February « 2009 « Nový Domov – The New Homeland

Archive for February, 2009

Is Russia Preparing for Cold War II?

Friday, February 27th, 2009 by Jerry Kott

In 1989, Francis Fukuyama wrote his essay “The End of History?”. In 1992, the year the Soviet Union collapsed, he followed with a book “The End of History and the Last Man”, arguing that the advent of Western liberal democracy may signal the end point of humanity’s sociocultural evolution and the final form of human government. The Cold War was over, the “New World Order” was on, and the future of humanity was bright and peaceful.

It is 2009, and Mr. Fukuyama might as well attempt to write a sequel. At the beginning of 2009, the last twenty years look more like a temporary ceasefire: China has risen as a serious economic (and increasingly, military) player on the world stage. The Russians are more and more openly threatening military response to the planned US anti-missile installations in the Czech Republic and Poland, and now, they are testing the preparedness of NORAD, as is obvious from today’s report about Canadian fighter jets intercepting two Russian military bombers close to Canadian airspace.

Of course, Russia will deny any wrongdoing, like in the old days of Soviet republics. It would be seen as a weakness, and that’s the last thing any good Russian leader (and bureaucrat) wants to show. Instead, Russia will keep posturing, and when caught, it will turn to a proven trick: point its finger at the defender (in this case, Canada): “the statements from Canada’s defence ministry are perplexing to say the least and cannot be called anything other than a farce,” said an unnamed Russian military source.

People from former Czechoslovakia know this trick very well – after all, it was the “counter revolutionary imperialist forces” that threatened to destroy the country, and prompted the Soviet visit in August 1968, lasting almost 22 years. If anyone in the West is willing to give Russia benefit of the doubt, they should look at Russia’s history, its human rights record of recent years, the concentration of power in the hands of few top Russian oligarchs, or Russia’s increased military presence in the Arctic. The conclusion should be that Russia, as always, is testing the West, counting on its preoccupation with internal security and “War on Terror”.

Twenty years on, the tools may have changed, but the goals (and the rhetorics) of the Russian state have changed little: to deny opportunities to Russian people, oppress them with brutal totalitarian policies, and prevent the West from gaining enough political influence that could lead to an actual change in Russia.

With an economic crisis spreading around the globe, nationalist and protections tendencies are sure to be on the rise, and nowhere do they found more fertile ground than in the two largest communist powers: Russia and China (I can hear the objections to the ‘communist’ label, but they both have totalitarian governments any way you slice it). If the two become allied against the West, a Chinese/US trade war, combined with Russian military posturing, may well lead to the resumption of Cold War.

Surely enough material for Mr. Fukuyama to rethink the ‘end of history’. History is alive, and thriving.

Navštíví Barack Obama Prahu?

Thursday, February 26th, 2009 by Jerry Kott

Dnes proběhla tiskem zpráva o možné návštěvě nového prezidenta USA Baracka Obamy v Praze. Mělo by se tak stát u příležitosti diplomatického summitu mezi představiteli USA a EU.

Barack Obama projevil zájem o Českou republiku již během své prezidentské kampaně, když přednesl video projev ke 40. výročí sovětské okupace Československa. Vztahy mezi Českou republikou a Spojenými státy se tak dále prohlubují a utužují – trend, který jistě vítá většina bývalého československého exilu, a který by (doufám) přivítal i T.G.Masaryk.

Zmíněný projev tehdy ještě kandidáta Obamy je k vidění zde:

Československá koruna ustanovena před devadesáti lety

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 by Jerry Kott

25. únor spojuje většina Čechů a Slováků s tragickými událostmi roku 1948. Málokdo asi ví (ani já jsem to nevěděl), že toto datum je také spojeno se vznikem samostatného Československa a jeho vlastní měny. 25. února 1919 byl schválen zákon č. 84, jímž byla ustanovena československá koruna coby oficiální měna nově vzniklé republiky. Během následujících třech týdnů proběhlo masové kolkování do té doby platných rakousko-uherských bankovek a jejich nahrazení novými.

Vida, to nám v lidově demokratické škole neřekli.

Původní článek k nalezení zde.

Communist Putsch Anniversary

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 by Jerry Kott

Today, many Czechs & Slovaks around the world commemorate the takeover of the government of Czechoslovakia. February 25, 1948 started over forty years of oppressive totalitarian regime in our homeland, resulting in thousands of deaths, broken families, and destroyed fortunes.

On the positive side, many others found refuge and new home in democratic countries around the world, Canada being one of the most generous of them. It is our imperative to remember this dark day in our nation’s history, but also to express our gratitude and happiness at being able to live in such a great and beautiful country that is Canada.

Here are some news about events in Czech Republic commemorating this day in 1948.

Former Czech political prisoners warn youth against communism

Rally warns of 1948 Communist coup in Prague centre

Students’ 1948 bid to save democracy remembered

Czech Social Democrats want to invite Bill Clinton

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 by Nový Domov

Source: ČTK, České Noviny:

Prague – The Czech senior opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) intend to invite former U.S. president Bill Clinton (Democrats) to their congress in March, Petr Dimun, head of the CSSD marketing section, told today’s issue of the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).

Bill Clinton’s trip must be approved by the U.S. Department of State headed by his wife Hillary.

Jaroslav Tvrdik (CSSD), who is allegedly in charge of Bill Clinton’s visit, refused to comment on the issue, the daily says.

The CSSD congress to elect a new leadership will continue on March 20-22. Its first part took place on February 14 when the congress changed the party’s statutes to enable indirect elections by the delegates.

MfD writes that Marc Ellenbogen, head of the Prague Society for International Cooperation, helps the CSSD arrange the visit of Bill Clinton, who reportedly plans to go to Europe at the turn of February and March.

Thanks to Ellenbogen’s initiative, retired U.S. general Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, spoke on the first day of the CSSD congress on February 14.

MfD adds that speeches by famous personalities such as Clark and Clinton cost some tens up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, Ellenbogen told the paper that the CSSD did not have to pay for Clark’s performance and that Clinton, too, would lecture at the congress free of charge.

Bill Clinton occupied the post of U.S. president in 1993-2001.

Community scandals: good or not?

Monday, February 23rd, 2009 by Jerry Kott

This story appears on Radio Prague just a few days ago. Author Jan Novák remembers how his early writing upset some members of the Czech community in Chicago.

Czech Republic pushing for global bank reform

Monday, February 23rd, 2009 by Nový Domov

from The Globe and Mail:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her counterparts from Britain, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg said they will push the world’s leading nations to adopt standards that would require banks to save more cash for rainy days, demand more transparency from market participants and allow international authorities to clamp down on tax havens.

Hledání nového domova

Monday, February 23rd, 2009 by Jerry Kott

Jak ten čas letí! Než jsme se nadáli, vánoce a Nový rok jsou za námi, a je tu konec února. Blog Nového domova zažil určitou odmlku – leden proběhl ve shonu a přípravách na novou grafickou úpravu jak tištěného Nového domova, tak našeho blogu. Přidáme-li k tomu stěhování a všechno s tím související, najednou na blogování nezbývá čas.

Po prvním měsíci stráveném v překrásné Viktorii (Victorii?) se náš denní režim konečně trochu ustálil, a naše hledání nového domova na západním pobřeží nebude brzdou blogu. Doufáme, že to čtenáři ND pochopí a že ve spolupráci s novou redaktorkou Nového domova budeme schopni přinášet pravidelnější zprávy z komunity a kanadsko-česko-slovenských vztahů.

Z Viktorie zdraví Jaroslav & Alena Kottovi.