The U.S. of­fen­sive to se­cure de­fenses in Europe

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - JAMES HACK­ETT

The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion has un­der­taken its most ag­gres­sive diplo­matic of­fen­sive in six years in of­fice. The goal is to lay the ground­work for the fu­ture de­fense of Europe and the United States against mis­siles from the Mid­dle East.

Pres­i­dent Bush is show­ing that his ABM treaty with­drawal, mis­sile de­fense de­ploy­ment in Alaska and on Aegis ships, over­throw of Afghanistan’s Tal­iban regime and re­moval of Sad­dam Hus­sein from power in Iraq were all part of a world­view in which na­tional se­cu­rity is the high­est pri­or­ity. Fur­ther ev­i­dence is his de­ter­mi­na­tion to de­fend Amer­ica and its al­lies against threats from Iran or else­where.

The plan to put mis­sile de­fenses in Poland and an ABM radar in the Czech Repub­lic faces bit­ter op­po­si­tion from Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. De­spite that op­po­si­tion, com­plete with Cold War rhetoric and threats to our Euro­pean al­lies, Mr. Bush is en­gaged in a full-court press to make his plan a re­al­ity.

Europe is over­run with U.S. emis­saries. Two weeks ago, De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert Gates met with Mr. Putin and of­fered Rus­sia un­prece­dented co­op­er­a­tion in mis­sile de­fense de­vel­op­ment and test­ing, in­clud­ing shar­ing early warn- ing data. In other trips to Europe, Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice, As­sis­tant Sec­re­taries John Rood and Daniel Fried, De­fense Un­der­sec­re­tary Eric Edel­man, and Lt. Gen. Henry Ober­ing, head of the Mis­sile De­fense Agency, have re­as­sured our NATO al­lies and tried to re­duce Rus­sian angst.

This en­er­getic diplo­macy is get­ting re­sults in Europe, but not in Moscow. The Pol­ish and Czech gov­ern­ments re­main firmly in sup­port de­spite Rus­sian op­po­si­tion. NATO of­fi­cials now agree the threat is real and sug­gest that planned mis­sile de­fenses for NATO’s armed forces would be en­hanced by a U.S. de­fense of pop­u­la­tion cen­ters. Pres­i­dent Bush is per­son­ally in­volved, plan­ning a trip to Poland in June to dis­cuss the is­sue with Pres­i­dent Lech Kaczyn­ski.

But Rus­sia con­tin­ues to op­pose the U.S. plan. Moscow’s ob­jec­tions go be­yond keep­ing Amer­ica out of Europe. Mr. Putin has con­sis­tently fought the ex­pan­sion of NATO to for­mer parts of the Soviet em­pire. He got the U.S. mil­i­tary kicked out of Uzbek­istan and re­sents NATO’s pres­ence in East­ern Europe and the Baltic States.

Awash in oil and gas money, Moscow is try­ing to re-es­tab­lish con­trol over East­ern Europe and Cen­tral Asia. Mr. Putin’s ob­jec­tion to U.S. bases com­ple­ments his ef- forts to block NATO’s ex­pan­sion to Ge­or­gia, Ukraine and other coun­tries he con­sid­ers in Rus­sia’s sphere of in­flu­ence. Build­ing new of­fen­sive weapons, sus­pend­ing the treaty on Con­ven­tional Forces in Europe, threat­en­ing U.S. al­lies, and re­strict­ing gas ship­ments are all in­tended to show the Rus­sian bear still has teeth.

De­spite Rus­sian claims to the con­trary, the threat of a nu­clear- armed Iran be­comes more ap­par­ent as Tehran ig­nores U.N. sanc­tions and re­fuses to put its nu­clear pro­gram un­der in­ter­na­tional con­trol. In a re­cent edi­to­rial, the Lon­don Fi­nan­cial Times said it is in­creas­ingly ur­gent to find a re­sponse to a nu­clear-armed Iran, and that the U.S. mis­sile de­fense plan should go for­ward.

With Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad deny­ing the Holo­caust and promis­ing to wipe Is­rael off the map, while build­ing longer-range mis­siles and de­vel­op­ing nu­clear weapons, ad­di­tional sanc­tions on Iran are needed now. But with Moscow and Bei­jing op­pos­ing real sanc­tions, it is wise to build de­fenses against the grow­ing threat.

Just as sup­port is de­vel­op­ing in Europe, some mem­bers of the Demo­cratic-con­trolled Congress want to re­duce fund­ing for the sites there. The Strate­gic Forces Sub­com­mit­tee of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee has cut the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s $310 mil­lion re­quest by more than half, to $150 mil­lion, which is the wrong mes­sage to send to our Euro­pean al­lies. Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­woman Ellen Tauscher, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, ex­plained ear­lier that some mem­bers think more op­er­a­tional test­ing is needed.

This is the fall­back po­si­tion of mis­sile de­fense op­po­nents. They used to claim mis­sile de­fense would not work, but suc­cess­ful tests have shown them wrong. So now they say more “op­er­a­tional test­ing” is needed, a view ad­vanced by Carl Levin, chair­man of the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee.

This call for more test­ing be­fore sites can be built or in­ter­cep­tors bought is a phony ar­gu­ment. The key hit-to-kill tech­nol­ogy has been proven and a ro­bust flight test pro­gram is planned. Con­duct­ing more tests than needed is a waste of money. Be­sides, Iran’s mis­sile and nu­clear pro­grams won’t wait. Congress should au­tho­rize and ap­pro­pri­ate the full amount re­quested for mis­sile de­fenses in Europe.

James Hack­ett is a con­tribut­ing writer to The Wash­ing­ton Times and is based in Carls­bad, Calif.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.