A national poll released today revealed that 87 percent of the American Public believes that the United States should have a missile defense system. The public survey showed that 58% of the American Public thinks that there is a real threat from missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction and that missile defense is the preferred option over pre-emptive military action or diplomatic efforts for dealing with the proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction by nation states.This is an astonishingly high number considering the broad opposition to missile defense in Europe, and the reluctance to embrace it by several leading Democrats, including Barack Obama.
It will be interesting to see if Russia’s intervention into Georgia will increase or decrease European support for US systems. Initial reports suggest Russia’s actions have provoked a renewed sense of urgency into recently stagnant negotiations between Poland and the United States. According to the Financial Times:
Talks on building part of a US missile defence shield on Polish soil restarted on Wednesday, with Polish officials sending much more positive signals than recently, in part because of fears awakened by the Russian attack on Georgia.Talks stalled over Polish demands that the US beef up Polish domestic defenses, including with expensive Patriot interceptors, in order to place US missile defense systems on Polish territory. However, Polish political leaders argue that Russia’s intervention against Georgia has provided substance to its demands, as reported by the Associated Press:
The fighting between Russia and Georgia appears to have made the benefits of having a permanent US troop presence on Polish soil more apparent to Warsaw. US negotiators are also interested in strengthening security ties with Poland.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Tuesday the attacks in Georgia justified Poland's demand for additional security guarantees if it accepts a U.S. installation.Russia has strongly opposed US missile defense systems based in Poland and the Czech Republic, which it sees as a security threat. It is interesting that Russia's incursion into Georgia has emboldened Poland and the United States to push forward with missile defense plans, rather than making them “think twice” before moving ahead with the controversial project.
"The increase in international tension that we are dealing with now, but which we had not expected, makes the security guarantees ... an issue even more important than before," [Polish Foreign Minister] Sikorski said.