In the winter of 1921-22, the world’s sea-going powers met in Washington DC in an attempt to prevent another world war by limiting the size and scope of naval warships. With a few strokes of the pen, more naval hardware was scrapped or otherwise rendered useless than had been destroyed in any war. The United States did not lay another battleship keel for nearly 20 years – which meant the US entered World War II with roughly the same fleet she had fought World War I with.

When I was a younger man, I lived in the shadow of Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs. Not far from that mountain is found another mountain the bowels of which contain the North American Aerospace Defense Command, then known as NORAD. Everyone in town knew that our little corner of God’s Country was targeted by numerous Soviet missiles and that , in the event of a first strike we were figuratively and literally toast. There was, we were told, simply no way to defend against an inbound Soviet ICBM with MIRVs.

Even though the Cold War ended and was replaced by a few hot ones, the guys with the nine-inch foreheads and bulging pocket protectors still worked hard on finding a way to “hit a bullet with a bullet” in order to find a way to do that which was previously deemed impossible. Historically, Americans have been known to do that on a regular and recurring basis. These days we’re more likely to put our faith in diplomacy and promises of our opponents than in the capabilities of our own people.

Whether or not missile defense technology is currently a 100% reliable system is, in and of itself, irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that countries like Poland and the Czech Republic saw the opportunity to base these weapons on their turf as a chance to put more distance between them and the Russian bear. Those emerging former Soviet satellite nations spent the better part of the last century under either the German or Russian boot. How did they get there? Well, that’s another history lesson. Think Neville Chamberlin waving a piece of paper signed by “Herr Hitler” promising “peace in our time”.

Poland and the Czech Republic live every day under the threat that the Russian bear will do the same thing to them that they did to Georgia. Is it any wonder why Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev whined and complained so vociferously about the radar and missile locations? Here’s a hint – It took nearly a month for Mother Russia to cobble together enough men and material to project a single division into Georgia and even then it almost wasn’t enough. Its far easier to project missiles than it is an army. Take away the Russian missile threat and suddenly that bear isn’t nearly as scary.

The Poles and the Czechs took a big chance even entertaining the idea of basing US forces on their soil. They did so under the assumption that an American president would always stand by their efforts to emerge from the Russian shadow and influence that has hindered their nations for over 70 years. They believed that America would always be their ally for freedom and democracy.

Well, yesterday, with the stroke of his mighty pen, Barack Obama just threw them under his presidential bus. Check out Putin’s comments on Obama’s unilateral action;

The last decision by US President Barack Obama, which cancelled the plans to build missile defence facilities in Eastern Europe, brings us good thoughts. And I hope very much that this correct and brave decision will be followed by others.

I’m not sure I’d want to be part of any decision that gave Vladimir Putin “good thoughts.”

The One must have missed his “on this day in history” briefing because he took this foolish action on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.

Here are some of the headlines from Eastern Europe today:

Obama bows to Kremlin, no radar on Czech soil – Lidove Noviny – a Czech daily

Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back! – Polish tabloid Fakt

No radar. Russia wins
Russia and Iran win in the missile-shield game
Will the Czechs belong to Moscow again?
DNES – a Czech daily

Joy for Kremlin, worries for Czechs

Prime Minister Fischer should have his phone ready by his bed. After Obama, it is (Russian President Dmitry) Medvedev or (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin that may call soon.
– Hospodarske Noviny a Czech business daily

I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the change the Poles and Czechs were hoping for. Missile defense was the one thing Gorbachev tried to get Reagan to give up. Reagan didn’t blink. Obama doesn’t only blink, he bows and scrapes hoping he’ll be liked rather than respected.