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September 23, 2009

Endangering America And Our Allies: Obama's Missile Defense Plans Don't Add Up

Purely a Political Decision  

  • Appeasing Russia, Ignoring Our Allies: President Obama's decision to abandon plans for basing elements of the U.S. global missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic (the "third site") is entirely political, designed to appease Russia, but it will leave the U.S. more vulnerable to the threat of ballistic missile attack.
  • A Victory for Putin over NATO: This decision is a strategic victory for the Kremlin, which is determined to have a sphere of privileged interest in its region. The U.S. essentially gave Russia a veto over NATO's support for the third-site defenses in Europe and turned Poland and the Czech Republic into second-class NATO citizens as members whose security is subject to Russia's whims.
  • Nothing in Return: There is scant evidence that Russia will deliver anything credible in return for Obama's abandonment of the third site, especially with regards to the growing Iranian threat. Russia has already failed to offer any concessions in return for this policy change and is unlikely to support greater U.N. sanctions against Iran later this year.
  • 33 MinutesEmasculating America's Credibility: The Obama plan represents the shameful abandonment of two of America's closest allies in Central and Eastern Europe, who in the future will have cause to question the integrity and credibility of American promises. A Polish spokesperson called the decision "catastrophic for Poland."

Shameful Surrender

  • The Technology Does Work: The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic were in fact cost-effective and proven technologies that offer protection from long-range missile attack to both Europe and the U.S. The alternative that Obama will now pursue--sea-based Standard missiles and later ground-based variants--will not satisfy those criteria.
  • No Long-Range Missile Defense for Europe Now: America has worked with NATO and European allies to develop Europe's capabilities against short-range missile attacks, which is hugely important. However, Europe has no capacity to defend itself against long-range missile attacks, while America has limited defenses against long-range missile attacks. This decision undermines the concept of indivisible transatlantic security and enervates NATO's Article V security guarantees.
  • Growing Iranian Threat: Vice President Joe Biden recently said he is now "less concerned, much less concerned" about the Iranian threat. Where does this assessment come from? The Iranians successfully tested a space launcher in February and could have a long-range missile by 2015, and the United Nations confirms that Iran has enough uranium to build a nuclear bomb today.

Weak and Misleading Arguments

  • Either/Or? The Obama plan will deal with the more "urgent" threat of short-range missiles, but why must we choose one or the other? The Administration say they do not have new "intelligence," but rather have made a new assessment of existing intelligence. They say they are deploying "proven" systems, but they ignore technological advances when convenient. They say their plan "enhances" European protection, but that is true only if you ignore long-range threats.
  • More Cost-Effective? The Obama team says its plan is more cost-effective, but what that really means is that it's cheaper: It will cost $2.5 billion instead of $5 billion. It is foolish to shortchange national security to pay for giveaways like the Cash for Clunkers program.
  • A Loss Leader: This is a strategic loss, a security loss, a diplomatic loss, and a major loss for America's prestige on the world stage.

A Better Solution

  • Fully Fund Missile Defense: Congress should demand that the Administration fully fund both short- and long-range missile defenses, thereby preparing America and its allies for all potential threats.

For more information, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/33-minutes/

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