Havel, Schwarzenberg and other East European politicians: Why did they write to Obama?

17. 7. 2009 / Karel Dolejší

The sycophantic letter which a group of Central and East European politicians and intellectuals have just sent to Washington is an extremely interesting document. Straight at the beginning, the signatories say that they are greatly indebted to the United States and they want the US government to fulfill certain tasks, especially about European security. The signatories must however be very well aware in what precarious state the American economy finds itself at the moment and that the United States are seriously overstretched in many parts of the world. The signatories also know that the US Defence Department has just requested a temporary increase of the number of servicemen by at least 30 000 men. It is also expected that there will be complications in the relations between the US and Japan.

A Czech version of this article is HERE

Since the Czech signatories of the letter are all politicians, they must know into what disastrous state of affairs they have brought the Czech army during the past twenty years of their rule. So, true friends of the United States would have really written to Obama: We know that your political situation is extremely difficult now. Do not worry about us, we will manage to arrange our own security somehow. But this is not what the letter says. Although its authors stress that they are greatly indebted to the United States, they present the US administration with a long list of tasks and demand that they should be fulfilled without delay.

The signatories demand the following of Obama:

  • a renewal of the US security pledges towards Europe (like during the Cold War?)
  • a "re-invigoration" of NATO
  • the building of anti-missile bases in Poland and in the Czech Republic
  • more US pressure on the European Union in security matters
  • a guarantee of energy security
  • a visa waiver programme for all former Soviet satellite countries to further cultural and educational exchange

In return for all of these, the signatories promise that they will continue to be wonderful friends of the United States.

Yes, but: the relative decline in the global significance of Europe isn't something that someone in Washington has come up with. This is a fact which is closely connected with the economic and energetic security of the United States themselves, so the Americans do not have much choice in this matter.

Not even Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin would be able to push through a re-invigoration of NATO without the consent of the French and the Germans.

The building of anti-missile bases in Central Europe would mean that the Russians would aim their own missiles from Kaliningrad at these bases, as they have been threatening, and they would take further retaliatory measures which in the internal politics of Russia would reinvigorate the hardliners. Thus the building of the anti-missile system in Central Europe would not lead to an improvement in the security of Central Europe, the result would be exactly the opposite.

It is the Czech President Václav Klaus who is strongly against a common security and foreign policy of the European Union.

As a result of the unduly strong influence of the Czech power generating firm ČEZ on the main Czech political parties, Czech politicians have no contingency plans for the future of power generation and the emphasis on nuclear power deepens the Czech Republic's dependence on energy supplies from Russia. Etc.

The defence of one's own territory is always the primary responsibility of the government of the given country (if it isn't a Protectorate). But the Czech Republic has allowed its system of anti-aircraft defence almost totally to go to pot, it is thinking of liquidating its tank units and has just announced that it will sack several thousand people from the army as a result of cuts. Surely this is a very interesting position for someone who is begging for multilateral US help. Surely it is the dream of every world politician to cultivate such allies.

I am nevertheless convinced that the authors of the sycophantic letter do not really believe that their demands will be met. They must know that it is not in the power of the United States to fulfill these requests.

However, it may well be that the demands don't really matter. This disgraceful letter will have much more impact in the American Congress than in Europe. This little "help" will be greatly welcomed amongst the Republicans. These Republicans will now attack Obama from all sides and will start yelling hysterically that his attempts to reach an agreement with the Russians jeopardise transatlantic links.

Would you also like to have such excellent friends in Europe?


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