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Obama Drives a Valuable Shift in US Defense Policy

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 01:51 AM EDT

No need to search for obscure reasons or ulterior motive when scrutinizing the change in direction introduced by President Obama in the US defense policy after President’s refusal to install the so-called missile shield. The expected partial deployment on European territory was one of the pillars of Bush’s failed strategy against international terrorism.

Obama’s resolution involved several decisions of domestic and foreign policy, all high draft. On the one hand, the strong US defense industry will not feel aggrieved, since this is not about trying to cut off a program that would produce significant benefits, but to transform the land-based missile defense system installed on other naval platforms. The technical explanations make little change to the case except to deny the accusation that the US and its allies could be defenseless against a suspected terrorist attack with missiles.

The adopted solution presupposes a more thorough risk assessment, dismissing the idea that Iran is able to hold mid-term long-range missiles and reduce the anticipated missile threat from shorter range. The fact that the current US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was also in charge during the Bush administration, supports and implement this change in strategy, is a smart move by Obama. The US President skillfully – and to the surprise of many who did not understand his decision– maintained R. Gates at the same position –the very same that had fully supported the failed military strategy of the former president.

Russia expressed rapidly and unambiguously its favorable opinion about this amendment and countries most directly concerned which are Poland and Czech Republic shall cover up that Europe defense is a common issue that affects all countries rather than a result of bilateral agreements of some of them with the American superpower – in order they appease their peculiar and atavistic fears towards Russia, however reasonable their historical reasons may seem.

Nor should it surprise that the new Secretary General of NATO – an alliance that since the Soviet Union collapsed is looking for a suitable place in the global system of supranational military organizations – is enthusiastically pointing to a new strategy that does not see an almost mandatory enemy in Russia but an appropriate and necessary ally, by which NATO can continue to keep alive, despite all previsions – a treaty that was precisely born to fight today’s new ally.

Subsequently, Mr. Rasmussen, in his first public comments of some significance since in August he took over from NATO, suggested combining missile defense systems of US, NATO and Russia into a single one. However, when asked about specifics of the plan he did not know how to respond and referred to further clarification of the military leaders –quite understandable since the NATO HQ itself was surprised by the swift and unexpected decision by the US president.

Obama, therefore, takes firmly the helm of US foreign policy. He will face a tough offensive from his political rivals. Senator McCain already warned the decision as a “serious error” that “potentially undermines US leadership as perceived in Eastern Europe”. The most obsessive US right wing – the very same which identifies traits of socialism and even communism in Obama’s plan to extend health coverage to every citizen – will go on with its campaign of denigration, with the helpful support from the most extreme republicans.

Obama definitely buries the former US policy, which divided Europe with the invasion of Iraq – one might remember the shameful pamphlet to support Bush policy, signed by many conservative European leaders, including Berlusconi, Aznar and Barroso, together with the joint efforts of three Eastern European countries, significantly Poland and the Czech Republic. The ensuing releasing in the Wall Street Journal allowed the most US reactionary forces to contempt the “old Europe” (led by France and Germany), who opposed the war, while praising the “new Europe” – the latter, whilst supporting Bush’s illegal adventure, showed a mixture of servility and excitement to establish a special relationship with the American superpower, that is trying to came closer to develop relationships with influential people (UK), in sum expecting benefits, as Jeb Bush, the dreadful brother of the former US president, who ruled his fiefdom in Florida, decreed when visiting Madrid: “This relationship between the United States and Spain will provide benefits that cannot be imagined today.”

The way Obama has to pass through is easier said than done and he will need all his personality resources to face opposition from the social sectors – within and outside the US –who worshiped Bush and still share his reactionary ideology and highlight his disastrous decisions.