To catch up with the latest U.S. Missile Defense developments I start off with some cross-blogging:
First a comment by Martin Sieff on the achievements of the NATO summit in Bucharest, which he touts as "Bush's BMD victory" (part 1, part 2). Jeff Lindemyer has a rather critical perspective. on this issue. He mentions that the outcome "falls short of actual endorsement by the Alliance of the system".
Jeff also commented the presidential meeting in Sochi, where Bush and Putin “left behind a road map for their successors.”
This road will certainly be bumpy. On Monday the Daily Star titled that "Moscow softens opposition to planned US missile defense network in Europe". On the next day, however, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his demand that Moscow must have permanent access to Washington's planned missile shield in eastern Europe if its concerns are to be placated. Mr Lavrov told Russian radio:
"For us it is important that we should see second-by-second where that radar is looking, and what is happening at the... base in the Czech Republic."So far, the United States has proposed that Russian officers be granted frequent access to the sites, but not be based at them permanently. The minister stressed importance of the permanency component by saying that the proposed confidence building measures would otherwise be "rendered worthless". In turn, the Czech deputy foreign minister already stated that "permanent presence is not something we would be considering." In short: the chances for a presidential post-office missile-honeymoon are very slim.
The two soon-to-be ex-Presidents were not the only ones talking about missile defense. The Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said on Monday the world needs a missile shield to protect against threats from Israel and the United States. He continued that U.S. claims that the European missile shield would defend against Iran's missiles were nothing but a sham. At the same time he underlined the defensive nature of the Iranian missile program: "[We] will only target aggressors against its territories". This only shows that the problem is that there is no unanimous view on who the aggressor is. All parties claim to act defensively while they see the aggressor on the other side. Voila, the perfect scene for an arms race.
Picture © AFP