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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, September 24, 2009, 9:00 AM ET

    Op-ed

    President Obama's Scrapping of "Missile Shield" in Eastern Europe is Good News for All Sides
    By Boris Danik

    An announcement came on September 17 from President Barack Obama that the U.S. is abandoning plans to install a "missile defense" in Eastern Europe. This move should be welcomed as a return to sanity that was sadly lacking during the eight years of the Bush administration. A Financial Times editorial, September 18, called it "New US realism."

    The scrapping of the plan for ground-based interceptors in Poland and a related radar site in the Czech Republic was met with dismay among Republicans on Capitol Hill.

    The "missile defense" in Eastern Europe, dreamed up by George W. Bush, was going to be part of the overall anti-ballistic missile defense.

    Aside from all the touting and international acrimony raised by its promoters in the US military-industrial complex and in the Conservative lunatic fringe, this defensive system can be characterized by one sentence in technical terms: it does not work.

    "Not sufficiently tested," as President Obama put it.

    Actually, it is working very well for US defense contractors, with billions of dollars already spent and more in the pipeline.

    The origin of this enterprise was Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" delusion in the 1980s, hailed as a diplomatic triumph, and dismissed as a crackpot jig by every reputable scientist. The MIT's Dr. Theodore Postol went public on numerous occasions, exposing the anti-ballistic missile defense concepts as technological humbug.

    In one of the aerospace industry scandals of that time, Dr. Nina Schwartz, a TRW employee, accused her company, a defense contractor of faking tests. (The New York Times, March 8, 2000).

    The anti-ballistic missile defense jumble was revived by President George W. Bush in a defiant violation of the international ABM treaty, and was applauded across the entire Republican party spectrum. Its critics were called unpatriotic or simply liberals.

    The purpose of the anti-missile hocum for Eastern Europe was purely political – to throw sand into the Russians' face – also known as the cowboy diplomacy.

    This indulgence in needless posturing ("all hat and no cattle," as they say in Texas) fed resentment in Russia toward the US, provided ammunition for Kremlin factions that Ridiculed cooperation with the West, and encouraged Russia's chauvinist reactionaries to play hardball in the "near-abroad."

    It did not prevent the Russian thrust into Georgia and the growing pressure on Ukraine. NATO was equivocating as Russia was invading its would-be member.

    The Kremlin has the ability to undermine Ukraine's image as a viable candidate for any Western alliance membership. Moscow is able to istigate one crisis after another in Ukraine through the pro-Russian functionaries who have de facto control over local and regional government in many areas in the South-East, through the opposition Party of Regions itself, and by economic pressure.

    Although there is a substantial concensus that Ukraine's independence cannot endure without integrating into some Western alliance, that goal remains illusory. Meanwhile, Ukraine's government must make decisions based on the existing contingencies.

    President Barack Obama's announcement of scrapping George W. Bush's missile hoax was well received in Moscow. It may somewhat trim the sails of its own pugilist caboodle.

    Barack Obama's first "reset" is a plus for all sides.

    Dr. Boris Danik
    North Caldwell, NJ

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