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Why Europe welcomes US missile defense shield decision

German analysts say this gives the US and Europe more leeway in negotiations with Russia, and give Poland a ‘healthier’ foreign policy.

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South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) strongly criticized the White House missile shield decision on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, saying: "This is going to be seen as a capitulation to the Russians…And at the end of the day you empowered the Russians, you made Iran happy and you made the people in Eastern Europe wonder who we are as Americans."

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Yet a survey in the Warsaw daily Rzeczpospolita over the weekend indicated that about half of the Poles agree with Obama's decision to abandon the missile shield, while 31 percent disagreed. Some analysts argue that Poland and the Czech Republic will now have to work out their security with other European states along with NATO, and not in a special relationship with Washington – and that this may prove useful in the long term.

That was the position of Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on Monday, who told Polish radio that "I hope this [missile shield decision] will prove a salutary shock, especially for the right end of Poland's political spectrum," adding it would bring an adjustment to "the dream of basing everything on a bilateral alliance with the United States."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a Financial Times oped today countered the view that the US is "shelving" missile defense, writing that, "We will deploy missile defence that is more comprehensive than the previous programme, with more interceptors in more places…."

Mr. Rahr in Berlin argues that Russia in recent years has adopted a problematic psychology, he calls it "a Weimar complex" – an inherently strong but disorganized country feeling slighted and ignored – and looking for perceived slights and grievances at every turn.

"If it is within the Russian concept of threat, the missile defense should be part of consultations. Why is Poland and America deciding this for Europe?" Rahr asks.

In Paris, Le Monde editorialized in a similar vein over the weekend: "We must hail the decision by Barack Obama to abandon the anti-missile shield project that was to be deployed in Europe. This costly project whose very efficiency was at doubt was deeply divisive among the European and fed a heavy "Star Wars" climate in Russia. Here, as elsewhere, the American president has chosen détente and negotiation."

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