Anti-missile attracts fierce criticism

Despite constant US assurances the shield was a defensive measure Russia has seen the ballistic missile shield as a threat to its own security and some Russian politicians and generals have said Poland must be prepared for a preventive attack on the site in the future. This reasoning is shared by those in Poland who did not welcome this country's decision to host elements of the American anti-missile shield. Waldemar Olejniczak, head of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) called it a 'bad decision' for Poland presenting six points to prove it, including the claim that such an installation brings additional threats to the security of the country. He also pointed to additional costs connected with the installation of the shield that Poland will have to incur and possible political consequences of the deal on Poland's position on the international arena:

'Poland has just been presented in the whole world - including both Arabic and European countries - not as a country which is only and exclusively a US ally but as a potential target of a possible attack. This is a very negative decision that we do not agree with.'

Others, like Marek Borowski of the Social Democrats suggested that the missile deal will lead to further deterioration of Polish-Russian relations and it would be wiser for this country to wait till the next American administration presents priorities of its foreign policy. Patriot batteries and the base where American troops are to be stationed will be located at a former military airport in Redzikowo, near Slupsk, north-western Poland. American rocket launching pads would be placed only several hundred meters from a school and an aquapark currently being built on the spot while the silos would occupy the area of a soccer field. Mariusz Chmiel, the leader of the council of Redzikowo has already announced that he will pursue every administrative avenue to block the construction in his neighbourhood. He is supported by many locals who, just like Tadeusz Krajik, fear the installation shield:

'The first things that I am personally, just like the majority of locals, afraid of is the possible attack from Kaliningrad. We are afraid of its possible consequences, including big radiation. This will have an influence especially on children and the elderly, considering the fact that such an attack would create a big electromagnetic field.'

Their sentiments are shared by Polish anti-war activists who say that much of the negotiations were done in secret, despite demands by citizens and some political parties to hold a public referendum on the issue of US bases. They also claim that the system was sold to the public without providing reliable information. Andrzej Żebrowski of "Stop the War Initiative", which staged protests in Warsaw and Krakow yesterday, says that contrary to a common misperception the shield will constiute a bigger threat to Poland's security:

'We have recently seen in Georgia how easy it is to start a war and how to fuel the atmosphere to escalate tension in international relations. We know that at this moment the situation on the international arena is already very tense and we do not want it to be worse. This is the danger that the shield is bringing with it here.'

Edyta Pętkowska of Green 2004 party claims that instead of getting ready to war both Poland and the United States should focus on solving social problems their nations face:

'I do not give my consent to the politics of aggresssion, hatred and war. I don't think that Poland is an enemy of Russia or Iran. The monies should instead be spent on the protection of the environment, sustainable development, the creation of of ecological transport and, first and foremost, on education.'

Polish press mostly referred to the decision to sign the missile deal as a success but noticed the unhealthy atmosphere surrounding the negotiations leading to the final conclusion of the agreement and present during the signing ceremony.

[Source: Polish Radio, Varsovia, 21Aug08]

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