November 8th, 2008
04:07 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama adviser: No Obama commitment on defense shield

President-elect Obama spoke recently with the president of Poland.

President-elect Obama spoke recently with the president of Poland.

(CNN) - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has made "no commitment" to plans for a missile defense program in eastern Europe, despite a report on Polish president's Web site, an Obama adviser said Saturday.

Obama spoke to President Lech Kaczynki over the phone about continuing military and political cooperation between the two countries and possibly meeting in person soon, both sides said.

"President-elect had a good conversation with the Polish president and the Polish prime minister about the important U.S.-Poland alliance," said Denis McDonough, Obama's senior foreign policy adviser.

However, Kaczynski's office on its Web site says that during the same conversation, Obama told Kaczynski that he intends to continue plans for a missile shield in eastern Europe.

Obama's adviser denied the report.

"President Kaczynski raised missile defense, but President-elect Obama made no commitment on it. His position is as it was throughout the campaign: That he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable," McDonough said.

Russia is infuriated by U.S. plans for the missile-defense installation, which includes basing missile interceptors in Poland. The interceptor rockets would be linked to an air-defense radar system in the Czech Republic.

The United States has tried to mollify Moscow by stressing that the missile shield is directed at rogue states, such as Iran, and the number of interceptors in the shield would be "easily overwhelmed" by Russian forces.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in his first state-of-the-nation speech since taking office earlier this year, warned this week that Russian missiles will be deployed against the planned system.

"The Iskander missile system will be deployed in Kaliningrad region to neutralize, when necessary, the missile shield," Medvedev said. "We are also planning to use the resources of the Russian naval fleet for these purposes."

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Medvedev's announcement that Russia would deploy missiles in response to the shield is "disappointing."

Updated 4:07 p.m. with McDonough statement

soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Evie the evile Evelyn

    Time for US (the world) to stand up and say ... WE ARE ... now get a grip.

    November 8, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  2. Chris

    I think the press is something to keep an eye on here. I think what we're going to see is the media elite start to turn on Obama now that he is privy to top secret information regarding foreign policy; something that he did not have access to before winning the vote. His stance on certain foreign diplomatic issues is going to change (as it normally does) as he receives info from generals on the ground in the Iraq & Afghanistan theaters and leadership from East Asia and Eastern Europe. The media is going to try and rip him apart for doing his just watch. Cowards.

    November 8, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  3. Don from Miane

    President elect Obama should tell Russia to pound sand if they don;t like the missile defense shield. Its time America stood up to all of the world leaders who can;t really do anything but rattle their sword and threaten this or that. There's nothing wrong with telling russia we are going to buld the defense shield and while we're at it telling Iran that we will not allow them to have nuclear weapons. these two countries will probably be the first to test the President elects resolve. I say stand firm in your resolve and convictions. After all what can Russia or for that matter Iran really do about it? President Obama might just be the 2000's JFK in his resolve to the Russians. Neither Russia or Iran wants any part of a military confrontation with the US.

    November 8, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. Evie the evile Evelyn

    Tic-Tac-Toe ... who wins? No one ... are we too stoooopid given Dumbya to realize this? war = win less ... and the roaches win ... are you on OUR side or the bugs.

    Human = you are my friend ... evie the evil evelyn ... read this – my friend – YOU are ... deep breath and get over it ... OK?

    November 8, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  5. Eileen

    Don't believe a thing Obama says or is purported to have said. He will say whatever he wants to suit the moment, and sometimes says one thing, but then leaks something else from his aides and friends. He's trying to cover every base, so he can do absolutely nothing of substance and yet still claim he is saving the day. In the end our country will be a sitting duck for terrorists.

    November 8, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  6. Mike

    Hey obama genius. THE TECHNOLOGY HAS ALREADY BEEN PROVEN. Can't believe these people are going to be running our country. It's a shame.

    November 8, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  7. katrina f.

    I wish Obama the best luck while he is head man of the U.S.A

    November 8, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  8. Therestofus

    That one, the pompous, smart aleck from Chicago. He is not the president YET. So shut him up!

    November 8, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  9. popeye

    We need to wake up!
    What would we do if Russia put a "defense shield" in Cuba?
    Can you say "Bay of Pigs".
    This whole idea is simply poking a stick in Russia's eye.

    November 8, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  10. jim b

    Bush's anti-missle system is just more welfare for the rich, in this case defense contractors peddling an unproven technology. The pressident. Bush and Cheney themselves probably know it is useless for anything but redistributing the wealth to their friends. Far fetched? No, not really. for the team that took us to war to provide non competitive contracts to Haliburton, this is childs play. The next administration needs to handle the problem with skill and delicacy, as the whack jobs on the right will be happy to use this to thwart the will of the American people.

    November 8, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  11. 3strikes

    he doesnt look presidential at all, he just looks like a clueless and inexperienced empty suit socialist. now lets see all th nobama democraps defend their messiah in





    November 8, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  12. The Pecan State Pundit

    Liberalism has had bad luck with wars. Woodrow Wilson's domestic program was undermined by World War I. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was scuttled by World War II. Harry Truman's Fair Deal was torpedoed by the War in Korea. Lyndon Johnson's Great Society – the most ambitious of them all – was decapitated by the war in Viet Nam.

    We need to focus on the domestic agenda and try to stay out of major military commitments, if possible. Of course, we cannot stand idly by and witness genocide or the overthrow of a democracy by a totalitarian force, but we should be very aggressive in our efforts to stop such actions from happening.

    It is urgently important that the US get on with the repair and renewal of its infrastructure, regulating the economy so we can avoid the economic downturns that Conservative leaders allow the "free market" to create, and educating our citizenry. This is a complicated new world, and we're going to have to think through some complicated problems – or witness the end of civilization as we know it.

    November 8, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  13. Nannie Bouroughs

    If President-Elect Obama is NOT going to pursue the King George regime's agenda of putting our troops, our personnel and our technology in every country on the planet, it is clearly a wise choice. Other nations around the globe are fast becoming increasingly tired of having a USA footprint and everything else that goes with it in their countries. The true beauty of Democracy is that it is learned by example, not by invasion and occupation.

    [Although, like NAFTA, which Obama is NOT going to change, I fear the current denial is really just more political speak for American consumption.]

    We have more than we can handle after 8 long destructive and incompetent years of King George right here in the USA...


    November 8, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  14. Perusing-Through

    One President at a time, people! One President at a time.

    November 8, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  15. Larry

    This is what happens when people voted their emotions and not with their brains.Now money isn't going to be the issue,terrorist and world war 3,and staying alive.Thank you for electing President Obama,your choice has made our enemies vary happy.

    Don't you feel safe now that the world loves us???

    November 8, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  16. Moe, NY

    I think a "Missile Defense Program" in Eastern Europe is a great idea...hope it becomes a reality. Just think, if the whole world was covered with "Missile Defense Program", perhaps it would be the end of war as we know it! Countries trying to bomb other countries would have a harder time doing it! I could live with this!

    November 8, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  17. maynard hopkins wi


    November 8, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. Speider

    Haven't we learned that missiles and nuclear weapons are as obsolete as is the global warfare of the past? Nations have certainly learned that we are tied by the economics of each other nation and dispute and instability in one nation affects all. The fears of Soviet or Chinese troops sweeping across continents or nuclear missiles raining down on the heads of one nation is as obsolete as the battleships that can be sunk with one 200 mile-range exocet missile.

    Our struggle will be with small, unstable dictatorships and perhaps our intervention in Iraq was the first of many to reign in these dangers to the rest of the world but even there we have seen that conventional warfare is not as effective as counter-insurgency.

    A few less nuclear subs and battleships will not make us weaker, nor will the addition make us stronger. Using our heads to watch, expect and decide on the actions needed to counter terrorism and destabilization in the world is our new military/political defense.

    November 8, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  19. phil

    CNN leave obama alone . you guys should give him a break . he is just getting off a long campaign, allow him to settle down . dont report things that we no is not true. everyone shld help obama succeed in this trying times.

    November 8, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. Mike

    The weakness of an Obama administration is already evident, and they haven't even moved into the White House.

    Expect China to annex Taiwan, Russia to annex Azerbaijan and all the totalitarian regimes to have a free hand for the next 4 years.

    Maybe Obama will take this position of Russia's to the UN?

    November 8, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  21. te

    THe russians need to stop thinking like its the 80s

    November 8, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. RGG

    Obama should improve relations with Russia. He should not go back to the cold war era.
    Bush was tying his silliest best at provoking Russia by installing missiles systems in Poland and the Check republic. It was probably an electoral trick to help the Republicans.

    November 8, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  23. bill for barack

    President-elect Obama was right in saying that we have one President alreadyand that now is his time to lead the country without trying to compete with his successor.
    The time will come when President Obama can – and – will set his own policy.

    November 8, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  24. Tod in CA

    No shields, no escalation. Missile power is a matter of national pride. We're never going to be invincible, so don't invite trouble.

    November 8, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  25. Robert Maxwell

    The radar sites in the Czech Republic and the missiles in Poland were among the absolutely worst ideas to come out of the Bush administration. The Czechs and Poles had to be bribed into accepting the deal, which they first rejected. (They'd be one of the first targets in a missile exchange.) The US had to agree to beef up Poland's military with American taxpayers' money. The missiles themselves have a poor record. They are enormously expensive. They protect us from nothing and they provoke and alienate Russia, who offered us the use of sites within Russian borders. Of course this sort of boondoggle should make the CEOs at Raytheon and General Electric very happy. One of the first things any new administration ought to do is dump the worst plans of its predecessor. Cancelling the program will be interpreted not as a sign of weakness but of logic. I can't see anything but good coming from ending this reckless enterprise.

    November 8, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
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