While countless people across the US plan to attend one of the over 1,100 candlelight vigils tonight organized by MoveOn members in order to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war (to find a gathering near you, visit MoveOn’s website), European citizens have an additional matter to demonstrate against: a missile defense shield the US government plans to erect in Poland and the Czech Republic. In Prague, the Czech capital, peace activists are mobilizing protests against Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek’s center-right government which supports the US initiative. However, as SPIEGEL ONLINE reports, “six out of 10 Czechs are opposed to having the radar station in their country”.
One of the German critics of the way the US is pursuing its plans for a missile shield in eastern Europe is Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier who is meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today in Washington. He wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that “Our top priority remains disarmament and not an arms buildup… We don’t want a new arms race in Europe”. The Chair of the German Social Democratic Party, Kurt Beck, used even stronger words: “It’s an erroneous notion to believe that more weapons will guarantee higher security” (FAZ).
Of course it’s not much of a surprise to read in the same article that Ms Rice defends the US strategy and brushes all concerns aside with the cheap, meaningless response that the Cold War is over, while at the same time insisting on the threat that “rogue states” such as Iran pose.
I hope the European politicians aren’t that easily brought around.