While Polish President Lech Kaczynski claims on his website that President-Elect Barack Obama has voiced support for continuing the controversial Missile Interceptor program of the Bush Administration that prompted Russia to threaten to place battlefield nuclear weapons pointed at Poland near it's borders, an advisor to Obama has disputed the story.
Officially the Obama transition team claims that Obama has made "no commitment" on whether to go forward with the controversial joint Bush Administration and Polish government military program which has only angered Russia and has created some of the most frosty foreign relations with Russia since the old Cold war days.
This issue could potentially give the Obama presidency a major area to open up better relations with Russia by refusing to go ahead with the missile defense program in exchange for Russia not moving ahead with any close nuclear threat to Poland. Even some conservatives such as Pat Buchanan feel that this Bush Administration proposal is way too provocative, and if Poland and the Czech Republic would only hold referendum votes on the issue, and the voters would reject the missile defense proposals, then it might present a face saving way out on this issue that only seems to provoke too many old Cold War tensions.
The fact of the matter is that Russia has always been very paranoid about it's border security, and even more so since WWII and the old Cold War. And missiles placed near Russian territory only seem to inspire a dangerous arms race or other tensions.
In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis was largely triggered in response to the U.S. placing some nuclear missiles in Turkey close to the borders of the old Soviet Union, which inspired then Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to work with Cuba to build nuclear missile silos aimed at the United States coast of Florida just 90 miles away. The situation brought the U.S. and the Soviet Union very close to WWIII, however the Kennedy Administration used Attorney General Robert Kennedy to seek a delinked agreement with the Russians to remove the missiles in Turkey in exchange for their removal of any nuclear threat in Cuba. This history lesson should have guided the Bush Administration into the realization that the placement of any missiles, offensive or defensive near the borders of Russia will only promote a dangerous tension and provoke potential military conflict.
The incoming Obama Administration needs to learn from this important historical lesson of the serious dangers of promoting any border nuclear weapons threats by either the U.S. or Russia, and prevent any such tensions from developing.
Border tensions with Russia are very unproductive and dangerous, and a very bad path to go down. It is simply not worthwhile to provoke such a conflict, and instead concentrate on improving relations, where the overall picture of good relations between Russia and the U.S. needs to be the central concern.
And little issues such as a rollback of the Polish missile program could go a long way towards breaking the current foreign policy chill with Russia somewhat. And it is hoped that Russia would also present some positive steps such as less interest in involvement in Georgia or perhaps in Venezuela as well.
A continued chill in U.S. and Russia relations could soon create some serious Russian military involvement with the erratic Hugo Chavez, which could only lead to a potential new Cuban Missile Crisis style threat in the future with Venezuela or another leftist South American state acting as a host for Russian military hardware or missiles and a potentially serious border security military threat to the U.S. once again. This is certainly a path to avoid.
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