Internal political developments in the Czech Republic may affect the Obama administration's calculations on missile defense, and on economic stimulus. Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek lost a no-confidence vote in parliament yesterday, possibly forcing his resignation. Topolanek has been an advocate of deploying a US anti-ballistic missile system on Czech territory, but the rest of the Czech political class is rather less enthusiastic; Topolanek decided not to push for ratification of the treaties necessary for the missile defense system out of fear that he would lose those votes.
Word came out a few weeks ago that the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force was building a contingency plan to shoot down any North Korean ballistic missiles that might threaten Japanese territory. Japanese destroyers have the same anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capabilities as U.S. destroyers, and the North Korean satellite launch would provide an almost unique opportunity to test the system in real-life conditions. Simply promising to shoot the missile down also gave Japan the opportunity to flex its military muscle in the region.
An interlocutor has taken issue with this post, arguing that there were a clear series of connections between al-Qaeda and the ICU prior to 2006, and thus that the United States was entirely justified in supporting Ethiopia's drive for regional hegemony counterterrorism operation in Somalia. A few words on this are in order...
Osama Bin Laden has released an audio tape denouncing Somali President Shariff Sheikh Ahmed, and calling for Somalis to resist the new government's rule. Shariff Sheikh Ahmed is formerly the head of the Islamic Courts Union, which Ethiopia overthrew in 2006 with American assistance. The United States was concerned that the ICU was closely associated with Al Qaeda, and that it might harbor terrorists.