U.S. and Poland sign missile shield deal
Maybe Russia miscalculated when it went balls out into Georgia because now it looks like it is pushing their former satellites closer to the United States.
Poland finally agreed on Thursday to host elements of U.S. global anti-missile system on its territory after Washington improved the terms of the deal amid the Georgia crisis.
The preliminary deal was signed by deputy Polish Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer and U.S. chief negotiator John Rood. It still needs to be endorsed by the Polish parliament.
The signing comes after Prime Minister Donald Tusk had been holding out for enhanced military cooperation with the United States in return for consent to host 10 interceptor rockets at a base in northern Poland.
"We feel at the moment a greater concern for our safety," said Bogdan Klich, the Polish defence minister, evoking fears of a resurgent Russia, widespread in the former Eastern Bloc. "That's why every installation of the Western world on the Polish territory has its meaning, because it anchors Poland more deeply to the West."
While America says the shield is designed to destroy lone missiles from "rogue states" such as Iran, Russia considers it a strategic encirclement that undermines its nuclear deterrent. If fully agreed now, the system would be ready by around 2012.
The ongoing events in Georgia provide me and all those who witness these tragic developments with a sobering reminder that the struggles for democracy are not easily won, and that there is no end to this fight until powers such as Russia cease to arbitrarily impose their will on much smaller and militarily weaker nations by the unprincipled and reckless exercise of their military superiority.
As an American of Polish descent whose ancestors lived under Russian oppression, I expect that my country – the United States of America – will do everything in its power to reasonably succor the people and the democratically-elected government of Georgia because, as we are the world’s best exemplar of democracy that upholds rather than tramples on human rights, it is the morally right thing to do.
Russia would appear to have few options for punishing Poland, a member of both the EU and NATO with a far larger military and economy than Georgia, but after last week it would be foolish to underestimate what Vladimir Putin can accomplish with limited military and political resources.
The announcement on Thursday evening involves the condition demanded by Warsaw that an additional arsenal of Patriot missiles be stationed in Poland without time limits. Washington, it is believed, had been offering Patriots for a limited time period, even as short as one year.
American troops will jointly run the antimissile base and there will be a US garrison in Poland by 2012.
Riki Ellison, President of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance ( www.missiledefenseadvocacy.org), issued the following statements about the situation in Europe concerning Russia, Poland and the Republic of Georgia. "Over the last few days Russia has fired over two dozen SS-21 Ballistic Short Range Missiles into the country of Georgia, integrating ballistic missile strikes with their conventional military forces. The SS-21 is a road mobile, solid fuel, single stage ballistic missile, which is maneuverable in flight and carries a high-explosive warhead weighing up to 1060lbs. with 150 meter accuracy. It has a range of 43 miles. These missiles have been used by the Russians tactically for psychological and military targets as the Georgians do not have the capability to defend against or defeat ballistic missiles. "The use of ballistic missiles by Russia in this conflict sends an endorsement to the international community that the use of ballistic missiles has value, thus propelling countries and terrorist organizations to develop, purchase and continue to proliferate ballistic missiles. Modern warfare continues to integrate and use ballistic missiles as a tactic. "This outward military aggression with the use of ballistic missiles from Russia on a former USSR country sends a very serious message to all former members of the Soviet Block, especially Poland
A national poll released today revealed that 87 percent of the American Public believes that the United States should have a missile defense system. The public survey showed that 58% of the American Public thinks that there is a real threat from missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction and that missile defense is the preferred option over pre-emptive military action or diplomatic efforts for dealing with the proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction by nation states.
A missile defense shield will protect our homeland and the countries of our newest allies, countries that use to live under the thumb of the Soviet Union. By taking away one of Russia's greatest weapons, missiles, we are going a long way towards ensuring the security of our allies.
And as the poll shows, most people think this is a far better option than pre-emptively going into a hostile country for defensive purposes. While I'm not completely sold on abandoning pre-emptive action, not at all actually, I do think that missile defense is absolutely necessary. It gives us a higher level of protection that we haven't had since the introduction of ICBMs.
The other thing that this type of agreement brings about is greater closeness between ourselves and the former Soviet bloc nations. These countries offer some of the most inspiring stories. Just a couple of decades ago they lived under tyranny - now they have surging economies, thriving democracies, and such a love for liberty that I don't think has been seen on the international stage since our own fight for independence over two-hundred years ago.
Give it time, there will be naysayers. Neo-commies will cry about this for sure, internationalists will have a fit, the backers of multi-polarity will cry foul. But think about it. With this missile defense system we are giving protection to tens of millions of people. Yes, they will still have to worry about Russian tanks and terrorist suicide bombers but they will no longer have to worry about ceaseless death from above.
This is a great move. Too bad it took the invasion of Georgia to push this action forward.