Thursday, November 27, 2008

Waiting selflessly

Earlier this month it was celebrated (by some) as a major breakthrough that Washington and Prague signed a framework agreement outlining terms for deploying a planned missile-tracking radar station on Czech territory. I already mentioned in earlier postings that the deployment agreements still have to be ratified despite by the Czech Parliament which faces resistance from the parliamentarians. This was confirmed by the speaker of the lower house of the Czech parliament, Miloslav Vlcek, who said last Friday, November 21, that he is certain that the U.S. missile defense radar would be deployed in the Czech Republic. Vlcek elucidated that the Social Democratic Party and the Communists, which hold 96 of the 200 seats in the lower chamber, and also some members of the ruling Civic Democratic Party would vote against the deployment of the U.S. radar. The ruling Civic Democratic Party of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has only 81 seats.

The situation does not look any better northward (taking a U.S. administration’s perspective). Poland's Foreign Minister RadosÅ‚aw Sikorski said that his country will wait for the Obama administration to make up its mind on basing missile defense interceptors in his country and will not lobby to have the project proceed. He also explained how selflessly that the Warsaw government is – it only agreed ‘out of friendship’. Right, and the U.S. government finances only out of friendship the reinforcement of the Polish air defenses like the 96 Patriots that will be dispatched in Poland next year. It is always good to have such friends.

If you take the recent statements of French President Nicolas Sarkozy on this matter it seems that it is time to rename the French Fries into Freedom Fries again: On November 14 Sarkozy questioned the value of U.S. missile defense plans in Europe, but later appeared to step back from his criticism, the Associated Press reported. Initially he said that the ‘deployment of a missile defense system would bring nothing to security in Europe ... it would complicate things, and would make them move backward’. He was joined by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini who suggested in La Republica that the Obama administration should sacrifice the location of the missile defense shield in Poland and the CzechRepublic for the sake of good relations with Russia.

In his article for MWCNews Jacob Hornberger makes a similar point. He dreams of a speech of President-elect Obama in which he extends the change also to the missile defense policy:

'The missile interceptors will not be installed in Eastern Europe. I can understand why the Russian regime would consider this a provocative act. If Russia were installing the same type of system in Cuba or in Mexico along the U.S. border, that would concern us. Such a project will accomplish nothing more than to increase tensions unnecessarily between our two countries, which it is already succeeding in doing. It’s time we reduced such tensions, […]'
However, NATO reaffirmed on November 17 its backing for a planned missile shield in Europe. NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said the alliance's position had not changed. During its last summit in Bucharest in April NATO leaders agreed upon that the missile shield makes ‘substantial contribution to the protection of allies’.

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