It is a fundamental trust the American people put in a President that he will do all within his power to defend them against foreign military threats. This trust is no less applicable to threats posed by ballistic missiles. President Obama, however, apparently thinks very little of his responsibility to honor this trust.
In an unguarded comment to outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Seoul, South Korea, on March 26, President Obama made it clear that he will exhibit more “flexibility” in accommodating Russian objections to the U.S. expanding its missile defense capabilities after he is re-elected. What President Obama was hoping was that he could fool the American people into believing that he would do his utmost to defend them against ballistic missile attack between now and the election in November. What is now clear is that whatever commitments he makes to the American people regarding ballistic missile defense in the coming months will be jettisoned in favor of commitments to the Russian government to curtail U.S. and allied missile defense capabilities following the election.
Accordingly, it is entirely appropriate that Representative Michael Turner (R–OH), who is the chairman of the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee, demanded in a March 26 letter to the President that he provide an “urgent explanation of your comments to President Medvedev in Seoul this morning.” The level of cynicism and dishonesty demonstrated by the President in this comment is breathtaking.
Those already familiar with President Obama’s past interactions with the Russians on the subject of missile defense, however, may be angry and disappointed regarding his exchange—but they should not be surprised by its substance.
President Obama has been willing to subordinate the missile defense program to his policies for arms control and nuclear disarmament for a long time. One need go no further than to read a portion of the preamble to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which is the new strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, on the subject of missile defense. It states that U.S. missile defense capabilities must come down as the numbers of strategic nuclear weapons come down under the treaty.
The Obama Administration spared no effort to defeat an amendment in Senate to strike this language in the New START preamble. The President’s comments in Seoul are completely in keeping with this past behavior. What is now evident is the scope of the manipulation he is pursuing to fool the American people about something essential to their security. It is now undeniable that President Obama is breaking the most basic trust the American people put in any President.