William Hamilton – Mr. Obama: Ignorant of history or deliberate signal?
September 29, 2009
In Poland on Sept. 17, 1939, it was what Americans call: Indian Summer. Polish farm families were laboring to lay up provisions before the onset of winter. When they could, those who had radios, paused to listen for news from the western front where brave Polish troops were blunting the brutal Nazi invasion that began on Sept. 1, 1939. The Poles held on hoping for the help promised by France and Great Britain.
Without warning, the pre-dawn stillness of Sept. 17 was shattered when thousands of Soviet artillery rounds began to kill their cattle, to destroy their farm houses, to kill thousands of Polish men, women and children. Over 50 Red Army divisions rolled across the undefended Polish border. A million Soviet troops pillaged through the bewildered Poles, crushing everything and everyone in their path.
In Poland, to this day, every Polish school child learns about Sept. . and Sept. 17, 1939. Those two dates are seared into the Polish soul. (Suggested reading: W.S. Kuniczak’s The Thousand Hour Day.)
So, why did Mr. Obama and his chamberlains choose Sept. 17, 2009, to announce that the United States is canceling the deal to station American troops in Poland as part of a ballistic missile defense system? A system, not aimed at Russia, but aimed at defending Western Europe, Israel and the United States from the long-range, nuclear missiles being prepared by Iran.
Is Mr. Obama that naïve and that ignorant of the tragedy that befell the Poles on Sept. 17, 1939? Or, did Mr. Obama deliberately chose Sept. 17 in order to send a message to the Poles that the United States is telling Vladimir Putin and the Russians that it is OK to re-stitch the Iron Curtain around Poland? Or, is Mr. Obama signaling Iran that the United States really doesn’t care what Iran does to Israel and Western Europe?
The White House cover story is that Israel and Western Europe can be better defended from Iranian short-range missiles by deploying dozens of American warships in the waters surrounding Iran. The back story is that Mr. Obama ordered a $1.4 billion cut in our ballistic missile defense program which, by the way, amounts to just one day’s spending under Mr. Obama’s stimulus-spending package.
On Sept. 17, Mr. Obama set up a false dichotomy; making it appear that the United States cannot afford to place defensive missiles in Poland and place their supporting, early warning radars in the Czech Republic and, at the same time, operate anti-missile warships in the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. In fact, the United States can do both.
The Bush-era plan for Poland and the Czech Republic was based on four premises: 1.) That diplomacy would not stop the Iranians from fielding nuclear-tipped missiles. 2.) That one well-placed Iranian nuke would destroy tiny Israel. 3.) That Vladimir Putin would both covertly and overtly help the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for a Russian warm-water port on the Persian Gulf. 4.) That if Israel is forced to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear production facilities, a world-wide war between the Judeo-Christian world and Islam would most likely erupt.
The Poles are furious that Mr. Obama has betrayed them to Russia. The Czechs, being geographically farther from Russia, have held their emotions somewhat more, well – in check. But still, the Czechs feel a sense of Neville Chamberlain-like betrayal and, in addition, will miss the added comfort of having American troops and, eventually, their dependents living in their midst.
Moreover, Poland and the Czech Republic looked like places where some of our over-stretched military and their families could be together. Indeed, our military families have gotten very good at being America’s good-will ambassadors.
But the burning question is: Did Mr. Obama throw the Poles under the bus out of historical ignorance or was he sending, yet another, America-in-retreat signal to the Russians, the Iranians and the Israelis? Take your pick.
– Nationally syndicated columnist William Hamilton is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and Harvard’s JFK School of Government. Dr. Hamilton is a former assistant professor of political science and history at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
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