September 20, 2009
The Obama Administration’s decision to scrap the infamous missile shield in Europe has to be considered one of its most important foreign policy decisions to date. Almost immediately, premier Putin of Russia has called it “just and courageous” and has promised to abandon plans to place Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. Chancellor Merkel and president Sarkozy have also saluted the US Administration’s decision, as it brings about a considerable easing of tensions in international relations, and this when it is needed most.
In truth, Russians have never been persuaded by the Bush Administration’s rhetoric that the missile shield was aimed at rogue states such as Iran, and for good reason. As we can all recall, plans to build a nuclear-proof missile shield date back to the Reagan Administration, when the enemy-designate was the Soviet Union. Although the Cold War ended in 1989 and the Soviet Union vanished in 1991, the American proponents of the Star Wars technology succeeded in convincing the Bush Administration to finance a similar project.
Last week’s decision to do away with the missile shield project, however, has displeased conservative political leaders from Poland, the Czech Republic and even Romania. The ill-fated project, which could have reignited another arms race, was favoured by some politicians in Central and Eastern Europe because the Cold War-type rhetoric would have paid electoral dividends. With the shield gone, leaders like the Czech or the Polish presidents are practically left without a major cause to fight for, however misguided that was…
As these days the main dangers to the lives of Americans seem to come from a highly inadequate, expensive and unfair health system, we can only cheer their Administration’s decision to focus its resources on more down-to-earth issues in future.Florian Pantazi