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Scrisoara catre editor a unui ceh din California

Mai intai, cateva clarificari. Presedintele american Obama a declarat ca nu va mai instala elemente ale scutului antiracheta in Polonia si Cehia. Un editorialist de la International Herald Tribune scria ca Obama trebuia sa-si dea seama ca anuntul nu trebuia facut exact in care Uniunea Sovietica invada Polonia in timpul Razboiului II Mondial.

Iata ce scrie un ceh din California, Ladislav Nemec, ziarului:

As someone born in Czechoslovakia I follow quite closely the developments in my native country and its neighbors like Poland.

I disagree with Cohen on the usefullness of NATO in general and as a gurantor of security for the 'new' NATO neighbors like Poland and Czech Republic in particular.

Cohen sees the problem of Article 5 of the NATO treaty but does not examine its full consequences. He doubts that 'boys from Turin and Topeka' would like to die for Tbilisi but avoids a more urgent question: will they by willing to die for Prague and Warsaw? Georgia is NOT a NATO member (yet) but Czech Republic and Poland are.

I keep writing my family and friends in Czech Republic that their country's membership in NATO is completely meanigless. Fortunately, Czech Republic has now Ukraine and Poland between itself and Russia and Russian are extremely unlikely to consider attacking Czech Republic or Poland.

So, from practical point of view, the Article 5 is quite irrelevant. No former Soviet satellite, however, should base its defense policy on it. No need to rehash here the history of Munich and the Soviet/Nazi treaty of 1939 that gave USSR good part of Poland and the rest was taken by Nazi Germany. This is not likely to happen any time soon, mostly because Germany seems to learn its lesson. As for the Russians - one cannot be sure about anything.

My suggestion is very simple: NATO played vital role in containment of Soviet Union during the cold war. There is absolutely no purpose to keep it artifically alive with its Article 5 giving completely false feeling of security to several nations not far from Russia.

NATO is going to be around for a long time regardless and under some circumstances it may provide foundation for all-European security if the Russians stop considering it a threat. Some elements of this approach already exist in a form of some kind of joint groups of officers meeting now and then. It is conceivable that Obama may expand this kind of cooperation after he removed the 'missile defense' in Poland and Czech Republic perceived by the Russians as an immediate threat. It is completely irrelevant whether the Russians had any reason to feel that way. Large powers (Russian nuclear arsenal perhaps surpasses our own) frequently behave irrationally - because of MAD, fortunately, not madly.

I read some comments of Czech conservative politicians - they simply have no idea what they are talking about. As for anniversaries - there are so many of them that no American President can keep track of them.

Cohen approaches these issues much more realistically than most politicians, American or European. He, unfortunately, does not go far enough.

To put it simply, boys of Turin and Topeka may fight for Italy and the United States, repectively, but definitely not for virtually anyone else. After one unnecessary war and another (in Afghanistan) apparently going nowhere, I doubt that any young American will be willing to travel thousands of miles for another dubious adventure.

The fact is that Russia's neighbors should realize whom they are dealing with and avoid unnecessary irritants that may get them in trouble, including armed skirmishes like the one between Georgia and Russia.

Finland managed to retain a great deal of sovereignity during the cold war but, wisely, always avoided provoking its big neighbor. That, in my opinion, should be the attitude of Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic Republics, Poland and my native country. Thinking that the US will come to rescue is very dangerous. It is NOT going to happen.

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