Obama Asks Medvedev for ‘Space’ on Missile Defense — After My Election I Have More Flexibility

Really? dont think your gonna find you have anything to do with it after November but ok…

EOUL, South Korea — At the tail end of his 90 minute meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev Monday, President Obama said that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with controversial issues such as missile defense, but incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to give him “space.”

The exchange was picked up by microphones as reporters were let into the room for remarks by the two leaders.

The exchange:

President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.

President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…

President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

When asked to explain what President Obama meant, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes told ABC News that there is room for the U.S. and Russia to reach an accommodation, but “there is a lot of rhetoric around this issue — there always is — in both countries.

A senior administration official tells ABC News: “this is a political year in which the Russians just had an election, we’re about to have a presidential and congressional elections — this is not the kind of year in which we’re going to resolve incredibly complicated issue like this. So there’s an advantage to pulling back and letting the technical experts work on this as the president has been saying.”

-Jake Tapper

Link for video


Washington, Mar 26 –

Congressman Mike Turner, Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, wrote to the president today, requesting an “urgent explanation of [his] comments to President Medvedev in Seoul this morning.” The president had stated that “this is my last election, and after my election I’ll have more flexibility,” in regards to missile defense in Europe.

“Congress has made exquisitely clear to your Administration and to other nations that it will block all attempts to weaken U.S. missile defenses. As the Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which authorizes U.S. missile defense and nuclear weapons policy, I want to make perfectly clear that my colleagues and I will not allow any attempts to trade missile defense of the United States to Russia or any other country,” wrote Turner.

Congress has included in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress, which the president has signed into law, a provision constraining his ability to share classified U.S. missile defense information with the Russian Federation. Congress took this step because it was clear based on official testimony and Administration comments in the press that classified information about U.S. missile defenses, including hit-to-kill technology and velocity at burnout information, may be on the table as negotiating leverage for the president’s reset with Russia.

“Despite signing the FY12 defense authorization legislation into law, you then issued a signing statement signaling that you may treat that provision protecting U.S. missile defense information as non-binding. This morning’s comments, on top of that action, suggests that you and your administration have plans for U.S. missile defenses that you believe will not stand up to electoral scrutiny,” added Turner.

NOTE: The full letter can be found here. http://turner.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Turner_Letter_to_POTUS_on_Missile_Defense.pdf

Shouldn’t the media be asking these same questions?

Update: I’ve added a link to Turner’s letter, and will interview him today on The Ed Morrissey Show.  Also, the Russian news site Ria Novosti had an interview with Vladimir Putin from earlier this month in which we might get a glimpse of the “flexibility” Obama was promising Medvedev:

Washington’s talks with Moscow on European missile defense failed because U.S. negotiators were unwilling to put their oral proposals to Moscow on paper, Russian prime minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin has said.

“They made some proposals to us which we virtually agreed to and asked them to get them down on paper,” Putin said during an interview with editors-in-chief of six foreign newspapers in his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.

“They made a proposal to us just during the talks, they told us: we would offer you this, this and that. We did not expect this, but I said: we agree. Please put it down on paper,” Putin said.

“We were waiting for their answer for two months. We did not get it, and then our American partners withdrew their own proposals, saying: no, it’s impossible,” he added.

He explained that those “proposals” included guarantees that the U.S.-NATO European missile shield would not be directed against Russia. For example, Russian specialists would be allowed to carry out round-the-clock monitoring of the anti-missile components, and their radars systems would be cemented so that they were directed exactly at Iran and “were technically unable to turn towards Russia.”

“This would not change the situation dramatically, but we said: ok, it’s already something, we agree. Put it down on paper. But they refused,” Putin said.

How would we “cement” radars or offer Russia observer status on naval platforms, which is the direction Obama took in canceling the installations in Poland and the Czech Republic?  Curious.  We’ll ask Rep. Turner about this as well.

Update II: John McCain invokes the image du jour from last week’s political battles and applies it to Obama:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ripped President Obama as “a real ‘Etch a Sketch’ leader for suggesting he could switch his policy on missile defense after the election.

In the midst of an often tense discussion between the US and Russia over plans for a US-led NATO European missile defense system, Obama was heard asking Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for more time on the subject and promising he will have “more flexibility” following the election in November. The comments came across a live mic the two leaders did not appear to realize was on.

“Pres Obama tells Medvedev he’ll be more “flexible” on missile defense – that’s a real “Etch A Sketch” leader!— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) March 26, 2012,” McCain tweeted on Monday.

So far, no one’s bringing up the reset button, but I’ll put the over-under on that one at … 3 pm today.

7 thoughts on “Obama Asks Medvedev for ‘Space’ on Missile Defense — After My Election I Have More Flexibility”

  1. Even less gets done during an election year because politicians are even more gutless then they would be during a non-election year… So what else is new? They worry about their jobs first and getting anything done is WAY down the road…


Comments are closed.