The recent visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates failed to achieve an agreement with Russians on the issue of America establishing missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Putin in an angry statement commented: “We might decide some day to set up a missile defense system on the moon, but until then, the opportunity for an agreement might be lost while you realize your plans.” He also threatened to have Russia withdraw from the Intermediate-Missile Nuclear Forces Treaty if the pact is not applied to all countries. Secretary Gates discounted the anger of Russians by claiming, “when they’re hit with new ideas, they basically go to a default position of a defensive crouch, until they really have time to thank about it and consider it.”
The Gates comment is fascinating since it comes from someone in the Bush administration. Accusing other nations of becoming “defensive” when hit by “new ideas” is an incredible comment from a member of the Bush team which consistently refuses to listen to any one who differs with their world view. Is Gates claiming President Bush is receptive to new initiatives? Is he claiming Bush avoids getting into a “defensive crouch” if someone differs with his views on the world?
This entire missile base issue is an example of Bush creating problems. Initially, the rationale for the missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic was fear of Iranian and North Korean missiles. We have just reached agreements with North Korea so that eliminates one source of potential missiles. Does anyone really believe Iran is threatening to send missiles to Europe!! This web site has been extremely critical of President Putin’s anti-democratic policies, but on the missile issue he is absolutely correct. There is absolutely no need for such a system– at this point in time.