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'Unproven Missile Defense Systems' Are 'Proven' To Russians

Last week in 'Fettering' the 'Unfettered' Defense Budget at The Tank on National Review Online, I included Barack Obama's campaign pledge to "cut investments in unproven missile defense systems" as part of a look at new Defense priorities under an Obama administration. In a message one year ago to supporters, Candidate Barack Obama pledged the following:

I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems.

I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems.

And I will institute an independent defense priorities board to ensure that the Quadrennial Defense Review is not used to justify unnecessary spending.

Third, I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal, I will not develop new nuclear weapons, I will seek a ban on the production of fissile material,

and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBM's off hair-trigger alert and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal.

The Russians were listening attentively. And they have beaten President-Elect Obama to the negotiating table, announcing their plan to deploy Iskander missiles to the Polish border. In keeping with the traditions of international negotiations, the Russians have said that this deployment is inextricably linked to the deployment of a defensive American missile shield to defend Europe against a missile threat from the rogue Iranian regime fast tracking its nuclear development.

Placing missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian region wedged between Poland and Lithuania, would be "a responsive measure'' taken only if a U.S. anti-missile defense system is located "in the form of interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic,'' Grushko was cited as saying today by state-run television channel Vesti.

"Russia won't deploy Iskander if the U.S. decides against plans to locate the system in eastern Europe,'' Interfax news agency quoted Grushko as saying in a separate interview.

Unfortunately, President-Elect Obama has abandoned clarity and pursued a path of dueling messages, publicly remaining "uncommitted" to the Bush policy of a European defensive shield agreed to with Poland and the Czech Republic, while privately telling Poland's president that the plan will proceed.

As noted at Environmental Republican, "This was not an easy plan for Lech Kaczynski to get his country to accept and he probably spent massive political capital to do so and Obama leaves the man hanging on an issue of great import." And likewise, the absence of clarity on such matters will be noted by - and reacted to - by friend and foe alike.

But what should be acknowledged by all observers - particularly those who subscribe to Obama's thinking that missile defense systems are "unproven" - is the fact that they are indeed quite proven as a deterrent. If they were unproven and ultimately a squandering of Defense funding allocations, why are the Russians so adamantly opposed to said "unproven missile defense systems" being deployed in Eastern Europe?

The font-end purpose of missile defenses are to serve as a deterrent - that is, a psychological impediment to the concept of launching missile attacks by bad actors. The back-end purpose, not unlike our nuclear arsenal, is to be able to perform designed functions if/when required to do so should deterrence fail.

The front-end purpose has been achieved. Cutting "unproven missile defense systems" negates the front-end deterrence already gained as evidenced by Russia's actions. But even more importantly, conflicting messages to (and of) our allies erodes a sense of defensive unity among us; a unity far more important to allied states under direct threat, such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Georgia and Ukraine.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, he once said at the prospect of foreign policy under his new administration that it is "time to start treating our allies as allies and start treating our enemies as enemies." The absence of clarity and conflicting messages to different parties from an apparently unsure Barack Obama is in direct conflict with this principled approach. The effects of this approach going forward will be negative, pervasive and harmful - not simply to us and our position, but to our allies in the shadow of danger.

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