I am absolutely delighted to hear that Barack Obama will be scrapping the proposed Polish missile-defence shield. However, this is not yet confirmed by the Obama administration but according to a Czech newspaper Obama telephoned the Czech Prime Minister, Jan Fischer, to inform him that the plan was being shelved.
This is a bold break from what was seen by many hawks in the Bush administration as being key to confirm US ‘defence’ hegemony in Europe and the Caucasus. Whilst the move will un-nerve Eastern European countries with strong anti-Russian sentiments, it goes a long way in building Russian confidence in the Obama administration.
It is not yet clear whether this has come with any conditions on behalf of Russia, but it would seem that Obama needs Russian co-operation when both countries meet in December to renew the START 1 treaty. Obama has made several speeches outlining his vision for a nuclear-free world, and would seem that he is already carving out his legacy in foreign policy, that of being the first US President to create broad-multilateral agreement on pursuing his nuclear-free vision.
However, the cynical side of the gesture to shelve the missile-defence shield is the ugly possibility that Obama is willing to take a stronger line on Iran, and to push ahead on tougher sanctions, with Russia’s support. But for the time being we can delight in Obama pressing ‘reset’ on the US’s relationship with Russia and the scrapping of an illogical scheme.