Sending signals

The Wall Street Journal reports that Barack Obama has decided to cancel the planned missile defense system in Eastern Europe, citing "technical studies" expected to be released soon determining that the threat posed by Iran's missiles do not justify the building of such a system.

The move was confirmed by the Czech Republic interim prime minister. "Just after midnight I was informed in a telephone call by President Barack Obama that [his] administration has decided to pull out from the plan missile defense shield installations" in the Czech Republic and Poland, said Jan Fischer said at a press conference Thursday. ...

European analysts said the administration would be forced to work hard to convince both sides the decision wasn't made to curry favor with Moscow and, instead, relied only on the program's technical merits and analysis of Iran's missile capabilities. ...

The Obama administration has been careful to characterize its review as a technical assessment of the threat posed by the Iranian regime, as well as the costs and capabilities of a ground-based antimissile system to complement the two already operating in Alaska and central California. Those West Coast sites are meant to defend against North Korean missiles.

The Christian Science Monitor quotes the NYT as saying there will be hard feelings in Eastern Europe.

With Barack Obama in the White House, the deployment of the missile shield in Eastern Europe is no longer a given, as defense experts question its costs, its effectiveness and even its location. As a result, the certainties of the Bush era have given way to a sense of betrayal — but maybe also realism — on the part of the East Europeans….

“The East European countries went out on a limb for America during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Ron Asmus, director of the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “Now they feel they are getting whacked.”

But look at it this way: America's allies may feel whacked, but Russia and Iran are doubtless happy at the outcome.


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