Prague Twin

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Cold War Part Deux

It seemed like old times when I saw Rice and Lavrov (her Russian counterpart) in this photo. The Bush administration has been legendarily unsuccessful in its diplomatic efforts throughout the last 7 years. The rift with Russia over the planned European missile defense system is a microcosm of the problems of the Bush administration thanks to its propensity for unilateral action and its inability to build coalitions.

Now we see an administration that cannot make any progress on the diplomatic front. Putin is clowning Rice with his comments and the world is taking note. And despite Putin's objection to the missile defense system, and despite the fact a majority of Czechs don't want the Radar based here, the administration is bulling ahead with its plans as it always does.

So we can expect to see more of the same for the foreseeable future: A crippled state department unable to make any progress anywhere.

Honestly, it is getting embarrassing. But there is a simple solution, one that the Bush administration should understand.

Democracy. Let the people decide. If democracy is good enough for the Iraqis, surely it must be good enough for the Czechs and the Poles.

Or is it?



  • Whatever anyone thinks of Iraqmire or any other Bush adventures, his administration has done an incredible job of alienating our former allies.

    "Let the people decide" -- Riiight.

    By Anonymous Tom Harper, at 2:39 AM  

  • Let the people decide so long as they know what is good for 'em!

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 11:07 AM  

  • Since you mentioned democracy, Russia and a crippled state department I was wondering if you'd seen this,,5143,695218506,00.html . Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

    By Blogger David Schantz, at 11:39 AM  

  • David,

    Yeah, I saw that story, and it made me laugh actually. For me, it underlines the delusion of the Bush administration. Do they honestly believe that they can now put pressure on Russia to become more democratic?

    They are completely crippled and they strut around like they have power and respect on the world stage. They live in a total fantasy world.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 11:45 AM  

  • Sure, we'll be glad to let the Czechs and Poles decide for themselves. We just need 6 months or a year of massive advertising to, um, educate them.

    A crippled state department unable to make any progress anywhere.

    Not true! Why, in just a few weeks we're going to broker a fair and lasting peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.

    By Anonymous abi, at 6:06 PM  

  • Abi,

    Thanks for that. I needed a laugh.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 6:08 PM  

  • Foreign policy is in a shambles. What else is new?
    Let's hope next November will be soon enough for the next adminstration to do some major repairs.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 3:27 AM  

  • maybe it is all part of a new multiple boogeyman startegy

    By Anonymous michael greenwell, at 3:32 PM  

  • I'm willing to bet that both the CR and Poland are constitutional republics. Democracy can be two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for diner. I do begin to believe that Sec. of State Rice is not as good as we originally thought. However, if your point is the whole state department sucks, I heartily agree. Still, there is a time for diplomacy and a time for no diplomacy and I'd think that you, in half of the former Czechsolvakia, would be painfully aware of that. As to insisting that other governments be nice to their citizens, that's a Carter Administration policy, isn't it?

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 7:41 PM  

  • Rocky,

    Lets hope we make it to November without bombing Iran. I mean, if we don't get this missile defense system, really, what choice do we have?


    Startegy? I know it is a typo, but get it? Start-egy?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:06 PM  

  • Roger,

    I'm quite sure it is a Republic, but there is broad support for letting the people decide on this one. The president told Cheney he favors a referendum, Havel signed a petition in favor of the plan. About 70% of people favor a referendum on the issue which is a far higher percentage than the percentage of people who think we should have direct elections for the president. So hey, since the leaders believe in a referendum and the people believe in a referendum, how about a referendum?

    Diplomacy, no diplomacy, Czechoslovakia? Sorry, I don't follow. Is that a occupation reference?

    As far as telling people to be nice to their people, I think Bush has done a lot more of that than Carter ever did, for better or for worse.

    Carter lists as one of his greatest failures looking the other way while dictators (friendly to the U.S.) had their way. The Shah and at least half a dozen South and Central American governments come immediately to mind. How did that work out in the end? Oh yeah, poorly.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:13 PM  

  • The Czechslovakia reference was to "peace in our time" in Munich. The British, etc. sold out the Czechs, etc. with a diplomatic solution and 7 years later 50 million were dead. Anything ringing a bell? I'm glad you see the accomplishments of the American President in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. You might try seeing the bigger picture during the Cold War. The greatest good, which we got done, was to stop the expansion of Soviet style communism and if we had to put up with a anti-communist dictator or two to get it done, that was taking one for the team, that was sacrifice for the greater good. Carter opened the door to Muslim extremism with a puerile attempt to get rid of the bad men in the front lines and the Soviets actually expanded under his watch. I absolutely believe you that he still doesn't see his real failure. Can you name the 6 S. and C. American right wing dictatorships in 1976-1980? I'm having trouble thinking of a second one.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 2:25 AM  

  • Actually, Roosevelt sold out the Czechs, the British didn't have much to do with it since they were beholdin' to the US and to Russia. By the time of the Yalta Conference that little wimp Chamberlain was gone and Churchill was in his place, but the Brits were tired and the real push and pull was between the US and the USSR under Stalin. Roosevelt wanted Stalin's cooperation on the Pacific front. He got Stalin to agree to some concessions regarding Eastern Bloc countries, but Stalin reneged. He already had troops in place in Eastern Europe and he simply forwarded his own agenda and thumbed his nose at the free world.
    What does that have to do with what is happening today? The Czechs are now a UN country and part of the EU. Russia will have a hard time re-establishing old borders. Those former satellite countries deserve the right to decide their own future. As much as it repulses me, the Russians also have the right to choose their own governmental structure. They seem to be leaning back over to the old ways and need to be watched to ensure the sovereignty of those former supressed nations.
    This discussion has nothing to do with partisan politics but with the conduct of the present administration concerning foreign affairs. Quite frankly, their score card to date is abysmal. Only the most rabid of supporters can continue to be so narrowly focused that they can't see how potentially disasterous this can be.
    No one stopped communist expansion. The USSR pretty much imploded and collapsed on itself due to years of corruption and power excesses. They killed themselves and the United States took credit. The last president to truly stand up to the communists was Kennedy.
    I just don't see the "diplomacy" in a US government offical trying to tell an egotist like Putin how to run his country. This would all be laughable if I didn't know how dire the consequences of these actions might be.
    We are definitely NOT "making friends and influencing people."

    By Anonymous rockync, at 4:09 AM  

  • Rock, I was talking about Munich; the Potsdam betrayal (with Truman and Atlee) was after the war that Chamberlain (and the Pacifists movement) helped bring on. The USSR pretty much imploded and collapsed on itself due to years of corruption and power excesses. Corruption and power excesses? How about socialism, even a totalitarian socialism, doesn't work. Or does that not compute in your worldview. Your grasp of history is so tenative that I reject your pronouncements on current events. The single super power is always hated, but like Caligula, I'd rather be feared than loved. The governments which recognize the threat of Islamofascism (and that's most of them) cooperate with us where it counts. But I'm sure if a Democrat takes the White House, all will be rainbows and kite flying for the next 8 years. Because everyone will suddenly love us. Thanks for brightening my mood.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 6:01 AM  

  • Roger,I grow weary of your brand of typical male chauvinism -- I'm not a Democrat.
    "How about socialism, even a totalitarian socialism, doesn't work." Didn't I just say that the USSR collapsed on itself? Which part of that didn't you understand?
    "Your grasp of history is so tenative that I reject your pronouncements on current events."
    Perhaps you need a new history book. Munich was about the Nazis and the beginning of the war, the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe was about Yalta and the end of the war.
    Potsdam was no betrayal, the Germans were removed from Czech lands. It wasn't until the Yalta conference that the real betrayal took place. The Czechs and Poles waited for the Americans and the British to uphold their sovereignty. Instead they were given up to the Russians.
    I'm not holding my breath waiting for the next administration to garner world peace. I think it is an immpossible goal.
    I believe you are so enamored of your own "worldview" that you simply won't consider alternative views and then resort to childish insults.
    I've been spoiled by bloggers who will debate and disagree with me in a manner of mutual respect. I guess that is something you wouldn't understand.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 6:41 AM  

  • Roger,
    One? Only one?! Wow, talk about having a tentative grasp on history. Well, I guess we are all guilty of seeing only what we want from time to time. But since an opportunity to school you on history comes along so rarely, I’m going to enjoy this….

    You said you could only think of one right-wing dictatorship in s. or c. America between 1976 and 1980. I’m guessing that you must be speaking of the Pinocet regime in Chile. For those of you who don’t know, the democratically elected socialist Salvadore Allende was ousted in a CIA backed coup which led to the ultra right-wing, brutally suppressive dictatorship of General Pinocet. Estimates of lefties and other dissidents killed under his reign vary wildly, but I’d say 30,000 is a pretty safe guess. Chile’s social security system was reformed under Pinocet which allowed for people to invest in the stock market with some of their social security funds, so hey, it wasn’t all bad.
    2. The CIA backed junta in Argentina. Again, lefties (mostly teachers, and member of the press) were rounded up by the 10s of thousands and were tortured, raped, murdered, or simply “disappeared.”
    3. The military backed junta in El Salvador which eventually led to a peasant revolution. The evidence that the CIA was involved here is not as strong as in other places, but the model fits. Again, that isn’t really the question, the question is if there were right-wing dictatorships in s. and c. America. I’d day El Salvador qualifies.
    4. Garcia in Guatemala. This guy’s hobby was knocking off lefties, the most prominent of which was the leader of the social democrats, Fuentes. Death squads, suppression, disappearances…. Pretty much par for the course at this point in history. However, the regimes propensity for market economics allowed for rapid industrialization in the 50s and 60s despite the political mess.
    5. Honduras. Most people never mention Honduras, but there was a military coup against Villeda Morales which stayed in power until 1981. Morales was hugely popular with the masses and had been democratically elected, but there was no crying in Washington over his ousting.
    6. And last but certainly not least, Nicaragua. The Samozas ran the country starting in 30s if I have it right (sorry, this is just off the top of my head). They were great business partners with the pretty much every administration along the way. Death squads became more and more prominent as social unrest took hold in the 70s, and finally in 1979, a socialist revolution finally ousted the last remnant of the Samoza based oligarchy. Of course at that time we still had a friendly right-wing government in Honduras so the Samoza army was able to regroup there, receive training from the CIA and was sent back in a counter-revolutionary war that lasted 8 years. These ousted military elements were of course the famous “freedom fighters” of Iran-Contra fame. Yeah, freedom… my ass.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 6:09 PM  

  • Rock, the Red Army was in all of Eastern Europe in Feb, 1945; heck, they were 40 miles from Berlin. The agreement was to let the Soviets keep Poland but Stalin promised to let all the other nations determine their own government democratically. I'm just not ready to call that a betrayal (other than of Poland), although a lot of anti-communists, like McCarthy did so during the 50s and the John Birchers do now. The betrayal, as I call it, came in July in Potsdam when no one did a thing to hold Stalin to his promises. As far as I can tell the subject never came up. We let Stalin solidify his war gains. Although what we could have done to throw out the Reds is an open, alternative history question. Sorry you find my argument technique too harsh. I'm not going to change it but I'm sorry you don't like it.
    Mike, thanks for the list. I was thinking of Chile, of course. I'm sure we were happy that each of these you listed were anti-communist, but the dirty war in Argentina is nothing, just nothing compared to the lefty political murders in say, Cambodia, for example. Some of the dictatorships you mention were fairly old in 1976. So Carter gives a pass to the 100 million murdered in the USSR, Red China, Cambodia etc., and rues the few tens of thousands killed to keep the New World communist free (except for Cuba and apparently Venezuela if we're unlucky). Good to see his sense of proportion hasn't changed. I'm hoping yours does, eventually

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 1:57 AM  

  • First of all, thanks for admitting you were just patently wrong (sarcasm alert). Whether or not they were old, or better or worse than lefty dictatorships wasn't really the question.

    I don't think there were a hundred million murdered on Carter's watch in the red world. But there certainly were a hundred thousand murdered on his watch in our backyard.

    Your reasoning is that since the lefties killed tens of millions in the past, the murder and terrorism that the righ-wingers in south and central America conducted should be overlooked.

    That is really poor reasoning, especially when you consider that the socialists in the western hemisphere had no traditional ties to the communists of Asia and Europe. It was only in desperation that some of them turned to the Russians (since America would not only not help them, but actively tried to kill them). The best case of this happening is Sandanistas in Nicaragua turning to the Russians late in the war with the American proxy army.

    Perhaps you should look into it and then your grasp on this moment in history would be less tentative.

    And as for keeping the western world communist free with the two exceptions, think again. Boliva is heading down the road, and socialism is on the rise, with no little thanks to the past transgressions of the U.S. Did I mention the Sandanistas are back in power in Nicaragua?

    Yeah, seriously. Ortega is president... again. Did you even know?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 2:21 AM  

  • Roger, Stalin was a ruthless butcher. Given his track record, no doubt a case could be made over whether he or Hitler was worse. As you point out, by the time the leaders met at Yalta, Soviet troops had pushed through into Germany as well as occupying the Eastern Bloc countries. He was allowed to get a foothold because Roosevelt thought he needed Stalin in the Pacific theater. By Potsdam, with Roosevelt dead and the US in possesion of the A bomb, Stalin's army was no longer needed. Unfortunately, by this time Stalin was pretty entrenched and given his extreme paranoia, I doubt nothing less than another war would have usurped him. The super powers made decisions for people for which they had no right to do so. Whether Yalta or Potsdam, these small countries were sold out.
    BTW, your style doesn't piss me off, but dismissing me does.I don't care if you disagree with me, but nobody dismisses me. Of course, seeing as you're a lawyer, I will make some allowance for your arrogance.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 3:07 AM  

  • Mike, what you're talking about in 1976-1980 is the Cold War. It was world wide, bloody but the big powers didn't go total war because each had thousands of nukes which could not be stopped once fired. You can't say, well other parts of the cold war, that doesn't count, we're just talking about one front for a four year period. Not fair, not good history analysis. We can live with western democratic socialism, (Chile is socialist and relatively healthy now), heck, we're deep into socialism here. But even the socialsim lite doesn't work either and a we'll see nations fail because of it. Perhaps even ours. Yes I know Orgega is President again. The much more popular right wing split its vote on two candidates and he snuck in with a plurality. You really must think I'm a moron from time to time.
    Rock, we agree on this one and it's not arrogance if you're right.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 6:26 PM  

  • Roger,

    Yes, cold war, I've heard of it. Nicaragua was a perfect example of democratic socialism, and they had no ties to Russia, so how is that part of the cold war? I reject your argument again. Perhaps their economy would have failed, but that is their choice to determine their own political system. I believe that some success in those systems is what we really feared: the threat of a good example.

    My mentioning of Ortega (and thus my inference that you don't know what you are talking about) is a result of you only being able to think of one right-wing dictatorship south of the border during the period 1976-1980.

    And for the record, it is arrogant to accuse someone of having a tentative grasp on history when you yourself make such a gaffe.

    We all have our strong and weak points. In my view, your lack of understanding of economics makes it impossible for you to see the real reasons behind U.S. support for right-wing dictators. JMO

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 7:33 PM  

  • I don't believe the Nicaraguan communists had no ties to the USSR. So there. But the original thought engendering these later comments was Carter regretted that he didn't do more to end right wing dictatorships during his tenure. But left wing ones are OK? I may not know economics, but I recognize a blind spot based on politics (which, ironically enough, you have just accused me of). My friends often have these arguments which can never be resolved, eg., most clutch player on a team, best band of the 70s, etc. I try to get them to argue about things we could look up and resolve, like batting leader National League 1980. When your thoughts and arguments are in the former category, I'm not harsh in my counter arguments, but when you're missing the historical facts, I get a little short with you. Your knowledge of economics is superior to mine and I almost always defer. So too may be your knowledge of the third world minutae in the late 70s and 80s but it's not getting the big picture and I don't believe it's getting it right.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 4:17 PM  

  • Roger,

    Just because you don't believe it, doesn't mean it isn't true. In Nicaragua's case, you had a socialist revolution with no ties to Russia. They were committed to self-sufficiency, which is precisely the reason (read economic) that the U.S. took issue. They (the Sandanistas) wrongly assumed that if they had no ties to Russia, the U.S. wouldn't mind what political system they chose.

    However, once they were desperate, and the Americans were supplying the contras with weapons (and mining their harbors don't forget) they finally relinquished and accepted Russia's help (sometime in the mid 80s if my memory serves). To you this is minutia, but I assure you it matters.

    I think that Carter's regret isn't so much that he didn't try to stop right-wing dictatorships, but rather that he allowed the policy of supporting them despite the objections of the people of those countries. I don't think he felt that he should have intervened against dictatorships (left or right) but he felt remorse that he tacitly assisted the right-wing dictators in oppressing their people. I assume you can see the difference.

    Perhaps we both have a gap in our understanding. You seem to favor the military and power-politics aspects to conflicts, and I believe that economics are tantamount. The truth is probably somewhere in between. But one thing is certain, economics are much more important than they once were, and by all accounts they are becoming more important all the time. Ignore them at your own peril.

    And finally, you are more than free to be harsh. I can be quite harsh as well, and was much harsher when we first met. I think I've tempered myself quite a lot in the last two years, but I don't hold people's tactics against them. Fire away, sir. I appreciate the passion you exhibit.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 6:05 PM  

  • Deal. But Rocksync doesn't like it. I'll post on your version of Nicaraquan history as soon as I feel up to speed on it. I do seem to remember we sent the Marines there about 15 times in the first half of the 20th Century. What would Carter think about those intervention?

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 4:59 PM  

  • Yeah, I really don't know the specifics on the first half, or what Carter thinks about it. My understanding is that we supported the Samoza dynasty which was brutal but good for business.

    Those pesky socialist kept wanting to express themselves and get a piece of the pie, but luckily for the Samoza's their good friends would send Marines whenever there was a problem.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 6:56 PM  

  • OK, Roger, you are trying to wriggle out of admitting to behaving badly. I don't care if you get harsh or sarcastic, I can hold my own. What I object to is this:

    "Your grasp of history is so tenative that I reject your pronouncements on current events."

    Just because you don't agree with me is no reason to treat me in a shabby and dismissive manner.
    I take a great interest in current world events and happen to have learned quite a lot about European history at my father's knee. As a survivor of WWII and of a communist forced labor camp no doubt he could teach you a thing or two about world history.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 2:43 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home