Our leaders are unscrupulous pathological liars, not Americans not the world can trust anything they say and do.
The routine US reliance on misleading claims about missile defense systems—claims too often parroted by the Western press—contributes to an environment in which foreign powers, both friend and foe, rightly do not trust the word of US political and military leaders.
The Western press has often treated the Russian claim that US missile defense installations have an offensive capability as rhetorical obfuscation. But publicly available information makes it clear that the US Aegis-based systems in Eastern Europe, if equipped with cruise missiles, would indeed violate the INF.
The Obama administration’s internal deliberations on the decision to place Aegis-based missile defenses in Poland and Romania have not been reported in the press. Neither has the precise advice Defense Department advisers gave the president and his policy staff on the capabilities of the Aegis system. The Obama administration knew that, with the Aegis-ashore program, it was installing a weapons system in Eastern Europe with offensive capabilities that violated US treaty obligations.
But it is clear that the detection ranges of the Aegis radars at the Polish site are too short, and the interceptors too slow, for them to shoot down what the United States insists are their targets: long-range missiles fired by Iran. To put it bluntly, the Aegis systems would be essentially useless in countering an Iranian long-range missile attack.
But the Aegis systems in Eastern Europe have characteristics that make them especially threatening to Russia. First, the mechanical and electronic components installed in the Romanian and Polish Aegis ashore sites are the same as those installed on US Navy warships, which were designed from the beginning to be able to launch both cruise missiles and anti-air missiles. This creates a short-warning attack threat to Russia via US conventional or nuclear-armed cruise missiles that were otherwise banned by the INF.
If the Aegis-based systems in Eastern Europe were supplied with American cruise missiles—either the existing Tomahawk or a new missile that Russia claims the United States has been developing—they would become fearsome offensive forces, staged on the frontiers of Russia. And there would be little way for Russia to know whether Aegis systems were loaded with missile defense interceptors or nuclear-armed cruise missiles. The offensive capabilities of the US missile defense installations in Eastern Europe are key to understanding the US-Russia standoff over the INF.