Well not really. But yours truly recently did an interview with Foreign Policy in Focus’ Gabriella Campos on the Obama administration’s new plan for missile defense in Europe. The full interview can be read here. A few additional points/clarifications are below the jump.
1. For better or for worse (probably worse), my response to the first question was not answered, by any reasonable definition of the phrase, “in layman’s terms.” Darn it.
2. In touting the advantages of the Obama administration’s plan, I should have pointed out that a key shortcoming of the Bush plan was that a significant majority of Czechs and Poles opposed it. In fact, so unpopular was the plan in the Czech Republic, that it played a key role in bringing down the government of then-Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who was a strong supporter of the third site, earlier this year. Consequently, the Czech Republic may have never ratified the missile defense agreement it signed with the U.S. in July 2008.
This development no doubt influenced the Obama administration as it thought about how best to proceed, since Congress stated in both the FY2008 and FY2009 Defense Authorization Acts that construction on the third site could not begin until both the Czech and Polish parliaments gave final approval to the agreements their respective governments negotiated with Washington. As MDA Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly put it in a September 24 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing,
we do need the approval of the countries, and there is an extensive amount of implementing agreements also required before you can begin that [construction]. So we saw the 2017-2018 time frame [for initial deployment of the third site] as optimistic based on the approvals necessary in order to begin.
3. For more information on the cost-effectiveness of the Obama administration’s new architecture, see this testimony from CBO Acting Assistant Directory Matthew S. Goldberg at a recent House Budget Committee hearing. Also have a look at this statement from Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing noted above:
Again, if I could just underscore, the CBO and the IDA studies [on the cost of alternative options for missile defense in Europe] both costed out a sea-based-only architecture, which would be very expensive. Once you move the majority of the interceptors onto land, which is what we envision doing, the cost effectiveness goes way up. It’s much less expensive.
So the sea-based piece of architecture really plays a role in the initial phases, while we’re developing a land-based site. And that’s just to cover, you know, the southern part of Europe that’s currently under threat.
And then as a surge or sort of flexibility element, should in an — under a particular contingency, if part of Europe is under threat or part of the United States is under threat, we can surge sea-based assets to complement the land-based system. But they really costed out a totally different concept, which is different than what we’re proposing.