September 9, 2009 | Commentary on National Security and Defense, Missile Defense

Yet Another Foreign-Policy Fumble: Throwing Missile Defense Under Bus

The Obama administration is getting ready to throw the proposed Eastern European-based US missile-defense system under the bus. The move is a sop to the Russians (and to lefties here at home) -- but will render us increasingly vulnerable to the growing Iranian nuclear/missile threat.

It's sheer madness -- yet another major foreign-policy fumble in its Pollyanna-ish effort to make everything right with the world.

True to form, the Obama-viks are bending over backward to please the Russkies in hopes they'll finally come around on helping curb Iran's runaway nuclear and missile programs.

As a result, Team Obama will likely can the W-era missile-defense system slated for Poland and the Czech Republic. The system would defend us (and Europe) from Iranian nukes/missiles, but the Russians hate it because it's in their old stompin' grounds.

Not only does this make us look weak by giving in to the Russian demand, there's also the delicious irony that Moscow is largely responsible for theIran problem today, dating back to help the Kremlin gave the mullahs in the 1990s.

(North Korea is also to blame for a great deal of Iran's ballistic-missile progress -- but, then again, most of Pyongyang's prowess originated with Moscow.)

Our Polish and Czech allies, who were close to us under President Bush, now increasingly feel Obama is abandoning them as he acquiesces to the growing shadow of Russian hegemony in Eastern Europe -- and elsewhere.

Indeed, they're carping about being in the dark as Washington conducts a review of missile defense, despite all three governments having agreed to move forward with the program last year. (So much for Obama's promise of better foreign relations . . .)

Iran, meanwhile, is as defiant and thorny as ever. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly promised this week to never submit to demands for nuclear talks (something the Obama crew hopes to have this month) or knuckle under to punitive economic sanctions.

Nor has Tehran paused its nuclear/ballistic-missile work since Obama took office, despite White House attempts to extend a hand of friendship to the Islamic regime.

In fact, Israel believesIran will have a bomb within one to two years -- and the US Air Force assesses Tehran could have an ICBM that can reach the United States by 2015.

But there must be a method to the madness, you say?

Yes, the Obama administration is reportedly looking at alternatives to the Eastern European sites -- including sea-based missile defense on Aegis-class ships and ground-based sites in Turkey and the Balkans.

Problem is, those configurations would be for fending off Iranian short-range missiles against some European targets, but couldn't tackle the long-range ICBM threat, which could be bore-sighted on Western Europe -- or the United States.

It also isn't clear whether the United States has even approached Turkey or other Balkan states with a proposal. Even if they agree, it would likely take years to iron out the details and establish missile-defense sites -- years we don't have.

Albert Einstein once said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting a different result. But that's what US policy has come to in dealing withIran on its nukes and missiles -- six-plus years of talks have gone nowhere.

Instead of heeding Einstein's wisdom, Washington will likely ditch our best short-term defense against Tehran's threats in order to appease Moscow -- while hoping against hope to sweet-talk the mullahs into giving up a 20-year effort whose success is finally in sight.

Since this administration is highly unlikely to exercise the military option against Iran's nuclear program, its only sane choice is to move forward with a robust, layered missile defense to protect our allies -- and ourselves.

Peter Brookes is senior fellow for National Security Affairs in the Davis Institute at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Peter Brookes Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

First Appeared in the New York Post