Something really important happened yesterday that passed almost unnoticed amid the domestic din here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
While most of us were distracted by the healthcare debate here at home, President Obama announced to the world that the missile system proposed by the Bush Administration to be built in Poland and the Czech Republic( nicknamed son of Star Wars,) will be scrapped and a water based missile program aimed at monitoring doings in Iran will be substituted.
This is really important stuff. It is the opening step in a complicated dance that will lead to a key collaboration between Russia, NATO and the United States when it comes to dealing effectively with the pressing international problems of Iran and Afghanistan.
You are going to hear lots of moaning and groaning from the right on this,but pay no attention. Obama has not lost his mind. We have much more to gain by working with the Russians than by antagonizing them, something the Bush Administration with its macho posturing,failed to grasp. It's not that Russia is a participatory democracy or that Vladimir Putin and his puppet president, Dmitry Medvedev are teddy bears. Not at all. It is just, as my grandmother used to say, that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Abandoning the missile program proposed for Russia's doorstep is part of a quid pro quo program of diplomacy and not, as the Bushies would have you believe, a sign of weakness.
I am sure that President Obama's announcement was part of an orchestrated ballet negotiated and agreed to before the event. It sparked an immediate response from Russia. No sooner had President Obama spoken than the Kremlin announced that in response to the American position, Russia would cancel the medium range ballistic missles slated for Kaliningrad, which borders Poland and Lithuania. See? Quid Pro Quo:-)
The next announcement came from Nato's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen who called for a new strategic partnership with Russia. and urged both Russia and the United States to study the possibillity of a joint missile defense system.
Next week, President Obama will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York-- the very first American President to do so. Nuclear dis-armament and non-proliferation will be on the agenda.
I hope Tehran and Kabul are taking note. There is a new strategic alignment in the offing, one that bodes well for keeping the peace and preventing nuclear disaster. It's the old " enemy of my enemy is my friend" routine. Nobody wants to see nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran or the Taliban back in the saddle in Afghanistan.
One way or another, the world simply won't let it happen. And that is why America is dancing with the Russian Bear while Nato calls the tune.