Thursday, September 17, 2009

The timing is a little unfortunate

If I thought that President Obama or his advisers knew any history I would suggest that the day was picked deliberately. But evidence suggests that neither he nor anyone around him knows even American history, let alone that of some “far off country” neither he nor the people he talks to have ever heard of.

Therefore, one must exempt him from deliberately choosing the seventieth anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland to announce that he is definitely reversing President Bush’s policy and abandoning the idea of stationing missile defence systems in the Czech Republic and Poland, though Defence Secretary Robert Gates “said negotiations were under way with both Poland and the Czech Republic about deploying upgraded SM-3 interceptors from 2015”. Maybe. Will the Czech and Polish governments believe Secretary Gates or President Obama?

The Poles are certainly worried that this Administration will pay no attention to its East European allies. Czech Prime Minister Topolanek expressed his regrets that the integration of the East European countries in the Euro-Atlantic structures is slowing down.

Some links here on the story: Nile Gardiner writing a Daily Telegraph clog blog; Sister Toldjah quotes another idiotic comment by the Vice-President who seems to find it difficult to work out what day of the week it is; an excellent response on Public Secrets, which reminds readers that President Bush had offered possibilities of co-operation on the missile shield to the Russian government and it was haughtily refused; Fausta does her own inimitable round-up.

For Obama the most important consideration was that the Russian government did not like the policy and, he has inferred, if America gives in and ignores its East European allies, maybe President Prime Minister Putin and his mishka, President Medvedev, will give Russian support to American policy, whatever it might be, over Iran. And pigs might fly.

As Glenn Reynolds puts it, the possibility of another Carter Administration is beginning to look like the best case scenario.

Even Der Spiegel is dubious.
Moscow is triumphant over Obama’s decision to cancel his missile defence shield plan. But it is no foregone conclusion that that Russia will harden its line against Iran. And Poland and the Czech Republic will also expect overtures from the United States.
What those overtures might be is unclear despite Robert Gates’s statements. But, naturally, the Russian leaders are triumphant. The new Russo-American relationship is proceeding very nicely: first there was that idiotic “button” brought by Hillary, then Obama’s visit to Moscow when his hosts refused to discuss anything he wanted to put on the agenda and now this.

It has been the Russian line for some time that Iran is not a danger; now it is becoming the American line despite evidence being produced by everybody’s favourite organization, the IAEA.

There is not the slightest chance that Russia will do anything but follow her own policies on Iran, which seem to consist of stirring up trouble in the region as long as there is no actual nuclear missile there. President Medvedev appears to be President Ahmadinejad’s second best friend, the first one being Hugo Ch├ívez.

Iran buys Russian arms and other military supplies. Russia provides the Iranian government and the Revolutionary Guards with surveillance systems for their struggle against the various opposition groups.

Of course, the Russians are playing with fire. They know full well that the Iranians are arming and financing various terrorist groups, of which Hezbollah is the largest and best known. Some of those groups are playing games in Central Asian countries where there are Russian soldiers stationed. Any help the Russian rulers give the Iranian ones may result in the death of Russian soldiers though, traditionally, that is not a consideration that weighs heavily with Russian rulers. Neither do feelings of gratitude if that is what President Obama reckoning on.

ADDENDUM: Neo-neocon reminds us that this is not the first of Obama's "Polish jokes". (American readers will know instantly what I mean but I hope it will be clear on this side of the Pond as well.) There was the unfortunate episode of the Gdansk meeting to remember the German invasion of Poland that started the Second World War and to which President Obama sent National Security Adviser Gen. James L. Jones instead of going himself or sending the Veep or the Secretary of State. This decision was taken after several months of silence though the formal invitation had been received and a number of slightly off-hand responses.


  1. This is coming from a man who thinks there is a language called Austrian.

  2. To be fair, Obama also thought that there was only one plane that bombed Pearl Harbour and that Hirohito signed the Japanese surrender. This is all too depressing.

    Mikgen, thanks for the link. I shall try to follow it up later today.