Czech Opponents Of U.S. Radar Base Celebrate Their Victory
NEW YORK, September 23, 2009, 2009
The Obama administration has canceled
plans to deploy a military radar in the Czech Republic and Interceptor missiles
in Poland. Excerpts from the recent victory statements of the Czech radar
opponents are at the end of this release.
The majority of Czech and Polish people never
supported these proposed U.S. military bases -- though one would never know it
from reading the American media with its recent headlines about the cancellation
of the bases such as "Eastern Europe Grumbles About Downgrade in US Ties,"
"Poles, Czechs: US Missile Defense Shift a Betrayal," or, perhaps most
preposterous of all, "Eastern Europe Not Feeling the Love From Obama." These
headlines make the classic error of presuming that the views of governments are
necessarily the same as those of the people.
In the Czech Republic, relentless mass protest prevented
the Czech Chamber of Deputies from ratifying the radar agreement: opponents
engaged in a whole range of creative actions against the proposed base, from
petition drives and marches to hunger strikes and street theater. Czech
anti-radar activists succeeded in gaining the support of many politicians in
their own country, and in generating solidarity around the world -- including
here in the U.S. where the Campaign for Peace and Democracy was a major
organizer of support for the Czech protestors with our own sign-on statements,
demonstrations, forums and publicity in The New York Times, The Nation, The
Progressive, the New York Review of Books, and elsewhere. (See the CPD
http://www.cpdweb.org/ for more information about its solidarity campaign
"We can only speculate about the Obama administration's
actual motives in canceling these missile 'defense' plans," said Joanne Landy,
Co-Director of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy. "It was conceivably a
simple military modernization to deploy more effective anti-missile weapons, as
Robert Gates claimed in his op-ed in the The New York Times on September
20th. It may have been an attempt to moderate wasteful military spending, as
administration spokespersons have said, since replacement weapons will cost less
than those originally planned. It may have been an attempt to conciliate the
Russians, who have seen the bases in Poland and the Czech Republic as the seeds
of a threat to their own strategic military capability; the administration hopes
to enlist the Russians in imposing heightened sanctions on Iran if it refuses to
cooperate on nuclear issues.* But, though they are never likely to admit it, the
administration and the Pentagon also had to take into consideration the
dangerous consequences of trying to install these new bases in the face of
negative popular opinion in the Czech Republic and Poland and the prospect of
militant and very public resistance in the Czech Republic."
In his September 20 Op Ed Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates made a point of stating that, "The future of missile defense in
Europe is secure." He says the Pentagon plans to soon "deploy proven, sea-based
SM-3 interceptor missiles -- weapons that are growing in capability -- in the
areas where we see the greatest threat to Europe, and in about 2015, to place
"upgraded SM-3s on the ground in Southern and Central Europe." (For an analysis
of the Pentagon plans, see Bruce Gagnon's very helpful "Missile Defense: The
Other Story" on the website of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear
Power in Space at
"We are not reassured by these plans for military escalation, and we do not
believe that such escalation is the way to respond to the threat of future
Iranian nuclear capability.," Landy said. "Instead, as we said in our original
2007 sign-on statement against the Czech radar, "'The United States and other
nuclear powers can best reduce the danger of nuclear warfare by taking major
steps toward both nuclear and conventional disarmament and refraining from
waging or threatening 'preventive' war -- not by expanding the nuclear threat.
Such steps by the existing nuclear powers would create a political context that
would powerfully discourage new countries from developing their own nuclear
Czech groups opposed to the radar have been celebrating their victory: "We have
been active more than three years in the struggle to prevent this plan from
materializing. We are very happy that finally the position of the US
administration is in line with the will of majority of Czechs," said Jan Tamas,
spokesman of the Nonviolence movement, one of the Czech groups active in
opposing the radar.
Another Czech anti-radar group, the No Bases Initiative, released a statement
that said, in part,
"The struggle against the radar has always been
the struggle for democracy, for the right to decide on the principal orientation
of the country in a referendum. Despite all difficulties and the arrogant and
ignorant behavior of many politicians, it is clear that an important victory in
our common struggle has been achieved. We should remember this, no matter how
the situation develops in the future. It has been meaningful to sign the
anti-radar petition and demonstrate against the radar, it has been meaningful to
pose questions to the members of the Parliament and put pressure on them. Civic
protest is meaningful."
"For the civic No
Bases Initiative (Ne zakladnam), this is not the end of our activities. We will
go on, enriched by this experience. Nor does it mean the end of the U.S.
anti-missile defense projects; discussion has already started about alternatives
to the radar in the Czech Republic and to the missiles in Poland. But a the
really good news remains that we have been able to prove, within the broad
anti-radar movement, and hand in hand with all those who took part in the most
diverse anti-radar activities during these three years, that we have the power
to change things to for the better."
"We join with our Czech
colleagues in belief that 'civic protest is meaningful,'" said Thomas Harrison,
Co-Director of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy. "We are committed to
continuing the fight against nuclear escalation, missile 'defense,' and U.S.
militarism, including the growing wars against Afghanistan and Pakistan."
*The Campaign for Peace and Democracy has long opposed sanctions on Iran.
Sanctions have served to undermine Iranian dissidents and harm the Iranian
population. But more, they have been imposed to pressure Iran to give up even
peaceful nuclear activity that is permitted by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty. U.S. intelligence reported in 2007 and now reaffirms that it believes
Iran is not currently pursuing a nuclear weapons program (Mark Hosenball, "
Intelligence Agencies Say No New Nukes in Iran," Newsweek Web Exclusive,
Sept. 16, 2009,
http://www.newsweek.com/id/215529). CPD opposes the possession of nuclear
weapons by Iran, or anyone else, but we have pointed out the hypocrisy of the
U.S. government threatening Iran over suspected nuclear weapons and potential
violations of the NPT, when Washington itself has an immense nuclear arsenal,
its close ally Israel has at least a hundred thermonuclear weapons, and
the US has failed to live up to its NPT obligation to take good-faith
steps toward disarmament.
Campaign for Peace and Democracy, 2790 Broadway, #12, NY, NY
10025. Tel (212) 666-4001, Cell (646) 207-5203, Fax (212) 866-5847. Email:
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