April 7, 2010

IF THE CONGRESSIONAL GOP WANTS TO BE USEFUL...:

In Eastern Europe, Pact With Russians Raises Old Specters (DAN BILEFSKY, 4/07/10, NY Times)

As President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia and President Barack Obama prepare to arrive in Prague on Thursday to sign a landmark arms control treaty, Marcela Balounova, like many Czechs, remains haunted by her memories of 1968, when nearly one million Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia, ushering in a period of political repression.

“The Russians invaded us before and they are invading us again,” Ms. Balounova, 50, said from her art gallery in this picturesque spa town, where Peter the Great first came for a treatment in 1711 and which has since become so popular with Russians that most signs offering luxury products and services — from million-euro villas to colonic irrigation — are in Russian. “I still remember crying when the Russians came here. And now here we are more than 40 years later and this place has become a Little Moscow.” [...]

[A]larm has been all the more pronounced in the Czech Republic, where many saw a capitulation to Moscow in Mr. Obama’s decision last year to abandon the antimissile system proposed by his predecessor, George W. Bush, which would have been partly deployed in the Czech Republic. While Mr. Bush said the system’s purpose was to shield Europe from Iranian missiles, many here saw it as a bulwark against a newly assertive Kremlin. [...]

For many Czechs of the Cold War generation, who still recall with visceral contempt the sight of Russian tanks on the streets of Prague, the Obama administration’s attempts to reach out to Russia is both naïve and fraught with danger. Hospodarske Noviny, a leading Czech newspaper, said dryly Tuesday that Prague’s role for the Obama administration was that of “butler” and “panoramic backdrop.”

Lubos Dobrovsky, 78, a former dissident who worked as a window cleaner during the communist era before going on to become defense minister and presiding over the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, dismissed the new arms reduction treaty as “a cheap marketing trick by Washington and Moscow.”

Mr. Dobrovsky joined former President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, former President Lech Walesa of Poland and other Central and East European leaders last July in signing an open letter pleading with the Obama administration to retain a “full engagement” in the region and to be wary of resurgent Russian imperialism.


...it should send a delegation to our Eastern European friends to reassure them of America's commitment.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 7, 2010 5:17 PM
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