Missile Diplomacy Disaster

Helle Dale /

Of all the days President Obama could have chosen to announce that the United States will abandon its plans for a missile defense site in the Czech Republic and Poland, September 17 was possibly the worst he could have chosen. As any Pole could tell you, this was the date the Soviet army invaded Poland in World War II, after Nazi Germany had launched its assault on the country on September 1. Doesn’t anyone at the State Department, the Pentagon or the National Security Council engage in cultural intelligence at all? In addition to the implications for U.S. and European vulnerability to missile attack, from a public diplomacy standpoint, the decision as well as the timing is a disaster.

For the Poles and the Czechs, the feeling of betrayal today is palpable. Their government had taken a chance when they signed onto the missile defense agreement with the United States in 2007. However, the European missile defense site – the Third Site as it was known – appeared to be a venue for closer defense cooperation with the United States and as such an added layer of protection against Russia. (more…)