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Entries in missile defense (2)


Video & Transcript: Cheney Speech on National Security (21 October)

Video and Transcript: Dick Cheney Speech on “National Security” at American Enterprise Institute (21 May)
Video: Dissecting the Cheney Speech on National Security (22 May)

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Apparently a former Vice President spoke last night and said he kept the world safe and the current President doesn't. Sort of like my Dad saying each time we meet, "You know in my day 1) there was no crime 2) kids knew their place 3) music was much better."

Part 1 of 2


Part 2 of 2


CHENEY: Thank you all very much. It’s a pleasure to be here, and especially to receive the Keeper of the Flame Award in the company of so many good friends.

I’m told that among those you’ve recognized before me was my friend Don Rumsfeld. I don’t mind that a bit. It fits something of a pattern. In a career that includes being chief of staff, congressman, and secretary of defense, I haven’t had much that Don didn’t get first. But truth be told, any award once conferred on Donald Rumsfeld carries extra luster, and I am very proud to see my name added to such a distinguished list.

To Frank Gaffney and all the supporters of Center for Security Policy, I thank you for this honor. And I thank you for the great energy and high intelligence you bring to as vital a cause as there is – the advance of freedom and the uncompromising defense of the United States.

Most anyone who is given responsibility in matters of national security quickly comes to appreciate the commitments and structures put in place by others who came before. You deploy a military force that was planned and funded by your predecessors. You inherit relationships with partners and obligations to allies that were first undertaken years and even generations earlier. With the authority you hold for a little while, you have great freedom of action. And whatever course you follow, the essential thing is always to keep commitments, and to leave no doubts about the credibility of your country’s word.

So among my other concerns about the drift of events under the present administration, I consider the abandonment of missile defense in Eastern Europe to be a strategic blunder and a breach of good faith.

It is certainly not a model of diplomacy when the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic are informed of such a decision at the last minute in midnight phone calls. It took a long time and lot of political courage in those countries to arrange for our interceptor system in Poland and the radar system in the Czech Republic. Our Polish and Czech friends are entitled to wonder how strategic plans and promises years in the making could be dissolved, just like that – with apparently little, if any, consultation. Seventy years to the day after the Soviets invaded Poland, it was an odd way to mark the occasion.

You hardly have to go back to 1939 to understand why these countries desire – and thought they had – a close and trusting relationship with the United States. Only last year, the Russian Army moved into Georgia, under the orders of a man who regards the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. Anybody who has spent much time in that part of the world knows what Vladimir Putin is up to. And those who try placating him, by conceding ground and accommodating his wishes, will get nothing in return but more trouble.

What did the Obama Administration get from Russia for its abandonment of Poland and the Czech Republic, and for its famous “Reset” button? Another deeply flawed election and continued Russian opposition to sanctioning Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
In the short of it, President Obama’s cancellation of America’s agreements with the Polish and Czech governments was a serious blow to the hopes and aspirations of millions of Europeans. For twenty years, these peoples have done nothing but strive to move closer to us, and to gain the opportunities and security that America offered. These are faithful friends and NATO allies, and they deserve better. The impact of making two NATO allies walk the plank won’t be felt only in Europe. Our friends throughout the world are watching and wondering whether America will abandon them as well.

Big events turn on the credibility of the United States – doing what we said we would do, and always defending our fundamental security interests. In that category belong the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need to counter the nuclear ambitions of the current regime in Iran.

Candidate Obama declared last year that he would be willing to sit down with Iran's leader without preconditions. As President, he has
committed America to an Iran strategy that seems to treat engagement as an objective rather than a tactic. Time and time again, he has outstretched his hand to the Islamic Republic's authoritarian leaders, and all the while Iran has continued to provide lethal support to extremists and terrorists who are killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic continues to provide support to extremists in Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. Meanwhile, the regime continues to spin centrifuges and test missiles. And these are just the activities we know about.

I have long been skeptical of engagement with the current regime in Tehran, but even Iran experts who previously advocated for engagement have changed their tune since the rigged elections this past June and the brutal suppression of Iran's democratic protestors. The administration clearly missed an opportunity to stand with Iran's democrats, whose popular protests represent the greatest challenge to the Islamic Republic since its founding in 1979. Instead, the President has been largely silent about the violent crackdown on Iran's protestors, and has moved blindly forward to engage Iran's authoritarian regime. Unless the Islamic Republic fears real consequences from the United States and the international community, it is hard to see how diplomacy will work.

Next door in Iraq, it is vitally important that President Obama, in his rush to withdraw troops, not undermine the progress we’ve made in recent years. Prime Minister Maliki met yesterday with President Obama, who began his press availability with an extended comment about Afghanistan. When he finally got around to talking about Iraq, he told the media that he reiterated to Maliki his intention to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq. Former President Bush's bold decision to change strategy in Iraq and surge U.S. forces there set the stage for success in that country. Iraq has the potential to be a strong, democratic ally in the war on terrorism, and an example of economic and democratic reform in the heart of the Middle East. The Obama Administration has an obligation to protect this young democracy and build on the strategic success we have achieved in Iraq.

We should all be concerned as well with the direction of policy on Afghanistan. For quite a while, the cause of our military in that country went pretty much unquestioned, even on the left. The effort was routinely praised by way of contrast to Iraq, which many wrote off as a failure until the surge proved them wrong. Now suddenly – and despite our success in Iraq – we’re hearing a drumbeat of defeatism over Afghanistan. These criticisms carry the same air of hopelessness, they offer the same short-sighted arguments for walking away, and they should be summarily rejected for the same reasons of national security.

Having announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission.

President Obama has said he understands the stakes for America. When he announced his new strategy he couched the need to succeed in the starkest possible terms, saying, quote, “If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged – that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.” Five months later, in August of this year, speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the President made a promise to America’s armed forces. “I will give you a clear mission,” he said, “defined goals, and the equipment and support you need to get the job done. That’s my commitment to you.”

It’s time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger.

Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries. Waffling, while our troops on the ground face an emboldened enemy, endangers them and hurts our cause.

Recently, President Obama’s advisors have decided that it’s easier to blame the Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President’s chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision – a good one, I think – and sent a commander into the field to implement it.

Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It’s time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.

It’s worth recalling that we were engaged in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, supporting the Mujahadeen against the Soviets. That was a successful policy, but then we pretty much put Afghanistan out of our minds. While no one was watching, what followed was a civil war, the takeover by the Taliban, and the rise of bin Laden and al-Qaeda. All of that set in motion the events of 9/11. When we deployed forces eight years ago this month, it was to make sure Afghanistan would never again be a training ground for the killing of Americans. Saving untold thousands of lives is still the business at hand in this fight. And the success of our mission in Afghanistan is not only essential, it
is entirely achievable with enough troops and enough political courage.

Then there’s the matter of how to handle the terrorists we capture in this ongoing war. Some of them know things that, if shared, can save a good many innocent lives. When we faced that problem in the days and years after 9/11, we made some basic decisions. We understood that organized terrorism is not just a law-enforcement issue, but a strategic threat to the United States.

At every turn, we understood as well that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. We had a lot of blind spots – and that’s an awful thing, especially in wartime. With many thousands of lives potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.
The intelligence professionals who got the answers we needed from terrorists had limited time, limited options, and careful legal guidance. They got the baddest actors we picked up to reveal things they really didn’t want to share. In the case of Khalid Sheik Muhammed, by the time it was over he was not was not only talking, he was practically conducting a seminar, complete with chalkboards and charts. It turned out he had a professorial side, and our guys didn’t mind at all if classes ran long. At some point, the mastermind of 9/11 became an expansive briefer on the operations and plans of al-Qaeda. It happened in the course of enhanced interrogations. All the evidence, and common sense as well, tells us why he started to talk.

The debate over intelligence gathering in the seven years after 9/11 involves much more than historical accuracy. What we’re really debating are the means and resolve to protect this country over the next few years, and long after that. Terrorists and their state sponsors must be held accountable, and America must remain on the offensive against them. We got it right after 9/11. And our government needs to keep getting it right, year after year, president after president, until the danger is finally overcome.
Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later
years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after 9/11 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America … and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.

Eight years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive – and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed. So you would think that our successors would be going to the intelligence community saying, “How did you did you do it? What were the keys to preventing another attack over that period of time?”

Instead, they’ve chosen a different path entirely – giving in to the angry left, slandering people who did a hard job well, and demagoguing an issue more serious than any other they’ll face in these four years. No one knows just where that path will lead, but I can promise you this: There will always be plenty of us willing to stand up for the policies and the people that have kept this country safe.

On the political left, it will still be asserted that tough interrogations did no good, because this is an article of faith for them, and actual evidence is unwelcome and disregarded. President Obama himself has ruled these methods out, and when he last addressed the subject he filled the air with vague and useless platitudes. His preferred device is to suggest that we could have gotten the same information by other means. We’re invited to think so. But this ignores the hard, inconvenient truth that we did try other means and techniques to elicit information from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and other al-Qaeda operatives, only turning to enhanced techniques when we failed to produce the actionable intelligence we knew they were withholding. In fact, our intelligence professionals, in urgent circumstances with the highest of stakes, obtained specific information, prevented specific attacks, and saved American lives.

In short, to call enhanced interrogation a program of torture is not only to disregard the program’s legal underpinnings and safeguards. Such accusations are a libel against dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well, in our country’s name and in our country’s
cause. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future, in favor of half-measures, is unwise in the extreme. In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed.

For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings – and least of all can that be said of our armed forces and intelligence personnel. They have done right, they have made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

Last January 20th, our successors in office were given the highest honors that the voters of this country can give any two citizens. Along with that, George W. Bush and I handed the new president and vice president both a record of success in the war on terror, and the policies to continue that record and ultimately prevail. We had been the decision makers, but those seven years, four months, and nine days without another 9/11 or worse, were a combined achievement: a credit to all who serve in the defense of America, including some of the finest people I’ve ever met.

What the present administration does with those policies is their call to make, and will become a measure of their own record. But I will tell you straight that I am not encouraged when intelligence officers who acted in the service of this country find themselves hounded with a zeal that should be reserved for America’s enemies. And it certainly is not a good sign when the Justice Department is set on a political mission to discredit, disbar, or otherwise persecute the very people who helped protect our nation in the years after 9/11.

There are policy differences, and then there are affronts that have to be answered every time without equivocation, and this is one of them. We cannot protect this country by putting politics over security, and turning the guns on our own guys.

We cannot hope to win a war by talking down our country and those who do its hardest work – the men and women of our military and intelligence services. They are, after all, the true keepers of the flame.

Iran's Power Politics: A Warning To Moscow

The Latest from Iran (10 October): Karroubi is Back

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AHMADI MEDVEDEVIn the aftermath of the Geneva talks on Iran's nuclear programme, there are clear signals that Tehran wants some re-assurance of Russia's support. Moscow may have backed away from its initial signal, after the revelation of the second enrichment plant, that it might accept tougher sanctions, but there is far more in play, as Iran tipped off in its high-profile references at Geneva to "regional issues". Beyond the headlines on "missile defense", positions from the Middle East to the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Basin are being contested.

These two articles from Iran Review--- the first by Dr Hassan Behestipour on the Iran-Russia-US triangle and the second by Behzad Ahmadi Lafuraki on the threat of Russia's accommodation with NATO --- are far more than academic exercises in making the point:

Iran and Washington’s Game with Moscow

Dr. Hassan Beheshtipour

After Obama was elected president in February 2009, relations between Russia and the United States somehow changed after two years that had passed since the Munich meeting. The new administration had given up past conservative policies and Obama paid a visit to Moscow in July 2009. In the new era, Washington ignores repression of Chechens by Russia, which in turn, helps the United States in Afghanistan.

The United States has also temporarily postponed implementation of its missile defense shield for Eastern Europe in order to convince Moscow to be more cooperative on Afghanistan and Iran. Russia has tried to expand its relations with pro-West Arab countries as well as countries critical of the United States in Latin America in order to secure a foothold in a region which has been traditionally considered a US backyard. This will not only increase political clout of Russia, but also provide Moscow with a good market to sell arms.

Perhaps the zenith of the confrontations between Moscow and Washington in recent months has been establishment of a missile shield by the United States in the Czech Republic and Poland. Hearing about postponement of the plan, Moscow has taken contradictory stances on it. While President Medvedev has welcomed the development, Russian military are skeptical about the true intention of the United States and consider the move to be aimed at deceiving Russia and buying time.

However, the Russians have officially announced that in return for the postponement, they would give up a plan to deploy missiles in Kaliningrad, which is a Russian enclave near the border with Poland.

Bilateral relations between Moscow and Washington

Despite the rhetoric between the United States and Russia after the election of Obama, bilateral conditions are still plagued with many challenges. The fact that Medvedev received Obama at his family resort in Moscow and the warm meetings between the two sides on the sidelines of G20 meeting in Weisberg, US, have shown that neither of the two sides want their differences to lead to a major confrontation. In other words, Russia is planning to compete with the United States for benefits while it had resigned to some form of confrontation with the US under the Bush Administration. Therefore, Russia will not seek war and conflict with the United States in the coming years. Unlike the past, the Russians know where and how to deal with the Americans and when and where to confront them in order to both guarantee their own interests and make the rival withdraw.

Role of Iran in Washington’s game with Russia

This policy, however, has cost Russia dearly as the country has damaged its international credit as a result of giving in to US pressures over Iran’s nuclear case. The Americans have made the most of the Russians to achieve their goals the latest instance of which was adoption of the fourth Security Council resolution against Iran in early 2009. In order to keep its bargaining power in the face of the United States, Russia cannot afford to lose the Iran trump card. But what obstacles lay ahead of Russia?

In order to curb further US advances toward its western and southern borders, it should first build confidence in its relations with countries like Iran because Russia is usually faced with two charges in relation to its foreign policy.

Firstly, Russia opposes US unilateralism at international level, but pursues a similar policy in the region. International experts maintain that international and regional forms of unilateralism are equally inefficient and cause distrust, thus, reducing cooperation among nations.

Secondly, in its interactions with the United States, Russia easily trades its allies’ interest with the West when needed, but when its own national security or national interests are at stake, like what happened with the missile defense system, it would not be ready for any deal with the West. Continuation of this policy, which is considered by journalists as trading other countries’ interests for its own, will isolate Russia in the long run.

Vladimir Eskusirov and Andrei Terekhov, Russian correspondents of Nezavisimaia Gazeta in Tehran wrote an article on Monday saying that Tehran was surprised by the Russian president’s remarks who noted that ‘under some circumstances, sanctions are the only choice’. Those remarks seem strange because Russia is well aware that Iran has no nuclear weapons.

Last Friday, the Russian president issued a special statement on the uranium enrichment facility near Qom and noted that construction of a new enrichment plant is against frequent requests by the United Nations Security Council for Iran to stop uranium enrichment on its soil.

Russian analysts maintain that Washington had reserved news about the new plant secret until October 1 when Iranians had to make a final choice. Interestingly, Obama told Medvedev about the new plant only on Wednesday with China and Russia being fed accurate information on Thursday, that is, later than France and UK. Statements by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, who said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that Russia expected its allies to immediately share any information on Iran with Moscow, clearly indicated that Moscow was not happy with the current state of affairs. Russia was unhappy both with the level of cooperation with Western members of P5+1, and with Iran which had not said anything to Russia about the new plant.

In reality, if Russia wants to have Iran’s cooperation, it should prove that Moscow is a trustworthy partner, not a country which passes good times with others while sharing bad times with Iran and other critics of the West.


NATO’s Call on Russia for Cooperation: Goals and Possibilities
Behzad Ahmadi Lafuraki

After the tension in Russia’s relations with NATO increased due to what happened in Southern Ossetia in August 2008, the two sides met at high level on the Greek island of Corfu on June 29, 2009 and agreed to resume political and military cooperation.

The then NATO secretary-general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, announced resumption of NATO – Russia cooperation and mentioned reduction in weapons of mass destruction and fighting illicit drugs as major fields in which the two sides can collaborate. His successor, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, also called for resumption of negotiations with Kremlin in order to create a new atmosphere and work out new strategic partnership according to which both sides could cooperate on Afghanistan, terrorism, and piracy. He declared reduction of common security concerns in Europe and fighting common threats as the main areas of cooperation between NATO and Russia.

The turning point in renewed relations between NATO and Russia, however, is a recent decision by the United States to give up its plan for the establishment of a missile defense shield in eastern and central Europe. Just one day after the announcement of the above decision by US officials, secretary-general of NATO declared that a major hurdle on the way of expanding relations with Russia has been removed and the two sides should now focus on commonalities. The secretary-general did not suffice to general terms and pointed to four main areas of cooperation between Russia and NATO, that is, fighting terrorism at international level, fighting drug trafficking in Afghanistan, preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons, and establishment of joint missile defense systems.

Russia also lost no time to show positive reaction to the US decision by commending Washington. Kremlin did not suffice to lip service and announced that it will stop deployment of new missiles in Kaliningrad.

The above developments and Rasmussen’s call on Russia to cooperate with NATO indicate a U-turn in NATO’s security policy, on the one hand, and Moscow’s keen interest in improving relations with the United States and NATO for better management of challenges, on the other hand. Since Russia’s relations with NATO have been constantly a function of the country’s relations with the United States and Europe, improvement in bilateral relations between Washington and Moscow has left its mark on Russia’s relations with NATO and common goals have overshadowed discrepancy in values.

On the whole, the West has reached the conclusion that convergence with Russia will be more beneficial for the security of transatlantic system than isolation of the country. Two main reasons have prompted Russia to cooperate with NATO despite threats posed to it by eastward expansion of North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The first reason is that Moscow is willing to be part of the transatlantic community. The second reason is having common security concerns with other NATO members, including the issue of stability in Afghanistan and drug trafficking in that country, fighting terrorism, especially transnational Islamist tendencies, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as challenges it is facing due to increased population and influence of China. In doing this, Russia is pursuing the following three goals:

1. To avoid isolation in international issues which are related to global security like Afghanistan by being present in international decision-making bodies such as NATO;

2. To prevent NATO from possibly taking anti-Russia positions; and

3. To creates opportunities for solving problems in the Caucasus by cooperating with NATO on such issues as Afghanistan or terrorism.

On the other hand, the United States and its allies are currently attaching more significance to Russia’s cooperation with NATO as problems like the instability in Afghanistan or the nuclear standoff with Iran greatly overshadowed the war in Georgia and its consequences. As for Afghanistan, it is possible for Russia to either limit the number of NATO flights over its airspace or instigate Central Asian states, as it did with Uzbekistan, to shut down US bases on their soil, thus, causing serious problems for NATO in supporting its forces in Afghanistan.

As for Iran, it seems that the United States has managed through introduction of the missile shield plan and its later rescission to make Moscow cooperate with Washington on Iran’s nuclear case. In fact, the United States has taken advantage of something that did not exist and has dealt with Russia over it. This has precedence in the US foreign policy and many similar instances can be seen in relation to various issues in the world. It was in line with this policy that as soon as the United States announced its decision to rescind the missile shield plan, Rasmussen moved to ask Russia to put the maximum possible diplomatic pressure on Iran in order to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb.

The secretary-general of NATO warned the world on September 19, 2009 and on the verge of Group 5+1 meeting that if Iran were turned into a nuclear power, its model would be followed by some neighboring countries and emergence of multiple nuclear powers would not be in the best interests of NATO and Russia.

Since Russia has been consistently following a defensive policy toward NATO in the past decade and considered NATO’s decisions a function of the interests of its main power, that is, the United States, it seems that improvement in Washington – Moscow relations would certainly lead to improvement in Russia’s relations with NATO, just as happened in 2002.

The signs of such improvement are already on the horizon. Russian leaders have not ruled out the possibility of more sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program and have even expressed concerns over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.