posted on Sep, 17 2009 @ 08:49 AM
I'll start by mentioning that I live in Prague and that I've been here for more than 16 years. So my take on this is perhaps a bit more personal.
While the Czech leadership has stated that they are not happy about this decision by the US Administration to scrap its plans for a missile defense
shield, secretly they are probably relieved. The reason is simple: the majority of Czech citizens who give a damn or are politically aware have been
against it from the outset. As to why that matters, there is an election due in the first half of next year, and the two major parties are split dead
level in the opinion polls of potential voters, at 29.5% each. (The communist party is third, with 15.5%.) Not having the radar base as an issue of
great contention will mean one less matter they have to argue for or against, and might pull votes away from the communist party, which has been
against the radar base all along and organized rallies and petitions.
Regarding the communists, there is no doubt in my mind that they have benefited from a protest vote factor since the radar base became an issue.
Obviously, this is not something the msm in the US and elsewhere has really mentioned but it is a fact that the communists' share of the vote has
been rising. Now it might drop back again.
The Czech citizens' concerns have centered mainly on two factors. First, they understand that having a radar base on their soil (and the missile base
in Poland) is provocative to Russia, and the Czechs have been wary of Russia for a long time -- with good and obvious reason.
Secondly, as the proposed radar base would have been run by US military personnel, they have been very uneasy about the prospect of having foreign
troops based on their soil. True, there are US military involved in NATO exercises here from time to time, but that's different from having a
permanent base of such a highly-strategic nature. Again, Czechs have had enough experience in the past of foreign soldiers in their lands. But don't
get me wrong: this is not an anti-American stance on their part, it's just a degree of wariness due to previous events (involving Russians and before
them, Nazi Germany). Czechs have been co-operating with US forces through NATO participation and very few have voiced any serious complaints about
that. If they have, it's usually been due to anti-NATO sentiment rather than anti-Americanism per se.
Besides the above points, some people were also concerned about the possible health risks of a high-power radar system operating so close to some
small towns. (There are a couple of towns within 3 to 5 km of the base's proposed location.) Reports that the US personnel would not be housed
locally (near the radar) but instead in and around Prague, did nothing to assuage those fears.
Most Czech people I have spoken to have always been dubious of the whole idea anyway. They contend that it's very unlikely that Iran would launch
missiles into the middle of Europe even if it had any capable of reaching that far (which it doesn't); surely it would go after some much closer
targets first. After all -- as more than one observed to me -- if Iran ever tries a major missile attack on another country they'll only get one
chance before there is serious retaliation... One retired soldier (a communications officer actually) also made the point that radar facilities are
first-strike targets in the event of any attack -- and may even be taken out by saboteurs.
Personally, I'm glad that the radar base is not going ahead, because I spend a lot of free time in the area just around where it was to be built. But
on the other hand, like many of you I am very concerned as to what might happen in the near future vis-a-vis Iran. Frankly it doesn't look good.
Edited to fix typos.
[edit on 17/9/09 by JustMike]