A controversial decision has been made by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, but also Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a carryover from the Bush Administration,Â to abandon the Bush Administration idea of setting up a missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic to protect against any Iranian missile program and nuclear weapons development, in favor of cooperation with Russia on the Iranian issue.
This, of course, pleases Vladamir Putin, the Prime Minister and past President of Russia, who was antagonistic toward such a missile defense, as presenting a threat to his nation. It has, at the same time, alarmed Republicans and conservatives who feel that the administration is undermining the defense of these Eastern European nations and caving in to Russian demands, particularly after the intervention in Georgia in 2008.
On this subject, I admit to some confusion as to what is best. My gut instinct is to worry about this decision, but it is also true that a better relationship between Russia and the United States is essential if there is to be any linking of policy toward Iran and North Korea, as they pursue nuclear weapons.
In many ways, Iran is the greater issue right now, although certainly one cannot be naive about Russia, based on its past and the fact that Vladamir Putin seems not a leader to trust, based on his behavior as Russian leader in the past, and his continued dominance in Russian affairs although he is no longer the President, but rather the Prime Minister of his nation.
Certainly, Obama’s decision to reverse the Bush policy is a bold gamble, for which he may some day be seen as a visionary, or as a total failure. Hopefully, the former, rather than the latter, will be the result when we look back on the Obama Presidency when he leaves office.