Preemptive Offenses

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Flexibility" In Action

Remember that famous meeting between Obama and Medvedev?

The United States has effectively canceled the final phase of a Europe-based missile defense system that was fiercely opposed by Russia and cited repeatedly by the Kremlin as a major obstacle to cooperation on nuclear arms reductions and other issues.

Russian officials here have so far declined to comment on the announcement, which was made in Washington on Friday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as part of a plan to deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors to counter North Korea. The cancellation of some European-based defenses will allow resources to be shifted to protect against North Korea....

Russian leaders on several occasions used meetings with President Obama to press their complaints about the missile defense program. At one such meeting, in South Korea last March, Mr. Obama was heard on a live microphone telling the outgoing Russian president Dmitri A. Medvedev in a private aside that he would have “more flexibility” to negotiate on missile defense after the November presidential election in November.

Refresh my memory, New York Times: Aren't all November elections held in November? Oh, never mind.

I'm not aware of the details of Congress's authorization bill for American and NATO missile defense emplacements. Perhaps, as with so many other Congressional emissions, it merely states a few nonspecific goals and leaves the rest to the discretion of the executive branch. But let's suppose for a moment that that's not the case. Let's suppose that Congress specifically commanded a missile shield for Eastern Europe, and appropriated funds for that exact purpose.

Would the executive branch possess Constitutional authority to override the terms of so specific a bill?

I don't think so -- which makes it imperative that we find out whether the European missile shield was a Congressional decree or an exercise of executive branch "flexibility."

In either case, the notion that the United States is configuring its military and their equipment according to Russia's government's wishes is quite unsettling. It suggests that the Obamunists are unaware of whom they really work for...or uninterested, which would amount to the same thing in practical terms.

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