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The Invisibles against US missile defense

“The Czech Republic is ready“ – for what? The declaration on the plans for installing new military bases

21.11.2009 - Vladimír Nindel

In 2009 we remember the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Depression, the 70th anniversary of the destruction of the rest of our democratic inter-war republic and the victory of fascism in central Europe, the 60th anniversary of the first judicial murder after the communist coup – the execution of Heliodor Pika (representative of resistance in both the First and the Second World War), 40th anniversary of the definitive end of the Prague Spring 1968 (after the invasion of the Soviet Army on 21st August 1968 and the suppression of democratic reforms in early 1969) and the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

Yes, we are living in the 20th year of the era of the government of “Truth and Love”. A year of an extended financial and economic crisis whose deepest roots lie in a moral crisis. The year of the imposition of the impenetrable Lisbon Treaty in the EU and the year of the fall of Topolanek's government, which was originally formed in a doubtful way. The year of the killing of hundreds of civilians in the Gaza Strip by the Israel Army. The year of the inauguration of the first US president of colour other than white, his important speech in Prague, his rejection of the plan to install a U.S. military base (missile defence radar) in our country followed shortly afterwards by the announcement of a new military program. The year of the first World March for Peace and Nonviolence and another year of huge and meaningless military spending at a time when one sixth of the world's population is starving.

We are living in a world of injustice and suffering. Examples of the arbitrary use of power, cheating, deceit and cruelty caused by soldiers and gunmen are taking place almost every day. The notions of freedom and democracy are discredited in many places, they have become mere phrases masking corruption, superiority and inequality.

However, we are also living in a world of aspiration for truth, beauty, humanity, real freedom and democracy: in the world of hope. Because of our historical experience we want to assist such a world to grow. The old arrogance and old mistakes must not be repeated. That is why we appreciate all the positive changes that have happened this year and we wish they signal a significant turn which, with our help, will bring about a better world.

We congratulate President Barack Obama on the award of Nobel Peace Prize and we support his efforts to solve critical problems in the world by means of diplomacy and wide discussion. We fully support his endeavour to start negotiations on global nuclear disarmament. We also want a new beginning in the Czech-US relationship that must be a relationship of two equal partners. Rejecting the plan to install a U.S. radar base on our territory that had neither justification nor the support of most Czechs was a fundamental and correct step. And we draw U.S. government´s attention to the postulate that also the latest speculations on installing some missile defence features on the Czech soil must respect basic demands on the observance of principles of freedom and democracy. In particular, we stress the following:

1. There was not any wide democratic discussion on the necessity of new military bases of any sort that should enlarge the considerable number of existing bases, neither in the Czech Republic nor in the countries of EU or NATO. The main official reason for building a new base is the threat from Iran. However, most Czechs do not think that Iran will attack the EU or NATO. Discussion and negotiations with Iran must be carried out in a fair and standard way. On the other hand, many Czechs are assured that the main cause of the tensions in the Near and Middle East is the long-term and never-ending conflict between Israel and its Arab or Muslim neighbours. Fair resolution of this chronic problem is highly important for the world and a crucial test for responsible politicians.

2. Czech political representation neither has nor previously had any mandate from the citizens to discuss joining a new version of the missile defence with the U.S. In 2006, during the last elections to the House of Deputies, none of the parties presented a program dealing with the issue of installing a U.S. or allied military base in our country. The current government of Jan Fischer has a limited mandate and it was originally established only for an interim period between the fall of previous (Topolanek's) government and the election that was intended to be a pre-term one. That is why Jan Fischer did not represent Czech citizens during the discussion with Joe Biden and was not authorised to say that the Czech Republic is ready to participate in a new U.S. system of missile defence.

3. A parliament and government usually gain a democratic mandate in properly conducted elections, but considering the high importance of deciding on military bases, we will demand a referendum. This possibility is based on the Czech Constitution, but has not been put to use due to the influence of certain political circles. We absolutely do not accept the anti-democratic view that Czech citizens are not to take part in such decision-making; on the contrary – we definitely want the policy made without asking citizens, the “about us, without us” policy to be eventually completely unacceptable.

In this context we notify that the group of individuals around Vaclav Havel and others does not represent the attitude of most Czech people and they cannot be taken as our spokesmen, as is the false image many Czech and international media try to construct.

4. If the acceptance (in above-mentioned meaning) of a new military base should become legitimate and possible, then only in the framework of collective agreement and decision-making with equal relationships between countries and nations, partners and allies. It could not be a U.S. military base on foreign territory.

Yet, the establishment of new military bases of any sort is definitely not our wish, not in the interests of Czech people and in the interests of an absolute majority of people all over the world. On the contrary, in addition to dismantling nuclear-weapon bases it is necessary to start the disarmament of conventional weapons; to vacate foreign military bases on the soil of countries; to accept non-aggression treaties among nations; and for governments to renounce war as a way of resolving conflicts. It is about time for mankind to step out of its prehistory and to start working on prosperous and peaceful projects instead of military ones.

Mgr., Ing. Vladimír Nindel, member of the Humanist Party

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