Foreign Policy Blogs

Nuclear Swords and Shields

Last week, the Polish government raised the ante to allow the US to place its missile defense shield in their country. Why all of a sudden would Poland renege on hosting the shield at the last minute when talks have been going on for years? Were they successfully pressured by Russia?  

And is the same happening to the Czech Republic? Russian cut oil supplies to the Czech Republic by half, just days after the United States signed an agreement to build a missile shield radar station on Czech territory.” 

This looks like the start of the "aymmetric response" as promised by Russian officials if the deal went through: economic warfare. The Russians are smart enough to know that money is more powerful than military. Economic warfare is felt by everyone in the targeted country, not just a small minority in the military. It can be subtle and conducted behind the scenes but with powerful effects. And most of the time, it is a legal means of attacking the competition. For instance, Russia can do whatever it wants with its oil – sell it or withold it, whereas no country can militarily intervene in another without some kind of international legitimacy. 

Despite assurances from Bush that the shield is not directed at Russia, the Russians rightfully don't believe it. By its very nature missile defense is an offensive weapon. This has to do with nuclear strategy and the deterrence value of having a second strike capability. The US missile defense shield takes away that capability and leaves Russia vulnerable to a nuclear first strike from America.This is an unacceptable development for the Russians as their "Star Wars" nightmare from the 1980s is coming true. When it comes to nuclear weapons, defense shields are destabilizing and the US should assuage Russian fears first, before plunging ahead with the deployment of a shield.



FPA Administrator
FPA Administrator

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