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Faded Romance -- How Mitteleuropa fell out of love with America | By Charles Gati - Nov. 1, 2008 |

Since the Bush Administration took office in 2001, the United States has lost most of its once immense influence in the Central and East European countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria. Each of these new democracies, having joined NATO and the European Union in the past decade, continues to maintain at least cordial relations with Washington. Many have done more than that, contributing to military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo led by the United States and NATO (or the European Union).

Even so, their politicians and diplomats now tilt toward the European Union, and their citizens' daily lives are absorbed and transformed far more by European associations than by American ones. Geography, money and shared European values have made a difference. Far more surprising is the improvement in relations between Russia and several of the countries of Mitteleuropa--notably Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and Latvia--primarily because of their need for Russian energy. Unless the Georgia crisis turns into a game changer, the region's romance with the United States will come to an end.

From the diaries by DoDo

The Central European Realignment

When you think of Coalitions of the Willing, missile defense bases, visa agreements, fear of Russia, and veto threats in the EU, Central-Eastern Europe seems hopelessly Atlanticist.

However, I have long argued that things aren't that simple and things are changing. South of Poland, there are pipeline deals (and again), criticism of Georgia for the war with Russia, even in Poland, where there is a new pragmatic and Europe-focused approach to Russia, too, and a Euro drive.

It seems the new reality has dawned on some members of the USAmerican foreign policy elite, too. In the aptly named American Interest magazine, eminent political scientist Charles Gati writes of a Faded Romance.

Yesterday's Bolsheviki and Today's Deplorables

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Jul 2nd, 2022 at 03:17:25 PM EST
The Reminiscences of Toby Trister Gati

As to my background--my family comes from that part of the world. Honestly, perhaps I owe Tsarist Russia a "thank you" for the pogroms which drove out the Jews--if the pogroms hadn't happened and my family and millions of others hadn't left, the Nazis would have killed the entire family. History works in strange ways.

The first time I went to Russia was in college, as part of a language program with Ohio State University. We spent five weeks in Russia, traveling there on the Alexander Pushkin, which was called a cruise line. I think I actually put my life on the line, going on that thing from Montreal to Leningrad, in March. The Atlantic Ocean is not kind to travelers at that time of year.

But we got there and we started to study the language. We were kids, so somebody in authority saying to us you can't do something was the equivalent of saying, you must do it. So we met Russians despite the fact that our minders didn't want us to. From Leningrad, we went down to a Sputnik Camp in the Crimea for a few days. Actually, some people there are still my friends. It sounds strange, but Russians are like that. Once you're a friend, you're a friend forever--or you're an enemy forever. It can be either way.

I soon went back for another language program in Leningrad. The dormitory had five or six people in each room. We had hot water twice a week for two hours. The food was terrible. The Russians had to live on different floors, and our floors were guarded by a dezhurnaya [attendant]. But our view was of the Winter Palace, so it was pretty cool. Once you've made friends and gotten to understand some things about Russia's history, you get hooked on it.

I didn't have any money to ever consider going back on my own, certainly not as a tourist or student. So I took groups of sixteen and seventeen-year-olds to Russia, working with Putney Student Travel and other organizations. We would go on bike trips through Scandinavia and then into Russia, spending some time in Moscow, and then again go to Sochi or other places.

I was with American kids, and one of the biggest challenges was convincing them that they had to obey the laws. Their view is, "I'm an American, they can't touch me." I said, "You're in the Soviet Union, yes they can," and so this was a very interesting cultural experience.

Their upbringing and expectation of how the authorities would treat them was so different from how Russians knew government. I remember one kid sent home a postcard with a stamp that had a picture of Lenin on it. He put an eye patch over Lenin's eye and then he wrote under it, "Moshe Dayan," which he thought was really funny. Actually, everybody did, except for the woman in the post office, who reported him. They really did ask him to leave the country for desecrating an icon--the picture of Lenin on the stamp!

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sat Jul 2nd, 2022 at 03:19:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Averell Harriman Reflects on Russia

The former ambassador and governor declares in this talk on American-Soviet relations:

    "Peace with Russia depends on us."
Harriman disagrees with the then-fashionable Powder Keg Myth, that the Soviet Union is so rotten and volatile that a single spark will lead to its collapse. On the contrary, this patrician millionaire, businessman, veteran diplomat, and politician, seems to have a very clear-eyed grudging respect for our adversary. He admits there are lots of "gripes," particularly about housing, but admits that people are generally accepting of the regime. Because such a tight grip is maintained on education there is no radical student class. Though the people are "brainwashed" by incessant propaganda! it is up to the United States to deal with the USSR as an equal, not feed the frenzy of anti-communism by name-calling and needlessly aggressive acts.

Throughout this speech, delivered in Harriman's much mocked hesitating monotone, one feels he is not talking down to the audience but genuinely attempting to make his points. It's an interesting counterpoint to the Red Scare hysteria which dominated so many headlines of the day. 

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sat Jul 2nd, 2022 at 03:23:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Avril Haines was sworn in as the Director of National Intelligence on January 21, 2021. She is the seventh Senate-confirmed DNI in our nation's history and the first woman to lead the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Director Haines has deep national security experience. During the Obama administration, she served as Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor from 2015-2017, during which time she led the National Security Council's Deputies Committee. From 2013-2015, Haines was the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. She was the first woman to hold both of these positions. She initially joined the federal government as a civil servant and over the last two decades has worked in all three branches of government, in and outside of the intelligence community, and in academia as a research scholar at Columbia University and a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory....

post-Patriot Act (2001), vater of DNI
by Cat on Sat Jul 2nd, 2022 at 03:42:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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