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Poles Surprise, OK US Missile Defense

Just a few weeks ago few people on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon or the State Department thought there was much chance that Poland's government would agree to the stationing of anti-ballistic missile interceptors in their country.

Perhaps it's just because they wanted to make the evening news during a slow August, or perhaps it was the Russians' decision to invade Georgia (no talk here of Russians intervening in "breakaway provinces"...), or maybe it resulted from a sober assessment of the risks posed by a resurgent and somewhat belligerent Iran. The latest stories from Poland make it pretty clear that the Russians worried the Poles, who didn't think NATO would come through with a missile defense system quickly enough.

But let's look at some of the consequences, now that the Poles have signed. A congressional aide -- a missile defense supporter who had pretty much despaired of the Poles signing on -- emailed me that the agreement will "hopefully influence final conference outcome in favor of higher funding levels for European missile defense sites. Our European allies are standing up to unwarranted Russian intimidation to support the defense of Europe against Iranian missiles. Congress now needs to support these allies," the aide said.

That would mean the House Armed Services Committee changing its mind. The HASC cut $231 million for the missile defense program in Europe, as well as a cut of $140 million for military construction funding for the sites.

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