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Obama Reignites 25-Year-Old Debate

By Ben Pershing
President Obama won decisively in November by promising a firm break from the policies of the Bush administration. But when it comes to national security issues, Obama hasn't necessarily steered a much different course than that of his predecessor -- until Thursday.

In a political environment consumed by health care, with occasional references to Afghanistan, Obama's move to halt a missile defense porgram in Poland and the Czech Republic temporarily refocused the commentariat on the chess match of foreign policy, and renewed a 25-year debate between liberals and conservatives on the subject. "Obama's decision to abandon a Bush-era plan for a missile defense system in Europe and establish a partly ship-based shield against Iranian rockets could tighten U.S. pressure on the Islamic republic and ease a simmering rift with Russia," the Washington Post writes. Those twin goals -- turning the heat up on Iran, and down on Russia -- are the primary motivation for Obama's move, along with the administration's argument that the new system will simply be more effective than the old one.

But intentionally or not, Obama also reignited a philosophical and strategic fight that began during the Reagan administration. The new plan, the New York Times observes, "turns Ronald Reagan's vision of a Star Wars system on its head: Rather than focusing first on protecting the continental United States, it shifts the immediate effort to defending Europe and the Middle East." In a tough editorial, National Review writes Obama "knows how to put a smile on faces in Tehran and Moscow," and trashes his decision as the latest volley in liberals' long campaign against missile defense. The piece concludes: "The president has sent a chilling message about American resolve in the face of Russian saber-rattling. Georgia, Ukraine, and the rest of the world have learned a disturbing lesson." The Wall Street Journal editorial board hits the same themes: "Don't expect either [Poland or the Czech Republic] to follow America's lead anytime soon."

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Posted at 8:25 AM ET on Sep 18, 2009  | Category:  The Rundown
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Greetings from Germany:

I am an American citizen, currently

residing in Germany. In addition, I

am also retired from the United States

Air Force.

I have recently read the article,

"Obama Reignites 25-Year-Old Debate,"

and I have to agree with President

Obama, for my own reasons, in cancelling

the Shield. In this modern age, third

world countries such as Iran and North

Korea will never launch a surprise

attack against any country, nuclear or

conventional. To do so, would be

suicidal, especially from retalliation

by the United States and Israel. The

rogue nations cannot expect any assistance,

from other countries for reasons mentioned

above, therefore, I view their nuclear

threats as their only methods to

indicate that they are still world-

players. They are not world-players.

They are in reality, a group of uneducated

countries that have banded together,

seeking immediate attention, similar

to new-born babies. Therefore, why

does the Media pay credence to their

illogical whims? In essence, there

should be a law, in each country,

that forbids any Media, from printing

material that gives attention to these

threats.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Dennis P. Habern, Msgt, USAF, Retired

Posted by: dennishabern1 | September 21, 2009 8:25 AM

I GUESS ALL THE DEFENSE SPENDING HAWKS WILL JUMP ON THIS.
I GUESS IF THE PRESIDENT REALLY HAD TIME TO GO AFTER THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT THERE WOULD BE HELL TO PAY. OUR TAXES FALL INTO A DARK HOLE WHEN IT COMES TO DEFENSE, YET WE ARE NO MORE SECURE.

WE HAVE NOT WON A WAR SINCE WW11 BECAUSE WE THINK WE ARE THE GREATEST. MAYBE PEOPLE NEED TO READ THE BOOK CALLED "THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH", RUSSIA COULD NOT WIN IN AFGHANISTAN, FRANCE COULD NOT WIN IN ALGERIA. WE LOST OVER 50,000 MEN IN VIETNAM AND WE STILL HAVE NOT GOTTEN A SURRENDER FROM KOREA.

EVEN THE OLD SOUTH IS STILL FIGHTING THE CIVIL WAR. NO ONE GIVES UP THEIR SOVERIENTY.

WE HAVE BEEN OBSOLETE FOR YEARS BECAUSE WE REFUSE TO UPDATE OUR WAR STRATEGY. THIS OLD STRATEGY HAS MADE US LESS SECURE.

I HOPE THAT THE PRESIDENT WILL BE ABLE TO RECRUIT MORE MODERN YOUNG MEN INTO THE SERVICE. I HOPE THAT THERE COULD BE ENOUGH YOUNG MEN TO REPLACE THE CONTRACTORS AND HELP OUR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN HAVE GOOD CAREERS IN THE ARMED SERVICES.

Posted by: sm98yth | September 19, 2009 11:40 AM

When, exactly, did Iran threaten us?

If we aren't threatened, then whose protection are we subsidizing?

Uh, and why?

JB

Posted by: jackbrumbelow7 | September 18, 2009 8:34 PM

So, is there an actual working shield, or were we deploying one huge, expensive smoke-and-mirror show?

Posted by: nodebris | September 18, 2009 1:47 PM

As September 11 showed us, any attacks on our soil are not going to be in the form of "missles". The missle defense shield was pork-barrel spending folly to begin with and Obama is right to nip it. It is sound national security policy and makes financial sense.

Posted by: Coloradem1 | September 18, 2009 12:49 PM

This NYT assertion is just illogical:

"The new plan turns Ronald Reagan's vision of a Star Wars system on its head: Rather than focusing first on protecting the continental United States, it shifts the immediate effort to defending Europe and the Middle East."

So the New York Times believes that the "plan" that Obama's is replacing... a "missile shield" in the Czech Republic... WAS focused on protecting the continental United States? Or should the Times have said that it was BUSH's plan that turned Reagan's vision on its head? Obama's plan merely seeks to accomplish the same task as Bush claimed his Czech missile base was intended to do, but without annoying the Russians.

All the fuss about this makes no sense unless the fussbudgets assume that Bush's claims were false, that the Czech missile base WAS really just intended to get in the Russians' face, after all.

Or does somebody just need a geography lesson?

Posted by: Iconoblaster | September 18, 2009 11:46 AM

Obama is a Zero as a President!!

Posted by: springco1 | September 18, 2009 9:51 AM

There is no better time politically for the president to drop the shield. Regular Americans and the media are consumed by health care and it's an electoral off-year, meaning no embarrassing hits by the GOP on the Dems as "soft" on defense.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | September 18, 2009 9:10 AM

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