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Obama's Appeasement

The likely harm that results from the administration's surrender on missile defense goes far beyond Europe.

5:45 AM, Sep 17, 2009 • By SETH CROPSEY
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In Central Europe the decision is a pointed reminder that U.S. policy has thrown the Central Europeans under the Russian bus once since the end of World War II. Will the Central Europeans now decide that the same bus is coming again and that the wisest policy would be to start reaching accommodation with Russia? The results for Western Europeans are equally far-reaching. The Obama administration decision confirms the increasing opinion in Western Europe that conflict is passé and a relic. It helps shred what's left of the consensus about collective defense that undergirds NATO.

The likely harm that results from this decision goes far beyond Europe. The U.S. has security commitments to Israel, Japan, and South Korea for example. How are leaders in those and other countries likely to regard the Obama administration's failure to honor American security commitments? Does President Obama understand that the United States' interest in keeping its word transcends his own political interest in continuing to distance himself from his predecessor?

The Obama administration has decided to dishonor a security commitment made to one of the United States' most reliable and dependable democratic allies, and to placate an increasingly authoritarian corrupt state that helped Iran build its nuclear power plant at Bushehr and supplies Iran with significant military equipment such as air-defense missiles. The decision is a sign of weakness, a confirmation that this administration does not see value in defending against ballistic missiles, and a wholesale invitation to aggressive behavior, not just from Russia.

This capitulation is all the more inexcusable because, unlike the situation that Chamberlain faced at Munich in 1938, Russia, unlike Nazi Germany, is still a relatively weak power. The Obama administration has as little to fear from Russia's military as it has to expect that Russian goodwill or self-interest will have a moderating effect on Iran's plans to become a nuclear power.

The future damage, however, to international perceptions of American resolve is incalculable.

Seth Cropsey is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute. He served as deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Navy in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administration, and as a naval officer from 1985 to 2005.