Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Biden in Poland

VP Joe Biden is in Poland to get their buy-in to a revised plan for missile defense in Eastern Europe. There's obviously some diplomacy going on here that isn't being reported. The previous plan was withdrawn in response to Russian objections (ridiculous ones, incidentally), the assumption being that we would obtain as quid pro quo Russian assistance in reining in the Iranian nuclear program. But Russia gave no public assurance of that at the time and has since only stymied international efforts in Iran.

So is the new plan just a face-saving measure? Instead of reinstituting the old plan, which would be an admission that their strategy vis-a-vis Russia had failed, the new plan is put in place for technological reasons. (But if that's the case, then surely we should be updating our own missile defense sites in Alaska and California immediately. Aren't they more important to our own security that the Eastern European site?)

Let's hope that's the case, and that the new plan is much better. But I can't help but think back to 1930s Poland, whose independence was "guaranteed" by Great Britain and France after the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. When Poland was subsequently carved up by the U.S.S.R. and Germany in September, 1939, Britain had no choice but to stand by helplessly and watch, because they simply had no way to back up their guarantee. Lesson: don't make guarantees you can't back up. And don't provide Eastern Europe with a missile defense system that can't do the job.

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