Czechs withdraw from US missile-defense plans

Count the Czech Republic out of any American missile-defense system in Europe.  The Czechs formally withdrew from the missile-defense partnership with the US, prompting one lawmaker in Prague to complain that “the current administration doesn’t take the Czech Republic seriously.”  They see the Obama administration as more concerned with appeasing Russia — at their expense:

The Bush administration first proposed stationing 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an advanced radar in the Czech Republic, saying the system was aimed at blunting future missile threats from Iran. But Russia angrily objected and warned that it would station its own missiles close to Poland if the plan went through.

In September 2009, the Obama administration shelved that plan and offered a new, reconfigured phased program with an undefined role for the Czechs. In November 2009, the Czech Republic was offered the possibility of hosting a separate early warning system that would gather and analyze information from satellites to detect missiles aimed at NATO territory.

Defense Minister Alexander Vondra told the AP that the Czech Republic wanted to participate but “definitely not in this way.” …

“I’m not surprised by the decision,” said Jan Vidim, a lawmaker in the lower house of the Czech Parliament. “The United States has been and will be our crucial strategic partner but the current administration doesn’t take the Czech Republic seriously.”

Vidim’s remarks reflected concern by many in Central and Eastern Europe that the U.S. interest in resetting ties with Moscow could come at their expense.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the first time that the West ran over the Czechs in their rush to appease a stronger power.

Barack Obama made the infamous “reset button” a cornerstone of his foreign policy in Europe, but he has done so at the expense of the Czechs and Poles.  He canceled the rollout of the missile shield in Poland on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion, apparently without giving the Poles much notice.  After George W. Bush got agreements from both the Czechs and the Poles that cost both governments some political support, Obama has pulled the rug out from underneath both nations on the shield system.  The latest offer to the Czechs was so insulting that Vondra called it a “consolation prize,” no more than “a room or two” with “some screens” to watch.

The Czechs said they are open to more discussions on missile defense with the US, but they made it pretty clear that they’re not terribly interested in dealing with the Obama administration.  “It’s too early to speak of” ideas the Czechs have for missile defense, Vondra announced, a fairly clear indication that they’re not going to cooperate much with the current occupant of the White House.

Gee, I seem to remember a presidential candidate in 2008 who ran on the promise to improve relations with our allies.  Smart power, indeed.