About six months ago the Russian Duma voted to cease all US adoptions of Russian orphaned children. This was a devastating move to the many families that had already invested considerable time, money and emotion to “rescue” these unwanted and at- risk children. Many of these children were “on the edge” of passing the age (some already had) at which the Russian culture and government had determined that they were no longer wanted and, thus, would become “warehoused” in mental institutions. Truly a tragedy.
This action by the Russian parliament was said to be for political purposes. The US had promised NATO (North American Treaty Organization) that they would build a “next generation” missile defense system for them in Europe. Of course, since Russia, as an antagonist, was the causal factor for the establishment of NATO, this was deemed a threat to the Russian homeland. The cessation of adoptions then became a political strike at not only communicating their dissatisfaction with this NATO agreement, but also a “hostage” act involving at-risk children. The world is sometimes cruel.
This week it has been reported that the US is “scaling back” its European missile shield plans. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, on March 15, announced that we would cancel and “restructure” the fourth phase of the Standard Missile-3 Block IIB program. This phase included a highly advanced interceptor missile expected to shield against intercontinental ballistic missiles. It appears that Secretary Hagel was, in essence, reporting the shutdown on this most essential aspect of the project.
It appears that the current US administration is acquiescing to Russian demands and seeking to remove this roadblock to a more “normalized” relationship. While this move may seem to be important for this relationship, it is clear that there are many other issues that remain. By revealing ourselves as a “weaker” negotiator, this will only encourage the Russians to require more. Future negotiations will be more difficult and the threat of Russian hegemony will not have been affected.
US officials have insisted that the cancellation of the final phase had nothing to do with politics but was mainly influenced by economic and technological issues. From the beginning it was realized that the project was expensive and complicated. Certainly in this “new world” of economic contraction these type of projects have a more weighty effect and are harder to justify. Regardless of the true nature of Washington’s actions, this gives the appearance of US appeasement of Russia’s concerns. And, as we know, in Russia appearance of strength is vital for control.
With a long history of fragile relations, this decision does nothing for any long-term healing of the relationship between these two antagonists. Russia will not see the concession as enough and will certainly seek even more concessions, all the while holding out the “carrot” of friendship. It is the Russian way. Added to the complexity of the situation, the US will have to explain to the European allies and the rest of NATO, who saw this project as a large piece of their security plan, why the cancellation was necessary. This will be no easy task. The US will no doubt point to the troop buildup in Eastern Europe, part of the first three phases, as evidence of its commitment to a secure Europe.
Whether this recent decision on the missile defense plan will open up the Russian international adoption system or not remains to be seen. There are many US families that are waiting for their children and many children remain at risk. Please pray for all concerned.