poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

September 17, 2009

a note on missile defense.

It seems a little precipitous to gloat, especially given the lack definitive confirmation that the plan has been scrapped in President Obama’s official statement. But hey, the whole entire global media has run with the story, and they’re never wrong about anything, right?

Nevertheless, I simply CANNOT pass by the opportunity to post this, originally published prior to Obama’s visit to Russia in July of this year. You know, a few months ago.

CBS: “White House to Hold Firm on European Missile Shield.”

In advance of Pres. Obama’s first trip to Russia next week, the White House is serving notice on the Kremlin that he won’t be making any concessions to win its approval of a U.S. missile shield in Europe or membership in NATO for Russian neighbors Ukraine and Georgia.

“We don’t need the Russians,” says Michael McFaul, special assistant to the president and senior director for Russian affairs on the National Security Council staff.

In a conference call with reporters, McFaul responded with unusually tough talk when asked what reassurances Pres. Obama is prepared to give in his talks starting Monday with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

“We’re definitely not going to use the word reassure in the way that we talk about these things,” said McFaul. “We’re not going to reassure or give or trade anything with the Russians regarding NATO expansion or missile defense.”

Ok, Mikey still has a job advising the President on Russia (so far as I know) and I’m sure Mikey likes it. I would too. He gets to sit down to breakfast with VVP after talking smack about him. How many people can say that? Not I. And yet, and yet… The headline today is:

“Obama scraps Bush’s European missile defense plan.”

Has McFaul suddenly decided he does need the Russians? Needy much, Mike? Did we axe the plan not expecting any concessions from the Russians in return? Out of charity? Maybe the plan has not been scrapped. But it was never initiated either. The history of this entire debacle is one of words, not of actions. And today’s words could hardly be less in line with McFaul’s undiplomatic hawkish July swagger.

Hopefully this will all shed some long needed light on the New Cold War crowd. It’s a transparent tough guy act enjoyed by people who have little appreciation for what is at stake but something to prove. Maybe it wouldn’t even be worth our concern if it remained nothing more than a role-playing game for bored Russia experts in D.C. whose job description has been downgraded from “Save civilization from Red threat!” to “Play well with others.” The hitch, you see, is that war isn’t a stupid parlor game in Russia. Ask your bff’s over in Georgia. Those tanks are real. Morons.

I’d like to say that perhaps today’s news in a sign that the game of New Cold War is over. I live for the day I can say that. But reading the comments of many Republican (R-Poland) lawmakers, it’s clear that they’re still spending far too much time in front of the computer playing WWII video games and far too little time in front of their international counterparts. Listening.

Oh who cares?

I’m still doing a little happy dance!

Next stop, scrap NATO.


  1. Remember this?

    Gates:”When I first met with President Putin and talked about this, he basically dismissed the idea that the Iranians would have a missile that would have the range to reach much of Western Europe and much of Russia before 2020 or so,” he said. “And he showed me a map that his intelligence guys had prepared. And I TOLD HIM HE NEEDED A NEW INTELLIGENCE SERVICE.”

    But yesterday: Obama:”NEW INFORMATION had indicated that the Islamic Republic’s short and medium range missiles were a greater threat than its long-range missiles.”

    How preposterous arrogance can be.

    Comment by Joera — September 18, 2009 @ 1:13 AM | Reply

    • There is obviously some CW in American politics that tough talk towards Russia (for an American audience) such as McFaul’s “We don’t need Russia,” and Gates’ ” TOLD HIM HE NEEDED A NEW INTELLIGENCE SERVICE,” is necessary. I do think a lot of this is nothing more than that: posturing for an American audience.

      I suspect, based on the fact that even you and I knew this plan was bizarre and impractical, that people like Gates and Obama have known all along that it was not a real militarily strategic necessity but a poorly thought out political maneuver. I suspect that Gates neither needed Putin to tell him this nor needed a new investigation to confirm it. And to be fair, no American is going to say, “Well, Putin said so, so it must be true.” We (America) really should be confirming these things with our own intelligence, not relying on Russia’s word for it. America does still have a responsibility to protect its own interests every bit as much as Russia does.

      I think the official line that this change in strategy is based on “new information” is spin to avoid looking as though they simply caved to Russian pressure. And the investigation ordered by Obama a formality. This way, instead of holding a press conference to announce a new strategy based on the fact that, well, the Bush strategy was just brainless, they can hold a press conference to announce a new strategy based on the findings of a “new, independent” report. It was the most politically savvy way for the Obama Admin. to scrap the plan. And he needed to scrap it. Not out of deference to Russia. But because it would undermine the economic and military security of America. Period.

      Comment by poemless — September 18, 2009 @ 9:52 AM | Reply

  2. “But hitch, you see, is that war isn’t a stupid parlor game in Russia.”

    Surely you are correct.

    Comment by Evgeny — September 18, 2009 @ 3:42 AM | Reply

  3. Second stop, get the blazes out of Afghanistan. Say, poemless, do you ever read Gwynn Dyer?

    Comment by PIGL — September 18, 2009 @ 4:38 AM | Reply

    • Gwynn Dyer? No.

      Of course we need to get out of Afghanistan. (I’m so worried about Stormy – I can’t imagine how stressed out her family is!) Obviously. But on the list of Russia’s demands of America, which I think are shockingly reasonable, “Get NATO out of our backyard” comes right after “Scrap missile defense.”

      Comment by poemless — September 18, 2009 @ 9:56 AM | Reply

  4. […] to build the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic: A Fistful of Euros; Edward Lucas; Poemless; Ukrainiana; FP's Passport; Leopolis – here and here; and Robert Amsterdam's Blog. […]

    Pingback by Global Voices Online » U.S., Europe: “R.I.P. Missile Defense” — September 23, 2009 @ 5:43 PM | Reply

  5. […] to build the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic: A Fistful of Euros; Edward Lucas; Poemless; Ukrainiana; FP's Passport; Leopolis – here and here; and Robert Amsterdam's […]

    Pingback by Official Russia | U.S., Europe: “R.I.P. Missile Defense” — September 24, 2009 @ 2:03 AM | Reply

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