By Dan Froomkin
12:48 PM ET, 03/ 3/2009
Former president George W. Bush insisted that his controversial plans for an anti-missile base in Poland and radar deployment in the Czech Republic weren't intended to protect Europe from Russia -- but from Iran.
Bush's real motives were more complex. He had long had an obsession with missile defense. Twenty five years after Ronald Reagan proposed what became known as the "Star Wars" program, Bush clearly wanted to make it a key part of his legacy. And his proposed Eastern European emplacements were an overt act of provocation against the Russians.
Now President Obama appears to be taking Bush's ostensible rationale to its logical conclusion.
Michael A. Fletcher writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama has sent a letter to his Russian counterpart that raises the prospect of the United States halting development of its missile defense program in Eastern Europe if Russia helps resolve the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program, senior administration officials said last night....
"Russia has cooperated with Tehran on a range of issues and has often resisted Washington's tough stance toward Iran, which insists that its nuclear program is aimed at developing only cheap energy, not weapons....
"Administration officials said Russia has not responded to the letter on missile defense, details of which were first reported yesterday by the Russian newspaper Kommersant."
Peter Baker writes in the New York Times: "Mr. Obama’s letter, sent in response to one he received from Mr. Medvedev shortly after Mr. Obama’s inauguration, is part of an effort to 'press the reset button' on Russian-American relations, as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. put it last month, officials in Washington said. Among other things, the letter discussed talks to extend a strategic arms treaty expiring this year and cooperation in opening supply routes to Afghanistan."