November 26, 2003

Vaclav Klaus, Committed Ant...

Vaclav Klaus, Committed Anti-Terrorist: Glenn Reynolds hef="">COLUMN UP, addressing issues raised by Czech President Vaclav Klaus: Those issues include Klaus' seemingly more serious attitude about the War on Terror. From Bay:

Klaus recognized the War on Terror implications of his insight when he added: "It is quite normal that the principal targets of Al Qaeda are the U.S. and the U.K., as they have taken the lead to do something about those who launch the terrorist attacks. ... We understand the fragility and vulnerability of today's world, and we know these attacks are coming close to us, but as someone from a small country, I have a tendency to take domestic issues first and then look at the external ones."

Translation: You do what you can do, but recognize the sacrifice of those doing the most.
Well, that's one translation! Here's another -- "You bear the burden and responsibility, and I'll try to wiggle out of it as much as I can, based mostly on domestic political concerns (in direct contrast to my predecessor, who unlike me was a man who actually tried to connect word with deed)."

Am I being too harsh? Well, let's look at some columnizing from an actual Czech journalist, in fact one of the best economic/political journalists in the country, Jan Machacek. Jan, who is a friend, is a firm believer in Hayekian economics, Lou Reed songwriting, Czech beer, and The Economist, not necessarily in that order. He was an early and important critic of Havel's post-Revolution hippie meanderings up at the Prague Castle. Here's Machacek on Vaclav Klaus' Foreign Policy Seriousness, from May 1. Italics will be mine.

According to several reliable sources, during a meeting with Craig Stapleton, the U.S. ambassador to this country, Klaus joked that Americans might plant chemical weapons in Iraq themselves in order "to discover" them. Klaus also demanded that the Czech Republic be removed from the list of U.S. coalition partners and supporters of the war in Iraq.

Not surprisingly, these comments compelled Stapleton to shorten his audience at the castle, sources said. [...]

Klaus has made other hard-to-believe comments. During a visit to a school in Cheb, students who had gathered in the gymnasium to meet the President asked what he thought about the war in Iraq. He said: "Imagine that Iraqi boys and girls are now sitting in some gymnasium in some school like yours, and bombs might be falling on them." That was not a speech by Miroslav Grebenicek, head of the Communist Party, but by our own Czech president.

In a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush explaining the special Czech position on the Iraq war, Klaus wrote that he admired American "pragmatism." So let's try to compare the "pragmatism" of Americans and the "pragmatism" of Klaus.
American pragmatism and idealism are actually two sides of the same coin. It is American idealism that enables Americans to be pragmatic.

In an interview with daily Hospodarske Noviny, Klaus, surely expressing his pragmatism, said that the Czech position toward a war in Iraq must be based on a "combination." The trouble is that so much is combined that in the end, what remains cannot be taken seriously and requires constant explanation from all sides. People with values and principles do not have this problem.

Well, at least he compares Western European technocrats to Soviet-style Communists! Hi-five, Vaclav!

Posted by at November 26, 2003 09:07 PM
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