U.S. President Ronald Reagan announces his decision to launch a major new research and development program to deploy effective missile defenses
KATARZYNA PUZON / Stop War Initiative / Poland
It can be seen from two sides. On the one hand, you can see it like a kind of danger that is right around the corner, but on the other hand, you can be persuaded that you have been chosen. It’s you, it’s your town (Słupsk, Poland), you know, there are so many places, but it’s your town, there are so many other towns that could benefit from this, but it’s your town. I think this kind of discourse was present from the very beginning, in the media as well. We were just promised so many things, it was a question of visa, of being a friend of a superpower, and many issues were raised, look at Iraq!
We don’t know what will be with the whole missile defense project; that it will be just destroyed, I don’t believe it, it’s too much money invested and high strategic interests for United States are here at stake. But of course it can change somehow, you never know, if the bases are built here or maybe somewhere else. One of the Obama advisers said that maybe more infrastructures will be built on the sea that is much more effective than interceptor missiles, so in fact we don’t know. To take into account is of course additionally this whole crisis in the US economy that also can narrow some possibilities to build all this, or at least to make the whole project progress slower. But I think we shouldn’t believe that everything is over, because the logic is not really different, therefore everything is still possible.
It is the most expensive business in the history of the arms race. Obviously there are threats which are objective, but then besides that, there are also big economic interests, huge, gigantic incoming interests, which are behind them. So the interest of big business and the ideology of American hegemony throughout the 21st century combined and then they started to develop this. They started to develop the global one, i.e., the global missile defense system, the one which, when constructed, credible and reliable, would give the United States a strategic hegemony, not even primacy, but hegemony for decades to come.
I think you have to look at the question of war and peace as a whole – and the antimissile shield, it’s a very important part of the whole strategy of the inter-imperialist conflict, of countries resorting to war when they think that’s the only way they can be competitive.
After the Agreement was signed by the Polish government, it was not ratified by the parliament. I think there was a period of wait-and-see, from the government side, to see what would happen with the U.S. elections and what proposal the new U.S. administration would put forward, and in a way this is still the situation. This also means that there is much less debate in the media and much less going on around the issue of the so-called antimissile shield.
JERZY WRONISZEWSKI / village leader of Redzikowo / Poland
Well, the Prime Minister was clear about the installation of the shield and we understood that there are no chances to win. I realized and said that the government made the decision without us. As for the referendum, I can tell you one thing: why weren’t they to do like in the US? The government decided about the rocket silos, didn’t they? The same thing happened here, they took a decision for the nation. There is no fight because everything has become clear. If a referendum was held, people wouldn’t agree to have rocket silos in Poland.
JANA GLIVICKÁ / No Bases Initiative / Czech Republic
One of the demands of the so-called Velvet Revolution in 1989 in the Czech Republic was, No More Foreign Troops, No More Foreign Soldiers. Over the last 20 years, this gradually changed; and those people like Václav Havel, our first president, who in the beginning of 1990s was talking about the dissolution of NATO (saying that if we do not have the Warsaw Pact anymore, then we don’t need NATO), was in fact one of the architects of our membership in NATO. So all this is gradually changing towards some feeling that it is natural, and that Europe is naturally the closest ally of the United States, no matter what the United States does. They could attack Afghanistan, they attacked Iraq, which according to the United Nations is an illegal war, but we do not care about this, we participate in these wars without doubting them. It is understood as something natural, and I think this is the biggest threat in general, because it’s really not natural.
It was promised to be given – something like one billion Czech crowns – to the region of Brdy, to the small villages where the Radar should have been built. But with the fall of Topolanek’s government, they realised that they weren’t going to get anything; so now many of them have huge debts, because they had already started to make some projects.
America is caught in a trap of its own fear. A classical example of this was Stalin. Stalin was very badly paranoid. Germans have the term Abwehr Psychose, the defensive psychosis. Stalin felt threatened by anyone whom he did not control, and I am afraid that the United States, since Reagan, has been going in that direction – the feeling that the only country which is safe is one in which America has a base, which America controls. The Bush Administration was very much committed to finding external enemies, because it used them to mobilize public opinion; we are threatened, therefore, it’s a mobilization impulse. This is not going to change over one night; it is changing, but even Obama cannot change it overnight.
My opinion is strongly influenced by the fact that we have no information that we can trust. There have been at least three different explanations of what the Radar means, or, in other words, against whom we need to be protected. One version was, it is being built to protect the United States, this is the first version. The other version was, it is to protect us, the Czech Republic – if somebody sends missiles against the Czech Republic, it would protect us. I wonder who would send missiles to the Czech Republic. Why? Maybe in order to destroy this Radar; in this case, that would be a good reason to do it. And third was to protect Europe, which was the most nebulous explanation, but I have no information that I can trust about what I need to be protected against or if it is going to protect me at all. Or what consequences this Radar construction will have for future international relations.
Propaganda is there of course, it is lead with big money, but it is completely ineffective. The number of people that are against is constantly between two and three thirds, it basically does not change. So any propaganda can hardly change anything, because its basic principle is nonsense, the reason for the defense has no fundaments and it’s difficult to convince somebody that is capable to think clearly that the Radar has any sense.
The Government did not know how to handle the League of the Mayors, various methods failed on their side, so they tried to throw money among us, for some to reach them and others not being able to reach. So they have traced out an area about 10km, and granted those villages about half a billion CZK. Paradoxically, this was not Czech money. They have promised money from the European Union, while they still haven’t had their contracts with the EU signed. They have taken 250 millions for the reparation of the approach roads to the area where the radar meant to stand and the rest they have allocated among the villages within the radius of 10km. The radius itself, however, has about 30km in length. This is how they have tried to divide us, but we have arranged among ourselves so that all of us stated, that the region needs money for development, which region actually wouldn’t need them? So we said, of course we accept the money, but not in the exchange for the radar, and us being silent about it. The Government could not step back in this point.
The government structures, as well as the presidential structures are fundamentally linked together with the mass media, and those are simply copying the position of the Government, and the position of the Presidential Office. The possibility that their reader could find something else, apart from “the eternal bonds with the United States” and their role as helpers and bearers of better future, freedom and democracy,…Without any fundamental change in the society I think this is unreal.
Dr. MARINA GRŽINIĆ / philosopher and artist / Slovenia
The relation between offensive and defensive strategy shows clearly, as it stands by the U.S., a process – part of the neoliberal global capitalism – of complete deregulation. This deregulation is always at work in such a way which, on the one side, promotes something as positive, and on the other, in its background, reinforces the policy of war. Deregulation produces precisely the opposite of what it actually declares.
Global age means global capitalism which starts symbolically with September 11, 2001; global capitalism means that reality has become completely capitalist. The global age is a time of uncertainty, anything can happen anywhere in the world. The discourse of security is that which has permitted the reconstruction of the Nation-State in crisis and, in the form of “War Against Terrorism,” has allowed unthinkable legislation to be introduced. Everything can be done, then; the discourse of protection in the background is the other side of the discourse of control.