Czech Republic

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Review Essay, Mar/Apr 2013
Brendan Simms

Foreign policy realists have long found inspiration in the ideas of Lord Castlereagh, who served as British foreign secretary during and after the Napoleonic Wars. A new biography of the statesman presents him as more ideological than is traditionally assumed, and suggests that his example is more relevant than ever -- and might even hold the key to solving Europe's ongoing crisis.

Comment, Nov/Dec 1994
Anne Applebaum

In Central Europe the greatest threat to democracy comes not from the nationalists but from the better-organized former communist parties. Encouraging Western-style conservative parties would provide economic and political competition.

Essay, Spring 1990
William H. Luers

Recounts the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia. Soviet reformism made it possible, but it was the profundity of Soviet ignorance about conditions there that allowed the overthrow to proceed with such speed and finality. Former US ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

Essay, Fall 1988
Gerhard L. Weinberg

Offers a revisionist account of Munich, noting that Hitler regarded it as 'the greatest setback to his career'. Concludes that "those commitments, policies and alliances that can reasonably be expected to involve a country in a great war must be clearly articulated, understood at least in general by the public and perceived as truly essential to the nation's security".

Essay, Summer 1988
Milan Svec

Despite the Brezhnev doctrine, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was a matter of power politics, not ideology. Notwithstanding Gorbachev's diplomatic skills, his policy is contradictory: he wants Eastern Europe under stable communist or Soviet control, yet he wants it to be an asset, not a liability. Comparison of 'perestroyka' with the Prague spring suggests that Gorbachev is both much more in charge and more cautious, even "seek(ing) most of the time to have it both ways". It is not possible to have meaningful reform without weakening the power of the communist party. Notes that Czech leader Jakes is not as hard-line as he is sometimes portrayed. Czech diplomat who defected to the USA.

Essay, Jul 1977
Karl E. Birnbaum

The need to respect human rights has lately become the focus of public attention and debate. Such a development is clearly a reflection of rising popular expectations which in some cases have led to a growing tension between governments and the governed. We can discern a worldwide trend to assert individual and collective aspirations and to bring about changes in governmental processes at all levels in order to make them more responsive to these aspirations. This trend shows up in many forms-from movements of national independence to devolution and demands for worker codetermination. In the United States and Western Europe a growing interest in "the human dimension" of world politics is seen by many as a natural and healthy reaction to an overemphasis on great power diplomacy, elitist cynicism, and to excessive secretiveness during the recent past.

Essay, Jul 1971
Robert F. Byrnes

Even in an age of nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles, the states of Eastern Europe now dominated by the Soviet Union constitute an important element of Soviet national security, a kind of cordon Stalinaire. The one hundred million people, and the resources their governments command, contribute a significant increment to Soviet economic, technological and military power. Soviet control of these areas provides forward military bases and possession of the traditional invasion routes into Western Europe, especially across the northern plains. The Soviet position, in fact, constitutes a threat to the security of Western Europe, a pistol held at its head.

Essay, Jan 1969
Harlan Cleveland

It was the third week in August 1968 and the North Atlantic allies were relaxing on their beaches, in their mountains and in their chancelleries too. There was plenty to relax about, for 1968 had started as a big year for détente in Europe. The East-West exchange in political leaders was at an all-time high; a Western leader who had not recently been in Poland or Rumania was hardly alive politically unless he was home preparing to receive his opposite number from Hungary or Bulgaria. The Mayor of Moscow was in The Hague; the Red Army Choir was about to entertain in the concert halls of England; the University of Minnesota Band was practicing for its trip to the Soviet Union. The John F. Kennedy Airport was braced for the second ceremonial Aeroflot flight, part of the new nonstop service between Moscow and New York. In Moscow, carpenters were hammering together a big Italian trade fair. And in Washington, the White House was working hard on the possibility of talks with the Soviet Union about strategic nuclear missile and anti-missile systems.

Essay, Jan 1969
Anatole Shub

For the third time in a generation-1938, 1948, 1968-Czechoslovakia has transformed the political atmosphere of the civilized world. The eight- month "Prague spring," the Soviet invasion of August 20 and its grim consequences have stirred strong emotions throughout Europe and beyond. Not since the Hitler-Stalin Pact, perhaps, has the outrage at Kremlin policy been so general, embracing Richard Nixon and Herbert Marcuse, Chou En-lai and Josip Broz-Tito, Bertrand Russell and Yevgeni Yevtushenko, Luigi Longo and Paul VI.

Essay, Oct 1968
James H. Billington

Astonishing events in Czechoslovakia were only the latest in a series of changes in the communist world that took the outside world by surprise. The thaw and Hungarian rebellion of 1956, China's break with the Soviet Union and immersion in internal convulsion, and even the rejection of Russian control in Rumania-all were largely unforeseen (with only a few exceptions) even by expert opinion in the West, Like military planners who prepare for the last war, commentators on communist affairs in their preoccupation with accounting for the last surprise have often left the public unprepared for the next one. The concept of monolithic totalitarianism, based on parallels between Hitler and the later Stalin, ill prepared us to expect rebellion in Hungary; preoccupation with the Sino-Soviet split (which was only belatedly thought to be important, and then rapidly promoted into being the controlling factor in the divided communist world of the sixties) distracted us from any expectation of liberal deviation in Czechoslovakia.

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