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U.S. Anti-War Activists Send Open Letter to Czech officials in Support of Nov. 17 Czech Protests against U.S. Radar

NEW YORK, N.Y., November 16, 2008 -- The New York-based Campaign for Peace and Democracy sent an open letter today to Czech officials in support of mass protests planned for Monday, November 17th in Prague against the planned U.S. radar military base. A copy of the letter was sent to President Bush, whose administration has pushed hard for the installation of the Czech radar base and its companion missile base in Poland. It was also sent to President-Elect Barack Obama, who has not yet made a final decision on the question of “missile defense” in Eastern Europe. The letter will be hand delivered at 1pm on November 17 to the Czech Mission to the U.N., located at 1109-1111 Madison Avenue, near 83rd Street in Manhattan.

In a major development over the weekend, French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the Pentagon's plans to install missile defense bases in central Europe yesterday, thus casting more doubt about whether the plans will actually be realized.

U.S. and Czech officials signed a treaty on the radar base. However, the treaty will not be finalized until the Czech parliament ratifies it. More than two thirds of the Czech population opposes the radar, and the parliament, closely divided on the issue, has postponed the vote. Czech anti-radar activists won a major victory in last month’s regional elections, where candidates from the government party were defeated in all 13 regions. The radar issue, along with government healthcare policies, were major factors in their defeat.

The open letter was addressed to Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Defense Vlasta Parkanová, and Vice Prime Minister for EU Affairs Alexandr Vondra.

For more details, see the text of the open letter below. It has been signed by 79 individuals, including Anthony Arnove, Norman Birnbaum, Noam Chomsky, Joshua Cohen, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Ariel Dorfman, Carolyn Eisenberg, John Feffer, Bruce Gagnon, Barbara Garson, Joseph Gerson, Thomas Harrison, Chris Hedges, Adam Hochschild, Doug Ireland, Joanne Landy, Jesse Lemisch, Nelson Lichtenstein, Scott McLemee, Betty Mandell, Marvin Mandell, Charlotte Phillips, MD, Katha Pollitt, Dennis Redmond, Stephen Shalom, Alice Slater, Mary Beth Sullivan, David Swanson, John Tirman and Howard Zinn. The full list of signatories is at the end of the open letter.


November 16, 2008
Open Letter to:

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek
Government of the Czech Republic,
Czech Republic

Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg
Czech Republic

Minister of Defence Vlasta Parkanová
Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic

Vice Prime Minister for EU Affairs Alexandr Vondra
Office of the Vice Prime Minister for EU Affairs
Office of the Government of the Czech Republic
Contact for public:
Contact for media:

We in the U.S. know that November 17 is a date of great significance in the former Czechoslovakia: it is the anniversary of the day in 1989 when the people of the country bravely gathered to demand democracy and the withdrawal of Soviet military forces from their soil.

Today, just nineteen years later, the Czech people are again faced with the prospect that foreign troops might be stationed in their land -- not invading with tanks this time, but still, as before, over the objections of the vast majority of the Czech population.

The Bush administration and the Czech government have signed an agreement to establish a U.S. radar facility in the Czech Republic. This base, together with interceptor missiles to be housed in Poland, would be part of a provocative and destabilizing anti-missile system in Europe. But the agreement has not yet been ratified by the Czech Parliament.

In the United States, Bush planned to sidestep the need for Senate ratification. We members of U.S. peace organizations hope that the new Obama administration will cancel this dangerous policy and, if not, that the Congress will insist on its right to vote on any treaty.

In the Czech Republic, the radar cannot be installed without parliamentary ratification, and it seems the parliament may well reflect the views of 70 percent of the Czech population and reject the U.S. base.

Czech activists will be leading protest demonstrations in Prague today, November 17, urging the parliament to refuse to ratify the base treaty, thereby protecting the Czech Republic and the world more generally from the perils of increased military tensions.

We U.S. peace activists stand with our Czech friends: we wholeheartedly support their demonstration and their call for the defeat of the radar base as one small but significant step in the larger struggle for a peaceful world.

(NOTE: Affiliations for identification only)

1. Margaret L. Albert
2. Bettina Aptheker, Professor, Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
3. Anthony Arnove, author, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
4. Peter Barland, MD, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY
5. Aaron Beckerman
6. Mel Bienenfeld
7. Norman Birnbaum, University Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University Law Center
8. Sam Bottone, Communication Workers of America (retiree)
9. Laura S. Boylan, MD, Neurologist
10. Stephen Bronner
11. James Cannon
12. Noam Chomsky
13. Dennis Clagett
14. Joshua Cohen, Stanford University, Boston Review
15. Blanche Wiesen Cook, University Distinguished Professor, John Jay College & the Graduate Center, City University of New York
16. Clare Coss
17. Margaret W. Crane, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
18. Gail Daneker
19. Ariel Dorfman, writer
20. Mark Dow
21. Carolyn Eisenberg, Hofstra University
22. Gertrude Ezorsky, Brooklyn College Emerita
23. Cathey E. Falvo, MD
24. Samuel Farber, Emeritus Professor of Political Science Brooklyn College
25. John Feffer, Foreign Policy In Focus
26. David Friedman
27. Robert Gabrielsky
28. Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
29. Barbara Garson, author, playwright
30. Jack Gerson, Executive Board, Oakland Education Association
31. Joseph Gerson (PhD), Director of Programs, American Friends Service Committee, New England Regional Office
32. John Gorman, NYC Tenants Attorney
33. Robin Hahnel, Professor Emeritus, American University, Washington
34. Thomas Harrison, Co-Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
35. Chris Hedges, The Nation Institute
36. Valerie Heinonen, o.s.u., Ursulines of Tildonk for Justice and Peace
37. Jenny Heinz, Granny Peace Brigade, CodePink
38. Judith Hempfling, Yellow Springs Village Council President (Ohio)
39. Adam Hochschild, writer
40. Polly Howells
41. Carol Husten, Peace Action NY State & Granny Peace Brigade
42. Doug Ireland, journalist, BAKCHICH magazine (France)
43. Melissa Jameson
44. Dan La Botz, Independent scholar
45. Daniel Labovitz, MD, NYU School of Medicine
46. Joanne Landy, Co-Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
47. Jesse Lemisch, Professor of History Emeritus, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
48. Sue Leonard
49. Nelson Lichtenstein, UC Santa Barbara
50. Martha Livingston, PhD, Associate Professor of Health and Society, SUNY College at Old Westbury
51. Scott McLemee, Intellectual Affairs columnist, Inside Higher Ed
52. Marvin and Betty Mandell, New Politics
53. Elaine Matthews, climate scientist
54. Charlotte Phillips, MD, Chairperson, Brooklyn for Peace
55. Katha Pollitt, writer
56. David McReynolds, Former Chair, War Resisters International
57. Mary Nolan, NYU
58. Dennis Redmond, World Without Wars USA
59. Leonard Rodberg, Queens College/CUNY
60. Gordon Rogoff, Professor of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Yale School of Drama
61. Stanley Romaine, Chair, Great Neck SANE/Peace Action
62. Bruce Rosen
63. Jennifer Scarlott, Sanctuary Asia
64. Carol Schneebaum, MD
65. Jason Schulman, editorial board, New Politics
66. Peter O. Schwartz
67. Stephen R. Shalom, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
68. Stephen Steinberg, City University of New York
69. Cheryl Stevenson
70. Mary Beth Sullivan, Outreach Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
71. David Swanson, Cofounder of
72. John Tirman, MIT Center for International Studies
73. Bernard Tuchman
74. Judith Podore Ward, New York City
75. Lois Weiner, New Jersey City University
76. Naomi Weisstein, Professor Emerita of Psychology/Neuroscience, State University of New York at Buffalo
77. Chris Wells, Spokesperson of the Humanist Movement
78. Reginald Wilson, Senior Scholar Emeritus, American Council on Education
79. Howard Zinn

Campaign for Peace and Democracy
2790 Broadway, #12, New York, N.Y. 10025 (212)666-4001 Fax: (212)866-5847
Email: Web:

* * * *
THE CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY advocates a new, progressive and non-militaristic U.S. foreign policy -- one that encourages democratization, justice and social change. Founded in 1982, the Campaign opposed the Cold War by promoting "detente from below." It engaged Western peace activists in the defense of the rights of democratic dissidents in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and enlisted East-bloc human rights activists against anti-democratic U.S. policies in countries like Nicaragua and Chile.

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Eric Schwing

You notice when Georgia committed war crimes against the Ossetians, the whole of the corporate media, including the bastions of liberalism, the NEW YORK TIMES resorted to warmongering against Russia. After the international community started to investigate, and the crimes became apparent, the NEW YORK TIMES slipped in through the back door these reports of war crimes, but never doing a mea culpa, like the lies that JUDITH MILLER graced to on their newspapers to lie us into the IRAQ war.


Terrific. This letter sends the message to the Czech government that U.S. citizens object to plans by the U.S. Government and supports the cancelation of the planned Missle Defense System in Poland and the Czech Republic for the sake of peace in the region. Other parties who might appreciate this letter are the United Nations, the EU and the French President,
Russia, the U.S. Government/Congress and the new Administration. Pres. Elect Obama would be well advised to know that many people want more peace and less war, more diplomacy now to end conflicts - even before they start! Poland too needs a letter asap
as they have not yet voted either. Both countries may be advised not to accept the military gains from the U.S. as part of the deals. For a safer Europe.
Iran too should know that we oppose missle and nuclear buildup and want peaceful developments and progress in the future. Peace, Arn Specter, Phila.

I agree with this statement. As soon as I read about the plans I was against it. We need to have trust between our nations. I am not surprised that Russia has been angry after hearing the plan.
Please listen.

Gaza Barr

WASHINGTON (AP) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy is backing down from comments critical of a planned U.S. missile defense system in Europe.

At a summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday, Sarkozy said the missile shield plans are misguided and will not make Europe safer. Those comments had been the strongest to date by an American ally against the missile-defense plans — and undercut the rationale behind President George W. Bush's European security strategy.

But after Saturday's global financial summit with other world leaders, Sarkozy said: "Ultimately, it could be a complement against a missile threat coming from elsewhere, for example, Iran."

The plans for using sites in Poland and the Czech Republic have infuriated Russia despite the Bush administration's insistence that they are aimed at protecting Europe from Iran.

President-elect Barack Obama has not been explicit about his intentions on European missile defense, saying it would be prudent to "explore the possibility" but expressing some skepticism about the technical capability of U.S. missile defenses.

Moscow sees the defense plans as a Cold War-style project that could eliminate Russia's nuclear deterrent or spy on its military installations. Much of Western Europe is nervous about the idea of such major defensive weaponry stationed around the continent.

But Poland and the Czech Republic, where bad memories of Soviet domination run deep, hope Obama follows through on the plans.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Saturday it wasn't Sarkozy's place to take a stand on missile defense.

Tusk said missile defense is a matter strictly between the U.S. and Poland, and doesn't involve France or any other "third parties."

"The president of France Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his view but it will have no influence on what will happen with the project," he was quoted by the Polish news agency PAP as telling reporters in Warsaw.

"On the issue of the shield, I don't expect either commentary or actions from third parties," Tusk said.,8599,1859393,00.html
By Mark Thompson / Washington

Missile-defense skeptics yearning for a fresh look at the wisdom of pumping $10 billion annually into missile defense aren't going to get it from Barack Obama when he moves into the Oval Office. The Russians — along with the two men most likely to end up running the Pentagon for the President-elect — have already made sure of that. It's a bracing reminder of just how difficult it is to counter momentum once a big-league defense program achieves what aerodynamicists call "escape velocity" — that synergy of speed and gravity that lets a vehicle soar smoothly into the skies.

President George W. Bush promised to build a "Star Wars" missile shield, and he has kept that promise — even if there is no guarantee if the shield works or that it increases security. There has indeed been much Democratic derision focused on what has mostly been seen as a Republican program, one that has been lavished with $100 billion since Ronald Reagan called for such a shield at the height of the Cold War in 1983.

But even in a Democratic-run Pentagon the push for missile defense is going to continue. If Obama keeps Defense Secretary Robert Gates on, as some advisers are arguing he should, that would come as no surprise. "Russia has nothing to fear from a defensive missile shield," Gates said Thursday as he argued for extending the system to Europe. The current plan is to place 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a missile-tracking radar in the Czech Republic by 2014. It's strongly opposed by Russia, which views it as an unwelcome military threat in a region where it has always been pre-eminent. The other leading contender for the Pentagon post is Richard Danzig, a Clinton Navy secretary, who recently told reporters that the Obama team has "a strong view that national missile defense is a rewarding area and should be invested in."

In fact, during the campaign, Obama said "I actually believe that we need missile defense because of Iran and North Korea and the potential for them to obtain or to launch nuclear weapons." While expressing concern that such a program might not work, he also has said that it makes sense to "explore the possibility of deploying missile defense systems in Europe," in light of Tehran's efforts, his aides have recently suggested he won't move ahead with the European deployment if the system's not "workable." (On Friday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned Washington against deploying the shield in Europe. "Deployment of a missile defense system would bring nothing to security," he said at a press conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. "It would complicate things, and would make them move backward.")

[But after Saturday's global financial summit with other world leaders, Sarkozy said: "Ultimately, it could be a complement against a missile threat coming from elsewhere, for example, Iran."]

The outgoing general who heads the Pentagon's missile defense efforts declared Wednesday that the system is "absolutely" workable. Lieutenant General Henry Obering, who is leaving his post after four years of running the program, said U.S. interests would be "severely hurt" if Obama abandons the Bush Administration's plans to expand the missile shield to Europe. "What we have discovered is that a lot of the folks that have not been in [the Bush] Administration seem to be dated, in terms of the program," Obering said. "They are kind of calibrated back in the 2000 time frame and we have come a hell of a long way since 2000."

Beyond the endorsements of the military and possible defense secretaries, recent post-election statements from Moscow criticizing the European expansion of the missile shield make it highly likely it will happen, U.S. officials say. Obama can't be seen, early in his tenure, as bending to Russia's wishes, they say.

While all that suggests the system will move full speed ahead, there was a recent ground-breaking that makes it pretty much official. Three weeks ago, the Pentagon began work on a new missile defense "Headquarters Command Center" at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, about 10 miles south of the Pentagon. The $38.5 million building will be home to 300 Missile Defense Agency workers. Its planned brick veneer will match the fort's Georgian Colonial Revival style. Once finished in late 2010, the brand new missile-defense headquarters will blend in with Fort Belvoir's pre-World War II buildings. It will seem like it has always been there.

Anything that is reported in the NY times about the so called Missile defense shield should be taken with a grain of salt. Star Wars and SDI have always first and foremost about putting offensive weapons into space. Lets not be fooled this is the top of the capitalist food chain. Chris Dorsey, RVA4Peace

Does anyone know why Lt.Col Bowman did not sign this letter. I think his name should be at the top of the list. Chris Dorsey, RVA4Peace

Thanks for the suggestion. I've just sent Robert Bowman the press release.
--Joanne Landy
Campaign for Peace and Democracy

I wonder if there Missle Defense is a disguise for Satellite Control of a Region...

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