Carter in a Kennedy Suit
The background starts with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoiled Obama’s little Grant Park party hours after his historic election by announcing the stationing short-range missile systems in Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania. This in response to stationing an anti-missile shield in Poland.
We have the Polish President Kaczynski asking Obama for an assurance that such a shield will be deployed. On the other hand, we have Obama waffling. The difference between Obama’s waffling and unequivocal statement of need hasn’t gone unnoticed. By Russia. By Iran.
This brings back some bad memories about Carter’s handling of the Neutron Bomb controversy from the 1978 time frame. (Time, 1978) This was a weapon that emitted lethal radiation will little, relatively, collateral blast damage. It’s deployment rationale was to blunt the then Warsaw Pact’s 3-to-1 advantage in armor in central Europe. There was, at the time, a great deal of opposition on both sides of the Atlantic, lubricated by Pravda. However, with a great deal of intense negotiation, and with the support of of many of his chief defense and diplomacy, Carter backed off at the last minute. Carter tried to put lipstick on that pig (couldn’t resist) by saying he wanted to use the Neutron Bomb as a bargaining chip over the coming deployment of the Soviet intermediate range missiles, the SS20.
Then, we had the whole intermediate range missile controversy of the 1980’s when Reagan decided to deploy Pershing and cruise missiles to counter the Soviet SS20 missile deployment. Again, in the teeth of all sorts of controversy.
And, so here we have new situation with a little bit of both controversies mixed in. And, we have the same old line up; NATO versus Russia.
Yet, it is different. This controversy revolves around a clearly defensive weapon, designed to knock out offensive nuclear missiles. It addresses the serious moral shortfall of Mutually Assured Destruction; that of holding civilians hostage in war. Yet, we have the worst of the Neutron Bomb controversy and the SS20 deployments of, respectively, 1978 and the 1980’s. Here we have the seeds of undercutting an ally, Poland and its President, Kaczynski just the way Carter undercut then West German Chancellor Schmidt. Then, unlike Reagan, who actually created useful “bargaining chips” by deploying Pershing and cruise missiles, we have Obama waffling and sending a message that we may not deploy a clearly defensive anti-missile system. And, the Russians get what they want for free.
The GOP, because of 30 years of economic growth and prosperity had little to campaign on because most of the electorate forgot economic life under Carter. A very successful military bottled up Islamic imperialism at its source thousands of miles from our shore. Say what you will about the state of Iraq, pre and post surge, those American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have been key in preventing another 9/11. Unfortunately, because the GOP so damaged their brand with profligate spending, they no longer had the credibility, in this election, to effectively warn Americans that abandonment of Reagan’s policies of a strong military and a pro-growth economic policy of less taxes and government will spell disaster.
Will Obama’s emulate Kennedy? He of the Kennedy tax cuts and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Or, does that Kennedy suit hide the hard-core appeaser, the inner Carter, that seems to animate Obama’s basic instincts.