Jacob Heilbrunn explains Obama’s real mistake on missile defense:
Any missile defense system that America stations in Europe, by contrast, will not be construed by Russia as a defensive maneuver but, rather, as an offensive weapon. To help stymie criticism of Obama, White House aides, the LA Times says, are claiming that the president is “deeply invested” in the program. If so, he is getting terrible investment advice. The episode reeks of Obama’s conventionality [bold mine-DL]. Eager to appease his critics on the right and afraid to take a bold stance, he will doubtless continue a half-hearted and expensive effort to construct some missile defense system that will never be successfully constructed. A bolder president would abandon this bogus effort and explain why the Iran threat is overblown, a product of fearmongering from the very same people that brought us the Iraq War. Don’t hold your breath.
A bolder President would do this, but that isn’t who Obama is. Anyone who followed the domestic maneuverings related to the ratification of New START will remember how the administration gave Kyl everything he wanted and more to try to buy his support for the treaty. This may have helped win some needed Republican votes by the end, but it never won Kyl’s support, and it came at a high price in terms of continuing to commit the U.S. unnecessarily to European missile defense. Obama accommodates entrenched interests, he usually acquiesces when confronted with significant resistance, and he cultivates a fairly bland center-left persona. This is what makes the hysterical Republican reactions equally absurd and irritating. This episode with Medvedev is somehow supposed to reflect Obama’s latent radicalism, but all it does is draw attention to how supportive of Washington consensus views he has been all along.