Earlier this month I wrote an in depth summary and analysis of the U.S.-Eastern European missile shield kerfuffle. Recent events require me to write a short update to that post. These recent events are adequately summarized in an excerpt from last week’s news:
Poland to Accept New US Missile Defense Shield
AFP. 17 October 2009.
AFP. 17 October 2009.
WARSAW — The United States will deploy ground-to-air Patriot missiles in Poland in 2010 and is discussing its plans for a new anti-missile system with Warsaw, a US defence official said Friday.“We presented some detailed information on how the rotations of our Patriot batteries would be conducted over the next few years under the August 2008 agreement” with Poland, US Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Alexander Vershbow said in Warsaw.“We look forward to the commencement of those rotations next year,” Vershbow said following talks with Poland’s Deputy Defence Minister Stanislaw Komorowski Friday ahead of next week’s visit by Vice President Joe Biden.The Patriot missile battery “will be armed and possess elements permitting it to be integrated with the Polish defence system,” Komorowski added.
This story has two points of interest contained within. The first is the technical significance of a Patriot batteries in Poland. Brookyards (of War News Updates) concisely explains such on a post over at his site:
Instead of 10 interceptors whose functionality and reliability are questionable, [the Russians] are now going to face an unknown number of ground-to-air Patriot missiles whose accuracy and reliability are known.
It is also worth noting that the Patriot missiles will be able to protect Poland itself from bombardment, as the old architecture was designed to destroy ICBMS launched at Western Europe and America.
The second point of interest is found within the diplomacy behind this decision. I have been highly critical of the Obama administration’s actions on this front in the past, but now a fair case can be made that there was method in the madness. Under this view, the entire missile shield saga was but a rather shrewd maneuver on part of the White House. In order to relieve pressure on Afghan supply routes and to create a more amenable Russia for upcoming negotiations with Iran, the White House breaks deals with Poland and the Czech Republic. Diplomatic niceties are blatantly ignored in order to show the Russians how serious the White House is about reforming the U.S.-Russian relationship. Yet once the Persian problem starts to look up, the United States doubles back and offers Poland a realistic missile defense plan. With a few bold moves the Obama administration orchestrated a great diplomatic win-win for the United States.
The other view is that the White House realized it made a huge mistake in treating the Poles so coldly and is now backpedaling as fast as it can to retain the favor of our Eastern European ally.
Which version of the story you believe rests on how much faith you have in the competence of the Obama administration, I think.