Fox Pretends Obama Did Not Replace Scrapped Missile Defense Program In Europe

Fox News invoked President Obama's cancellation of a Bush-era missile defense program in Poland as evidence of Obama's failing foreign policy. But Fox failed to mention that the program was replaced with a system that experts say provides equivalent, if not better, protection of U.S. foreign interests, including Poland.

Fox Questions Cancellation of Bush-Era Missile Plan Without Mentioning Its Replacement

Fox's Hemmer: “A Lot Of People Would Like To See The Anti-Missile System Re-Established In Poland.” On the March 18 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer criticized President Obama's foreign policies while discussing the recent Russian annexation of Crimea with Fox contributor John Bolton. Hemmer pointed to the anti-missile system in Poland as “something that was started under President Bush and was quickly dismissed during the early term, the first term of President Obama.” He went on to say that “a lot of people would like to see” the program re-established and used this as proof that Obama may not be “deeply engaged” with Vladimir Putin and Russia. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 3/18/14]

Fox's MacCallum: The United States Should “Start to Rebuild The Missile Shield In Poland” Which Has “Allowed For This To Happen.” On America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum moderated a discussion between Fox hosts Tucker Carlson and Bob Beckel about U.S. sanctions on Russia in the wake of Crimean annexation. In response to Beckel asking for alternatives to sanctions, MacCallum suggested that the U.S. should “start to rebuild the missile shield in Poland” and suggested that this was an example of how the U.S. has “let our defenses down” and “laid the groundwork” for allowing the Russian crisis to happen. [Fox News, America's Newsroom3/18/14]

Fox Contributor Karl Rove: U.S. Should “Re-Institute” Poland Missile Defense Facility. On Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, Fox contributor Karl Rove said that in response to Russian aggression in the Ukraine, he would advise Obama to “re-institute the missile defense facilities that we withdrew at no price to him -- to Putin -- but a big price to us and to the Czech Republic and Poland.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor3/10/14]

Bush's Missile Program Was Replaced With A More Efficient Missile Program That Includes A Site In Poland

CBS News: The Missile Program That Replaced Bush's Is “No Less Of A Threat To Russia.” A March 10 CBS News article explained that President Obama replaced the Bush-era missile defense program with “a more flexible system he said would better address the threat of potential short- and medium-range missiles”:

It's long been a Republican mantra that President Obama caved to the Russians when he decided in 2009 to scrap a Bush-era missile defense program and replace it with a more flexible system he said would better address the threat of potential short- and medium-range missiles the administration believed Iran had made more progress developing. Defense hawk Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called the decision “seriously misguided” at the time.

In fact, experts say, the new program was no less of a threat to Russia, which has always viewed U.S. missile defense as an affront to its own security. The president called it more comprehensive than the previous program -- as well as cost-effective -- and said it would provide “stronger, smarter and swifter defenses of American forces and America's allies.” And in an op-ed about the program, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that critics who were accusing the administration of scrapping missile defense in Europe entirely “are either misinformed or misrepresenting what we are doing.”

One former U.S. official who worked on national security issues called the Obama administration's new program “a double whammy” to Russia. [, 3/10/14

Defense News: New Missile Plan Includes Site In Poland. In a February 15 article, Defense News outlined the details of the new missile plan that replaced Bush's, the Aegis Ashore. The new program, which is to be instituted in several phases, includes a third stage that would include a site in Poland, as well as a phase set for deployment in Romania in 2015:

The Aegis Ashore concept evolved from a desire to operate a proven, ground-based BMD system in Europe that would be flexible and more agile than the larger ground-based interceptors initially planned. The installation is based on the sea-going version of the system, including a vertical launcher system with 24 SM-3 missiles.

Phase 2 includes the deployment of the Aegis Ashore system in Romania to provide ballistic missile coverage for southern Europe and will also use enhanced SM-3 Block IB interceptor missiles.

Phase 3 includes a second Aegis Ashore site in Poland to cover northern Europe. To be operational in 2018, Phase 3 includes deployment of SM-3 Block IIA missiles that are larger and faster than previous missiles, and, according to the Missile Defense Agency, will extend the Aegis-Standard envelope to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, during a late January visit to Poland, highlighted the overarching Eastern European BMD plan and specifically Phase 3 in Poland.

“Our nations continue to work closely together, both bilaterally and through NATO, in response to ballistic missile threats,” Hagel said. “And the United States is firmly committed to deploying a US missile defense system to Poland. We look forward to this system coming online in 2018 as part of Phase 3 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach.” [Defense News2/15/14]

USA TodayThen-Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates Said Obama's Missile Program Was Better. On September 17, 2009, USA Today reported that the White House emphasized that changes to the missile program were a “revamping, not an abandonment” of Bush's proposed plan. They noted that then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who had originally supported Bush's plan, found the new program to be a better fit for U.S. interests:

“This new approach provides a better missile-defense capability for our forces in Europe, for our European allies and eventually for our homeland than the program I recommended almost three years ago,” Gates told reporters at the Pentagon after Obama spoke. [USA Today11/17/09]