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U.S. editorial excerpts -2-.

NEW YORK, Sept. 18 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the U.S. press:

MISSILE STRIKE (The Washington Post, Washington)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that the Obama administration's decision to scrap plans for a missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic was based ''almost exclusively'' on a ''changed intelligence assessment'' about Iran's missile capabilities and by ''enhanced technology.'' No doubt there is much truth in that: Iran has been working harder on the intermediate-range missiles that a new system is intended to intercept, and it is more ready to deploy them. It always seemed to us that the Bush administration's push to install a largely unproven interceptor system for long-range missiles was poorly justified.

Nevertheless Mr. Gates's ''almost'' speaks volumes -- because the suggestion by other administration spokesmen that the decision had nothing to do with Russia will probably not be credible to much of the rest of the world, including the Russians themselves. By replacing a planned radar system in the Czech Republic with another in the Caucasus and by ending a commitment to place 10 long-range missile interceptors in Poland, President Obama satisfies the unjustified demands of Russia's leaders, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev.

Mr. Obama, who -- as it happens -- will meet Mr. Medvedev in New York next week, has now, whether it was his intention or not, conceded to him.

In fact, administration officials say they sought nothing from Russia in exchange for the missile decision -- and, it's worth noting, there have been no parallel steps by Moscow to address major U.S. concerns in Europe or anywhere else.

Nor has Russia moderated its aggressive stance toward Georgia, Ukraine and other neighbors that it claims should be subject to its dominion. In Central Europe, its aim is to weaken the ties of such countries as Poland and the Czech Republic to NATO and eventually convert them to buffer states. In this, there are worrisome signs that it is making progress.

The administration could have defused this reaction by offering other NATO commitments to Poland and the Czech Republic and by demonstrating that their concerns about Russia are taken seriously. Administration officials say they did just that: Poland and the Czech Republic, they say, will have the right of first refusal on the deployment of ground-based pieces of the new system. But officials from the two nations say that they were handled callously.

It may be, as the Pentagon says, that its new plan will provide better protection more quickly from the threat of Iranian missiles. And that, after all, is the point of this project. Mr. Obama has been clear in publicly opposing Russia's neo-imperialism, and we don't doubt his commitment to the U.S. alliance with Poland or with the Czech Republic, which he visited in April. Still, in adopting its new course, the Obama administration has clearly bruised some of the staunchest U.S. allies in Europe while encouraging the Kremlin's hard-liners. It needs to do more to repair that collateral damage.

(Sept. 18)
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 21, 2009
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