President Obama’s recent decision to eliminate a missile defense system plan has stirred up quite a controversy in domestic and international politics. Instead of setting up a limited missile defense system in Poland to intercept potential long-range nuclear missiles from Iran – which, at present, haven’t been developed there – Obama has decided that the US should arrange a shorter range missile interceptor near Iran for the medium range missile threat. Some say that this decision is a concession to Russian complaints that the longer range set-up would provide the U.S. with an opportunity for a first-strike.
In a recent op-ed in the Short Stack column for the Washington Post, Thomas Graham co-author of Preventing Catastrophe: The Use and Misuse of Intelligence in Efforts to Halt the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, gives his opinion on Obama’s decision to change the strategy from the Bush administration’s more aggressive stance on missile defense. He explains that after a long history of unsuccessful nuclear defense plans, a more realistic plan has now been introduced. Some fear that a new wave of nuclear proliferation could soon develop, leading to more dangerous and paranoid international relations. Graham points out that by changing our missile defense plan, the Obama administration is hoping to “reset” relations with Russia while also defending from the very realistic possibility of Iranian medium-range missiles. It will be interesting to see how this decision plays out: Will it buy us more cooperation with Russia for future nonproliferation and help us to defend from the very real threat posed by Iran? Or, in terms of defending its NATO allies in Eastern Europe, is it dangerous and unwise move for U.S. foreign policy?