According to an Associated Press report “The Czech government on Tuesday postponed a parliamentary vote on a deal to place an American missile defense installation on Czech soil. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said the government withdrew the item because it did not have enough votes to pass. ‘It does not mean that we would give up the ratification process,’ Mr. Topolanek said.”
Critics of the planned ground-based missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic that would be used to counter long-range missile threats from Iran against Europe or the United States ought to think twice before assuming this move puts that plan in trouble.
Both opponents of emplacing a missile defense radar in the Czech parliament and the Obama Administration need understand the likely cost of pulling back. The most important risk of walking away from the radar agreement is that the U.S. and its allies will be putting the world in a position where the likelihood of nuclear war–increases.
If Iran gets a nuclear weapon and a long-range missile, the world is going to become an unbearably complicated place. In a multi-polar world, the Cold War policy of mutual vulnerability to nuclear attack is de-stabilizing because the complexity and unpredictability of this world is more likely to overwhelm the logic of deterrence. As Iran continues to enrich uranium and test rockets and ballistic missiles is not the time walk away from the only capability that can fielded in the near term to protect the United States and most of Europe from this threat.
At the same time, the reversal of the radar agreement will reduce both the strength and flexibility of the U.S.-Czech security relationship, both within NATO and bilaterally between the US and Czech armed forces. In today’s complicated world strong and enduring alliances between link-minded democracies is vital. Both the Czech Republic and the U.S. should do their utmost to avoid the negative consequences of abandoning the radar agreement.