To the Editors:

Below is a summary version of an open letter presented to the Czech ambassador to the UN on November 16, 2007, organized by the New York–based Campaign for Peace and Democracy.

We declare our solidarity with the November 17, 2007, demonstrations by the “No Bases Initiative” in the Czech Republic against the Czech government’s plans to host the radar for a US anti-missile system.

Czech demonstrators chose November 17 because, they say, this date “has come to symbolize the overthrow of the undemocratic regime in the former Czechoslovakia and the return of representative democracy.” They believe resistance to new foreign military bases is the most fitting commemoration of that anniversary.

Polls have shown that a significant majority of Czechs oppose the anti-missile system. Nor will it enhance security. As Czech activists say, the system “will lead to new dangers and insecurities. Although it is described as ‘defensive,’ in reality it will allow the United States to attack other countries without fear of retaliation. It will also put ‘host’ countries on the front line in future US wars.”

Russian officials have already warned that if the United States proceeds with the system Russia will suspend participation in a treaty limiting conventional forces in Europe and direct its missiles toward Europe. This is an unjustified reaction, endangering innocent populations, but it is part of the crazy logic of superpower confrontation that the US anti-missile system will exacerbate.

The US government claims that the planned radar installation in the Czech Republic is designed to respond to an Iranian missile threat. But there is no credible evidence that such a threat exists today. And far from protecting against such a threat in the future, the anti-missile system and other nuclear escalations will only create even stronger inducements for Iran to seek nuclear weapons.

The United States can best reduce the danger of nuclear warfare by taking major steps toward disarmament. This would powerfully discourage other countries from developing their own nuclear weapons. We are inspired by Czechs who resist steps toward a new cold war. We join them in seeking to build an international movement for peace, democracy, and social justice.

Joanne Landy, Thomas Harrison, Stephen R. Shalom, Jesse Lemisch statement initiators

Stanley Aronowitz, Noam Chomsky, Joshua Cohen, Ariel Dorfman, Daniel Ellsberg, Richard Falk, Akbar Ganji, Doug Ireland, Chalmers Johnson, Naomi Klein, John Leonard, Katha Pollitt, Gloria Steinem, Meredith Tax, Immanuel Wallerstein, Cornel West, Howard Zinn and more than six hundred others

See for the full text and list of signers.

This Issue

February 14, 2008