Reports late last month from a top Warsaw newspaper turned out to be essentially accurate. President Barack Obama announced today that the US is in fact going to scrap the Bush Administration’s Eastern European missile shield in favor of one that is smaller, and positioned further south.
President Obama insists the new shield will provide actual defensive capabilities much sooner than the 2007 deal, which would have put a radar base in the Czech Republic and a handful of missiles in Poland at some point in the next decade.
Though the shield was opposed by a significant majority of voters in both Poland and the Czech Republic, their respective governments were outspoken in their support and will likely be irked by the plan’s abandonment. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, long unhappy with US plans to put missiles along his country’s western frontier, has praised the move.
Republican Congressman John Boehner angrily condemned the move, saying it proved that Obama was ignoring the threat posed by some of the world’s most dangerous regimes, and that it would ultimately “empower Russia”
The Obama Administration, and the Bush Administration before them, long maintained that despite being deployed far from Iran and right next to Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad, the shield was a move against Iran and had nothing to do with Russia.
The new plan will be to deploy smaller missile defense batteries off-shore in the Mediterranean Sea. Eventually it is expected that those missiles will be moved to some location in the Balkans or Turkey.