With the healthcare debate still smouldering in the home front and with the Pittsburgh G-20 summit around the corner, the White House announcement that scraps Bush’s missile shield scheme in Eastern Europe came both as a surprise and a relief for most Europeans.
Probably only Polish and Czech politicians could have been disappointed with the withdrawal of the multi-billion dollar scheme in their respective territories. However, it is known that Poles in border towns where said long-range missiles were to be installed breathe with relief with the announcement.
The prolonged study of the project and its final scrapping go far beyond the technical aspects reflected in the final report as yet not made public. Two important factors must have played prominently in President Obama’s decision. First, the economic crisis with its enormous pressure on public spending warrants cutbacks in all superfluous expenses; use of existing SM-3 interceptors is easily applicable to the sea-based Aegis system as early as 2011. Secondly, Russia’s permanent objection to Bush’s missile shield project has caused a tense ‘wait and see’ attitude since Obama assumed office.
It is this second reason which, on the verge of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, seems the main political card the Obama Administration wishes to include in the card pack to be played at the negotiations table on September 24-25.
Without really withdrawing the military menace to Iran, the USA can lure Russia into a more receptive stance towards NATO reinforcement in the Eastern European-Middle East front. Russia cannot forget that once before both Poland and the Czech Republic belonged to the extinct USSR military treaty and these former Soviet allies are now EU states and NATO members.
Furthermore, in spite of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in the next few years, the Afghan warfront is a common ‘Achilles’ heel’ for both the USA and Russia. Where the Americans are now trapped in a frenzied battle to wipe out insurrection in Afghanistan, the extinct USSR Army (now mainly Russian) had already suffered heavy losses in the battlefields a decade ago. Russia cannot forget that then, Talibans and warlords alike, received underhanded U.S. military support.
This announcement comes at a time when President Obama must wade through deep waters both in the home front and in the international scenario. While the world watches how Obama plays his cards at the G-20 summit, American vested interests and The Establishment shall be observing how he construes his state policies affecting armament expenditures in the upcoming budget. No one can deny that the world conflicts and the arms race are a permanent source of revenue for American business groups. The Iraq and Afghanistan warfronts, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have enriched numerous entrepreneurs but mainly maintained alive multinational industries involved in aviation, armament, construction and allied services.
President Obama’s dilemma is how to push through this wink at Russia without neither bruising The Establishment’s sentiments nor upsetting vested interests back home. Needless to say, maintaining the see-saw balance may prove vital for the approval of a relatively decent healthcare law. The USA can no longer decide at will, when the rest of the world with the EU states present at the G-20 summit, are there to have their say.