Hunting Rabbits

June 30, 2011

Dear Members and Friends,


“The Russian bear sits in its lair, and the NATO huntsman comes over to his house and asks him to come hunt the rabbit. …. Why do your rifles have the caliber to hunt the bear, not the rabbit?”

–Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin


In statements at an international setting in England, Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin articulated to an American, European and NATO audience that partnering with the United States in missile defense for Europe is like being asked by the Americans to go hunting for rabbits. The Americans show up at the front door with a gun that can shoot bears rather than rabbits. This simple parable symbolically defines the Russian viewpoint of U.S. missile defenses in Europe and the proposed European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) that the United States President is championing with NATO.


In this context, the Americans don’t know if the rabbits they are hunting are all really rabbits. In their view, the Americans need the most capable guns with the best bullets to keep the rabbit population under control and, if they are all not rabbits, to be able to handle the wild boars and bears that are growing with the rabbits in the Iranian game parks.  After all, the Americans and their NATO buddies aren’t asking the Russians to go hunting for sport to be fair to the rabbits, as the rabbits, boars and bears aren’t threatening to be set loose on Russia.  Further, the Russians have many more bear, boar and rabbit guns than their buddies in the U.S. and NATO and they don’t want to share them to go rabbit hunting.

Russia, still driven by cold war humility, felt they never lost.  They continue to protect their most vaunted military aspect of international power and equal status with the Americans:  Their strategic nuclear rocket forces.  Any threat perceived by Russia now or in the future to their strategic rocket forces, no matter how insignificant, is seen both publicly and militarily as an erosion of Russian military world power. Added to this is the operated and deployed Russian missile defense system that has close to three times more ground based interceptors than the U.S. and also robust missile defense system on Russian borders. The lack of reliability and confidence in their strategic rocket forces, caused by factors like obsolescence, neglect, successful testing and quality control, is likely much higher than the Russians claim.  Cold War reasoning would state that sensitivity is extremely high due to the Russian perception that even a limited United States missile defense system may have an impact on their unreliable strategic nuclear rocket force.

The projected plans for EPAA and the continued development of missile defense by the United States involve forward basing in lands and adjacent seas in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Turkey as well as concepts of kinetic interception with persistent remote air borne and space tracking.  This would allow multiple interceptors of varying ranges and speeds to intercept the entire ballistic missile threat spectrum throughout its phases of flight and, if possible early on, to defeat counter measures and decoys. The application and development of this missile defense technology will always be seen as a threat by Russia not because of the limited numbers or where these systems are based, but because of the American ingenuity and resolve to defeat and destroy ballistic missiles, which in the Russians’ post Cold War perspective directly threatens their global status as an equal with the U.S. 


“If NATO wants to reduce tension with Russia, it should cancel the missile defense project.  We have always criticized these plans as deeply anti-Russian.” 

–Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin


The President of the United States Barack Obama and NATO are committed to developing, evolving and deploying missile defense systems in Europe with or without Russia. 


You can’t expect to go hunting rabbits with a buddy that is scared of your gun and scared of you.

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