Those missiles

I apologise for the rushed and badly prepared post but we’re off to sunny Spain tomorrow and I’ve not got a lot of time between wrestling suitcases and calming down an excited 5yr old!

The gist of the post is “What do you all think about these missiles, then?”.

I think it’s a bigger story than it is being given credit for and a many faceted one too. I’m concerned at living in a country that has now become America’s front line and shot up the priority list of a few countries target lists. Whilst this may bring advantages (mainly to the USA) in terms of defending against or attacking whoever they see fit, it also surely makes Poland an easy closer target for anyone wishing to have a pop at Uncle Sam?

The troops and Patriot battery that will be sent here should never be looked at as “part of the deal”, no matter how much they’ll cost. They are simply a necessary part of locating the missiles and making sure nobody buggers them up. So what is Poland getting for putting itself in the firing line and being a good little Yankarse-licking doggy? Is it enough? I can understand there may be some satisfaction in pissing off the Russians and also in having a card always available up our sleeve in future negotiations with the USA but what about hard cash, aid, investment….. stuff we can see immediate benefits from?

On a more subtle level, we could ask who is using who here I suppose. Is this a better deal for the USA or for Poland. Who’s been Mr Smarty Pants in this negotiation? There’s also the much wider question of whether the USA is the best hitching rail to tie your horse to in the first place.

What about democracy then? I’m certain that were I running this country this is one issue that would have been put to a referendum, let the people have the final say. After all, they are ones who are going to be killed when we’re attacked.

I could go on for hours, but I don’t have them available.

Here’s a useful article for anyone who has no idea what I’m talking about.

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19 thoughts on “Those missiles

  1. Nobody will attack Poland. The muslims love Poland, because all Poles are antisemitic and more conservative than Osama bin Laden.

    And the Russians will not attack Poland, because if they attack Poland at 10:00 o clock, NATO will send a missile to Moscow at 10:01. Thats how it works…

    enjoy the holidays…and do not fly with spanair ;)

  2. A referendum, what a good idea, look at the evolution of polls : it depends so much on the news and the “mood” of the population. It isn’t a secret that people barely answer to the question they are asked.

    About the missiles, Lithuania could have set them up if Poland refused and the result would have been more or less the same in case of crisis, because I can hardly imagine Russia to intervene militarily in Lithuania without Poland, the US, NATO and EU would react – even if the events in Tallinn one or two years ago proved the intensity and the speed of a possible reaction are very variable.

    We shouldn’t forget that it’s above all a symbolic agreement : Iran isn’t likely to build ICBM’s (their nuclear potential aims Middle East, not the American territory), and Russia owns too many ones to be able to stop them with a couple of missiles.

    Washington is simply decided to maintain its influence there. Now, whether it is a good or a bad thing for Poland – Poles will know better.

  3. Kathleen, good point & now edited. As I said, done in a rush!

    Romain, agreed that referendums often give strange results but I really feel uncomfortable with any other way of deciding the question of “Should we become a military outpost of the USA?”.

    US are a long way away. NATO & EU have a habit of talking a LOT before actually doing anything. Where does that leave Poland if a surprise attack comes in?

    Russia attacks Polish missiles (already a bad start), NATO attacks Russia, (getting worse), Russia nukes Warsaw (bad ending).

  4. “what about hard cash, aid, investment….. stuff we can see immediate benefits from?” Cut me a break – the Poles would squander whatever they get as usual and the funds will go down ratholes never to be found again.

  5. The Russian-Georgian conflict changed a lot of opinions overnight. Prior to that I believe that most Poles thought, “well, why should we have missiles here?” After the conflict started and, especially, after reports started coming in that the Russians were already breaking the terms of their post-conflict ceasefire and leaving garrisons all over Georgia …I believe that many Poles started thinking, “Georgia isn’t that far away and was even vying for NATO membership. If it can happen to them…” Or something to that effect.

    The missiles are, from the Polish perspective, a deterrent to Russia. The US’s promise to react to a request for military help, above and beyond what NATO rules require, are also a deterrent. The Patriot missile batteries are probably a bit of a deterrent.

    I think it’s also about the mentality of Poles towards their former master: A bit of humiliation for Russia now and then, in the form of “moving towards the west”, is never going to bring a tear to the eye of any Pole. Poland’s close cooperation with the US (and to a slightly lesser degree with the EU) says, from Poland to Russia, “we reject your unsatisfactory offers.”

    Russia’s bitching and moaning about the missiles is also laughable from a military POV. While they *might* actually be able to shoot down some half-assed POS from Iran no one in their right mind thinks that they can shoot down every Russian ICBM of which there are loads. BTW, I’ve never heard a peep from Iran about the missile shield. Russia’s bitched plenty, though.

    Russia complains that the US is violating a post-cold war agreement that said that the US would never station troops in a former Soviet state. Of course, that’s on one hand. On the other, it’s ok for Russia to occupy Georgia …so obviously the US isn’t going to worry too much about 150 troops manning a Patriot missile battery.

    Russia claims that it *may* target nuclear missiles at Poland. Russia claims it *will* target Iskander-M missiles at the missile shield sites. Iskander-M’s are not “blow up a city” missiles. They are short-range (400km max) missiles with an export payload of 480kg. So they are designed to …blow up a small missile site. BFD.

    All that aside: Russia doesn’t have the balls to shoot a missile at Poland. Russians aren’t necessarily stupid and know that the reason they are flush with cash is because they export oil and gas and allow people to invest in Russia. That investment is going to dry up pretty fast when Russia’s shooting missiles at countries in the EU and do you think that Russians are going to be supplying gas and oil to the EU if they’re also attacking the EU? No. Unfortunately, since that’s also how they get a lot of their money (that isn’t necessarily being reinvested in long-term, economy-stabilizing projects) so it’s about the same as shooting yourself in the foot.

    All of the “geopolitical” talk will die down in a few weeks. Russia will continue to illegally occupy Georgia but, then again, what was the Georgian president thinking would happen? The missile shield deal will happen and it will piss the Russians off which will make most Poles happy and it will worry the EU but they won’t do anything about it because what could they do anyway?

    The real question for most Poles is: so are we finally going to be able to visit the US without a damn visa?

  6. Here’s a good pravda.ru link on the Iskander-M’s: http://english.pravda.ru/russia/kremlin/28-05-2007/92300-iskander_tactical_missile-0

    Side note: I wonder if Wikipedia stole from Pravda.ru or the other way around? Wikipedia’s revision history for that article has those revisions in Oct 2006, so I guess Pravda was doing the poaching – though there is additional information in that article on what they’d be shooting at us.

    PS: A difference between Russia and the US: The US negotiates for ages with Poland about putting missiles on Polish soil. Putin calls up Lukashenko and tells him that they’re putting some missiles in Belarus. http://euobserver.com/24/26610 …Specifically, “Earlier this month, the Russian ambassador to Belarus, Alexander Surikov, said Russia would station Iskander-M earth-to-earth missiles on the EU border in Belarus and in the Kaliningrad exclave to target the new US facility in Poland and a related site in the Czech Republic.”

    That is the difference between being a partner and being a subjugated state.

    PPS: Odd thing. The Iskander-M has a claimed range of 400km. The VERY closest that the Czech Republic and Belarus meet is at about 395km. Unless the US is placing the radar sites at the very, VERY eastern edge of the country (east of Karvina) and the Russians are putting Iskander-M’s at the VERY south-west portion of Belarus (near the Polish town of Wlodawa Miasto) …the Russians are lying about targeting the Czech Republic or they’re lying about the range of the Iskander-M.

    Either way, as my Polish boss at work said the other day, “The Russians can’t be trusted.”

  7. I am afraid for Poland…
    Russia is like an irrational girlfriend who always thinks she’s right. Believe me, i’m dating one. There is no telling what they will do.

    Whether this is a good idea or not, i don’t know. If the Americans follow through with the promises, then we won’t have a repeat of WW2.

    Why can’t the freaking Russians just mind their own god damn business?!

  8. Russia is not irrational, especially former KGB agents like Putin and oil/gas oligarchs, who invested billions of dollars in europe and who spend most of their time in europe. If Russia were irrational then the cold war would not have stayed cold for more than 40 years.

  9. => Brad,
    why will you call the thing “the Russian-Georgian conflict” but not “Ossetian-Georgian conflict” (as seen on Russian TV) or “Georgian-Ossetian conflict” (as Wikid before) or – umph – “Russian-American war”? Just professionally curious, I am.

  10. Piotr –> I hope your girlfriend is not homicidally disposed but it seems that’s what you are suggesting. I agree with “guest” that the Russians are more rational than you think they are; and I would guess your girlfriend and other women are more rational than you think, too.

    Pysiek: So you are completely opposed to all public referenda? Seems to me that more democracy is almost always better than less democracy.

  11. Direct democracy doesn’t always mean more democracy. Ever heard about plebicists for short-sized emperors ?

  12. Pingback: My Polish Life » In Defense of the Missile Shield | musings of an expatriate discovering his roots

  13. Pingback: Two Russian Jokes « Wars & Sawa

  14. There are certain areas in which referenda are not appropriate. Security is one of them. I would image that there is an awful lot of sensitive information the details of which (along with the source) cannot be divulged to the general public. Without absolute transparency a referendum is without value.

    If you want to fear anything then fear the creeping control of the EU. Did you know that if the EU were a nation it would be refused entry to the EU based on its lack of democracy!

    The absence of a referendum concerning the passing of sovereignty to unelected people is infinitely more dangerous than the missiles, as whilst the EU is big, it is weak. It is centralising foreign policy and yet no one within the group can agree. The result: A shoddy misadventure.

    Individual nations are still free to make bilateral agreements with Russia concerning energy so how can an EU stance towards Russia ever be collective? It can’t and so Russia thinks nothing of the EU’s involvement.

    I worry more about the EU Commission and the impact on security than I do about the protestations of Russia.

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