European Security, East and West: The Significance of the Missile Shield Proposal

James W. Peterson


The Missile Shield Proposal, with the intended emplacement both of its radar site in the Czech Republic and of its anti-missile interceptors in Poland, emerged from the Bush Administration in the United States, a NATO partner to the West, and was directed at threats emanating from the East. As such, it became for a time a meeting place between American and Czech security goals. A range of political pressures eventually came to bear upon the proposal. External political pressures included Russian anxiety about the real target of the missile shield itself, while internal pressures entailed serious political party and public concerns in the Czech Republic. In spite of those pressures, the executive leadership in both countries approved the plan in mid-2008. However, following the American elections later in 2008, President Obama cancelled the project in the fi rst year of his administration. At the same time, his attention to the urgency of European security led him to endorse a substitute proposal that would offer a similar level of security. Thus, the senior NATO partner to the West continued to maintain a priority on protection of the Czech Republic and other European neighbors against dangers in the East.

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