Obama backs missile defense

This is big, if he means it:

[President Obama] also gave his most unequivocal pledge yet to proceed with a missile defense system in Europe while Iran pursues nuclear weapons, as the West alleges. That shield is to be based in the Czech Republic and Poland. Those countries are on Russia’s doorstep, and the move has contributed to a significant decline in U.S.-Russia relations.

In the interest of resetting ties with Moscow, Obama previously had appeared to soft-pedal his support for the Bush-era shield proposal. But he adopted a different tone in Prague.

“As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven,” Obama said, earning cheers from the crowd.

This was in part a message to Russia, which has balked at using its influence to press Iran to drop its nuclear pursuits.

This could merely be part of an effort to strengthen our bargaining position with Russia.  But even that would be an improvement over the idea that we might give up missile defense for Europe (and possibly even North America) in exchange for nothing at all.

UPDATE (9/17): He didn’t mean it.

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