This past June, Katrina vanden Heuvel blogged about President Bush’s plan to deploy a proposed a missile defense system in both the Czech Republic and Poland despite the reluctance of the host countries, where public opinion polls show most Czechs opposing the planned base as well as the little fact, as amply reported, that the system’s technology doesn’t yet work.
The project is also a bad idea because it’s a blatant provocation to Russia which has fiercely opposed US plans to deploy new missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic, asking that Washington use radars on Russian soil to counter possible missile threats from Iran. The two countries have held a series of talks on the issue, but so far the US has been un-accepting of a compromise.
This past November 16 a group of peace activists, organized by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, presented a statement of support to Ambassador Martin Palous at the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the UN in Manhattan. It was presented in support of Czech demonstrations against a military base the US and Czech Republic plan to set up near Prague for radar for an anti-missile system that will be based in Poland.
The letter is posted below. It details numerous good reasons to oppose the base plan. Click here to join Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Ariel Dorfman, Katha Pollitt and many others in signing on in support of the statement.
Solidarity with Opponents of Proposed US Military Base In the Czech Republic
We, the undersigned, declare our solidarity with the November 17, 2007 protest by the No Bases Initiative in the Czech Republic, where demonstrations took place against the plans of the Czech government to host the radar for a US anti-missile system.
The No Bases Initiative chose the date of November 17 because, in their words, this date “has come to symbolize the overthrow of the undemocratic regime in the former Czechoslovakia and the return of representative democracy. This change came about because of the protest of hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Prague eighteen years ago.” In the view of these Czech activists, resistance to the introduction of new foreign military bases is the most fitting way to commemorate that anniversary.
Polls have shown that a significant majority of the people in the Czech Republic oppose the US. military facilities, but the Czech government is flagrantly ignoring public opinion. As the No Bases Initiative notes, “Politicians had known for a number of years of US plans to install a military base on Czech territory but had kept this information from the public. They didn’t consider it important to tell voters before last year’s parliamentary elections either.” This Saturday, Czech protestors will be calling for a popular referendum to vote on this critical issue.