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The USA: Why a Radar in the Czech Republic

13.5.2008 - Prof. Oskar Krejčí, Res publica, April 2008

The foundations for the construction of an American military base in the Czech Republic were laid by the Truman Doctrine. This can be understood on the one hand as constituting the beginnings of the policy of the containment of communism, but also as a fundamental change in the foreign policy approach to the world: not only did it officially open the period of global interventionism by the USA, but at the same time it also led to the commencement of the construction of the United States’ forward defense.

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It was at that time that the idea of the forward defense of the USA was engendered. The period of the tumultuous conclusion of mutual military aid treaties had begun. Five collective security treaties became the best-known. In September 1947, the first regional military alliance after the Second World War was signed; this was the Rio Pact which militarily bound the USA and the countries of Latin America. In April 1949, the creation of NATO, i.e. an alliance for the area of the Atlantic, followed. The tripartite ANZUS treaty dating from September 1951 joined the United States with Australia and New Zealand, i.e. with the states of the Pacific. In September 1954, the SEATO Alliance connected the ANZUS states, Great Britain and France with selected states in South East Asia. The Baghdad Pact, later called CENTO, dating from February 1955 allied the USA (initially in the role of an observer) and Britain with Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Iran.
These generally known facts include one piece of clear geographic information and twohidden political messages.

- The collective defense treaties were – with the exception of the Rio Pact – concluded around the core of Eurasia.

- From a military policy point of view, it is exceedingly important that as well as the aforementioned multilateral treaties, the United States also concluded many bilateral treaties. The most significant can be considered to be those which concerned Asia, such as the agreement with Japan (begun with the Peace Treaty dating from 1951 and culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan dating from 1960) and the Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan dating from 1954, but also other agreements, for example with South Korea and South Vietnam. At the same time, the later breakdown of some multilateral treaties was often accompanied by the conclusion of bilateral treaties. The existence of hundreds of US military bases abroad is the result of this pact mania.

- The transition to interventionism did not only take the form of a move away from the inter-war pacifism expressed for example in the Briand-Kellogg pact banning war. The previous period of US history was marked by territorial expansion which ended with the failure of the efforts to make the Philippines into an US offshore territory. There arose a period marked by a policy of not incorporating territories, but of controlling them.

At the end of the 19th century, Admiral Alfred Mahan gauged the geopolitical depth of the range of so-called maritime power to the zone of political instability as being between 30° a 40° of northern latitude. At the end of the 2nd World War, this zone had moved to the continent’s edge zone. In 1999, the penetration of American military might into the depths of Eurasia began after the first expansion of NATO eastwards and mainly with the arrival of President George Bush junior: the intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq and the bases in post-Soviet Central Asia and in Bulgaria, Rumania, the Czech Republic and Poland are the latest steps in this process.

It is most frequently stated nowadays that of the 1.4 million United States soldiers, 369 thousand of them serve at approximately 700 bases abroad. These statistics include bases, where there are significant numbers of soldiers – this usually involves more than one hundred soldiers and costs of more than one million dollars a year. However, if all of the American military stations abroad are truly counted, there are a total of 823 according to the Base Structure Report (Fiscal Year 2007 Baseline) of the US Ministry of Defense.


The breakthrough moment in the development of US foreign policy was the defeat in the war in Indochina in the mid 1970s. Associated with this was the fact that the United States lost its privileged economic standing and the prestige of the USA was undermined. The development of the strategic potential of the United States and the Soviet Union reached a level where it was clear that the possibility of mutually assured destruction had arisen. Concepts appeared which redefined America’s obligations abroad. At an official level, this especially involved Nixon’s Guam Doctrine of 1979 which endeavored to transfer part of the moral, economic and military burden of the policy of the containment of communism to US allies.

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In the same period, two completely different and exceptionally influential ideological and political groupings were established in the United States and were active across both the main political parties: the Trilateral Commission and the Committee on Present Danger. Their clashes can – albeit incompletely and only symbolically – be used to outline the internal tension within the political elite of the USA.

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The struggle between the multilateralists of the Trilateral Commission and the unilateralism of the Committee on Present Danger, which began at that time, still continues today. It has always involved a feud of ideas and a struggle for position – but also a fight to guide the significant expenditure of the federal budget.

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In November 1975, however, the so-called Halloween Massacre took place, during which President Gerald Ford replaced a number of ministers and executive government officials. George Bush senior became the Head of the CIA. Donald Rumsfeld, who had been the head of the presidential office, assumed the position of the Minister of Defense – in White house he was replaced by Dick Cheney, the current Vice President. Rumsfeld and Cheney commenced an attack on Henry Kissinger who admittedly remained the Secretary of State, but lost his position as a national security advisor. (…)

The image of the window of vulnerability became the hit of Reagan’s pre-election campaign. According to the available information, 33 people from the CPD entered Ronald Reagan’s administration in 1981 and more than two thirds of them went to positions involving questions of national security. In February 1981, President Reagan stated that the Soviet Union “has surpassed the United States in military spending by 300 billion dollars since 1970”. The Soviet Union became the “Evil Empire” and what some authors call “the Second Cold War” began.

The Committee members began to realize their ideas by means of dramatic increases in military spending. In March 1983, President Reagan officially announced the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), known as Stars Wars, which was supposed to “close” the window of vulnerability. At the same time, SDI “meant the radical rejection of the idea that deterrence may be a source security”; a period of searching for superiority and preparation for Armageddon began. 

The entry of its main representatives into state functions led to the Committee on Public Danger being wound up. Its further reincarnation occurred after the terrorist attack on 11th September 2001. The new Committee on the Present Danger is once again made up of people who belong among the “hawks” in the American political scene. Naturally, it also has its international members, including one from the Czech Republic. 

The victory of the United States in the Cold War created the conditions for a new type of US foreign policy. President George Bush senior set out his idea of the new world order in his  speech to Congress on 11th September 1990. At that time, he stated, partly in association with the crisis in the Persian Gulf, that a unique moment in history had arisen: “A new partnership of nations has begun”. (…)

Today, the difference in approach between the pragmatic President Bush, the father, and the ideologised policies of President Bush, the son, is clear. The style of the experienced senior Bush, a former US envoy to Peking, an ambassador to the UN as well as the Head of the CIA, was also different to that of the younger Bush, who had had no experience of the foreign policy agenda prior to taking the presidential oath. Bush senior was able to observe the break up of the Soviet Union, but also the reunification of Germany, while only correcting the course of these events with very slight intervention.

Bush senior led the war against Iraq after Saddam’s occupation of Kuwait in Bismarck-like fashion – defeat, but do not destroy, because strong enemy alliances could be formed against a strong victor. The war in the Persian Gulf was executed under President Bush senior in such a way so that (a) legitimization of the actions was acquired from the UN; (b) the widest possible international participation in the armed forces ranged against Iraq was achieved; (c) the widest possible support was garnered in US public opinion, which could enable the president to act without the intervention of Congress. The younger Bush intervenes everywhere and he has led the invasion of Iraq in a Wilson-like manner – he won the war, deposed Saddam and is losing the peace. President George Bush senior proceeded as a multilateralist, while President George Bush junior has proceeded as a unilateralist.

Despite this, however, the younger Bush has inherited something from his father: significant co-operators. The attack of unilateralism began in the period when President George Bush senior spoke about a new world order. Probably the first project aimed at creating a “world with one superpower” dates from 1992. This involves the 46-page secret Defence Planning Guidance document for the fiscal period of 1994 to 1999 (the DPG). It was compiled by the former Defense Ministry employees I. Lewis Libby (later prosecuted as the Head of Vice President Dick Cheney’s Secretariat for lying during an investigation into the disclosure of the identity of a CIA agent), Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Defense Minister under President Bush junior and Head of the World Bank) and Zalmay Khalilzad (a co-operator with a number of research offices, US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq and now to the UN under President Bush junior). They drew the material up for the Minister of Defense of the day, Dick Cheney.

The DPG document is considered to be the first formulation of neoconservative ideas concerning US foreign policy after the end of the Cold War. The available information published in the New York Times shows that this document sets out the following main goals:

- “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival”. New regional strategies (to be more precise, different strategies for various regions) should correspond to this.

- The United States should be prepared to carry out unilateral military operations. Given that it is clear that “world order is ultimately backed by the U.S.”, “the United States should be postured to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated” or in a crisis which requires a fast response. 

- The document requires “early introductionof a global anti-missile system.

- It includes a requirement for expanding NATO in the direction of Central Eastern Europe.

- Be ready to wage simultaneous wars against Iraq and North Korea.

The contemplation of preventative activities, including at a global extent, begins in this document. It includes a call for the military budget to be increased to 1.2 billion dollars for five years given numbers of 1.6 million soldiers and a requirement for a “substantial American presence in Europe”, whereby it is necessary to expand further into Eastern Europe as defense against the threat from Russia. The authors consider it suitable “should there be an Alliance decision to do so“. It is remarkable that at the same time the document claims that “it is improbable that a global conventional challenge to U.S. and Western security will re-emerge from the Eurasian heartland for many years to come”.

Unlike the ideas of President Bush senior about the new partnership, the document strives for the creation of a world with one dominant military power, whose leaders “maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role”. According to the DPG “our nuclear forces also provide an important deterrent hedge against the possibility of a revitalized or unforeseen global threat”. It predicts that “future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies”. Any eventual attempts at joining the Ukraine, Byelorussia and other independent states to Russia should be prevented. Given that Russia remains “the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States”, the American strategic forces should remain aimed at targets in Russia. And as long as the nuclear arsenals are not rendered harmless, “we continue to face the possibility of robust strategic nuclear forces in the hands of those who might revert to closed, authoritarian, and hostile regimes”.

The authors of the document formulated for the USA the task of preventing the significant proliferation of the arsenals of Germany and Japan, especially the acquirement of any nuclear weapons. It even speaks of the necessity of being ready to use military force in order to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in countries such as North Korea, Iraq, some former Soviet Republics and in Europe. The DPG study also includes a warning that Cuba and North Korea are entering the phase of an intensive crisis (especially an economic crisis, but also a political one) which may lead the governments of these countries to carry out “actions that would otherwise seem irrational”. And it adds that “the same potential exists in China”. (…)

A significant turning point in American politics began in November 1994 when the Republicans won the elections to Congress and acquired a majority in both chambers. In 1997, the US Congress then established a Commission to evaluate the missile threat to the United States. Donald Rumsfeld, a politician at the time and the former (in Gerald Ford’s administration) and later (in the first government of George Bush junior) US Minister of Defence, was appointed the Chairman of this Commission. Its final report from 1998 warned of the danger presented by Russia and China.

However, Rumsfeld’s Commission also found a new danger: the threat represented by enemy developing countries “is broader, more mature and evolving more rapidly than has been reported in estimates and reports by the Intelligence Community”. Once again, therefore, great changes began with an attack on the intelligence services. At the same time, the report also contained the chilling warning that “the U.S. might well have little or no warning before operational deployment” of missiles capable of reaching the territory of the USA. In its report, the committee stated that Iran and North Korea would come to represent a missile threat to the United States in five years and that the same would apply to Iraq in ten years. The occupation of Iraq and the current status of Iran and North Korea’s military spending have not confirmed the conclusions of the Rumsfeld Commission.

A non-profit educational organization called the Project for the New American Century (PNAC,) was established in parallel in 1997. The signatories of the PNAC’s founding document include all three authors of the Defense Planning Guide (DPG) document, i.e. Libby, Wolfowitz and Khalilzad. The newly established organization stated its aim as asserting the global leadership of the USA. This involves a highly neo-conservative project, whose Chairman is William Kristol and President is Gary Schmitt, while the directors include Robert Kagan, Bruce Jackson, Mark Gerson and Randy Scheunemann. In September 2000, the PNAC published a book entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century which contained fundamental recommendations for the new president. It is of no surprise that this is based on the DPG from 1992. However, other institutions such as the Center for Security Policy and the National Institute for Public Policy also contributed to the formation of Bush’s strategy.  

The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, which the American President George Bush junior signed in September 2002 and again in its amended form in 2006, accepted the fundamental ideas of the authors of the DPG. It is a declaration of unilateralism and a manifestation of the determination of the USA to proceed in international matters while asserting its own interests independently. It states that “as a matter of common sense and self-defense” the United States will “identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders. While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary”.

Despite the fact that the cited passage from the doctrine of Bush junior concerns the war against terrorism, it sets out a clear approach not only at the moment of the intervention in Iraq, but also with regard to the construction of the US National Anti-Missile Defense. This US anti-missile system is construed:

- as part of the forward defense of the United States;

- as a global system around the Heartland of Eurasia;

- as an expression of a unilateral policy which does not take into account the opinions of its allies and partners – something which is clear from the USA’s withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2001.

This unilateral policy should include an American base in the Czech Republic. However, this policy may also exist in a whole range of technical variants, not all of which require a radar station in Brdy. In recent months, the arguments of the Report of the Independent Working Group on Missile Defense, the Space Relationship and the Twenty-First Century have been intensively discussed. According to this report, the most effective system of global cosmic defense takes the form of thousands of killer satellites. They should be capable of destroying enemy missiles fired from any state and in all of their flight phases. This would also mean that US land bases “should not be expanded beyond current deployment sites in Alaska and California” (p. 114).

The radar in the Czech Republic has the character of an forward defence element which is not, however, only horizontal, but also vertical. As a military base, it represents the movement of US land forces towards the heart of Eurasia. As part of the US National Anti-Missile Defense it is a “high level” component, i.e. preparation for war in space.

As is shown by the cited Report of the Independent Working Group, the base in the Czech Republic is not necessary in the case of an emphasis on the significance of the “high level”. The thing which has not been called into question, however, is the preparation for war in space. It is no coincidence that the US Deputy Secretary of State rejected a joint Sino-Russian proposal for the Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT) immediately after the UN arms conference where this proposal was submitted in February.


The struggle between the unilateralists and the multilateralists in the United States has most certainly not ended. And it would appear that the problem of the radar in Brdy is not so much a question of an external threat to the United States as an expression of the ideological, political and financial struggles within the country.

Source (Czech): Krejčí, Oskar. The USA: Why a Radar in the Czech Republic. Res publica (association for information), Prague, April 2008

Professor Dr. Oskar Krejčí, CSc. (1948) is the Vice Chancellor of the University College of Interna-tional and Public Relations Prague , a researcher at the Institute of Political Science of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava and a lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations at UMB in Banská Bystrice. He has published seventeen scientific books and approximately one thousand various studies and articles. He was an advisor to two Prime Ministers of the Czechoslovak Federal Government.

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