Rice: "We have a breakthrough document on missile defense for the Alliance"

In Bucharest today, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley indicated they were very pleased by the support they feel the U.S. has gotten from the NATO alliance for its missile defense proposals in Europe.

Rice told journalists: “…we have a breakthrough document on missile defense for the Alliance. Again, I remember going to that first summit, when I think the President talked about missile defense, and perhaps only two allies gave even lukewarm support for the notion of missile defense. But now it is clearly understood in the Alliance that the challenges of the 21st century, the threats of the 21st century make it necessary to have missile defense that can defend the countries of Europe; that this is important to NATO, and we will take that work ahead. The NATO allies also asked Russia to stop its criticism of the Alliance effort and to join in the cooperative efforts that have been offered to it by the United States”.

In the same briefing, Hadley told the press: “there has been, over 10 years, a real debate as to whether there is a ballistic missile threat. And I think that debate ended today, when, in the Alliance document there’s a recognize that it is a threat that threatens the Alliance. Secondly, there has been a debate as to whether what we are working on with the Polish — with Poland and the Czech Republic is part of, and accepted by NATO as part of, the defense, as a contribution to protecting NATO countries from missile defense. That also got answered today in the affirmative”.

The transcript of the remarks by Rice and Hadley was released by the White House Office of the Press Secretary, and received by email.

After the meetings, and the press briefing, the Associated Press reported, perhaps overly optimisitically, that “No matter how much Russia hates it, the U.S. now has a clear track to build its long-range missile defense system in Europe. The crucial go-ahead came Thursday from the Czech Republic, where a vital radar site would be located. NATO leaders added their unanimous backing for the idea at a European summit, all but sealing the controversial deal just before President Bush’s weekend meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin has harshly criticized the proposed system, portraying it as a threat to Russia, virtually on its doorstep. Beyond the immediate dispute, the Czech accord and the NATO endorsement marked an important moment in the long history of U.S. efforts to persuade allies of the merits of missile defense … The intent is to combine the U.S. system, which is meant to shoot down long-range missiles, with one run by NATO that could defend against shorter-range missiles that are more of a worry to countries like Turkey, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria. Because of geography, they face a nearer-term threat from Iranian missiles … The Czech radar would be linked to a set of 10 interceptors that the U.S. wants to place in Poland. The Poles have not yet agreed. Poland has insisted on U.S. military aid as part of an agreement, and Bush recently indicated that was possible. The Pentagon wants to have the Polish and Czech sites in running order by about 2012 … The Czechs agreed to host an American radar that would be used to track the flight of missiles headed toward Europe from the Middle East. It would, in effect, be a set of eyes needed to guide missile interceptors to their target — long-range ballistic missiles of the sort Washington believes Iran is developing. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said a related question — whether the Russians would be allowed to station personnel at the site to monitor the radar’s use — was a matter that his government would handle alone.
The Czechs had been upset when the Bush administration, hoping to ease Russian opposition, initially floated the idea of allowing Russian monitors last fall. Schwarzenberg’s choice of words seemed to indicate some residual anger.
‘It is something which we will talk to the Russians about ourselves — not to be there as translators for the Americans’, he said. ‘It is entirely up to us’ … At their meeting scheduled for Sunday in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Bush and Putin are expected to agree that missile defense is one of many high-priority topics for their successors. But it appears unlikely that Putin, who steps down in May, will suddenly embrace a project he considers to be provocative … The Russians, despite their heated rhetoric, seem to have come to accept that they are unlikely to stop it the system. They said as much during talks last month in Moscow with Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who have been pushing a series of proposals intended to make the project more palatable for the Russians. But this does not mean Moscow’s misgivings will stop being an irritant in U.S.-Russian relations, nor does it guarantee that the defensive shield for Europe will be the answer to missile threats. After decades of development, at a cost exceeding $100 billion, the missile defense system now in place in America — mainly at bases in Alaska and California — is unproven and unpopular in Congress. It began as a way to stop long-range missiles launched in a doomsday scenario during the Cold War years when the United States and the Soviet Union targeted each other with thousands of nuclear missiles. Today’s is more modest, designed to stop a limited attack by North Korea”. This AP report can be read in full here .

One thought on “Rice: "We have a breakthrough document on missile defense for the Alliance"”

  1. with apologies for any inadvertent overkill but all this really is hot stuff


    Russia and Rotating the U.S. Focus
    April 1, 2008 | 1659 GMT
    By George Friedman

    For the past year, Stratfor has been focusing on what we see as the critical global geopolitical picture. As the U.S.-jihadist war has developed, it has absorbed American military resources dramatically. It is overstated to say that the United States lacks the capacity to intervene anywhere else in the world, but it is not overstated to say that the United States cannot make a major, sustained intervention without abandoning Iraq. Thus, the only global power has placed almost all of its military chips in the Islamic world.

    Exploiting U.S. Distractions

    Russia has taken advantage of the imbalance in the U.S. politico-military posture to attempt to re-establish its sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. To this end, Russia has taken advantage of its enhanced financial position — due to soaring commodity prices, particularly in the energy sector — as well as a lack of American options in the region.

    The Russians do not have any interest in re-establishing the Soviet Union, nor even in controlling the internal affairs of most of the former Soviet republics. Moscow does want to do two things, however. First, it wants to coordinate commodity policies across the board to enhance Russian leverage. Second, and far more important, it wants to limit U.S. and European influence in these countries. Above all, Russia does not want to see NATO expand any further — and Moscow undoubtedly would like to see a NATO rollback, particularly in the Baltic states.

    From a strategic point of view, the United States emerged from the Cold War with a major opportunity. Since it is not in the United States’ interests to have any great power emerge in Eurasia, making certain that Russia did not re-emerge as a Eurasian hegemon clearly was a strategic goal of the United States. The Soviet disintegration did not in any way guarantee that it would not re-emerge in another form.

    The United States pursued this goal in two ways. The first was by seeking to influence the nature of the Russian regime, trying to make it democratic and capitalist under the theory that democratic and capitalist nations did not engage in conflict with democratic and capitalist countries. Whatever the value of the theory, what emerged was not democracy and capitalism but systemic chaos and decomposition. The Russians ultimately achieved this state on their own, though the United States and Europe certainly contributed.

    The second way Washington pursued this goal was by trying to repeat the containment of the Soviet Union with a new containment of Russia. Under this strategy, the United States in particular executed a series of moves with the end of expanding U.S. influence in the countries surrounding Russia. This strategy’s capstone was incorporating new countries into NATO, or putting them on the path to NATO membership.

    NATO Expansion and Color Revolutions

    The Baltic states were included, along with the former Soviet empire in Central Europe. But the critical piece in all of this was Ukraine. If Ukraine were included in NATO or fell under Western influence, Russia’s southern flank would become indefensible. NATO would be a hundred miles from Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad. NATO would also be less than a hundred miles from St. Petersburg. In short, Russia would become a strategic cripple.

    The U.S. strategy was to encourage pro-American, democratic movements in the former Soviet Republics — the so-called “color revolutions.” The Orange Revolution in Ukraine was the breaking point in U.S.-Russian relations. The United States openly supported the pro-Western democrats in Ukraine. The Russians (correctly) saw this as a direct and deliberate challenge by the United States to Russian national security. In their view, the United States was using the generation of democratic movements in Ukraine to draw Ukraine into the Western orbit and ultimately into NATO.

    Having their own means of influence in Ukraine, the Russians intervened politically to put a brake on the evolution. The result was a stalemate that Russia appeared destined to win by dint of U.S. preoccupation with the Islamic world, Russian proximity, and the fact that Russia had an overwhelming interest in Ukraine while the Americans had only a distant interest.

    U.S. interest might have been greater than the Russians thought. The Americans have watched the re-emergence of Russia as a major regional power. It is no global superpower, but it certainly has regained its position as a regional power, reaching outside of its own region in the Middle East and elsewhere. The Iranians and Germans must both take Russia into account as they make their calculations. The Russian trajectory is thus clear. They may never be a global power again, but they are going to be a power that matters.

    The Closing Window

    It is far easier for the United States to prevent the emergence of a regional hegemon than to control one that has already emerged. Logically, the United States wants to block the Russian re-emergence, but Washington is running out of time. Indeed, one might say that the Americans are already out of time. Certainly, the United States must act now or else accept Russia as a great power and treat it as such.

    This is why U.S. President George W. Bush has gone to Ukraine. It is important to recall that Bush’s trip comes in the context of an upcoming NATO summit, where the United States has called for beginning the process that will include Ukraine — as well as Georgia and other Balkan powers — in NATO. Having gone relatively quiet on the issue of NATO expansion since the Orange Revolution, the United States now has become extremely aggressive. In traveling to Ukraine to tout NATO membership, Bush is directly challenging the Russians on what they regard as their home turf.

    Clearly, the U.S. window of opportunity is closing: Russian economic, political and military influence in Ukraine is substantial and growing, while the U.S. ability to manipulate events in Ukraine is weak. But Bush is taking a risky step. First, Bush doesn’t have full NATO support, which he needs since NATO requires unanimity in these issues. Several important NATO countries —particularly Germany — have opposed this expansion on technical merits that are hard to argue with. Germany’s stance is that not only is Ukraine not militarily ready to start meaningful membership talks, but that the majority of its population opposes membership in the first place.

    Assuming Bush isn’t simply making an empty gesture for the mere pleasure of irritating the Russians, the United States clearly feels it can deal with German objections if it creates the proper political atmosphere in Ukraine. Put another way, Bush feels that if he can demonstrate that the Russians are impotent, that their power is illusory, he can create consensus in NATO. Russia’s relatively weak response over Kosovo has been taken by Washington and many in Europe (particularly Central Europe) as a sign of Russian weakness. Bush wants to push the advantage now, since he won’t have a chance later. So the visit has been shaped as a direct challenge to Russia. Should Moscow fail to take up the challenge, the dynamics of the former Soviet Union will be changed.

    The Russians have three possible countermoves. The first is to use the Federal Security Service (FSB), its intelligence service, to destabilize Ukraine. Russia has many assets in Ukraine, and Russia is good at this game. Second, Russia can use its regional military power to demonstrate that the United States is the one bluffing. And third, Russia can return the favor to the Americans in a place that will hurt very badly; namely, in the Middle East — and particularly in Iran and Syria. A decision to engage in massive transfers of weapons, particularly advanced anti-aircraft systems, would directly hurt the United States.

    Of these options, the first is certainly the most feasible. Not only is it where the Russians excel — and will such a strategy leave few fingerprints and produce results quickly — but the other two options risk consolidating the West into a broad anti-Russian coalition that may well return the favor across the entire Russian periphery. The latter two options would also commit much of Russia’s resources to a confrontation with the West, leaving precious little to hedge against other powers, most notably a China which is becoming more deeply enmeshed in Central Asia by the day.

    The Middle East Connection

    Still, the United States must focus on where most of its troops are fighting. It would thus appear that provoking the Russians is a dangerous game. This is why events in Iraq this week have been particularly interesting. A massive battle broke out between two Shiite factions in Iraq. One, led by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim — who effectively controls Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki due to the small size and fractured nature of al-Maliki’s party — confronted the faction led by Muqtada al-Sadr. Clearly, this was an attempt by the dominant Shiite faction to finally deal with the wild card of Iraqi Shiite politics. By the weekend, al-Sadr had capitulated. Backed into a corner by overwhelming forces, apparently backed by U.S. military force, al-Sadr effectively sued for peace.

    Al-Sadr’s decision to lay down arms was heavily influenced by the Iranians. We would go further and say the decision to have al-Sadr submit to a government dominated by his Shiite rivals was a decision made with Iranian agreement. The Iranians had been restraining al-Sadr for a while, taking him to Tehran and urging him to return to the seminary to establish his clerical credentials. The Iranians did not want to see a civil war among the Iraqi Shia. A split among the Shia at a time of increasing Sunni unity and cooperation with the United States would open the door to a strategically unacceptable outcome for Iran: a pro-American government heavily dominated by Sunnis with increasing military power as the Shia are fighting among themselves.

    The Americans also didn’t want this outcome. While the Iranians had restrained al-Sadr at the beginning of the U.S. surge — and thereby massively contributed to the end of the strategy of playing the Sunnis against the Shia — Tehran had not yet dealt with al-Sadr decisively. Just like Iran, the United States prefers not to see a new Sunni government emerge in Iraq. Instead, Washington wants a balance of power in Baghdad between Sunnis, Shia and Kurds, and it wants intra-communal disputes to be contained within this framework. If a stable government is to emerge, each of the communities must be relatively (with an emphasis on “relatively”) stable. Thus, not for the first time, American and Iranian interests in Iraq were aligned. Both wanted an end to Shiite conflict, and that meant that both wanted al-Sadr to capitulate.

    This is the point where U.S. and Iranian interests can diverge. The Iranians have a fundamental decision to make, and what happens now in Iraq is almost completely contingent upon what the Iranians decide. They can do three things. First, they can hold al-Sadr in reserve as a threat to stability if things don’t go their way. Second, they can use the relative unity of the Shia to try to impose an anti-Sunni government in Baghdad. And third, they can participate in the creation of that government.

    We have long argued that the Iranians would take the third option. They certainly appeared to be cooperating in the last week. But it has not been clear what the U.S. government thought, partly because they have been deliberately opaque in their thinking on Iran, and partly because the situation was too dynamic.

    Bush’s Long Shot

    It is the decision to visit Ukraine and challenge the Russians on their front porch that gives us some sense of Washington’s thinking. To challenge Moscow at a time when the Russians might be able to support Iran in causing a collapse in the Iraqi process would not make sense. The U.S. challenge is a long shot anyway, and risking a solution in Iraq by giving the Iranians a great power ally like Russia would seem too much of a risk to take.

    But Bush is going to Ukraine and is challenging the Russians on NATO. This could mean he does not think Russia has any options in the Middle East. It also could mean that he has become sufficiently confident that the process (let’s not call it a relationship) that has emerged with the Iranians is robust enough that Tehran will not sink it now in exchange for increased Russian support, and that while a crisis with Syria is simmering, the Russians will not destabilize the situation there — Syria lacks the importance that Iran holds for U.S. strategy in Iraq, anyway.

    Bush’s decision to go to Ukraine indicates that he feels safe in opening a new front — at least diplomatically — while an existing military front remains active. That move makes no sense, particularly in the face of some European opposition, unless he believes the Russians are weaker than they appear and that the American position in Iraq is resolving itself. Bush undoubtedly would have liked to have waited for greater clarity in Iraq, but time is almost up. The Russians are moving now, and the United States can either confront them now or concede the game until the United States is in a military position to resume Russian containment. Plus, Bush doesn’t have any years left in office to wait.

    The global system is making a major shift now, as we have been discussing. Having gotten off balance and bogged down in the Islamic world, the only global power is trying to extricate itself while rebalancing its foreign policy and confronting a longer-term Russian threat to its interests. That is a delicate maneuver, and one that requires deftness and luck. As mentioned, it is also a long shot. The Russians have a lot of cards to play, but perhaps they are not yet ready to play them. Bush is risking Russia disrupting the Middle East as well as increasing pressure in its own region. He either thinks it is worth the risk or he thinks the risk is smaller than it appears. Either way, this is an important moment.


    NATO and Ballistic Missile Defense
    Stratfor Today » April 3, 2008 | 2220 GMT
    A joint communique released by NATO at its summit in Bucharest, Romania, on April 3 acknowledges both the contribution to the alliance of U.S. efforts outside NATO to place ballistic missile defense (BMD) installations in Europe and the continuing threat of ballistic missile proliferation. This marks both an endorsement for Washington’s BMD efforts and a sign of more expansive ballistic missile defense efforts within the alliance.

    U.S. President George W. Bush has found support for the Pentagon’s European ballistic missile defense (BMD) installations slated for deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic at the NATO alliance summit in Bucharest, Romania. A joint communique planned for release April 3 acknowledges that the proposed U.S. system will provide a “substantial contribution to the protection of allies” and that “ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to allied forces, territory and populations.” The statement represents an unequivocal endorsement not only of U.S. efforts, but of the alliance’s BMD efforts.

    Despite more charitable explanations, Washington’s core near-term interest in the Polish and Czech installations is to defend the continental United States against limited, rogue intercontinental ballistic missile launches from the Middle East (read: Iran). This has been the principal consideration for site selection and interceptor configuration. Since broaching the subject with Prague and Warsaw in 2002, Washington consistently has acted bilaterally rather than through NATO. The U.S. goal is to create a system integrated with the larger U.S. BMD system, but fully functional without NATO assistance.

    That does not mean that the U.S. system and NATO have nothing to offer one another, however. The engagement envelope of the U.S. ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) system will extend protection over portions of Western Europe from certain longer-range ballistic missile threats. Germany and the Netherlands already have invested in the U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3), the latest U.S. air defense system, which is capable of terminal-phase BMD. Meanwhile, NATO’s Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) program has been gaining speed for several years. Slated for initial operational capability in 2010, NATO in March opened a crucial integration and test facility in The Hague — nine months ahead of schedule.

    All of the systems rely on U.S. technology, backed by more than $100 billion in investment during the past two decades. Several intercept technologies are already operational, and several more are in late development. Despite some the European tactical- and theater-missile defense programs of countries such as France, this U.S. technology is the enabling factor that will allow Europe to field a redundant, multilayered BMD capability in the future should it choose to do so.

    For NATO’s European members, the more robust the BMD shield over their own continent, the greater the shield’s deterrent value to ballistic missile development programs in the Middle East. In Iran, for example, these programs represent a significant investment of national resources. The attractiveness of intermediate and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) is partially rooted in the difficulty in defending against them, and Tehran’s desire to bring more of the Western world into range, if even only symbolically. BMD undermines that, and significantly increases the cost of missile programs by raising the bar for penetrating anti-missile defenses. (Needless to say, Europe is far closer to the Middle East, and thus far more vulnerable to Iranian missiles.)

    But while NATO is already working with the United States to acquire technology and field a nascent capability, the Bucharest communique is more than just a formalization of cooperation already under way. It confirms that Europe has a BMD program that offers something to United States, despite Washington’s bilateral — not multilateral — efforts in Poland and the Czech Republic. Even so, Washington holds most of the technological cards. More NATO support for BMD helps the United States by:
    establishing the principled use of NATO funds and territory for more ambitious BMD programs. Though the defense budgets of NATO-member states in Europe are exceptionally tight, the alliance arranged the common funding for ALTBMD. Poland and the Czech Republic are examples of the U.S. need for territory, something that will hold to some extent even as the U.S. moves to more mobile and sea-based systems.
    supporting efforts already under way to better integrate NATO’s air defense and early warning situational awareness, and probably positively influence efforts to fully integrate NATO’s applicable surveillance and early-warning assets with the U.S. system.
    further legitimizing the Pentagon’s pursuit and fielding of BMD technology.
    The ballistic missile threat does not loom as large for NATO as it does for Japan or Israel, making deployment less urgent. Nevertheless, the April 3 communique marks not only the acceptance of Washington’s push to place BMD installations in Europe, it sets the stage (and assures open architecture and future compatibility) for further U.S.-NATO BMD cooperation, integration and acquisitions.


    Geopolitical Diary: NATO Hands Russia a Small Victory
    April 4, 2008 | 0201 GMT

    At its summit in Bucharest, NATO decided not to move Ukraine and Georgia into the Membership Action Plan, telling the two states that at sometime in the future they would get their invitations to membership, but just not now. Instead, NATO focused its membership drive on the Balkans, offering invitations to Albania and Croatia, a delayed invitation to Macedonia (effective once the name issue is sorted out with Greece) and offering intensified dialogue plans to Montenegro and Bosnia (and saying it would be willing to offer similar status to Serbia should the latter chose to apply).

    Leading up to the summit, there was a great deal of attention focused on the issue of Ukraine and Georgia — and the showdown between the United States and Russia being fought in the halls and meeting rooms in Bucharest. Washington backed membership invitations to Kiev and Tbilisi. Russia adamantly opposed (but had no say in the decision). And ultimately Germany and France cast the deciding votes for delay. This was a small victory for Russia, which has seen its periphery eaten away since the collapse of the Soviet Union and has its eyes (and strategic position) set on returning influence to its former republics.

    But despite U.S. President George W. Bush’s highly public visit to Kiev on his way to the Bucharest summit, Washington knew that a NATO consensus on Ukraine and Georgia was unlikely. The attention paid, instead, was designed to keep the pressure up on Russia — to discourage the former Cold War opponent from attempting a serious challenge to U.S. power and a return to the Cold War status quo. While Moscow breathed a sigh of relief with the ultimate NATO decision on its two former republics, it is a small victory for Russia. And Moscow made it a point to emphasize the breakaway regions in Georgia and the split population in Ukraine to remind NATO and the United States that the Russians still had leverage should NATO ever issue those invitations.

    In its focus on Ukraine and Georgia, Russia failed to discourage NATO’s support of U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe, something Moscow has strongly opposed as well. But perhaps more significant in the near term is NATO’s focus on the Balkans. Europe hasn’t had a very stellar track record when it comes to dealing with the volatile region, and is now using NATO as a tool to strengthen influence and political development in the region.

    The new and tentative membership invitations bring nearly all of the area -– aside from Serbia and Kosovo (and NATO said it has no intention of withdrawing its existing force from Kosovo) –- under the NATO umbrella, freeing Europe from sole responsibility for security issues. It also leaves Serbia surrounded, and highlights Russia’s inability to make good on its unspoken warnings should Kosovo declare independence. Offering Serbia intensified dialogue was, perhaps, simply rubbing salt into the wound of Russian inaction.

    While Russia may claim victory in keeping NATO out of Ukraine and Georgia for now, the support for missile defense and the whole-scale move into the Balkans was a clear demonstration of NATO’s challenge to Russia’s claims to influence and power. Russia could not stop the missile defense plan, and its warnings on Kosovo independence have gone unheeded (and unfulfilled). While Germany and France blocked Ukraine and Georgian membership in order to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia and protect their supplies of natural gas, the other key initiatives were no less a challenge to Russia’s resurgence –- and at minimal cost.

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