Counter-proliferation and missile defense are not the Obama administration’s strong suit. First, the Obama administration rammed the New START treaty through the Senate before the Democrats lost their supermajority, hardly a maneuver a president would need to do if he felt confident in the merits of his own deal. Indeed, there was and is ample reason for concern. Inept negotiations are the rule rather than the exception within the Obama administration.
After Obama walked backed the Bush administration’s agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic to enable the anti-ballistic missile early warning radar and shield, Obama’s team approached Turkey. In recent weeks, the White House and State Department claimed success: Turkey agreed to host the early warning radar system. It only took a number of phone calls between the White House and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, military assistance, technology sharing and aid. There were also diplomatic favors: Turkey’s cooperation led the White House and State Department to downplay criticism of Turkey’s incitement against Israel and its warmongering in the eastern Mediterranean.
For such a price, it should be safe to assume the deal must be solid. Alas, this is the Obama administration, where national security is about as solid as jello. Yesterday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu explained that Obama’s much ballyhooed success will expire after… two years. Further, Turkey retains the right to annul the agreement at any time. At a time of counterproductive defense cuts, Obama is willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on an radar system that might have a functional lifespan less than that of an unwrapped Twinkie. There is no way to put a positive spin on the terms to which the United States reportedly agreed: It is incompetence on a scale that makes even Jimmy Carter, by comparison, appear to be a strategic genius.