You supported the initiative “No to bases” formed in June 2006 as a response to the news about US-Czech negotiations, held without public knowledge, to place a permanent US military base in the Czech Republic. At the end the US administration renounced to carry out this project in your country. What was, according to you, the real purpose of this radar installation?
The most UNLIKELY purpose was the officially stated one – the interception of the (still non-existent) Iranian intercontinental missiles. The second purpose claimed by the US Government and its Czech supporters – namely, protection of Czech territory against missiles -was a blatant lie and absolute nonsense. So we could have guessed the real purpose of the project was not aimed at Iranians but at one or more different “adversaries”:
European Union: Disruption of political EU unity and political separation of the Czech Republic from the EU (the separate arrangement between the CzR and USA would be outside of the NATO and EU structures, and would put clearly not only Czechs, but also their neighbors and the whole EU in jeopardy in the case of a war. Influx of funds would provide the chance to corrupt more Czech politicians and others to entice them to protect and project US interest within the EU and in the CzR proper.
Russia: The base could provide US the capability to negate or to diminish the Russian deterrent and would improve the US first-strike capability against he Russia in at least two ways: it could intercept Russian retaliatory missiles, and it could provide the US with “decapitation” capability by placing offensive missiles (and particularly missiles shooting on depressed trajectories) very close to the Russian defense and command centers. This was certainly not in the official plans, but US would have absolute control over the bases so that this could not be excluded. And it was clear that Russian military will have this possibility in mind and would have to pose a threat to host EU countries with its own offensive means. This would generate distrust in and hostility against Russia and drive the separate US countries closer to the US. Very clever, but a very dangerous game that was definitely NOT in the Czech or US interest. Also, it is not in the interest of US citizens other than neocons and those working for the US industrial-military complex.
US NAVY: the naval Aegis anti-aircraft/and missile system could be upgraded to provide the same or better capabilities as the land/based system faster and for a fraction of cost. However, in that case the funding would go to the Navy rather than to the Strategic Command or other military branches. Besides, Aegis could be freely deployed at high seas and would not provide the opportunity to disrupt EU, corrupt Czech and Polish politicians and provoke Russians into politically harmful moves.
US Taxpayer: The implied threat would provide justification for more military spending by showing various bogus dangers to the US security. The simple knee-jerk reaction would give an excuse to grab a territory a build a new military base base wherever possible. And as always: such a flood of taxpayers money fills many pockets, creates new positions and functions and promotes many carriers – the sufficient purpose in our society to do just about anything.
Recently the Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic has been killed in a blast at his home. Police was quick to blame an accidental move. How is it possible that the Israeli lobby has such high influence in Czech media and politics?
I am not sure that the Israeli lobby is so particularly active or influential in the media of this country. It does not need to be, because the public has traditionally probably displayed more sympathy for Israel than for Arab states (or for Jews rather than Muslims, if you want to cut it along the religious lines). The reasons for this are complex and not necessarily very rational. In this particular case, I would place more blame on the need of the police to provide a very fast “explanation,” and it is difficult to publicly name “the usual suspects” without having any specifics. The truth is that the police was very quick in declaring this an accident. Media reported the police report, but then media also reports about alternative possibilities – such as an assassination, as claimed by his daughter. Of course, the first explanation that came to mind was MOSSAD, with the Palestinian internal struggle close second. The accident sounded, and still sounds to me, rather improbable, considering the players. It may be pretty tangled – the cooperation of Palestinian officials and the cache of weapons found at the embassy give the whole case somewhat different flavor. Pro-Israeli lobby does need to work very hard in this case.
In September 2013, hundreds of AIPAC activists raided the American Congress in order to push for a war against Syria. How do you explain that they didn’t succeed this time?
Perhaps it is the Afghanistan lesson. The US created the Islamic terrorism in the first place (directly to harm the old Soviet Union and indirectly by their presence and behavior, toward, Muslim countries). They may feel that no matter whom they support now, the militant Muslim groups will come up on the top equipped with American (or British or French] weapons in the end. AIPAC (and Israel) would surely love to topple Assad – and Iran and any other potential Middle East competitor to Israel – as they had toppled Hussein using US power, but the USA is stretched pretty thin even now and they may finally feel that it is too costly to play the Israeli Golem all the time.
In the mainstream Czech media, Islam is often portrayed as a dangerous religion, or systematically associated with terrorism. In many other Western countries it’s the same. What is your analysis of this phenomenon?
I think that this is partly general xenophobia and partly old history. It is not necessarily connected to terrorism – the Irish or the Tamil Tigers – to name just few – were not viewed very negatively because of the terrorism. Pretty often, I hear references to Turks/Muslims nearly taking Vienna as the reason to be wary of Muslims, although that did happen – in 1529! The Czechs were not directly involved in this, nor had many reasons to prefer Catholics over Muslims (they were mostly Protestants and were conquered by Catholic Habsburg about 90 years later; Czechs fought Catholics after John Hus’ execution, and suffered 10 Catholic CRUSADES in the 15th century. Certainly Czechs suffered more casualties from Catholics than from Muslims. Nevertheless, the whole Pan-Slavic movement in the 19th century emphasized the suffering of “Slavic brothers” on the hands of the Turks (Balkan and Crimean wars). Through all this emerged the “tribal feeling” that muslims are powerful, vile and dangerous enemies. All this without knowing a single Muslim. Go figure.
Another circumstance that turned Czech popular opinion against Palestinians (and Muslims and Arabs – people mostly do not distinguish those terms very clearly), was the fact that they were supported, protected and assisted by the former communist government.
And Czechs mostly side with Israelis in their conflict with Palestinians. There are no sophisticated reasons for this – Palestinians/ Arabs/Muslims are simply “much more foreign” foreigners than Israelis, many of who are of a central-European origin. Jews we embedded in the Czech society for centuries without many conflicts (compared to, say, the situation on Poland or Slovakia). But this is a very extensive topic for some other day.
An Interview with Vladimir Stoy by an independant journalist based in Geneva Alimuddin Usmani, 4th of January 2014