The Olde Truth Twister
Now the brouhaha is so hot that it will probably overshadow the really important issues like global warming at the G-8 conference.
But wait! The Prez has a plan to defuse the Russian complaints and their threat to "target Europeans" in response to the missiles in their back yard. Mr. Bush plans to deliver this convincing message at the upcoming mini-summit in Kennebunkport: "And my message will be, Vladimir - I call him Vladimir - that you shouldn't fear a missile defense system." That's a quote from GW yesterday in Prague. He will instruct Defense Secretary Gates to invite Russian generals and scientists to come to the U.S. and see the anti-missile system. (Never mind that visits to Russia by Secretaries Gates and Rice to "smooth things over" with this message have gone nowhere.)
Apparently our President doesn't understand that this isn't about the anti-ballistic missile system itself - it really doesn't even work right yet - but about foreign policy and the battle for hearts and minds all over the world. So far (in my humble opinion) the Administration has succeeded in giving the Russians a platform to make us look aggressive and maybe a little stupid. But, hey, what else is new?
Massimo Calabresi in Time Online believes that this whole mess is an attempt by our President to beef up his legacy. This is all about "his search for a long-term foreign policy achievement that can offset Iraq in the history books..." In other words: Make StarWars work and history will ignore the screw up that is the Iraq War. Somehow I don't think so.
Here's a paragraph from Calabresi: Critics say the rush to deploy a system before it's ready and in the face of the opposition of nominal allies is unnecessary, expensive and damaging. They say unilateral agreements between the U.S. on the one hand and Poland and Czech Republic on the other cause friction with other European countries and undermine support for missile defense. And they argue that Bush's insistence on pursuing deployment agreements now shows that the current push is less about the imminent threat than it is about his legacy.
Gotta say I agree.
Now here is the punch line. While Bush is denying that the anti-missile system has anything to do with Russia (It's only to defend against the likes of Iran, if and when they get nukes, and Pakistan if and when they get mad at, say, Sweden), here's a quote from Secretary Gates back in February asking Congress for more military money: “We don't know what's going to develop in places like Russia and China, in North Korea, in Iran and elsewhere,” the Pentagon head said at US Senate Armed Services Committee hearings.
That gives an odd context for GWB's message to Putin that he, "...shouldn't fear a missile defense system." Nah.
It's been obvious for a long time that this Administration sees "truth" as a flexible concept, to be bent and twisted around the necessity of the moment.