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Which Europeans Actually Support This Missile Defense Plan?

The Bush administration’s plans for the missile-defense shield call for a radar-tracking station to be built in the Czech Republic and for 10 interceptor missiles to be placed in Poland. The Czech and Polish governments have signaled their support even though national opinion polls in both countries show strong opposition to the U.S. plan. ~The […]

The Bush administration’s plans for the missile-defense shield call for a radar-tracking station to be built in the Czech Republic and for 10 interceptor missiles to be placed in Poland. The Czech and Polish governments have signaled their support even though national opinion polls in both countries show strong opposition to the U.S. plan. ~The Seattle Times

Yet dislike of Russia’s current path does not create unity. Both France and Germany are unenthusiastic about America’s planned missile-defence installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. President George Bush continues to protest that these are aimed at Iranian nuclear weapons, not at Russia. But with the exception perhaps of Britain’s Tony Blair, a lame-duck ally who will shortly leave office, he will find little support from his western counterparts. ~The Economist

It turns out that the idea is wildly unpopular across Europe, especially in those countries where the interceptors are going to be based.  The Polish and Czech governments are in favour of it, just as they have been supportive of the war in Iraq against the explicit wishes of their citizens.  Had Putin held off with his confrontational bluster, he could have easily detached most European countries from the U.S. on this particular issue.  Most Europeans don’t believe that there is a threat from Iran in any case, and they’re the ones who would be protected under any missile shield.  Iran does extensive business with Europe.  To launch missile strikes on any EU country would mean greater economic ruin for their country.  What is this strange American habit of seeing dangers in other parts of the world that the people in those other parts of the world do not see? 

If we took the government at its word, this missile shield would be built to counter threats from mighty Iran (whose Shahab missiles can probably only barely reach some parts of Europe).  However, it seems rather obvious that the current plan has nothing to do with countering an Iranian threat.  For instance, Voice of America tells us:

The U.S. plan suggests deploying 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic. The system would cover NATO members except Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and parts of Romania [bold mine-DL].

In other words, the allies closest to Iran that would be the most easily targeted by any Iranian attack would have no protection whatever under this plan.  This plan does cover all ex-Soviet and former Warsaw Pact states now in NATO that border on or are closest to Russia.  It also protects the rest of the alliance west of Poland and the Czech Republic, but our easternmost NATO allies would be out of luck.  What were the Russians supposed to conclude from the obviously two-faced nature of the official justification for the missile shield?

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