Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

The Security Dilemma: Looking Beyond Iran

There’s been much talk of nuclear proliferation and missile defense in the past few weeks. [President Obama recently decided to scrap a missile defense shield program proposed by former President George W. Bush that would have established defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic](https://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09/17/missile.defense.shield/index.html). This past week, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons. [Iran tested short-range missiles on Sunday and mid-range missiles on Monday](https://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/world/middleeast/29tehran.html?_r=1&ref=world), raising serious security concerns for Israel, parts of Europe and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf. On Sept. 25, U.S., British and French intelligence officials announced the discovery of a secret nuclear enrichment plant on Iranian soil.

The Obama administration’s reworking of the Eastern European missile defense shield program has been motivated by the need for a more mobile defense system that can adapt to the Iranian military threat. The switch is understandable, especially given the recent Iranian tests. In light of Russia’s haphazard political and military behavior in recent years, however, the switch ought to be viewed with caution.

Russia’s attempts to extend its sphere of influence in recent years in Chechnya and Georgia, its intimidation of Poland and the Czech Republic after the announcement of the Bush defense plan, and its spotty record on issues like journalistic freedom remind us that Eastern Europe has good reason to be fearful for its security.

The Bush plans for the missile defense shield would have put in place 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar site in the Czech Republic. Politicians on both sides of the aisle, including Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and ranking Republicans on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee, have expressed concerns regarding the changes.

oreover, the timing of the Obama administration’s announcement was unsavory. By announcing the change on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland – intentionally or not – the administration sent the wrong message not only to Poles and Czechs, but also to ethnic groups from the Balkans, Romanians, Ukrainians and Georgians. Several groups with distinct cultures share pasts marked by oppression, and their pasts reverberate as they encounter difficulties integrating into Western Europe.

Russian cooperation with future Iranian sanctions is welcomed, but the possibility of this is endangered by the resistance of President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to the outright sanctioning of Iran, even after Russia signed on to the recent Security Council resolution. This reticence, along with Russia’s recent history of political recklessness, reflects the disparity between U.S. and Russian interests and our need to continue to be cautious of Russian actions.

The threat posed by Iran is at the fore of the U.S. conscience and will remain there, and the tests that occurred after the passage of the U.N. resolution demonstrate the salience of Iran’s aggressiveness. But the Obama administration cannot focus solely on Iran.

Iran – whether or not it is developing arms-grade nuclear weapons – remains a considerable threat because of its recklessness of late. That said, the overhaul of the would-be missile defense shield program in Eastern Europe is disheartening, both for the region and U.S. interests there.

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