Saturday, November 15, 2008

Havel Surprised and Worried

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has said that he's "surprised and worried" by Sarkozy's recent statements on the stationing of American missile defense systems in Europe. Havel says he doesn't understand the French president's objection to a defensive missile system.

4 comments:

Boz said...

The focus in negotiations has to get away from the shield onto Iran. If Russia actually helps remove the threat of a nuclear Iran, much of the Bush reasoning for a system would disappear, and Obama (as well as the East European leaders) would then have a legitimate excuse to change course on the system. It's Mededev's fault Obama can't be flexible in the short-term, because there's no way he can back down from the Kaliningrad threat, especially coming the day after his election. Sarko's thinking too narrowly.

Alain Q. said...

What would be your reaction if Medvedev decided to set up a "defensive missile system" across your border ? In Cuba for instance...

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Alain, Indeed, and of course the matter is complicated by the fact that the US claims the missiles are intended to defend Europe against attack from Iran but technical characteristics suggest that they would be ineffective in that role and much more effective against Russian missiles. Nevertheless, one understands the sensitivites of states once under Soviet domination, just as one understands the sensitivities of the Russians. Unlike Boz, I do not think that Obama will necessarily feel bound by Bush's decision, nor should a "review" of policy be construed as "backing down." Indeed, I would consider it rash of Obama to proceed with deployment or to allow himself to be locked in by pressure from Poland.

Boz said...

I agree that he will and should feel more flexible than Bush, but because of Medvedev's threats, it would look terrible (both domestically and to some partners abroad) if he suddenly said we were pulling out. Better to keep the public intention of the deployments but stall for time until something is worked out - either cooperate with Russia on the system or get something for not proceeding.