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Media reaction to missile defence shift

US missile test
Some conservatives are unhappy with Mr Obama's decision

US commentators from the liberal wing of the blogosphere were unanimous about one aspect of President Obama's decision to overhaul America's missile defence system - conservative hawks were going to hate it.

"This is likely to enrage the already apoplectic neoconservatives," wrote Time's Joe Klein. "[They] see the system not merely as an anti-Iranian measure, which is its stated intent, but as another means to put pressure on Russia."

The Atlantic's Matt Cooper agreed.

"For conservatives, who have made missile shields a centerpiece of their defense vision for a generation, this can only make them hate Obama more. More details will emerge later today, but can anyone doubt the apoplexy building at The Weekly Standard?"

The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb, a leading neo-conservative writer, was quick to prove Mr Cooper right.

"[Mr Obama's decision] represents a complete capitulation to Russia's Vladimir Putin, who had demanded that the proposed deployments be halted as a price for improved relations," he wrote.

"The consequences of this action in Eastern Europe, especially in Ukraine and in other countries that feel vulnerable to Russian power, will be disastrous. It is a major American retreat in the face of Russian bullying. And we will get absolutely nothing for it."

Mr Goldfarb's complaint - that America would get no quid pro quo from Russia in response to the missile defence shift - was echoed by fellow conservatives.

"Even if we were to grant that the missile shield in Europe was negotiable - what has the Obama Administration gotten in return from Putin/Medvedev?" wrote Mona Charen at the National Review.

"Where is the announcement from Russia of support for strict sanctions against Iran? Have they simply given this away for nothing?"

Another conservative, Harvard Professor Tom Nichols, also writing at the National Review, gave Mr Obama's decision a cautious welcome, however.

"It was the right thing to do," he wrote. "Those defenses were not going to work (or work well enough or soon enough to matter in any major crisis with Iran), and the diplomatic price we were paying for them was far out of proportion to any small gains we might have made by annoying the Russians or reassuring the Czechs and the Poles."

Aside from their predictions of conservative apoplexy, most liberals were broadly in agreement with the administration's policy shift.

"I'm glad to see the Obama administration abandoning the really dumb and provocative long-range missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic and replacing it with a short-range missile defense system that's sea-based with sites in (probably) Romania, Israel and Turkey," wrote the Washington Post's Ezra Klein.

"I might like to see them abandon the idea altogether, but them's the breaks. This way, you do less to anger Russia and you save a bit of money."

Robert Farley, blogging at Lawyers, Guns and Money, was also pleased with the move.

"This is a huge victory for common sense over fantasy, and for responsible defense budgeting. This project had no function other than to serve the pecuniary interest of the missile defense industry, and to sate the ideological lust of conservatives infatuated with St Reagan."

And FireDogLake's Spencer Ackerman was full of admiration for the way in which the administration used its opponents' arguments to sell its new policy.

"It's some good jujitsu: accepting the technological premises of missile defense advocates to argue that the planned Poland/Czech Republic-based system is a relic before it's built."



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