President continues to show disrespect

Political attacks often oversimplify issues to the point of creating babble, and the July 30 letter “Russia! Russia! Russia!” is a good example. For one thing, it claimed simply that in 2009 President Obama had dropped plans for missile defense in eastern Europe, plans proposed by President Bush II and opposed by Russia. In fact, Obama substituted one missile defense system for another, and his modified system has since been mostly deployed. Why the change?

The Bush system against long-range missiles was technically shaky. Long ago, President Reagan wanted a system to protect against the most devastating attack Russia could make, an idea about as technically feasible as sinking the moon into the Pacific. Subsequent administrations of both parties trimmed it to something that might protect against a single accidental launch or a very small launch by some small country. They still had so much trouble making it work that Bush II exempted it from the usual very stringent testing procedures for new weapons.

The European system was billed as a defense against Iran, though Russia never believed that. But U.S. intelligence estimates emphasized that Iran’s actual capability was going to be a much shorter range attack. More reliable defenses against shorter range missiles had been developed separately from the Bush grand scheme.

So Obama was faced with deciding whether to defend against a less credible threat with a less reliable system or a more credible threat using a technically better system. He chose the latter and was immediately attacked for caving in to the Russians.

It is true that the Russian criticism decreased for awhile, but it later resumed. Obama held on against it and the system was largely deployed in Europe before he left office.

We could similarly discuss most of what is in “Russia! Russia! Russia!”, but I am over 300 words. Oversimplified sound bites are like missiles, and the defense is pretty wordy.

Thomas Gibbons,