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    Obama proposes scrapping ABM systems in Eastern Europe

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    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) - U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to scrap the Bush administration's plans for a missile tracking radar in the Czech Republic and antimissiles in Poland. This has displeased Poland and has not made the Czech government, Republican congressmen and American neoconservatives happy.

    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) - U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to scrap the Bush administration's plans for a missile tracking radar in the Czech Republic and antimissiles in Poland. This has displeased Poland and has not made the Czech government, Republican congressmen and American neoconservatives happy.

    In my opinion, Russia should not be too happy with the decision either, even though Obama presumably acted to take its interests into account. In fact, the U.S. president made the decision not because he wants to please the Kremlin, but because he wants the United States' attitude to global politics to embrace new realities while continuing to protect U.S. interests.

    This would help the much-publicized policy of resetting U.S.-Russian relations get off the ground.

    Russia's initial assessment of Obama's surprising decision was based on our old tradition of taking a minor element and presenting it as the basic premise. The basic premise in this case is that the decision to abandon the ABM plans for Poland and the Czech Republic does not mean scrapping the idea of a European ABM system.

    President Obama and the two military officials he "inherited" from George W. Bush - Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the architect of a ballistic missile defense - have not said they would not build an ABM system in Europe.

    According to Obama, the new anti-missile shield should be cheaper, more flexible and advanced technologically, more reliable, and should more effectively protect the United States, its forces in Europe and its allies.

    Bush designed a bulky and clumsy ABM system from the nuclear confrontation period, while Obama has proposed a no less reliable, but simpler and cheaper project that can be upgraded, if necessary, to modern requirements. Compared to Bush's fossilized ideology, Obama's decision is tactically pragmatic even though it has not fundamentally changed the strategy.

    Obama has hinted that if Iran's nuclear missile program progressed too rapidly, the U.S. administration would restore the initial, Bush variant of the ABM system.

    His latest decision is a big step forward that offers favorable conditions for promoting dialogue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have expressed their support for it.

    In principle, Obama has made a wise decision. On the one hand, he has shown that the time for yanking the Russian bear' chain is past, and that the White House is planning to adopt a policy based on practical considerations with regard to Russia.

    It would be wrong to say that Obama has betrayed Eastern Europe and is trying to "appease" the imperial revisionist Kremlin. There is a vast difference between Bush's games with and willingness to pander to the anti-Russian policies of the presidents and premiers of Poland, the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Georgia and other post-socialist states, and attempts to balance Moscow's weight and place against those of the Eastern European countries.

    It appears that Obama is attempting the latter. However, the outcome will depend on what the United States will ask of Russia in response, and on the assessment of his plans by Russia's military analysts.

    Russia should consider Obama's new project very seriously, if only because it implies concessions to Russia - or modern realities.

    Russia has almost pushed itself into a corner by insisting that there is a connection between the European ABM system and the new strategic arms reduction treaty. If it rejects Obama's new proposal, it will be blamed for derailing the talks on new nuclear arms cuts.

    The planned treaty should be accepted as the basis, which, being quite vague, could be used to improve Russia's air defense system. Some say it is not sufficiently effective.

    The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

     

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