Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Safer Europe?

While Condoleeza Rice rested in the posh and indulgent Bubenec neighborhood of Prague to be delivered to the highest foreign affairs minister, Mr. Karel Schwarzenberg at Prague Castle, thousands had taken to the streets. To the cultural heart of the city, the now tourist-vamped Wenceslas Square, where once the benevolent and powerful ruler Karel IV sanctioned the area a horse market in the fourteenth century. Those citizens shouted against American imperialism and their own nation's current government, whose attitdue towards their people is apathetic and contemptable. The Czech government entered into the treaty with the Americans to base a missile radar in the Czech Rep. The purpose? To protect Europe and America from nuclear weapons from Iran. Negotiations went on in government offices, in luxury resorts and at international meetings. Despite the fact most Czechs desire a nationwide referendum on the matter, the government shows little regard for its people. And to top it off, Mrs. Rice was to remark during the signing of the treaty that this agreement was as crucial to Europe now, as the Marshall Plan was after World War II. Little did Condoleeza realize, that her own country had offered the Czechoslovak government aid. However, with the increase of Soviet meddling in Czech political affairs, it was later turned down. Her ignorance and shallow understanding of history can be taken as an insult to both the Czech and American public.

July 8th, 2008 will be remembered by many Czechs as another heist of their homeland's sovereignty and another mockery of democracy. For the third time in 100 years, the Czech nation's autonomy has been smashed by an advancing empire, this time from across the Atlantic. 1938 was the year of the Munich Agreement, which would effectively dissolve Czechoslovakia and doom many of its people. Nazi Germany would hold the country in its jaws until liberation in 1945. And in 1968, when Prague Spring initiated a movement for free speech, openness and "socialism with a human face", Soviets barrelled through the streets of the Golden City with tanks, leaving blood stained streets and a new backlash which would encase many of people's whole lives, wishes, and hopes encapsulated in a people paid-for government jar with the letters KSCM stamped on the outside.

Yet, unlike these previous dissolutions of autonomy, this new richly invested alliance now known as the U.S.-Czech Radar Base Agreement hardly tweaks the noses of the Czech government, they grin openly behind closed doors. And the American public, well, we did hear a squeak out of our own news once all was said and done, but the public is likely to remain in the dark for years. Similarly, the Czech people have been left in the dark, but this time its own government turned out the light and left the room. 80% of Czechs polled are vehemently against any foreign troops on Czech territory. However, their politicians do not care, and the state of distrust in government is extremely high consdiering the history of fascist and dictatorial regimes in citizens' memories. Karel Schwarzenberg, the foreign affairs minister, is better known for his family's role in the development of the Czech lands. Throughout South Bohemia, Schwarzenberg's name is more often thought with their family's abandoned and depcrepit baroque chapels that dot the landscape atop seclusive small town mountaintops. Their ruling dynasty replays the ethnic tale of the German minority ruling the Czech people. However, the new foreign nation with the largest amount of illegal immigrants in the Czech country is the United States, and its strength does not go unfelt.

Jiri Paroubek rules with an iron fist. First employed in the political scene with the Communist Party food services in South Bohemia, Paroubek must have learned some hard nosed lessons. His anger is infamous, his remarks caustic and rude, his figure, uncomfortable, and his face, like a wax plate of grease and grime. His government was the same that sent riot geared armed state police to a largely attended impromptu techno music festival, called CzechTek in 2005. After the goring of several attendees by state riot agents and the loss of control at the festival, the Czech public was shocked. Yet, Paroubek would still continue if not in a visible position of power, in the dark shadows of the underneath. He largely prepared the beginninng stages of the radar agreement in 2005 and 2006. With his friend, the extravagant Euro-final hopping Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek set the calm and flat out deceptive news briefs to the public of the progress of a once secret program to base an American radar in Czech territory with 10 nuclear missile interceptors in neighboring Poland. It was decided long ago by the international elite, and in particular the United States under Bill Clinton, that Central Europe would figure in the new umbrella of American and European joint nuclear deterrance.

Havel had signed the NATO accords in 1997, bringing the Czech Rep. into a military alliance with the United States. The most beloved living statesman and playwright, President of the nation from 1990-2003, after decades of fighting the communist regime now supports the US radar in Czech lands. After fighting for twenty years after 1968 to send Russian troops home from the Czech, Moravian and Slovak lands, now the former president and hero had to tell his own to accept American troops. Havel is worthy of his accolades and will always remain a great figure in Czech history and in the triumph of populism and the will of the people. However, it is all too ominous that the true emotional leader of the great nation has not used this moment to stand with his citizens. In 1937, Tomas Masaryk, first president of the Republic from 1918 died before the signing fo the Munich Agreement. The inability of the nation to protect its own democracy, mainly due to its small territorial size, may knell its death once more.

Dobry Den Radare -

But why should we care? Isn't the Czech Republic a small European country with little importance in world affairs and only good for as a tourist destination? Most Americans could not probably even locate the Czech Republic on a map. Its location in the very center of Europe has told its story of empire, conquered from neighbors East and West, and always a point of meeting, trade, and community. Its position historically in the 20th century as a buffer zone between large empires like Germany and Russia and transformation to a site for Soviet nukes during the 1970s and 80s and a land guarded by rifles and barbed wire. Then we should ask, why would the American people desire to fund such an operation to tear apart a democratic partner and destabilize the whole of Europe? Well, the answer is simple. The American people have nothing to do with this agreement. Neither the Czechs. The new age of democracy is written and administered from above.

With the signing of the radar agreement, and further negotiations between the United States and Poland, it appears that the US government will have its way with Central Europe as a detection and firing point against nuclear weapons hurled from beyond. The day after the signing of the treaty, Iran was reported to have fired tests of their long-range missiles which are capable of hitting neighboring countries in the Middle East. US Intelligence reported in October 07 that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, a success of the tough talk of the Bush administration. But, the hype of Iranian military strength along with some evidence that these missile tests had been photoshoped for the media, this event can be only taken with a grain of salt. However, it does not bode well for the Czech people, now in the sights of nuclear giants across the world.

Last Friday, Russia state energy decided to increase the price the Czech Republic pays for their oil which is transported into the country from pipelines across Russia through Poland. Already, the Kremlin has responded and Putin has squeezed his fist harder and jabbed his fingers closer to the red button. Unfortunately, the Czech people will suffer the brunt of the burden of the American radar.

These sorts of events often set precedents for the future. Precedents for how the world leaders' games will be played out. And while it all whizzes by a distracted world community, the future of fate has licked the seal. The US-Czech agreement will be up for approval in the Czech legislature soon. Its passage is unclear, but it is not encouraging that the people's will most likely be subverted. Isn't it finally time for a stand?

First President of Czechoslovakia, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, was a strong believer in American style democracy. His affections toward American culture were famous, his wife Marie Garrigue was American, and he looked to the US Constitution as a document of liberty. He often wrote on the subject and once warned his fellow countrymen,

"Democracy is not only a state form, it is not only what is written in the institutions, democracy is the opinion on life, which counts on the trust of the people, in humanity, in humanness and [democracy] is not opinions without love, and not love without opinions.

Masaryk's words hold the same significance today and at an even more crucial time in world affairs. Much like Munich in 1938, this agreement rings of injustice. We must hold steadfast that it is our duty to hold accountable our representatives, that in order to ensure democracy in a republic, they must follow their duty and uphold its values to be sacred and stand without compromise.

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