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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, November 08, 2008

It didn't take 6 months...... Russia

Joe Biden famously predicted that a new President Obama would be tested in his first 6 months. Well, the Russians don't appear to want to wait even 6 days. After their threat to drop short range missiles just across the border from Poland, Obama responds.
President-elect Barack Obama has told Polish President Lech Kaczynski he will go ahead with plans to build a missile defence shield in eastern Europe despite threats from Russia, Warsaw said on Saturday.

"Barack Obama has underlined the importance of the strategic partnership between Poland and the United States, he expressed his hope of continuing the political and military cooperation between our two countries.

"He also said the anti-missile shield project would go ahead," said a statement issued by Kaczynski after the two men spoke by telephone.

The NYTimes speaks of the Russian pressure on Obama more broadly, and the WaPo looks at the split in European opinions.

Update: The AP has a comment from an Obama aide saying Obama did not make a commitment on missile defense.


  • I think it's a mistake for Obama to consider this missile defence system. It was a scam from the beginning, ostensibly to protect Europe from imaginary Iranian missiles, which was forced upon Poland against public opinion. As part of the deal, the U.S. is now obligated to defend Poland, which is risky given the history of Polish and Russian relations.

    By Blogger Todd Dugdale, at 11:34 AM  

  • It's a horrible, horrible miscalculation if Obama follows through on, as Todd says, this scam. Russia will go straight to the mat on this. It's the Cuban missile crisis in reverse.

    Here is what is going to happen: Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, et al are going to grab Obama by the lapel and tell him to chill the fuck out. They knew that pressuring Bush is useless, have been waiting for the clock to run out, but it's their asses on the line as commodities to be used by this country.

    By Blogger MarcLord, at 1:44 PM  

  • I didn't really know what to make of this, but I found it curious.

    Stepping back from the real issue, because I agree with you both, I think this is more about transition politics.

    Notice that it wasn't Obama aho issued this, but the Polish PM, so, in theory, Obama could back off it later.

    I think this is more about a response to the Russians and a statement about trying to lever the transition than any real long term commitment to missile defense, because the actual construction of the facilities hasn't even begun yet.

    I think this is more about pushing back.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 1:53 PM  

  • Also, see the update on the post.

    An Obama aide makes very clear that Obama DID NOT make a commitment on missile defense.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 2:42 PM  

  • It's illustrative of how hard it'll be to back off the Bush crap. O can't just come out and say, "You're right, we're not putting missiles there." Somehow it has to be turned into horse-trading.

    Hopefully someone will remember that the Cuban missile crisis was a response to the US putting ballistic nukes in Turkey. JFK agreed to pull them out.

    By Blogger MarcLord, at 3:28 PM  

  • Right. He also can't be seen to be backing down in front of Russian threats. It has to be his initiative.

    It's tricky.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 5:02 PM  

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