Critics of the US anti-missile system in Central Europe have the same paranoid mind set as the man who wants to place them here: George W Bush.
As I write, a handful of demonstrators are standing in a blizzard outside the presidential palace in Warsaw, protesting against a ‘grave new threat to this nation’s security’.
It appears that Poland and the Czech Republic are close to finalizing an agreement with the US to station an anti-missile system on their soil. Protests have come from Russia, but the US says that these missiles are a defensive measure against attack from ‘rogue states’, meaning presumably Iran, North Korea.
This story has not come out of the blue, of course.
The current Polish defense minister, Radek Sikorski, was a one time member of the neo-con American Enterprise Institute (AEI). As far back as December 2004, Sikorski was quoted on the AEI web site as recognizing that the placing of the anti-missile system presents political problems for Polish governments. The article says:
"Anything less than a generous package -- which could include greater industrial and economic incentives according to Sikorski -- would be "a difficult sell in the current atmosphere of Central Europe."
Poles have not been amazed by successive governments close association with the US ‘war on terror’, especially their troop placements in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s widely thought that these have moved Poland up the list of countries that are on possible terrorists’ target lists.
It appears that up to 10 interceptor missiles will be placed somewhere in Poland and a radar tracking station in the Czech Republic. So what ‘package’ has Washington come up with to help sell this idea to the Polish public? We simply don’t know.
But it is being assumed by the anti-missile critics that the placing of such a system in Poland would further move the country up the terrorist’s (and rogue states) list for attack.
Time to get real
Some on this blog (see comments in previous post) are drawing parallels to the US anti-missile system and the Soviet missiles we now know were in Poland from 1970 to the end of the Cold War.
But people who make this comparison are making the same mistake as Washington is. During the Cold War both sides were armed to the teeth with massive nuclear arsenals, which could obliterate either side within a very short period of time.
Nobody is suggesting, however, that Iran or North Korea have the capacity to launch missiles that have a range to get any where near Poland, let alone western Europe. In fact, nobody is seriously suggesting that these countries have any nuclear missiles at all. North Korea claims to have made a nuclear test, but that does not mean that it has any nuclear missiles. Nor does it mean that it is stupid enough to launch any.
And there is no evidence at all that Iran is actively perusing a nuclear weapons program – only that they are in the middle of developing nuclear material for power stations. Everything else is supposition.
There is no evidence of such a threat coming from ‘rogue states’ – and consequently there is no need for such a system.
But the critics of the decision of placing a US anti-missile system in Poland are being as paranoid as the US government.
Just as western Europe is not a possible target of Iran or North Korea, neither will al-Qaeda be moving in to bomb public transport systems, just because a few (unnecessary) missiles are on Polish soil.
Either way, it makes little difference to Poland's security.
But everyone - for and against - seems to be reading from the same script. Critics of the US are buying into the same paranoia that is currently fuelling the US ‘war on terror’. Consequently, they are not forming a very good opposition to it.
Still a hard sell?, the beatroot, Nov 2005