SecDef Gates to Putin: Drop Dead!

In Brussels Friday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates turned away Putin's bid to derail the US-NATO plan to build the key Eastern European segment of a comprehensive ballistic missile defense system. Opposing the Eastern European radar installations,  Russia had wanted to get its hand in the system by proposing a joint US-Russian radar site in Azerbaijan. 

This was undoubtedly an obvious non-starter, and was clearly designed to stymie European missile defense, while regaining influence in the newly independent former Soviet republic.  Last year Azerbaijan enthusiastically accepted US and NATO overtures, thereby sealing off the Caucasus land bridge to Putin's client state of Iran.

Gates signaled that Putin's insistence on a joint-use radar station in Azerbaijan would never come about and added that he should not expect an agreement when President Bush will meet with him at Kennebunkport, Maine next month.  Gates said,
"I was very explicit in the (NATO) meeting that we saw the Azeri radar as an additional capability [and] that we intended to proceed with the X-Band radar in the Czech Republic."
In addition to the radar system in the Czech Republic, Poland will host launchers for 10 interceptor missiles.  Notably NATO planners were ordered to begin efforts to design and implement a short-range missile defense system to protect countries on the European southeastern flank. 

Iranian missiles

As I wrote last month, the ballistic missile defense system is the basic component to protect US rotational bases and port facilities from theater-level ballistic missiles, especially from Iran.  NATO will now examine the low-level threat gap, especially to assets in Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania.  NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that by February, an initial report will be complete that will have designed a short-range anti-missile defense system
"that can be bolted on to the overall missile defense system as it would be installed by the United States."
Despite the obvious maneuver on the part of Putin to delay and disrupt our strategy in the Global War on Terror, his apologists remain steadfast in his defense.  Earlier this week, Arnaud de Borchgrave in the Washington Times, made an attempt to psychoanalyze the Russian Nationalist with another silly, historical what-if situation involving a Warsaw Pact victory in the Cold War and an imaginary co-opting of Mexico and Canada. 

It's time for the deep thinkers in the National Security establishment to get out of the science fiction and sociology business, and stop making excuses for leaders who are obviously building a new alliance  to confront - again - those nations that value freedom and democracy.

For seeing the threat and for not cowing to Putin's moves, Gates has shown a firm hand on the national security front.  And that's something we haven't seen from this administration in years

Douglas Hanson is National Security Correspondent for American Thinker.
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