Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, writes in his recent article that too few people are interested in finding out what was behind President Obama’s “flexibility” comments to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in March and whether Obama made secret deals with the Russians.
On March 26, President Obama made a revealing remark regarding his future U.S. missile defense policy intentions. In an unguarded comment to Medvedev, President Obama said that if re-elected, he will have more “flexibility” to accommodate Russian objections, in particular to the U.S. missile defense program.
President Obama’s comments were not surprising. His Administration made the point when it slashed the missile defense budget in fiscal year 2010, and subsequent budget requests failed to make up for the lost ground. It killed missile defense programs that could provide greater capability against ballistic missile threats, such as the Airborne Laser, the Multiple Kill Vehicle, the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, and scaled down the number of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Interceptors in Alaska and California.
In addition, the President negotiated the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty, which links strategic offensive and defensive arms, giving the Russians a legal vehicle to drive their opposition toward U.S. ballistic missile defense deployments.
While the President pursues his “reset” policy—which is nothing but a list of concessions and lack of leadership on human rights issues—with Russia, this ill-fated policy seems to be encouraging Russia’s aggressive behavior. Recently, a Russian submarine operated in the Gulf of Mexico for weeks—undetected. Russia also sent its bombers into restricted U.S. airspace in June and July.
Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov stated, “A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens.” The “situation” he referred to regards U.S. plans to deploy ballistic missile defenses in Europe. His statements are yet another reason why the U.S. and its allies need to deploy missile defenses as soon as possible. In addition, over 30 countries all over the world now possess ballistic missile technologies, including North Korea and Iran.
To protect against these threats, the U.S. should deploy a comprehensive layered ballistic missile defense system, including its space-based components. This is not the time to give in to Russian objections and limit U.S. missile defenses.