(Thumbnail image from The Economist)

 "George W. Bush: The need for missile defense in Europe is real and I believe it’s urgent…It’s not designed to defend against an attack from Russia." (ABC News)

 

Two years ago, President Bush detailed a missile defense system to be stationed in Poland and the Czech Republic. It was billed as a defense against Iran, not Russia. The Russians weren’t pleased though.

 

The US’s present Commander and Chief has decided to revamp Bush’s plan. Obama announced the change in a plan which ends the possibility of a station in Poland or the Czech Republic.

 

"We will continue to work cooperatively with our close friends and allies the Czech Republic and Poland who had agreed to host elements of the previous program. ... We’ve also made repeatedly clear to Russia that its concerns about our previous missile defense programs were entirely unfounded." (CNN)

 

This move could improve American-Russian relations, but mixed perspectives on Obama’s decision are coming from Poland, the Czech Republic and here in the States.

 

We first turn to BBC News, which says the Polish and Czech governments had invested “considerable capital” in the defense system. After spending money on a now changing plan the BBC says those governments may feel let down. Former Polish President, Lech Walesa told BBC she doesn’t like Obama’s decision.

 

“It’s not because we needed this missile defense system so badly. It’s all about a way of treating us. It has to change. The US can’t play military policeman of the world.”

 

Walesa says the US can’t play military policeman, but Diplomatic Editor of London’s Financial Times James Blitz brings a different perspective. He worries what this move will do to relations between the US and allies like Poland and the Czech Republic. He says the US should provide protection outside of its own borders.

 

“This is going to cause a lot of concern and I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the US in the next few weeks to give security guarantees to Central and Eastern Europe that replace effectively what was there with the missile defense system.”

 

Weakening Eastern European and American relations was the focus of a letter sent from prominent Eastern European ex-leaders to Obama in July. Former deputy Czech prime minister Alexandr Vondra was among that group. Vondra tells The Sofia Echo...

 

“This is a U-turn in US policy. ... We expect the US to honor its commitments. If they don’t, they may have problems generating support for Afghanistan and on other thigs.”

 

While some European government leaders feel slighted, our research shows many Czech citizens are celebrating Obama’s move. One of those citizens, Jan Tamas leader of the “No To Base” movement spoke to Russia Today,

 

“This is really a big victory for the Czech people, many people celebrate here. The 70 percent of Czechs that opposed this project are clearly very happy."

Tamas added that Czech’s are disappointed this decision came from the United States though and that the Czech government wouldn’t recognize the perspective of its own citizens.

Vaclav Hudec, a mayor of a village near the proposed defense station echoes Tamas’ perspective. He tells the BBC...

“I am pleased with this decision, as are the people of our village. I am convinced that if it had gone ahead, it would have led to another cold war.”

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates advised Obama on changing Bush’s plan. As a supporter of the plan he developed, Gates tells the Washington Post,

“It is more adapted to the threat we see developing, and takes advantage of the latest technology available to the United States.”

Obama is drawing criticism from some Republicans in the US Senate though and support. Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl believes Obama’s move is dangerous and short sighted. Kyl tells the Huffington Post...

“The message the administration sends today is clear: The United States will not stand behind its friends and views ‘re-setting’ relations with Russia is more important. This is wrong!”

 

Moving from the Senate to the House, Minority Leader John Boehner tells MSNBC,

“Scrapping the U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic does little more than empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our allies in Europe. It shows a willful determination to ignore the threat posed by some of the most dangerous regimes in the world."

It doesn’t look like everyone can be satisfied in this situation. Russia appears to approve, Europe is divided, as are American leaders. We would like to hear your thoughts.

Obama Revamps Bush’s Missile Defense

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Sep 18, 2009

Obama Revamps Bush’s Missile Defense

(Thumbnail image from The Economist)

 "George W. Bush: The need for missile defense in Europe is real and I believe it’s urgent…It’s not designed to defend against an attack from Russia." (ABC News)

 

Two years ago, President Bush detailed a missile defense system to be stationed in Poland and the Czech Republic. It was billed as a defense against Iran, not Russia. The Russians weren’t pleased though.

 

The US’s present Commander and Chief has decided to revamp Bush’s plan. Obama announced the change in a plan which ends the possibility of a station in Poland or the Czech Republic.

 

"We will continue to work cooperatively with our close friends and allies the Czech Republic and Poland who had agreed to host elements of the previous program. ... We’ve also made repeatedly clear to Russia that its concerns about our previous missile defense programs were entirely unfounded." (CNN)

 

This move could improve American-Russian relations, but mixed perspectives on Obama’s decision are coming from Poland, the Czech Republic and here in the States.

 

We first turn to BBC News, which says the Polish and Czech governments had invested “considerable capital” in the defense system. After spending money on a now changing plan the BBC says those governments may feel let down. Former Polish President, Lech Walesa told BBC she doesn’t like Obama’s decision.

 

“It’s not because we needed this missile defense system so badly. It’s all about a way of treating us. It has to change. The US can’t play military policeman of the world.”

 

Walesa says the US can’t play military policeman, but Diplomatic Editor of London’s Financial Times James Blitz brings a different perspective. He worries what this move will do to relations between the US and allies like Poland and the Czech Republic. He says the US should provide protection outside of its own borders.

 

“This is going to cause a lot of concern and I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the US in the next few weeks to give security guarantees to Central and Eastern Europe that replace effectively what was there with the missile defense system.”

 

Weakening Eastern European and American relations was the focus of a letter sent from prominent Eastern European ex-leaders to Obama in July. Former deputy Czech prime minister Alexandr Vondra was among that group. Vondra tells The Sofia Echo...

 

“This is a U-turn in US policy. ... We expect the US to honor its commitments. If they don’t, they may have problems generating support for Afghanistan and on other thigs.”

 

While some European government leaders feel slighted, our research shows many Czech citizens are celebrating Obama’s move. One of those citizens, Jan Tamas leader of the “No To Base” movement spoke to Russia Today,

 

“This is really a big victory for the Czech people, many people celebrate here. The 70 percent of Czechs that opposed this project are clearly very happy."

Tamas added that Czech’s are disappointed this decision came from the United States though and that the Czech government wouldn’t recognize the perspective of its own citizens.

Vaclav Hudec, a mayor of a village near the proposed defense station echoes Tamas’ perspective. He tells the BBC...

“I am pleased with this decision, as are the people of our village. I am convinced that if it had gone ahead, it would have led to another cold war.”

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates advised Obama on changing Bush’s plan. As a supporter of the plan he developed, Gates tells the Washington Post,

“It is more adapted to the threat we see developing, and takes advantage of the latest technology available to the United States.”

Obama is drawing criticism from some Republicans in the US Senate though and support. Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl believes Obama’s move is dangerous and short sighted. Kyl tells the Huffington Post...

“The message the administration sends today is clear: The United States will not stand behind its friends and views ‘re-setting’ relations with Russia is more important. This is wrong!”

 

Moving from the Senate to the House, Minority Leader John Boehner tells MSNBC,

“Scrapping the U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic does little more than empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our allies in Europe. It shows a willful determination to ignore the threat posed by some of the most dangerous regimes in the world."

It doesn’t look like everyone can be satisfied in this situation. Russia appears to approve, Europe is divided, as are American leaders. We would like to hear your thoughts.

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