US to Scrap Eastern European Missile Defense

This is welcome news if true:

Washington will scrap plans to put anti-missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic and is looking at alternatives including Israel and Turkey, a Polish newspaper reported Aug. 27, citing U.S. officials. The U.S. plan, intended for defense against attacks from Iran, has met with fierce objections from Russia, which regarded the eastern European bases as a threat to its own security.

Per Robert Farley, this plan never made any sense largely because it’s proponents actually couldn’t make up their mind as to whether they meant this as a provocative anti-Russian move or not:

No one could ever conclusively argue why these bases were a good idea; they were supposed to deter Russia, but at the same time weren’t aimed at Russia, and couldn’t possibly have stopped a Russian attack. They were supposed to defend from Iranian missiles, even though no one could ever figure out a plausible reason why Iran would fire ballistic missiles at Europe. Eastern European missile defense was, in short, insane; it was conceived by missile defense fanatics in the United States, and abetted by policymakers in Poland and the Czech Republic who wanted a clear signal of US commitment to their defense.


Poles and Czechs wanting a clear commitment from the United States is understandable, but there are other ways we can offer that. The best approach to dealing with Russia on these big strategic issues is to move forward with bilateral nuclear arms reductions. If we can come up with workable theater missile defenses in key regions, that’s great, but then we should honest-to-God not get them mixed up with the issue of Russia.