Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama Plays Hardball with the Russians

Obama Plays Hardball with the Russians
By Jerome Grossman

In 1981, at the height of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated president of the United States. He immediately heightened tensions using belligerent rhetoric attacking the Soviet Union as "The Evil Empire" while authorizing an enormous military buildup against "the focus of evil in the modern world."

A significant number of Americans were worried about the harsh negatives of the Reagan initiatives. One manifestation was the Nuclear Freeze Movement that sought to decrease tensions as well as the nuclear buildup by limiting all nuclear arsenals at current levels as a first step toward their eventual elimination.

Reagan showed his annoyance criticizing "the placard carriers", giving little credence to the groundswell of support for the freeze campaign that swept America in 1981 – 82. This grass-roots uprising was a major factor behind Reagan's March 1983 speech that initiated the missile defense program (SDI) that continues to waste billions of dollars in the military budget.

Among the protesters supporting the Freeze was Columbia University senior Barack Obama, who in 1983 published a plea in a campus newsmagazine for "a nuclear free world" opposing SDI and military industrial interests “with their billion-dollar erector sets."

Reagan's attachment to the concept of missile defense started a very expensive research program that has produced meager results while leading to continued wrangling with non-communist Russia over their installation in Eastern Europe. Reagan's SDI simply will not defend against a sophisticated missile equipped with decoys.

Obama recently announced that he was cancelling the missile defense shield installations in Poland and Czech Republic. He has been severely and incorrectly criticized by military hawks for this “unilateral” concession, but it wasn’t unilateral and it was a deal, not a concession The SDI system was always a bargaining chip and Obama was the first president who knew how to use it.
He eliminated the ineffective shield in Eastern Europe in exchange for much more valuable Russian concessions and cooperation on a variety of issues. Here are some of the particulars

1. Russia allows U.S. military flights over its territory, planes carrying soldiers and equipment to Afghanistan.

2. Russia allows Kyrgyzstan to give the U.S. an important military base on the Russian border.

3. Russia acquiesces to the U. S. training local troops in the state of Georgia with which Russia is at odds

4. Russia promises that it will not help Iran develop an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the U.S.

5. Russia agrees to support the U.S. position on North Korea

6. Russia acquiesces in the expansion of U.S. influence in the Ukraine.

These are the Russian concessions we know about. There may be more. The media has failed to make the connection and to evaluate their importance in the continuing U. S. wars in Southeast Asia. At the same time, this change in U.S. policy gives a significant political victory to Russian leaders Putin and Medvedev, strengthening their positions at home and around the world.

When will Obama take political advantage of his coup? Probably during his 2012 reelection campaign when his record will be before the electorate and he will boast of his accomplishments on health-care and obtaining Russian cooperation. At the same time, Obama has fulfilled the promise he made at Columbia in 1983 to change policy on missile defense and to work for a world without nuclear weapons. Obama has proven that he knows how to play political hardball-at least with the Russians.

1 comment:

jmsjoin said...

Jerome I am glad you said that about Reagan. He was the father of all our problems and whose agenda Bush was following. His war mongering scared me.

President Obama based his decision to scrap Bush's worthless MDS Boondoggle as it was only designed to provoke Russia and was never even tested under realistic conditions despite its 4 Billion dollar cost. As you know after much expert advice and thought he scrapped it for the much tested land and water based mobile Aegis system.

This great decision which Europe and Russia welcome was based on a reassessment of the developing and changing threat coming from Iran! Because Europe because of Iran is the priority Decisions based on intelligent reasoning what a novel idea!

We heard McCain and other war mongering advocates of Bush's MDS whose only purpose was to instigate Russia to future war say Obama weakened the US and betrayed Poland , the Czech Republic, and all of Europe.

Quite the opposite is true. They are collectively ecstatic. Poland and the Czech Republic will no longer be Russian targets and Europe will no longer be retargeted by Russian nuclear weapons. Why Europe welcomes US missile defense shield decision?

The water based mobile Aegis system can even be moved to the Gulf and other area's of concern that may and will crop up to counter immediate short and medium range missile threats.

Meanwhile by 2017 when Iran is expected to have long range capabilities the Aegis is also scheduled to have long range and ICBM defense capabilities. If Russia and NATO join the effort as proposed I am confident we will be prepared for any future threats!


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