Missile Defense Bases in Eastern Europe

Information for the press

At least since the stirring speech that president Vladimir Putin gave at the Munich Conference on Security, missile defense topics are at the world's agenda again. The focus lies in the installation of missile defense bases in Poland and a radar unit in the Czech Republic. The radar is supposed to protect American territory against Iranian long distance missiles.

PRIF researcher PD Dr. Bernd W. Kubbig, expert for missile defense and transatlantic relations, offers information for the press on these current issues:

PD Dr. Bernd W. Kubbig
Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (HSFK)
Leimenrode 29
60322 Frankfurt am Main
Tel. 0 69 / 95 91 04 - 36
Email: kubbig@hsfk.de

Bernd W. Kubbig has been editor of

Bernd W. Kubbig/Axel Nitsche (eds.), The Domestic Politics of Missile Defence, in: Contemporary Security Policy [Sonderband], Jg. 26, Nr. 3

This volume was published in Mach 2006. It contains analyses on missile defense issues by 18 experts and on 14 countries. Among those are contributions on the developments in Poland and the Czech Republic as well as on US and German missile defense policies.

For background information please find abstracts of these articles:

Czech Republic: Prague's Pragmatism
by Radek Khol

Missile defence is an issue in Czech politics that touches upon the roots of Czech security policy, and combines its vital NATO and US bilateral dimensions. Several factors clearly come into play in explaining the main sources of the debate and the actual course of Czech missile defence policy. Pragve's foreign and security policy is determined by Atlanticist motives, intra-Alliance solidarity and a pragmatic approach towards a project seen as a top priority for the Bush administration. However, the Czech government must be cautious in its missile defence policy as Parliament has considerable influence over the security and defence policy domain. Its core power rests with the constitutional requirement for approval of any stationing of foreign troops on Czech territory, including missile defence installations. As the Czech political scene is divided on this issue we can expect a heated debate on missile defence in the future.

Poland: Waiting for Washington
by Rafal Domisiewicz and Slawomir Kaminski

The United States has not yet invited Poland to join its missile defence programme. Yet Poland is one of the countries most likely to welcome such a request. Major elements of the Polish political system are positively inclined to missile defence, not because the country faces direct WMD threats, but because it would further cement security relations with Washington. In so far as Poland worries about WMD threats, its fears are directed not at regional proliferators, but at Russia.
A Polish response to a potential offer would take into consideration a number of strategic interests. First, Warsaw's participation in missile defence should bring added value to international security, buttressing the defensive capacity of NATO and the European Union. Political relations with neighbours cannot suffer as a consequence of missile defence engagement. Second, it should help deepen bilateral and multilateral strategic ties with the United States. Third, missile defence must be treated as but one facet of the adaptation of global institutions and means of response to new security threats and challenges. A relative paucity of debate on missile defence in Poland can be explained by the weakness of the non-governmental policy community, the strong role of the executive branch in relation to the legislative in security and defence, and the technical orientation of this problématique as well as strong public and elite support for trans-Atlanticism.

America: Escaping the Legacy of the ABM Treaty
by Bernd W. Kubbig

This article traces the development of the post-Cold War American discourse on ballistic missile defences from its arms control supportive stance during the first Clinton administration to the abandonment of the ABM Treaty in 2002. It shows how military primacy and the absence of a peer competitor enabled conservative opponents of the ABM Treaty to change the discourse on National Missile Defense. Especially after the landslide victory of the Republicans in the 1994 congressional elections, national missile defence became politically driven, reducing the influence of more moderate forces on the debate. The 1998 Rumsfeld Report and the missile test by North Korea in the same year led to the Senate vote in 1999 to go ahead with a national missile shield. Neoconservatives dominated the agenda and the ABM Treaty was doomed. The article concludes with a review of the current missile defence testing programme. It suggests that contrary to the expectation of realizing post-Cold War primacy, the limits of technology have put more formidable shackles on American unilateralism than the constraints of the ABM Treaty Neoconservatives thought to escape from.

Germany: Selective Security Provider in the Schröder/Fischer Era
by Bernd W. Kubbig and Axel Nitsche

From 1998 until it ended in 2005, the Social Democratic–Green coalition government rejected an explicit position on the necessity of a global or regional European shield, signalling scepticism towards such plans. At the same time the Schröder/Fischer cabinet, after an intense debate, was in favour of developing the tripartite MEADS system for the protection of soldiers deployed in out-of-area activities. The major missile defence-related issues examined in this article suggest that the changing identity of Germany as a trading power is in the final analysis the most credible explanation for these choices. In accordance with its greater stress on being a politically sovereign/more assertive country, the Federal Republic of Germany mutated during the Schröder/Fischer era from being a reluctant exporter of security to being a selective one. With this important exception, the missile defence-related decisions made in the Schröder/Fischer era do not support the conclusion that missile defence in general has become a stable and important element of the self-understanding of Germany and of its foreign policy.