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Why missile defense might wait

In other news developments this week the Czech parliament formally put off further discussions on the U.S.-planned radar base for the Czech Republic. Saying they want to get a sense of where the Obama administration stands on missile defense in Europe, the debate has been postponed at least until March. But there could be more definitive information as soon as this week. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is scheduled to visit Washington and is expected to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Obama has consistently said he supports missile defense — with one big caveat — "that works"! The Bush administration had made missile defense in Europe a foreign policy priority during it's final two years. Their urgency undoubtedly stemmed, in part, from the realization that without a legitimate threat, and an unreliable system, a new administration in Washington would be reluctant to push the project forward.

Their failure to get bilateral treaties ratified in Poland and the Czech Republic could spell the end of missile defense in Europe — at least for now. Beyond the Pentagon and Bush administration cronies one is hard-pressed to find an independent expert who thinks the system is ready for deployment. In a series of tests that have been consistently dumbed-down to increase the chances of success, the system has still only succeeded in something like 8-out-of-14 tests.