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The Rise and Fall of the Third Site of Ballistic Missile Defense

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by Nikola Hynek
ECIA Fellow
Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 43, n. 2, June 2010

Communist and Post-Communist StudiesIn this article, Nik Hynek and Vit Stritecky examine the tumultuous development in the issue of the Third Site (also known as the Third Pillar) of the US Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) that was planned to be hosted by the Czech Republic and Poland. The article analyzes the entire ‘life cycle’ of the project, from its formal proposal in 2007 by the former U.S. President George W. Bush to its cancellation in 2009 by the current U.S. President Barak Obama. Without any doubts, the Third Site of BMD put Poland and the Czech Republic at the centre of international-security politics and as such allows one to see how the two post-communist countries acted and reacted to related international positions, expectations and challenges. A detailed analysis of this issue, nevertheless, does not exhaust aims of this article. Whether brief or detailed, any look at the coverage of the issue reveals that the Czech Republic and Poland have invariably been lumped together through the construction of the imagery of the New Europe as a homogeneous political bloc. It will be argued that such a view is flawed and needs refinement. In order to back the claim, the issue of the Third Site is put into a historical context, revealing that the differences between the Czech and Polish international-security preferences and expectations after the end of the Cold War have been quite stable – including the most recent development after the project has been shelved by the United States, and can thus be conceived of in dialectical terms.