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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama Puts the Ground Missile Defense Hobby Horse Back in the Toy Chest

The announcement today that the administration is scrapping a Bush administration program to create a ground-based missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland is eliciting predictable howls from neoconservatives.
You can understand why. A big missile defense system has been a hobby horse for conservatives going all the way back to the Nixon administration, despite constant signs that it would cost far too much, might not work, and would be exceptionally destabilizing if it became a true centerpiece of our national security strategy. But the particular system in question has become an even bigger obsession for conservatives who favor military confrontation with both Russia and Iran.
Here’s National Security Network’s assessment:

[N]ot only do the cancelled missile defense systems have significant technological shortfalls, but they would also fail to protect against Iranian missiles because of both their location and technological advances in Iranian missile technology. Furthermore, from a geopolitical perspective, the European missile defense was a disaster. It worsened relations with Russia without even providing a credible defense against their nuclear arsenal, further undercutting nonproliferation efforts. Because there is no strategic benefit to maintaining the program – either militarily or diplomatically – the Obama administration has wisely has decided to eliminate this program and to develop a more adaptable missile defense system that better protects Europe.

Indeed, much of the negative reaction from the Right isn’t about the actual national security implications of this as opposed to alternative (probably sea-based) missile defense systems, but just psycho-babble about the alleged pleasure the step would give to Russia and/or Iran.
Funny, isn’t it? Neocons who are outraged by any consideration of diplomatic concerns in the development of national security policy nonetheless think we should perpetually let nations like Russia control our actions. If Putin doesn’t like something, we absolutely have to do it, even if it makes no real sense.

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