Missile Defense Done

>> Thursday, September 17, 2009

No Eastern European missile defense shield:

The Obama administration is expected to announce Thursday that it will shelve plans to deploy its controversial anti-ballistic missile shield in Eastern Europe, a Polish official said, a move that will be welcomed by Russia but deeply regretted by Poland and the Czech Republic, two key American allies.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the administration was “very close” to the end of a seven-month review of a missile defense shield proposal but he would not give any more details.

Polish and Czech officials said they expected to be briefed by American officials about Mr. Obama’s decision which almost certainly will led to the scrapping of plans to deploy 10 inceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic.

That keening you hear is the sound of a million wailing wingnuts. The Poles and Czechs will be disappointed, but they'll live; there are other ways of conveying a long term commitment to Eastern European security if we so choose. Indeed, some of these ways might actually have something to do with Eastern European security, rather than with a set of expensive techno-fantasies jury-rigged to a manufactured geo-strategic threat. Nevertheless, the screech of "EMP!!!" is one that you can get used to hearing in the near future; no President actually born in the United States would be so dismissive of ineffectually (but expensively!) protecting America from non-existent boogeymen.

Let's be clear; this is a huge victory for common sense over fantasy, and for responsible defense budgeting. This project had no function other than to serve the pecuniary interest of the missile defense industry, and to sate the ideological lust of conservatives infatuated with St. Reagan. No convincing strategic logic could ever be provided for the program; advocates careened wildly between arguments, desperately trying to see if they could make anything stick. Protecting Europe from Iranian missiles? Nobody in Europe was particularly concerned, or, outside of Poland and the Czech Republic, really wanted the defense. Protecting from the Russians? By the admission of advocates, the shield could not have served as a deterrent to Russian attacks. Necessary to demonstrate our commitment to the Poles? Meh; I'd rather get them something they could actually use.

... it's old, but this post from Robert Gard is pretty definitive regarding the serial idiocy of missile defense proponents. I should also make clear that I think missile defense systems can be useful tactically, and even strategically against the threat of a large number on conventionally armed ballistic missiles. Missile defense is never sold on that basis, however, mainly because advocates have not even the faintest interest in engaging in an actual debate about costs and benefits.

...it's done:
The Obama administration's move was confirmed by the Czech Republic interim prime minister. "Just after midnight I was informed in a telephone call by President Barack Obama that [his] administration has decided to pull out from the plan missile defense shield installations" in the Czech Republic and Poland, said Jan Fischer said at a news conference Thursday.


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