The arguments put forward by the United States to
justify its project for a missile defence
base in Eastern Europe are becoming less and less convincing to public
opinion and experts
of the countries involved.
The United States intends to set up an anti-missile base in Poland and a
center in the Czech Republic as part of its National Missile Defence (NMD)
2011. The plan is supported by both the Polish and Czech governments.
Germany, Britain and Canada have rejected hosting elements of the U.S.
Polls suggest the majority of Czechs and Poles are opposed to the base out
of fear of
turning their countries into supporters of Washington's controversial
Middle East policy
and into targets of terrorism.
Those in favour expect economic benefits and argue the base will increase
security and prestige while reinforcing their alliance with the United
The justification advanced by Washington for the base is that it will
protect the Western
world from missile attacks originating in such "rough states" as North
Korea or Iran.
The Polish government is reportedly putting forth a set of demands,
participation in development, military aid, and an upgrading of the United
policy towards its citizens.
The Czechs have been accused of political naivety for simply counting on
political benefits, though Prague hopes to obtain similar benefits in visa
The Czech right-wing government will face additional problems in
parliament in approving
the radar construction, as most parties are either pressing for a
referendum or complain
the system will be built outside the framework of the North Atlantic
(NATO) to which they belong.
Most NATO members are sceptical of the cost, effectiveness and necessity
of the U.S. base.
Military experts have argued that the "rough states" have neither the
intention nor the
technology to attack the United States or its allies, adding that any
missiles would be
better intercepted from Turkey, another NATO member.
Security analysts have also signaled the base could be part of U.S.
efforts to face future
threats from Russia and China, but note Moscow has already developed
capable of bypassing the costly defence shield project.
In agreement with views held by pro-disarmament groups, some experts
the system will encourage the development of offensive systems intent on
the world's strategic balance.
During a recent security conference in Munich, Russian President Vladimir
the shield would fuel a new arms race, and vowed Moscow's response would
and asymmetric, to the highest degree."
Moscow is also irritated by the radar's ability to monitor military
movements well inside
Russian territory, but right-wing politicians in the region are dismissing
statements as part of Putin's domestic policy.
The Czech government is also planning an information campaign on the base.
Jan Tamas, head of the 'No to the Bases' initiative, an umbrella group of
organisations against the base, told IPS that information available in
much of the press is
biased in favour of construction of the military complex.
"They talk about the so-called threats to support their case, without
mentioning the real
threats that will emerge as a result of the establishment of the base," he
told IPS. "We
notice a clear interest to distort reality, regardless of the consequences
and regardless of
the opinion of the people."
In the Czech Republic the pro-base side has frequently accused opponents
of the base of "Anti-Americanism", a claim demystified in surveys carried out by some
Instead of suffering from a hatred of everything "American", Jan Cervenka,
from the Public
Opinion Research Centre, said in an interview that Czechs are divided over
foreign policy "across political affiliations."
Some academics in the region will rather see the ideological bias on the
pro-U.S. side. "Czechs are frustrated with being categorised as part of Eastern Europe,
adopted pro-U.S. ideologies as a way of proving their belonging to the
West," a political
scientist from Central European University told IPS on condition of
"Since the fall of communism, Czech right-wing nationalism has been
to neo-liberal ideology, which is often more pro-U.S. than in the U.S.
itself," the professor
In Poland, the press has published a number of reports in which it is
pro-armament lobbying groups are actively working on generating a climate
in favour of
These claims were backed by Prof. Roman Kuzniar, until recently president
of the state-
supported Polish Institute for International Affairs. Kuzniar advised
Polish Prime Minister
Jaroslaw Kaczynski not to build the base, arguing that U.S. security would
be built at the
expense of Poland's.
Kuzniar, speaking to Polish press last week, claimed that "entirely
serious" media outlets
on friendly terms with U.S. lobbying groups "sometimes publish complete
what benefits we will gain from the shield," adding that "many
politicians' sympathy for it
stems from ignorance about what this system really is."
The expert claimed that "stories about attacks from rogue states can be
written off as fairy
tales, because countries are not suicidal." He added that "wars are
started by hegemonic,
stronger countries, not by weak ones."
Kuzniar's "anti-American" views cost him his job. Kaczynski fired him the
day before the
interview was published. Polish defence minister Radoslaw Sikorski
resigned last week
over disagreements with the Prime Minister.
Copyright © 2007 IPS-Inter Press Service