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Missile defence and the defence of freedom

By Jim DeMint - posted Wednesday, 30 September 2009

I have a particular distrust for political labels or political doublespeak. I dislike theories and ideologies; I prefer things that are real, things that are true, things that work. I like clarity. So, to break through diplomatic double-speak, I tend to follow a simple rule when I come across any foreign policy question: in any situation, the friend of freedom is the friend of the United States.

It is becoming apparent that the current Administration - at the very least - does not seem to abide by this rule or the moral and strategic clarity it demands. In office only eight months, President Barack Obama and his foreign policy team seem uninterested in the true nature of American leadership in the world. They seem not to understand that our most binding alliances are not with nations, but with all people who yearn to live in freedom.

With friends of freedom, we may not always share treaties, but we share something far more binding and enduring. It is this bond, at least as much as the NATO Treaty, that unites our interests with Europe generally, and with former Soviet satellites Poland and the Czech Republic in particular.


The Czechs and the Poles - like the people of Cuba, Taiwan, Israel, and, today, Honduras - are friends of freedom and are thus friends of the United States. The current Administration does not see things this way.

America: a stabilising force for good

This can be seen in myriad policies and decisions of the past eight months:

  • in Iran, this year, for the first time in decades, a democratic movement stood up to a tyrannical regime without the verbal support of the United States;
  • in Honduras, a deposed would-be Marxist dictator finds himself with more friends in Washington than the citizens of the republic he attempted to commandeer; and
  • in Russia, the leaders of an increasingly troublesome regime are demanding - and may even be winning - concrete strategic concessions from the United States in exchange for vague offers of diplomatic assistance.

These and other developments are not just the result of an untested foreign policy team learning on the fly. They are the inevitable result of an American foreign policy unmoored from our commitment to human rights and human freedom and tied instead to the President's personal ambitions.

There is not supposed to be a "Bush" foreign policy or an "Obama" foreign policy: There is supposed to be an American foreign policy that stands for freedom and against tyranny. The current Administration seems not to understand that a confident, decisive, and assertive America is a stabilising force for freedom and justice in the world.

Nowhere is this problem more pronounced than in Eastern Europe or in the area of missile defence.


Russia, Iran, and missile defence

Earlier this year, President Obama wrote to Russian President Medvedev and said he was willing to bargain away US missile defence plans in Europe if the Russians helped to completely eliminate Iran's threats to global security.

Furthermore, an Administration spokesman recently admitted that the so-called third site for missile defence won't protect Europe from a strike launched in Iran. But this ignores the fact that Iran is not the only place from which a ballistic missile could hit Europe - and in that case, if our missile defences will not protect Europe, what will?

I don't think President Obama's personal popularity in the international community will protect them. Or the self-imposed restraint of terrorist states. Or the moral force of UN Security Council Resolutions. No, missile defence is our best chance to check the aggression of imperialist regimes and terrorist thugs alike. It undermines their motivations to spend billions on missile technology.

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First published by The Heritage Foundation on September 23, 2009.

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About the Author

The Honorable Jim DeMint (R-SC) is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on European Affairs.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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