Monday, March 26, 2007

More Struggles Against US Military Bases

I've recently commented on the opposition that exists in Australia to established US military bases like Pine Gap, and to the growing opposition to the proposed US base at Geraldton.

US imperialism is running into opposition everywhere.

On February 17 2007, tens of thousands of Italians took to the streets of Vicenza to demand that plans to build a new US military base in the city be scrapped. Police estimated that 25,000 participated; march organisers said 100, 000.

Vicenza already has a US military base on the city's northwest outskirts. Now the US plans to build a second, in the southeast, doubling the number of its personnel to 4500.

Meanwhile, opposition has been growing in the Czech Republic to plans for a US radar base in that country. On March 17, 150 people demonstrated abogainst the base in Prague's Wenceslas Square. The small numbers at the rally don't do tribute to the widespread opposition to the planned base, established through polls and petitions.

The following piece provides some background to circumstances in the Czech Republic. It comes from the Communist Youth Union (KSM) which was declared illegal by the Czech Republic on October 12, 2006 because it proclaimed the necessity of replacing the private ownership of the means of production with collective ownership of the means of production. The KSM is allied with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moldavia, the former ruling revisionist party of Czechoslovakia.

The KSM struggles against US military base in the Czech Republic

Fri, 23 Mar 2007 17:39:57 -0800No military bases of imperialism on our territory!

The KSM struggles against US military base in the Czech Republic

The Communist Youth Union (KSM) in the Czech Republic has launched a campaign against a plan to construct a US military missile base in the Czech Republic. This base would be a part of the missile defence system of the USA. The campaign was launched before the parliamentary elections in summer 2006. The KSM was the first organization in the country to take such a stand.

Negotiations about this plan were started by the government of the USA and the government of the Czech Republic led by the Social Democratic Party in secrecy several years before information about them were published thanks to MPs of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. The KSM subsequently started its struggle against this plan and was gradually joined by a number of organizations.

The KSM leads its campaign against the US military base on two lines: 1/ the KSM organizes its own communist campaign together with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and a couple of other civic associations and 2/ the KSM actively participates in a wider initiative called "No to military bases"
which is a politically more diverse coalition of forces.

The situation in the Czech Republic after the 2006 parliamentary elections was very complicated. After 7 months of political crisis without a government backed by a majority in the parliament, a new majority right-wing government led by the strongest right-wing political party in the country - Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has been installed.

It is relevant to mention that the government of the USA waited until the right-wing government led by the ODS gained its majority in the House of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic to announce officially its decision to ask the Czech Republic’s government for agreement with the building of the US military base in the country. This announcement of the USA government was published just SEVERAL MINUTES after the Czech right-wing government received majority support in the parliament (winning 2 of the Social Democratic MPs). The KSM demanded in its campaign publication of all the documents on the secret negotiations about the plan to construct the US military base in the country, resolutely opposed this plan and asked for a referendum on this crucial issue concerning the whole country and all its inhabitants.

The position of the relevant political parties on the question of the US military base and to the referendum on this matter differs significantly. The right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) refuses the democratic institution of referendum generally, states that the people are not competent to decide about questions of national security like this crucial issue and eagerly struggles for the interests of the USA to show its loyalty to its ally.

Another government right-centrist party Christian Democratic Party- Czechoslovak People’s Party has not engaged itself so visibly in this issue but generally supports the line followed by the ODS. The third ruling party - the Green Party, which originally advocated the institution of referendum in its pre-elections expressions very vehemently and profiled itself as a non-militarist political party, dropped its previous promises which attracted a significant number of especially young people. Together with its anticommunism, it preferred its government position to result in an unprincipled stance supporting the US base under a precondition that the US base should be officially part of a NATO system. The position of the Green Party in the Czech Republic on the issue of military bases as well as its anticommunist behaviour makes this political party an object of critical views from its foreign Green fellow-parties.

Also positions of the Czech Social Democratic Party concerning the issue of the US military base are worthy of a more detailed comment. The negotiations about the plan to construct a US military base in the Czech Republic were started during the period of the government led by Social Democrats. Also chairman of the Social Democratic Party Jiri Paroubek, after his initial unclear statements, declared that he would support the US base in the country. Nevertheless, when the social democratic party was ousted from power it officially declared a negative attitude to the US military base plan and supported the idea of a referendum on the issue. Simultaneously, significant voices from inside of the Social Democratic Party speak out in favour of the construction of the US military base.

Generally it may be summed up that the Social Democratic Party’s position was determined by its non-government position. It followed the logic of maximisation of its political capital in the situation where a vast majority of society opposes the US military base to plan its new opposition position to win political points. The only consistent opponent of the US military base is the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, which also proposed a bill on the referendum on the US military base that was nevertheless defeated in the parliament. The attitude to the demand of a national referendum documents the real attitude to democracy of relevant political parties in the Czech Republic where the Communist Party is in debates repeatedly accused by the other political parties of its alleged lack of democratic character - an argument which is instrumentally used as a tool for delegitimization of their principal political opponent.

There have also been demands to organize local referenda on the issue of the US military base in the municipalities that are potential neighbours of the US military base. Such a referendum has been organized in the municipality of Trokavec where a vast majority of its inhabitants opposed the US military base plan. It is also relevant to mention that in 3 out of 4 municipalities in the close neighbourhood of the potential US military base the mayors are representatives of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia.

Originally the official plan was to build the US military base either in the Czech Republic or in Poland. Later the plan was modified, as it was presented because of a strong opposition to the plan from the mobilised public opinion in the Czech Republic where approximately 80% of the people oppose the US military base in their country. The new proposal was to build a missile base in Poland and a radar base as a part of this military base in the Czech Republic.

The KSM’s anti-base campaign has been very successful. The KSM has organized a number of public protests, demonstrations, debates with citizens and also a very successful petition for which 80,000 signatures have been gathered so far. This is a great success taking into consideration that it is a petition organized by the KSM - an organization of young people which has been officially dissolved by the state. (A simultaneously organized petition of the large initiative "No to military bases" has so far gathered 20 000 signatures.)

The work of the KSM among the people on the streets is important also because it shows them that this banned youth organization struggles in the front line for the concrete demands of the majority of people.

Radim Gonda
Vice-chairman of the KSM
Czech Republic

1 comment:

PTCruiser said...

Like the Holy Roman empire, it can only be stretched so thin before it implodes.