By now I’m sure all readers have heard about President Obama’s decision to cancel the anti-missile systems that had been planned for deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic (see first link below). This anti-missile system was a centerpiece of President Bush’s administration and it was critical for binding the nations of Eastern Europe (the former Warsaw Pact nations who had been Russia’s vassal states) to NATO. The answer to the question posed in this blog’s title is: “Yes, Obama did ‘cave’ to Russia’s demands.” However, I doubt if Obama, being the foreign policy “newbie” that he is, realizes the enduring collateral damage of his decision to appease Russia.
Obama clearly has no grasp of history. After laboring under the Russian boot for decades after World War II, Eastern European nations that had been part of the Soviet sphere were eager to embrace the West and ally themselves to NATO and the West. Personally, I believe the anti-missile batteries planned for Poland and the Czech Republic were intended to reassure eastern European nations that NATO was serious about maintaining their independence from Russia just as much as they were intended to deter any future Iranian missiles. All of Europe understood this and so did the USA and Russia, even though all of them (except Russia) avoided public discussion of this fact. Obama and his advisors clearly “didn’t get this.” In the aftermath of Obama’s abandonment of the anti-missile system, Eastern Europe has to feel abandoned. After Obama’s decision to abandon the anti-missile system was announced, Poland’s Prime Minister refused to even speak with Obama or Secretary of State Clinton (see second link). Poland understood Obama had sacrificed the security interests of Poland and Eastern Europe. There is a chance that Poland might get some US patriot missile batteries, but Poland just learned how important it was to Obama and NATO. Poland apparently didn’t even get consulted about this matter that was of critical importance to Poland. The best face will be put on this diplomatic snub by Obama to Eastern Europe, of course, but if I were a resident of Eastern Europe, I’d be brushing up on my Russian language skills about now. Obama surely lacks the foreign policy skills to realize it, but his action just put a fracture line within NATO’s cohesiveness. Russia realizes it though, and you can be sure there is back-slapping inside the Kremlin about the easy diplomatic triumph of Putin/Medvedev over Obama.
However, the damage runs far deeper than the USA’s and NATO’s credibility with Eastern Europe. It has also been previously reported that Obama has abandoned key understandings in the American-Israeli relationship that had been sacrosanct throughout many Republican and Democrat administrations. Adding Obama’s sell-out of Eastern Europe in the anti-missile system cancellation to the American sell-out of its long-term agreements with the Israelis, no nation on earth can be sure if the United States of America can be trusted any longer on any of its commitments…as long as Obama is president. Every American ally in the world must be wondering: “Will Obama sell us out too?” The third link below, from the Washington Times, is consistent with my analysis of this matter (my thanks to reader, Pat, for sending me this link). Obama surely doesn’t realize it, but he also just cut the foundations out from underneath his own personal credibility with other nations. We are entering dangerous and uncharted waters in global geopolitics.
One wonders what, if anything, Obama received from the Russians in exchange for this major concession on Obama’s part. I’ll offer a possible explanation in the remainder of this blog. Obama seems hell-bent on sending ever-more of American’s military ground forces into Afghanistan, a Central Asian nation where the USA has no vital strategic interest. The Al Qaeda training camps were destroyed years ago. We have no treaty requiring us to expend more lives and billions of dollars to blow up more rocks in Afghanistan. The fourth link below is a bit long, but it details the military plans for additional American and NATO deployments to Afghanistan. It includes the information that Obama may want to send another 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, and that the total number of American troops there may reach 108,000-113,000. Obama and the neophytes who advise him seem eager to thoroughly wear out the US military. However, the American people and Congress have begun to question whether it serves any purpose for American troops to remain in Afghanistan. The fifth link below, from the Washington Post, confirms that Americans are turning against the Afghan War. Obama’s expansion of the Afghan War against public wishes (and especially against the wishes of his own political base) presages more political problems for Obama in the future.
In considering to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Obama shows a profound lack of understanding of the military realities of US ground forces. The last link below (from the USA Today’s 5-14-09 issue) reported that the supply of US ground forces able to be deployed overseas for any reason is dropping steadily. The US Army and Marines need a rest after many years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama and his advisors don’t grasp this critical fact.
Previous blogs have noted that there are no secure supply lines into Afghanistan and no secure avenues of retreat for US forces from that nation. The overland route depends both on the support of an increasingly-resistant Pakistani government and the ability of supply convoys to fight their way through Taliban forces and their allies. The air supply route to US troops into Afghanistan is controlled by…Russia. US planes fly through Central Asian nations once part of the USSR to get supplies to the US forces in Afghanistan. Maybe that is what Russia “offered” to Obama in exchange for cancelling the anti-missile program in Eastern Europe. Maybe Russia offered to allow the USA the continued right to fly supplies to its troops in Afghanistan only if Obama cancelled the anti-missile program in Europe. If this is the deal Obama made, Putin must be marveling at how easy it is to snooker Obama at the conference table. Obama traded away a major bargaining chip without receiving any Russian concession in return. Obama merely got Russia to preserve a “status quo” situation in exchange for a major concession on Obama’s part. Putin achieved a major victory over Obama. In exchange for Obama’s cancellation of an anti-missile program vital to Eastern Europe and NATO cohesiveness, Obama “won” the right to fly more American soldiers and their military equipment into Afghanistan…where they will be exhausted even further and drawn ever further away from the American homeland and into a position where Russia and its allies will control the future fate of those American troops. This agreement was “win-win” for Russia and “lose-lose” for the USA and Obama.
Ezekiel 38 reveals it is the long-range strategic goal of Russia, China, Iran and their allies to eventually invade the homelands of the USA, the NATO nations and their allies. It very much serves Russia’s interests to make sure more and more American troops get sent further and further away from the US homeland and that they get ever-more exhausted. Putin knows how to expertly play the “grand game” of world geopolitics, and he is setting the global chess board to fulfill Ezekiel 38’s prophecy (although I’m sure Putin doesn’t realize he is but a pawn in the Creator’s hands). Obama doesn’t seem to understand global geopolitics at all. America has elected as President and Commander-in-Chief an inexperienced politician who knows little or nothing about economics, business, foreign policy or military matters. I’m afraid its going to be a long four years.