PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- U.S. plans to extend its ''star wars'' missile-defense program to Europe, which once dismissed the technology as unproven and unneeded, are gaining acceptance among governments here.
Despite Russia's mounting opposition, the Czech Republic, Poland, and -- as of Friday -- Britain have all expressed serious interest in hosting parts of the shield. Other countries traditionally cool to the idea have been notably quiet. The trigger: concern about a nuclear Iran.
''This is all a result of Iran,'' says Tim Williams, a European security analyst. ''Governments see that Iranian missiles can hit Europe, and suddenly they are very worried about the threat from ballistic missiles.''
''What we're seeing now is the product of near on seven years of diplomatic effort led by the Bush administration to get European governments to leave behind the cold-war version of missile defense,'' says Tom Karako, who heads a conservative think tank.
Now wait just a minute we all know that the Bush administration doesn't do diplomacy, they have no nuance, they are simple cowboys running roughshod around the globe. Oh but now that it looks like the Mullahs are going to have nukes, those Americans with that "star wars" stuff aren't so bad. Conveniently forgetting how much grief they gave Ronald Reagan and the US for even considering such a crazy and destabilizing plan, now they wouldn't mind if we parked a few interceptors around there in case Ahmadinejad programs in London instead of Tel Aviv.
The ironic part is their need for us to protect them from a threat they did everything they could to stop us from stopping. Iran doesn't have nukes yet, but the Euros seem to be playing the under and assume they will. They can at least be certain that they will not support anything robust enough to give the Mullahs pause.
The Israeli actions regarding overflight rights and a growing realization that a nuclear Iran threatens just about everybody might just turn Condi Rice into an even busier woman over the next year or so. The Sunni Shia rift allows us to play some of the Arab states against the Iranians, as they fear an ascendant Shia theocracy almost as much as the decadent infidel West. It also puts us back into dealing with bad regimes on an enemy of my enemy basis, which is very realpolitik, but we might just wrap a bunch of these problems up in one bag. Not in the weak tea version envisioned by Baker and the ISG, but a realization that talking to Iran should be from a position of strength, with Arab and Euro support. That type of diplomatic effort could help Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinians and maybe even keep the Mullahs nuclear free.