness,
even just a bit, would indeed be a historic act.
“Obama has gained new room to
negotiate. With regard to Iran, he has shown some good will. In addition, he
the U.S. president has effectively eased tense relations with Moscow. And to
top it off, Obama has even managed to make some headway domestically. So,
winners all around? Not quite. The governments in Warsaw and Prague, which
sought to impose deployment of the shield against fierce domestic opposition,
now feel duped by Obama. Their confidence in America's reliability hasn't
exactly been strengthened.
This could backfire if the U.S. announces in 2015 that it wants to install a
whole new missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russia is a partner of the
United States - one which the latter cannot shake off. By the end of the year,
if they want to avoid yet another arms race, both must agree to extend complex
talks on a new START
disarmament treaty. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has named his price,
which is: the surrender of the U.S. missile shield in question and a gradual
return to a minimum level of mutual trust. The [now scrapped] ABM Treaty contained precise
language calling for the abandonment of all missile defense systems. Iran can,
despite appearances, be considered a "minor league" issue in this
light. … The anti-missile surrender is not just a tactical move. … It signals a
sea change. Leaders in Moscow should not succumb to the illusion that it was
their own firm stance that resulted in this. But Europeans have reason to hope
that Washington's current understanding of its global responsibility will
"The missile shield
provoked not only verbal resistance, but military countermeasures. The
experience of the Cold War taught us that under such circumstances, arms races that
are difficult to stop gather momentum. Obama's restraint demonstrates his
commitment to put relations with Russia back on a rational footing. Moscow
would be well advised not to celebrate the change of course in the White House
as a triumph. After all, global security is still under threat - not only from
the nuclear ambitions of politically unpredictable regimes. The United States
and Russia should seek appropriate responses together.”
"From a diplomatic point
of view, Obama's move must be welcomed. He has opened the door for more relaxed
and normal relations with the Russians. Now we can only hope that his strategic
U-turn will bring about the intended positive consequences. Otherwise, the
situation Obama confronts in the U.S. as well as the wider world will become so
problematic that the Bush Mafia may regain the upper hand in Washington."
“As is obvious by the
disappointment shown in Prague and Warsaw to abandoning plans for the missile
shield, this was less about Iran and more about Russia: Poland and the Czech
Republic had sought the privileged protection of the U.S. against the old
hegemonic power. As if Russia was still a military threat in this day and age!
Eastern Europe, historically caught between the powers of Germany and Russia,
has always found it difficult to live in the here and now. Given the disastrous
past, this is understandable. But such shadows mustn't be allowed to disturb
rational dealings with one another.
“That Obama has buried a pet
project of his predecessor Bush - the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic
- is not only a wise decision. It is also fully in line with the interests of
the United States. One might be suspicious of the argument that the Iranian
threat is less that previously thought. But believe it or not, the abandonment
of this weapons system is primarily a signal to Moscow that Washington takes
Russian security interests seriously."