There is a lot wrong with Gerson’s column today, but this line was remarkable for how dishonest it is and how consistently it has been used for five years:
Missile defenses were canceled in Poland, indicating that the Russian relationship was more important to the United States than was the one with Eastern Europe.
The only true part of this statement is that the Bush-era missile defense plan for Poland and the Czech Republic was cancelled, but that doesn’t mean very much. Most Poles and Czechs didn’t want to be part of the scheme, but never mind that. For good or ill, missile defense in eastern Europe hasn’t ended, NATO has now endorsed a new missile defense plan, Poland is still participating in it, and it remains as much of an irritant in the relationship with Moscow as ever. For the first time since they joined NATO, there are contingency plans for the defense of Poland and the Baltic states against invasion. Does that sound like a policy of preferring good relations with Russia at the expense of allies? No, it doesn’t, and a minimally informed person would already know that. Is Gerson ignorant of all this? Maybe, but then he shouldn’t pretend to know what has been happening there over the last few years. This is just one false claim among many that hawks routinely make, but it illustrates the extent to which hawks are quite happy to distort everything or to repeat lazy talking points that they don’t bother to verify to push the same old weary arguments about the need for “strength” and “resolve” and the dangers of “retreat.”
P.S. Nikolas Gvosdev makes an important related point:
The Obama administration’s decision, for instance, to cancel the Bush administration’s plan to deploy a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic was guided as much by concerns about cost and technical infeasibility [bold mine-DL] as it was about improving ties with Russia.