July 17, 2014
THE REALITY THEY WISH TO PRESERVE IS ALWAYS IMPOSED ON UNWILLING POPULACES:
How John Paul the Great Won the Cold War (GEORGE WEIGEL (54) July 16, 2014, Aleteia)
The Ostpolitik of Paul VI (who worried that he was not conducting a "policy of glory") was based on the premise that the Cold War division of Europe would be a feature of the international landscape for decades, if not centuries; that the Church had to "save what could be saved" while making whatever deals it could with communist governments; and that Catholic criticism of the human rights violations of communist regimes should be muted. The results of this strategy included the effective destruction of the Church in Hungary, whose leadership became a subsidiary of the Hungarian communist party; the thorough penetration of the Vatican by Warsaw Pact intelligence agencies (to the benefit of communist negotiators); and the undercutting of Catholic leaders in Poland and in what was then Czechoslovakia.
John Paul II's approach to east central Europe was based on different premises: that the post-war division of Europe was immoral and historically artificial; that communist violations of basic human rights had to be named for what they were; and that the "captive nations" could eventually find tools of resistance that communism could not match, if they reclaimed the religious, moral, and cultural truth about themselves and lived those truths without fear. John Paul shrewdly let the Casaroli/Silvestrini diplomacy continue. But behind that clever façade -- "See, nothing has changed!" -- the Polish pope led a morally-driven campaign of resistance to communism that was vindicated in the Revolution of 1989: a complex historical event, to be sure, but one for which the Vatican Ostpolitik of the 1970s can credibly claim no credit.
The refusal of Italian curial diplomats like Cardinal Sodano to recognize the truth of the Ostpolitik's sad effects on the security and integrity of the Holy See itself is especially unfortunate. The deep penetration of the Vatican by Soviet-bloc intelligence agencies has been documented in numerous scholarly studies, many of which are cited in the second volume of my John Paul II biography, The End and the Beginning.
Which calls to mind Robert D. Kaplan's profile of Henry Kissinger and his Realism:
He preserved what he saw as the legitimate order, in which the Soviet Union was both contained and accepted, so that revolutionary chaos was confined to the edges of the superpower battlefield, in the Third World. (In perceiving the Soviet Union as permanent, orderly, and legitimate, Kissinger shared a failure of analysis with the rest of the foreign-policy elite -- notably excepting the scholar and former head of the State Department's policy-planning staff George Kennan, the Harvard historian Richard Pipes, the British scholar and journalist Bernard Levin, and the Eureka College graduate Ronald Reagan.)
Posted by Orrin Judd at July 17, 2014 6:14 PM