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Sacrificing Missile Defense for ‘Reset’

11:01 AM, Oct 12, 2011 • By REBECCAH HEINRICHS
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When President Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty the year after the 9/11 attacks, he wisely broke the decades long link between arms control and missile defense.  The Obama administration reversed the Bush administration’s policy by linking missile defense with arms control in New START. Obama administration officials repeatedly argued that New START would not affect their plans for missile defense.  That may be true, but only because the administration doesn’t have plans for strengthening homeland missile defense. 

Now, Ellen Tauscher, the undersecretary of state famous for her love of arms control and hostility toward comprehensive U.S. missile defense, is leading negotiations with Moscow over an agreement exclusively focused on allaying Russian concerns about U.S. missile defense. Reports indicate the Russians are seeking legally binding assurances that the U.S. missile defense system could not be used against Russian missiles. The U.S. system could eventually provide comprehensive protection of the homeland from attack, regardless of the kind and quantity of enemy missile, and from where it is launched. It would be a disaster and an utter abdication of its primary responsibility of providing for the common defense if the U.S. government agreed to Russian demands, thereby purposefully exposing the American people to Russian nuclear weapons.   

Sacrificing missile defense until the Russians are satisfied will not end well for the American people or the future of U.S. security. The Obama administration's efforts to achieve Russian “reset,” which were recently rewarded by the return of former KGB member Vladimir Putin to officially lead the country again, will undoubtedly do little to persuade Russia to assist in the strengthening of U.S. security—and will do much to hurt it.

Rebeccah Heinrichs is an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the former manager of the House of Representatives Bipartisan Missile Defense Caucus.

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