Commentary Magazine


More Friends Betrayed

Just when you think the Obama administration’s foreign policy cannot get more feckless or timid, the Obama team tops itself. The New York Times reports:

The Obama administration plans to announce on Thursday that it will scrap former President George W. Bush’s planned missile defense system in Eastern Europe and instead deploy a reconfigured system aimed more at intercepting shorter-range Iranian missiles, according to people familiar with the plans.

President Obama decided not to deploy a sophisticated radar system in the Czech Republic or 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland, as Mr. Bush had planned. Instead, the new system his administration is developing would deploy smaller SM-3 missiles, at first aboard ships and later probably either in southern Europe or Turkey, those familiar with the plans said.

The White House will announce the decision Thursday morning and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who was first appointed by Mr. Bush, will then discuss it with reporters at 10:30 a.m. It amounts to one of the biggest national security reversals by the new administration, one that will aggravate Czech and Polish allies and possibly please Russia, which has adamantly objected to the Bush system. But administration officials stressed that they are not abandoning missile defense, only redesigning it to meet the more immediate Iranian threat.

“Aggravate” indeed! One hardly knows where to begin. George W. Bush established, as even the Times concedes, “a special relationship” with Eastern Europe. After all, these are countries that emerged from the yoke of Communism and struggled to establish new market-based economies that avoided the errors of their Western socialist neighbors. And these countries again and again demonstrated their pro-American bona fides. The missile shield was intended as a check against Russian aggression and a symbol of their robust relationship with the U.S.

So much for that. Obama is in the business of kowtowing to the world’s bullies. Russia didn’t like the missile shield, so no more missile shield. Do we think we “got something” for this? I’d be shocked if we did, given the obvious willingness of the U.S. to prostrate itself before rivals.

What do our Eastern European friends have to say? They are not pleased:

Policymakers in Eastern Europe, however, are concerned about Mr. Obama’s priorities, viewing him as someone less interested in the region — and less willing to stand up to Russia — than his predecessor. Compounding sensitivities in Poland was that Thursday was the 70th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland, after the Nazis attacked from the west.

The administration that promised to restore our standing in the world is on quite a roll. Open hostility toward Israel. Bullying Honduras. Reneging on promises to Eastern Europe. A strange policy indeed that dumps on our friends in the vain effort to incur the goodwill of our enemies. And if one is a “realist,” not a fabulist, it should be apparent that this is a losing proposition. We will lose our friends and gain nothing. Weakness and the betrayal of our allies do not ameliorate tensions with our adversaries. We had a Cold War topped off by the Carter administration to prove that. But Obama’s never been very good at history.