Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 7, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

TRUST BUT VERIFY....What's up with those anti-missile bases President Bush wants to put in Poland and the Czech Republic? Supposedly they're to protect Europe from Iranian attack, but I imagine that even most Americans don't take that explanation seriously. On the other hand, the bases also don't really represent much of a threat to Russia, so why is Vladimir Putin so upset about them? In the Prospect today, Robert Farley says it's basically big-power politics combined with a fear of what the bases might become in the future:

[It's] possible that the Russians are genuinely concerned about the ABM bases in Eastern Europe, not so much for what they're capable of now than for what they might mean in twenty years. Given enough time and money, the United States can probably make a missile defense system work. In the 1980s, the Soviets were quite concerned about the Star Wars system despite its lack of technical success, and many of the people in the Kremlin then remain important now. The U.S. contention that the shield isn't aimed at Russia is only halfway believable, given that the interceptors presumably won't be programmed to avoid incoming Russian ballistic missiles.

The bases in Eastern Europe also represent a focus of U.S. military activity close to Russia's borders; successful resistance to Russian intimidation on the part of Poland and the Czech Republic could further convince Russia's closest neighbors to seek U.S. military protection and NATO membership. Since it's extremely unlikely that Poland or the Czech Republic take the Iranian threat very seriously, their thinking on this issue probably mirrors the Russians'; that the ABM sites represent a U.S. commitment to protect Eastern Europe both militarily and politically from Russia.

I think this sounds right. Just to pick an example out of the air (no, really!), suppose that Russia decided to build some crude ABM bases in, say, Mexico and Nicaragua, supposedly to protect Latin America from Chinese attack. How would we react? Most likely, we'd come to the same conclusion Ronald Reagan did about Grenada's construction of a 10,000 foot airstrip in 1983: "The Soviet-Cuban militarization of Grenada," he said, "can only be seen as power projection into the region."

So: we want to project power into Eastern Europe and Russia is pushing back. As for the Poles and the Czechs, they have a lot more reason to be afraid of the Russians than to be afraid of us. It's hardly surprising that they're on board with this.

UPDATE: The latest news is that Putin has told Bush he'll accept the missile defense system if it's moved near the Iranian border and built in partnership with Russia:

Russian President Vladimir Putin told President Bush Thursday that he would drop his objections to a U.S. missile defense system if Washington substantially altered current plans to base it entirely in Europe and instead involved Russia through a Soviet-era radar system in the central Asian nation of Azerbaijan.

....Putin said he spoke yesterday with the president of Azerbaijan, who agreed to host elements of a missile defense system there to protect all of Europe. If this is accepted, he said, he would have no need to carry out his threat to retarget Russian missiles or place offensive units along the country's European borders.

Putin's proposal will be "studied by U.S. experts," according to the Washington Post. Bush called it an "interesting suggestion." Sounds pretty unlikely to me. Stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 1:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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Comments

The AP reports that Putin told Bush in Germany that he would drop objections to missile defense... if the bases are located in Azerbaijan.

Your move, Shrub.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 7, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Given enough time and money, the United States can probably make a missile defense system work."

I'd say that depends on your definition of "enough". Given money that we can afford to spend and time frames that are relevant, the United States almost certainly can't make a missile defense system work.

Posted by: Ben V-L on June 7, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Cuban missile crisis anyone?

Posted by: smiley on June 7, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Given enough time and money, the United States can probably make a missile defense system work."

That statement qualifies one for a handicap sticker. No the US cannot make a missile defense shield for the same reason you can't make vests that protect against all kinds of bullets: weapons technology outpaces defense technology. The reason for this comes down to very basic physics- weapons try to increase disorder (entropy) while defense try to prevent that. Since the natural order of the universe is to increase disorder anyway weapons always have the edge. And they always will. The missile defense program has never worked worth a damn and even if it worked to specifications the Russians ALREADY have working missiles that would defeat it (the SS-27 TOPOL-M).

For more info-
http://tlaloc.gnn.tv/blogs/3033/Faith_Based_Defense

The only use for a missile shield is to facilitate a first strike by reducing the enemy respose. It is of no use against an enemy first strike because they will simply choose one of the myriad ways to defeat it (for example, using submarine launched missiles).

Do we really want the US government to be in the position to (mistakenly) think it can launch a nuclear attack on anyone and escape retaliation?

Posted by: Tlaloc on June 7, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Power projection indeed. This is all about oil and natural gas. Just a few years back, Russia was seen as something of a backwater has-been with a basket case economy. No longer. They now have the power to shut Europe down with the turn of a spigot.

In the Brave New Peak Oil World, every political/military move is a scrambling for position as the major powers eye the remaining, dwindling oil/gas reserves on the planet. As Method-to-His-Madness Cheney famously noted in 1999, the last 2/3 of the world's oil is to be found in the Middle East. Ergo Iraq.

The next few decades will be the most dangerous in world history as the US, Russia, China, India, and Europe jockey for control of the last of the oil. Nuclear war? An all too real possibility.

Posted by: geo on June 7, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is a distraction like Paris Hilton Freed, Rosie and the View, Hillary/Barack, global warming, all distractions. While the mainstream media creates illusions, der fuhrer steps on our throats by opening our mail, arresting reporters for asking about 9/11 (Lepacek) and convicting reporters for exposing 9/11 (Chris Bollyn), suspending habeas corpus, stealing private lands, banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon, rigging elections, conducting warrantless wiretaps and starting wars for a foriegn gov't. Soon, the sinking of an Aircraft Carrier(by Mossad) will occur and the US will 'retaliate' against Iran. Which AIPAC-lobbying country benefit's from that?
Final link (until the Stark County Library bends to pressure and drops the title):
America Deceived (book)

Posted by: Carl H on June 7, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I can get behind Farley's reasoning. There's also this: In the calculus of MAD, ABMs aren't purely defensive. They upset the balance by giving their owners an improved first strike capability.

Posted by: Model 62 on June 7, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Combine this all with the fact that the GOP candidates (except Paul) have been broadcasting to the world that they'd support preemptive war with "tactical" nukes, and you could see why an expanded missile defense system would make some people nervous.

Posted by: Dover Bitch on June 7, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe Putin and Bush simply cooked this little tirade up to take the spotlight off matters neither of them like having on the front pages of major news outlets

Bush is perfectly willing to suck up to any tyrant who will further his personal and partisan agendas.

Like father, like son.

Posted by: anonymous on June 7, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Condi just wants to do some work in an area she actually knows something about -- anti "Soviet" machinations.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 7, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever the tech wizards on this board think, obviously the Russians think missile defense will work.

Posted by: rnc on June 7, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Cuban missile crisis anyone? Posted by: smiley

Exactly. Back to the future.

Posted by: JeffII on June 7, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

obviously the Russians think missile defense will work.

They certainly aren't clever enough to encourage us to spend ourselves into a hole we can't get out of on this pipedream.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 7, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

rnc: Whatever the tech wizards on this board think, obviously the Russians think missile defense will work.

Assumes facts not in evidence, namely that the Russians actually think that the missle defense will work.

Posted by: anonymous on June 7, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Democracy has not served the Poles nor the Czechs very well if they allow themselves to trade one master for another.

Posted by: Brojo on June 7, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why are WE building a system to protect Europe? Don't they have enough Euro's over there to build their own damn system? Projecting power, indeed.

Posted by: none on June 7, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

This does explain where Tbroz has gone.

Posted by: R.L. on June 7, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Democracy has not served the Poles nor the Czechs very well if they allow themselves to trade one master for another. Posted by: Brojo

Not only that, unless they fear a nuclear strike, Poland and the Czech Republic are militarily different nations than they were in 1939 and have stronger economies overall compared to Russia. Take away Russia's oil and gas exports, and what does that leave them?

Posted by: JeffII on June 7, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that George W. Bush, being the fine Christian man that he is, remembers Christ's admonition that "he who takes up the sword, will perish by the sword".

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 7, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

They certainly aren't clever enough to encourage us to spend ourselves into a hole we can't get out of on this pipedream. Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.)

Oh, I don't know. It worked on Reagan with "Star Wars." May the farce be with you!

Posted by: JeffII on June 7, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Anything is possible but not everything is probable. Control of oil is to assure low everyday prices and ample supplies for economic growth. What kind of place do you think the US would be if it had a fighting war with India or China? Wal-Mart would be empty and the US doesn’t have the factories to compensate. If the US had a fighting war with Russia what would happen to the economies of Europe and China and therefore the US economy? The one blessing of global trade integration is that war between great states is utterly self-destructive.

Do the authoritarians in the White House really think the Russians will invade Poland or is this just an expensive way to give them the finger? It is probably a bit of both. This smells like a manifestation of the paranoid 1% doctrine where mere possibility requires elaborate security.

The mindset of these people is enveloped in fear. When Bush was going to stay at Buckingham Palace a few years ago his security staff wanted to reinforce the windows and walls just in case of a terrorist attack. The Queen, who lived there during the Blitz, apparently said such an alteration would damage the fixtures. While Bush’s gang didn’t get to brutalize the Palace they did tear up the gardens for Mr. Bush’s helicopters. They are thugs and they are stupid.

Posted by: bellumregio on June 7, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Its just a stupid game, these idiots! With our tax dollars!

Posted by: troglodyte on June 7, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Putin shows he's got more smarts and mojo in working the PR angles on this issue.

Bush has to either put up or shut up as to the actual targets of this system AND as to whether he really wants to be a multilateralist in the GWOT.

Plus, if Shrub WOULD bite on this, building it in Azerbaijan lets Ras-Putin outflank Chechnya, Georgia, et al on the southern flank and expand Russian hegemony.

Thank doorknobs Ras-Putin is not OUR president; he would run fricking circles around both parties in Congress.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on June 7, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bush: can you believe they bought into that phony sabre-rattling BS?
Putin: yeah, that act is so old, and they fall for it every time.
Bush: suckers.
Putin: - - so, this Paris Hilton, I hear she's out of jail already?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 7, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, while Bush was looking into Putin's eyes and finding a "good man", Putin was looking into Bush's eyes and finding a total moron.

It's a battle of wits and Bush is unarmed.

Putin has very shrewdly asked the Europeans if they're willing to endorse the provocative bases, and trust to the protection the bases will provide to shelter them from Russian anger.

Not a hard question to answer, considering that all informed people know Star Wars doesn't work.

Posted by: serial catowner on June 7, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

They certainly aren't clever enough to encourage us to spend ourselves into a hole we can't get out of on this pipedream.

As I remember it, the Soviets were the ones who spent themselves into the hole.

Posted by: rnc on June 7, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad to see that Putin called Bush's bluff. It seems as if the Europeans in general played their cards well this time.

It'll be interesting to see what excuse Bush comes up with to decline Putin's offer of mutual assistance against the fake threat of Iran.

Posted by: Disputo on June 7, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

As I remember it, the Soviets were the ones who spent themselves into the hole.

Naturally. In honor of Reagan, all wingnuts suffer from Alzheimer's when it comes to the debt that the great B-actor wracked up.

Posted by: Disputo on June 7, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Democracy has not served the Poles nor the Czechs very well if they allow themselves to trade one master for another.

Which is why I refuse to get married again.

Posted by: Disputo on June 7, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile and so far bush-cheney have achieved their goal for the G8+ meeting of totally side-stepping climate change or any policy in that direction.

Mmmm. Maybe these guys aren't as stupid as they seem.

Posted by: notthere on June 7, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

We can't make missile defense "work" - it's too easy to subvert. The "decoy problem" for example. Investing trillions to try is a ridiculous gamble.

Posted by: Crab Nebula on June 7, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget that "missile defense" defends against missiles with ... missiles.

It's not too hard to imagine if your adversary builds a missile base near your border that they one day might populate it with, let's say, "less friendly" missiles, capable of hitting things other than other missiles...

Posted by: Eric on June 7, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

As I remember it, the Soviets were the ones who spent themselves into the hole. Posted by: rnc

So that's what caused the U.S. recession 1989-91! We had a budget deficit gap!

Posted by: JeffII on June 7, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK
Whatever the tech wizards on this board think, obviously the Russians think missile defense will work.

It is enough to be a threat if either the US government or the government of the nations it is cited in thinks it works, whether or not it actually does work.

In fact, actually working is largely, though not entirely, irrelevant to the threat posed, since it isn't an offensive system.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 7, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, actually working is largely, though not entirely, irrelevant to the threat posed, since it isn't an offensive system. Posted by: cmdicely

As someone pointed out above, and I paraphrase, all weapons systems are potentially offensive.

Regardless, it's a waste of money as the Sovie, er, I mean Russia is no longer a threat to the nations of Eastern Europe. They got their asses kicked in Afghanistan and had to destroy Grozny to save it. And somehow a Russian threat to nuke Warsaw just doesn't carry much weight in today's world.

Posted by: JeffII on June 7, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

I mean Russia is no longer a threat to the nations of Eastern Europe.

Tell that to the Ukraine. Russia may no longer be a direct conventional military threat to EE, but they still have plenty of power to cause mischief.

Posted by: Disputo on June 7, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

none: Why are WE building a system to protect Europe?

Because Bush needs to bribe more European countries to "win their hearts and minds," just like he had to bribe most of the "Coalition of the Willing" (what a yuk-fest that was!) and he hasn't created enough national debt to show he can out-Reagan the Ronald.

Posted by: anonymous on June 7, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Tell that to the Ukraine. Russia may no longer be a direct conventional military threat to EE, but they still have plenty of power to cause mischief.Posted by: Disputo

Ukraine had been part of the Russian/Soviet empire off and on for about 300 years, and nearly a 1/4 of the population today is ethnic Russian. Not so for Poland or the Czech Republic.

Posted by: JeffII on June 7, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

I'm always intrigued by suggestions that Iran will attack Europe with missiles.

Like during the Cold War when Russia attacked the United States with missiles.

Or not.

Posted by: quizkid on June 7, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

So you acknowledge that your statement, "I mean Russia is no longer a threat to the nations of Eastern Europe," is incorrect?

Posted by: Disputo on June 7, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Like during the Cold War when Russia attacked the United States with missiles.

It's more like during the Cold War when Brazil attacked the US with missiles.

The whole idea of Iran attacking Europe is quite ridiculous.

Posted by: Disputo on June 7, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

NATO officials say they have caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces, in what the officials say is a dramatic escalation of Iran's proxy war against the United States and Great Britain.

Too, too funny for words.

It's Iran's proxy war against the US and Great Britain according to NATO, even though we all know that the belligerancy between the countries is the result of the Western, primarily neocon, proxy war against Iran (and Islam in general), of which the war in Iraq is only a part.

Funny how it's okay for the US to ship arms to insurgents in Central American and Caribbean countries or mine sovereign waters under whatever version of the Monroe Doctrine we've adopted these days, but if a Middle Eastern country defends their own region against foreign incursions and occupation it is immoral and indefensible.

What a hoot the wingers are!

Like today, describing the entry of 10 helicopters and 150 Turkish troops into Iraqi territory is not an "invasion" according to the wingers, although you'd be hard pressed to find any winger who wouldn't call 10 Cuban helicopters and 150 Cuban troops on Florida's beaches anything but an invasion.

Posted by: anonymous on June 7, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

So you acknowledge that your statement, "I mean Russia is no longer a threat to the nations of Eastern Europe," is incorrect? Posted by: Disputo

No. I was merely pointing out that Ukraine's relationship with Russia is more problematic than Poland's or the Czech Republic. That being said, the Russians are no more likely to roll tanks across the border of Ukraine than they are the Finnish border. As I wrote above, it's not 1939.

Posted by: JeffII on June 7, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, let's not forget how well that Reagan idea of putting MX missiles on railroad cars and moving them around the country worked!

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on June 7, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's all distraction and showmanship:

Bush looks like a bad-ass to his constituents-pushing back against Putin.

Bush gets to be the democracy promoter.

Bush pushes climate change out of the headlines.

Bush gets to exagerate the danger of Iran once again.

Let's see how much cooperative agreement comes from this. Will they seriously share any of the supposed technolgy to do this. I doubt it.

Posted by: Neal on June 7, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

But, it does not compute - There is no way Putin could be smarter than Shrub - Why, he didn't have Granpa Prescott; no Walker money, no Daddy Warbucks, no schooling at Andover-Gorski, or no one to buy his way into and out of Yaleski and Harvardski, and various business-skis and TANGskis.

There is simply no way he could have accomplished this on his own. Shrub the Soul-Searcher has triumphed once again.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on June 7, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

the US to ship arms to insurgents...

The US also arms insurgents inside Iran. Radical Sunni Moslem insurgents, like the ones who perpetrated 9/11.

Posted by: Brojo on June 7, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

A new approach by American-led forces in Iraq is producing "breathtaking" improvements in security in some areas, says Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in the country, but al Qaeda in Iraq remains well-entrenched in some Baghdad neighborhoods.

Bush's yes-man in Baghdad starts spinning the small lies to pave the way for the big lies in September.

Apparently to him skyrocketing US casualties equals "breathtaking" improvements.

Very similar to Cheney's repeated claims over the last three years that periodic increases in violence were signs each time that the war was nearly over.

Posted by: anonymous on June 7, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

That being said, the Russians are no more likely to roll tanks across the border of Ukraine than they are the Finnish border. As I wrote above, it's not 1939.

Right. It's 2007, and war is being conducted on the cyber and economic levels instead. Ask Estonia. Russia is still a threat.

Posted by: Disputo on June 7, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus: I put my finger in a hole in the dike and water stopped pouring through it! (But please don't look at the other five holes that sprang up in its place or the hundred other ones I didn't have fingers for. Look! It's the Clenis!)

Posted by: anonymous on June 7, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Whether Russia is really a threat or not, many eastern European nations still believe it to be, and/or fear it might become one again in the future.

Having a whopping great American base on your territory is great insurance against that, because it means that attacking you is attacking America.

Kevin has it right. The desire for American bases on their territory is why the Poles and Czechs want this system.

Posted by: Robert Merkel on June 7, 2007 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

The one blessing of global trade integration is that war between great states is utterly self-destructive.

This is what they were saying in 1914.

Posted by: Boronx on June 7, 2007 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see why this an question at all. It's clear that the present missile defence project, and any similar future project, is an almost purely offensive weapon.

No small nuclear power would dare deliver a warhead by missile, it's suicide as the source would be obvious. Delivery by shipping container, small boat, commercial ship launched cruise missile (or safer still, hidden inside a shipment of heroin), would be far better methods.

Every nuclear state ideally wants to be able to launch a first strike that, in a dire crisis, pre-emptively eliminates the other side's (China or Russia's) military and nuclear arsenal.

To do that you need highly accurate sub-launched missiles (recent upgrade), stealth cruise missiles (ditto), stealth bombers (check), and some way of the stopping the few surviving reprisal missiles (working on it). The US has wanted this situation back since it lost it in the 50's, and now it's within reach. It may be more dangerous in reality, but it's control, so the people involved feel safer.

Read: The Rise of US Nuclear Primacy. Both the kremlin and the pentagon shat themselves over that article when it came out a year ago, but "[they] doth protest too much, methinks".

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

>The one blessing of global trade integration is that war between great states is utterly self-destructive.

This is only true so long as the limiting factors are primarily economic efficiency, labour supply, that sort of thing.

Once the limiting factor becomes something like the last of the liquid fossil fuels, then the game changes to zero-sum. Then the best strategy is "demand destruction", ie, somehow hobble your competitor's society.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2007 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

The only use for a missile shield is to facilitate a first strike by reducing the enemy respose.

Yes. It's amazing to me how this elementary fact is missing from the discourse.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on June 8, 2007 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

Another interesting fact missing from the discourse is that the most efficient way of eliminating an anti-ballistic missile system is with nuclear weapons. An exo-atmospheric explosion ionises the upper atmosphere and makes it radar-reflective, which makes it impossible to guide the ABMs. It also generates an electromagnetic pulse which would probably be enough to knock out a great deal of the electronics on the ground, hardened or not.

In other words, in the event of war between Russia and America, Poland is making itself a nuclear target as well as increasing the possibility of a war. I should have said that was a bad move, if I were in the Polish government, but then I haven't seen suitcases full of $100 bills the way they have.

Posted by: MFB on June 8, 2007 at 3:54 AM | PERMALINK

Vladimir doesn't want to be Bush's Putle.

(I only found out that last word had a certain unseemly slang usage after I already posted this little pun into UseNet.)

Posted by: Neil B. on June 8, 2007 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

>The one blessing of global trade integration is that war between great states is utterly self-destructive.

"This is only true so long as the limiting factors are primarily economic efficiency, labour supply, that sort of thing.

Once the limiting factor becomes something like the last of the liquid fossil fuels, then the game changes to zero-sum. Then the best strategy is "demand destruction", ie, somehow hobble your competitor's society."
Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2007 at 12:43 AM


A new economic cold war? Selectively throwing up trade barriers and pressure (along with a lot of hot aired rhetoric) would do the trick. A global "rolling recession" would likely result in sharply reduced demand for petroleum allowing the oil peak to flatten out, while hydrocarbon prices and supplies remain relatively stable. That could buy us enough time to develop alternatives while economies can evolve away from the hydrocarbon based growth model. Keeping all that contained without an escalation to armed conflict might be challenging.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 8, 2007 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Whether Russia is really a threat or not, many eastern European nations still believe it to be, and/or fear it might become one again in the future.

No they don't. It's the other way around - the Russians, as they have been since Napoleonic times, once again lacking the buffer they created post WWII with their trophies that became the Warsaw Pact, are afraid of Europe - of being the odd country out. The failed empire. Remember, the Russians, in spite of Peter the Great's best efforts, remain culturally distinct from Europe. They are Slavic, Orthodox and remain economically backward. Again, if it weren't for oil and gas, their would be no Russian economy. Otherwise, its biggest export would be people escaping its moribund economy and crumbling society. If any country stood to benefit from a post-Cold War dividend, it was Russia. However, they have squandered what little goodwill they had in the early 1990s.

They aren't going to try to nuke anyone because it would be suicide. Not only would they be hit with nukes from France and Britain, but the U.S. would probably join in in defense of NATO partners. And if they were so desperate to do that, which they aren't, the calculus doesn't change because of a missile "shield" that everyone knows still doesn't work.

Then there's the issue of the launch readiness of the Soviet, er, I mean Russian nuclear force. Last I read, it, like every other aspect of the once mighty (but always overrated) Soviet, er, I mean Russian arsenal, had become rather decrepit.

Kevin has it right. The desire for American bases on their territory is why the Poles and Czechs want this system. Posted by: Robert Merkel

Right. Replacing one foreign military force with another. Again, it's not 1939 or even 1989. Except for the economic benefits, which really are few given how self-contained U.S. bases tend to be, no one in Europe wants U.S. bases of any kind any more.

Posted by: JeffII on June 8, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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