Regular readers will scarcely be flabbergasted to learn that I welcome Barack Obama’s decision to scrap a controversial missile shield in central and eastern Europe. A great deal of hysterical nonsense has been written to accompany the decision, which has been presented as capitulation to Vladimir Putin, or abandonment of plucky allies, only recently freed from Russia’s yoke.
All of which rather undermines the contention that the shield, which was to include bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, was designed to prevent aggression from Iran and should not concern the Kremlin.
The original scheme was endorsed by three discredited governments, in Washington, Warsaw and Prague respectively. Despite the ‘abandoned friends’ narrative, the intention to park missile silos and radar installations on Polish and Czech territory was unpopular amongst the wider population. Now the realist approach to foreign policy is more accurately reflected in government.
It is no accident that commentators lambasting Obama for dismantling an inefficient plan, with unfortunate political implications, and replacing it with a better one, are now fulminating about President Reagan and the lessons of the Cold War. The shield had nothing to so with Iran. It was a shot across Russia’s bows and a reminder that that country could ill afford an arms race.
But however much the ranters and ravers liken modern Russia to the Soviet Union, the comparison is not germane. Nation states which are now firmly entrenched within the European Union are no more menaced by the Kremlin this morning, than before the system was scrapped. They would not have been an iota safer, had it been implemented.