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Dear Members and Friends,

Over the past six years, the pillar of our Administration’s foreign policy has been the “reset of relations” with the most notorious international actors. This approach has been founded on the belief that concessions along with forgiveness of past actions towards the United States and the international community would start a revival of trust and normalcy. With the singular super power status, the United States could afford to give and be the bigger nation in order to foster international order and equitable partnerships.

With two years remaining, this reset of relations has failed with Russia, the showpiece of this policy. The Administration’s approach towards Iran, completing the nuclear deal, trumping the U.S. Congress with the United Nations is of the “reset of relations” strategy of their overall foreign policy agenda that they hope will overshadow the failure of Russia and become a historic legacy.

Russia, still smartly playing its diplomatic cards given by the “reset”, has demanded this past week additional concessions. Leveraging the Iran deal, Russia is now insisting that the President follow up on his 2009 statement in Prague that if there is no Iranian threat, the “driving force for missile defense construction in Europe will be removed”. The Russians are referring to dismantling the upcoming Aegis Ashore Missile Defense site being deployed in Romania later this year and in Poland in 2018. Both Aegis Ashore sites have the capability of tracking, targeting and destroying medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles from Iran launched against Europe.

There is concern that the Administration could actually be considering this tack, but serendipitously Russia’s commitment to be a steward of international order made to the United States in 2009 has been broken by its invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s words today and in the past are no more than bluff and propaganda, designed to create fear like that of a school yard bully trying to get his way. Past administrations have called out this bluster, but Russia has found that the current one is more receptive to its messaging.

Simultaneous to Russia’s messaging, air space confrontations are happening more today than at any time during past 20 years. Last month’s exercise in Russian air power projection was the largest we have seen, with the use of military aircraft from multiple air bases including strategic bomber aircraft flying off the costs of Alaska and Northern California much closer to U.S. air space than in past intrusions. Russia is sending strategic messaging to its nation, its allies, our allies and our Administration and citizens in manner that propels its own nationalism and tests the will behind U.S. power.

Our Administration has chosen leave Russia’s strategic messaging unchallenged for fear of incitement and escalation. This maybe a grand gesture of concessions, but it is dangerously allowing an increased probability for miscalculation that could easily lead to an escalation to conflict. Furthermore, it puts tremendous pressure on the next president to confront this situation. Making it clear that we have the military capability to easily defend against Russia’s school bully tactics is far less provocative than ignoring it.

As to the outlandish Russian presumption that we should now dismantle the two Aegis Ashore Sites in Europe, a few points:

  • The United States Congress paid for them, not Europe, so the buck stops with U.S. Congress.
  • NATO is fully behind the construction of these sites, and even more so since Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
  • There are no limits on ballistic missile technology or growth imposed on Iran as part of the nuclear deal. In fact, the deal gives Iran the freedom to buy and sell ballistic missiles and technology after several years.
  • Under this deal, Iran will leverage its increased production and sophistication of ballistic and cruise missiles to project power within the region and Europe to become a legitimate regional and world power. Missile defense is the only way to counter and deter this behavior.
  • Missile defense provides one of our only insurance policies should the Iran deal fail to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.
  • If we allow such a precedent to be set, then the same logic could be extended to dismantle the missile defense systems of Israel and the Gulf States against Iran.

The reality of the Russia’s “blind man’s bluff” is that the security environment today is starkly different than in 2009. Russian aggression to Europe, demonstrated by Russia’s actions in Ukraine and posturing of the Russian military around the Baltic States underlines this point. Deploying the two Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland for the United States and NATO is now a great opportunity to not only deploy these sites as scheduled but to enhance their air defense capabilities with SM-6 interceptors to deter and defend against Russian aggression in Eastern Europe and strengthen NATO’s resolve.

It takes great courage to confront the school yard bully and be able to have the confidence to call his bluff.


Riki Ellison
Chairman and Founder
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

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MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.