Wednesday, June 04, 2008



Over the past two years the US government, in cooperation with the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic, has moved slowly and inexorably towards the stationing of an anti-missile system in the territories of the two east European countries mentioned. This project has proceeded much more quietly than the Reagan area 'Star Wars' circus- which amounted to nothing substantial-, and the Bush administration has probably been wise to move via stealth rather than rhetorical fireworks in this case. For an overview of the Reagan era 'Star Wars' overhyped project see THIS WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE. Also consult 'National Missile Defense' for an overview of the general subject.

The present plan is that the radar station for the project will be situated in the Czech Republic while the interceptor missiles themselves will be situated in Poland. The location of the installations makes it quite obvious that they are aimed as a threat towards Russia rather than what the US government claims- that they are meant to intercept missiles that might be launched from so-called "rogue states". To date only North Korea has demonstrated both missile and nuclear capacity. The idea that interceptors based in Poland could overtake missiles launched from North Korea eastwards is, of course, ridiculous. Iran presently has neither nuclear capacity nor missile capacity to reach western Europe. Of course the interceptor missiles involved will not be anywhere near as capable as their proponents claim them to be. What they are,however, is a device to "thin" any Russian launch, perhaps even- perish the thought- simply a retaliatory strike against the only state which has both used nuclear weapons in warfare and threatened to use them on many other occasions. Perhaps the missiles that would be launched from Russia wouldn't be aimed at western and central Europe at all but rather at some unnamed "rogue state" that has demonstrated its willingness to both use and, especially, threaten nuclear annihilation numerous times in the past.

But if these installations are built they will automatically become necessary targets. This project hasn't been without opposition in both Poland and the Czech Republic. It is certain that the majority of Czechs oppose the construction of the radar base on their territories, and it is probable that the majority of Poles oppose the location of the interceptor missile on theirs. Presently some of the opposition to this "Star Wars Version 2" has taken the form of a series of hunger strikes carried out by Czech citizens to bring the world's attention to the situation. Ongoing news about these protests can be found at the Europe for Peace website. These hunger strikes are undertaken by humanists who hold to the philosophy of "non-violent direct action". Molly might quibble about whether their self-applied description is indeed "direct action". To my lights it is merely another form of "petitioning", just as pointless riots at economic gatherings are. Neither tactic directly changes the situation. Both merely try and force the hand of established power to comply with ethical demands. Both are protest rather than "direct action", but the tactics of the hunger strikers at least have the advantage of occupying the moral high ground.

In their own words, here is the underlying philosophy of the humanist protesters against the location of tracking radar in the Czech Republic, from The Strength of Non-Violence website.

What is active non-violence?

Non-violence generally refers to some or all of the following: a system of moral concepts that disavows violence; the mass movement led by Mahatma Gandhi in India in the first part of the twentieth century; the struggle for civil rights by African-Americans in the United States under the leadership of Martin Luther King; and the activities carried out by Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana. The activities of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov, S. Kovalev, and other famous dissidents opposed to Soviet totalitarianism are often included as well.

The idea of non-violence is expounded in the Bible and the writings of other religions in the exhortation not to kill. This idea has been developed by numerous thinkers and philosophers; Russian authors Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky expressed it in profound formulations. Tolstoy's formula proclaiming the supremacy of love and the “non-use of violence against evil,” or better, the impossibility of fighting one evil with another, found worldwide resonance, inspiring a somewhat singular sect of “Tolstoyists.”

The non-violence movement developed by Gandhi prepared the ground for Great Britain to renounce its supremacy in India, though Gandhi himself was killed by a paid assassin. Also M.L.King's struggle ended without victory. He was assassinated in the balcony of his hotel in Memphis, while assisting a protest which denounced the low salaries of the black people who collected the trash. Nonetheless, the concept of non-violence , including non-violent forms of protest, continues to be a vital, evolving force in the world. Daily mass actions by lower strata of workers, meetings and protest demonstrations, strikes, women's and student movements, farmworker and peasant demonstrations, leaflets, neighborhood newspapers and periodicals, appearances on radio and TV, all these constitute the contemporary forms of the ethic and practice of non-violence.

New Humanism, developed by Silo(Who???-Molly) since the 1960s until today, strives to reduce violence to the greatest extent possible, to create perspectives which go completely beyond violence , and to use all possible methods and forms of bringing resolution to conflicts and dichotomies along the path of creative non-violence.

Non-violence is frequently equated with pacifism , when in reality the latter is neither a method of action nor a style of life but rather a sustained protest against war and the arms race. From the above it follows that non-violence and active non-violence (1) consist of a personal commitment, a style of life and a methodology for social change.

The two pillars of the methodology of active nonviolence are civil disobedience and non-participation.

Civil disobedience has the following ideological and philosophical justification: If the State imposes laws which are violently unjust, discriminatory, etc. and the application of such laws affects people negatively because it transforms people into agents or receivers of injustice or discrimination, then people have the right and the moral obligation to not comply with such laws. Civil disobedience and non-cooperation intentionally break the unjust law and accept the punishments, for example imprisonment, as a dignified consequence of their actions.

Non-participation or vacuum towards violence implies avoiding involvement in violent situations – which usually has a negative economic effect to the transmitter of violence – proclaiming publicly the moral posture of both parties.

In the cases of Gandhi and M.L.King, the interest was in changing unjust laws or social realities, and only when the searched for steps could not be achieved through negotiations and persuasion, direct action with planned activities was used. (Examples of Gandhi, Salt Law and Salt March; Martin Luther King, state laws of racial segregation, bus boycott, sit-ins, marches, etc.).We can see that these predecessors of active non-violence, and many others, were people who also had a strong and vital spiritual and religious feeling. This shows that historical moments of great changes have been accompanied by new feelings of religiosity. They are moments of hope. In such moments a great moral force is put into motion and the human landscape changes.
(1) ACTIVE NON-VIOLENCE: The strategy for struggle of New Humanism, which consists of the systematic denunciation of all the forms of violence exercised by the System. Also, a tactic for struggle applied in specific situations in which discrimination of any type is occurring.

Situation in the world
About NMD system

Europe for Peace

There is presently an international online petition, which has so far gathered over 100,000m signatures, against the US plans for this project. The following, from the Europe for Peace site gives the text of the petition and a backgrounder. If you'd like to read more and sign the petition go to the EfP site.
Petition Text:
"I do not agree with the installation of a US military base on Czech Republic territory, as part of their NMD (National Missile Defense) project. The implementation of this project is increasing international tensions, generating a new arms race and is the first step towards the militarization and control of space. Since more than two thirds of the Czech population are against this project, I think it is only fair that the Czech people have the right to decide on such an important question by means of a referendum."
The NMD project of the United States – their national missile defense system, is a very complex project which involves the production of new weapons, and the installation of US military bases in different parts of the planet. In particular, in Europe, the first step is the installation of a radar system in the Czech Republic, as well as a base for interceptor missiles in Poland.
This plan has divided Europe, which at the moment is not able to give a united, coherent and nonviolent response to the United States’ aggressive policies. The reaction of Russia and China has created a “cold war” atmosphere. International tensions are increasing, and the crazy arms race (both conventional and nuclear) has restarted. Above all, the bases are being installed to militarize and control space. More than two thirds of the Czech population are against the presence of United States military on Czech territory. Despite this, the Czech and US governments are continuing the negotiations which are, by now, reaching their concluding phase.
The Czech people will declare that any contract that the Czech government may sign with the US Government concerning the project to install US military bases on Czech territory will have no legal value. And so the Czech people will not feel in any way bound to any type of commitment. The formal respect for laws passed in Parliament by a relative majority is not enough to be considered as real democracy. When a Government takes a decision which clearly goes against the will of a majority of its citizens, it is not respecting either the spirit or deepest essence of democracy.
The US government must clearly understand that it is not carrying out a dialogue with the Czech people, but with a minority that does not represent the will of the majority of Czech citizens. For this reason, any agreement will have no legal value. Our American friends must clearly understand that their government’s policies are generating a widespread feeling of “anti Americanism” which was not present before in Czech culture, and in this way, their aggressive policies will only turn against them. We know that a nonviolent action to boycott American products has already begun, and that this phenomenon could quickly spread beyond the boundaries of the Czech Republic.
The majority of Czechs do not want foreign military bases on their territory.
The majority of Czechs want to decide these problems themselves by means of a referendum: a fundamental instrument of any democracy.
Jan Tamáš
Nonviolent Movement against US bases in the Czech Republic
Dana Feminová
Europe For Peace

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