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Dalibor Svoboda

Humanity contra political realism.

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Is it possible to behave in humane way while dealing with politics? When debating the plight of Israel and Palestinians some of the debaters suggested that this conflict needs human and differently thinking politicians. The politician of Nelson Mandela calibre who it was pointed by one of debaters must be seen as the greatest politician of the last 200 years.

(There had been almost the same high expectation on Robert Mugabe when he replaced Ian Smith in former Rhodesia today Zimbabwe.)

My uncle who was a priest told me often that the greatest men he admired highly were Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

Should the nations, should the mankind be best served and governed by profoundly human person or is it just a dream?

Are politics an arena which fosters different unpleasant behaviours which are hard to prevent?

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Martin Luther King jr was in my opinion very close to a saint. However his image today and his reality back then differ.

This is only human. Politics is about interests. What can be good to one group of people is maybe not good for the other group. in politics good and bad is most definetly a matter of on which side you are on.

People like Mahatma Ghandi, martin Luther King and nelson mandela are all had a common goal; to deliver a people from oppression. This is what i would call a single goal (not diminishing the enormous efforts necessary to reach that goal, or the sacrifices it took). Politics is about serving multiple goals all at the same time. It is not black or white but gray. MLK never 'ruled' in the political sense (holding public office) and therefore we can never determine how he would have ruled. We know how he served his people in life and in his untimely death.

To be humane in politics is ,in my opinion, almost impossible. Being humane might look to be the best course but perhaps in the later run it only damages the people who elected or put their fate in that person.

Being humane to one can mean being inhumane to the other.

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Do we wish the political scenes be dominated by humanistic or realistic minded politicians? What is the world of politics like?

I rose these questions weeks ago inspired by parts of other debates going on the Forum.

The democrat Jimmy Carter when elected the president stressed a humanistic side of his approach towards the world around. Human rights were the words he often used when delivering speeches. Jimmy Carter didn’t last at his post more than four years. He engineered the Camp David Treaty during his presidential term thus making the peace between Israel and Egypt a reality. For this Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat obtained the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 .

Jimmy Carter was left without the Prize. Didn’t the world or didn’t the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee appreciate the humanistic approach of Jimmy Carter at that time?

Jimmy Carter obtained his Nobel Peace Prize first 25 years later, in 2003. In Swedish newspapers commentators speculated about the reasons for this. Some described the decision as a try to show George W. Bush that a peaceful approach towards crises is evaluated higher than his own decision to go on for war with Iraq.

The democrat Jimmy Carter was caught in the web of priest revolution in Iran. During the turmoil over 100 American embassy personal in Teheran were imprisoned by the Iranian revolutionary guards. After months of humiliation Jimmy Carter decided to make a military raid into Iran to free hostages. The operation ended in disaster most probably because it was ill planned.

The republican Ronald Reagan succeeded Jimmy Carter as a president. Almost immediately after his installation all the hostages in Teheran were set free.

As far as I remember Ronald Reagan didn’t talk about humanistic values at all. Instead he spoke about the “Empire of Evil” thus pointing finger at Soviet Union. He confronted Soviet Union when this land started to place deadly middle distance SS-20 missiles in Western parts of Russia and satellite countries of Central Europe aimed against the cities of Western Europe. I clearly remember how a member of Reagan’s administration commented with exasperation the negotiations with Soviets; the wrong persons from US were send over to negotiate: “we should send our own mafia bosses over there because they know better then our negotiators how to deal with other mafiosos”. Thus the front figures of the communist party of Soviet Union were without any shame compared to thugs.

At the same time British women around Common Green military base were endlessly demonstrating against Reagan’s ( and Thatcher’s) decision to place Pershing 2 middle distance missiles there as the western countries response to the threat. Many more people around the Europe protested and demonstrated too. Not against initial threat from Soviet Union but against Reagan’s “policy of war” as they described his decision.

Later when Ronald Reagan began to talk about “to arm the Soviets to death” with the help of anti-missile shield popularly called “Star war” the same scenario with demonstrations and calling Ronald Reagan names started again.

Shortly after 1988 the communist empire in central Europe and later on in Soviet Union started to implode …….

Were these demonstrators more human and more right in their approach to deal with “world affairs” than the realistic policy of Ronald Regan? Would these demonstrations be able to achieve peace and disarmament in a better way than by them criticised and opposed policy of Ronald Reagan? (Or did these demonstrators have other goals? Which in that case?)

When we today look back at these historical events we actually do have the answer.

Over 100 million of Eastern Europeans are living in free and democratic states of their own. They are not longer occupied by Soviet troops. They once again belong to free Europe and enjoy the same privileges as people in the “West” always enjoyed.

Was it humanistic minded forces which did help to achieve this? Would it be humanistic approach of Jimmy Carter which would achieve that if Carter would be given four more years as a president? Or was it a realistic policy of Ronald Reagan and his administration towards a totalitarian state, which in its arrogance behaved on many occasions not differently then Nazi Germany that did help to achieve it?

Is it women from Common Green or Ronald Reagan who are today commemorated by the people of Poland, Czech Republic, Baltic states, Bulgaria, Hungary …….?

So what kind of politicians should we prefer?

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda

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So what kind of politicians should we prefer?

Dalibor, we are certainly left in no doubt by your last post which kind of politicians you prefer. :unsure:

I am left however somewhat bewildered by an argument which suggests that politicians who could not give a stuff about human rights or higher human values have a more postive impact on the world than those who do. It seems to imply that in a world of "b......s", our "b......s" are better than their "b......s".

Am I right in inferring that you believe that the best way of dealing with countries you may have disagreements with is to be aggressive towards them?

If so it is not a very salubrious position nor a very hopeful way of proceeding :( . Worse still a distinctly dangerous one.

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An enigmatic little posting Dalibor but one which fails to move the debate forward :lol:. The essential points in my "beautiful" former post were;

1. I have inferred from your original posting that you favour politicians who lack a commitment to human rights and values.

2. I have inferred from your original posting that you believe that the best way of dealing with countries you may have disagreements with is to be aggressive towards them?

If this is not what you meant then perhaps you could let us know. I would not want to misrepresent your views.

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Anybody else who does have the same interpretation of my contribution as Andy Walker have? Is this a final and only interpretation? Or could all my words be interpreted in a different way than Andy Walker showed? After all this is a place for debate! And the debate starts very often when we disagree about something ……

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  Or could all my words be interpreted in a different way than Andy Walker showed? After all this is a place for debate! And the debate starts very often when we disagree about something ……

Debate with me then please :lol::lol:

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Alexander Dubcek rose to the power during the first month of the year 1968. He became the first Secretary of Communist party of Czechoslovakia in January succeeding the conservative communist Antonin Novotny. In March Novotny lost the presidency of Czechoslovakia and retired from the public life. Alexander Dubcek was a new kind of communist. He seemed to be profoundly humanistic in his way to deal with people and political business of the country. And people of Czechoslovakia profoundly felt that Dubcek was a new politician the country didn’t have for a long time. To mark his new approach he never let himself to be elected for president thus holding two highest political posts as was a common policy in other communist countries.

Under his power the people slowly started to be glad to see the back of a twenty years long rule of harsh communist regime. The censorship which plagued newspapers television radio books films was gradually taken away thus creating the atmosphere of normality. The debates about a just and equal society a “communism with a human face” was never ending. Quite often newspapers reprinting debates and comments from the day before were hard to buy if people didn’t wake up early before they were sold out. Everybody wanted to know the latest news. The news were suddenly essential for a life of the people. The other political parties up till then totally dominated by communist started to express themselves thus giving the people of the country choices to choose between. Embryos of new parties emerged; notably “The club for engaged non communist” (KAN) and a confederation which mostly consisted of previous political prisoners living up till then a marginalized life.

With approaching summer people find it suddenly easier to go for holiday to other countries. A luxury seldom heard of during the last twenty years. Of course it was mostly other communist countries Czechs went to for a trip, the “West” was still closed but people kept in country which looked like a huge prison was immensely gracious even for a little improvement of their life.

These were the seven long (or short?) months of hope.

The election was approaching and people sifted between candidates though only few could possibly think about not voting smiling Dubcek for the office again.

The only clouds on the clear sky were a steadily rising background thunder of critics from communist parties from the communist neighbour countries.

On the night between 20th to 21st of August Czechoslovakia was invaded by the armies from East Germany, Poland, Hungary Bulgaria under the leadership of Soviet army. Alexander Dubcek was arrested at that night. No information about his fate reached the people for four days. Then a trickle of unconfirmed news broke out: he was first taken to somewhere in Ukraine then to Moscow, he was forced to denunciate his policy, he will be back in the country soon.

Nevertheless this was the end of “Prague Spring”. Alexander Dubcek did not loose his life in contrary to such politicians as Pal Maleter and Imre Nagy, executed by Soviets after Hungary uprising 1956. His following life was orchestrated by Czech communist party with Kafkas like scenario. Dubcek was send as Czech ambassador to Turkey than soon called back home again to be stripped of membership in communist party and sent to work as a minor clerk in state owned forest company. Thus he became a non person for most of his remaining life.

Did Dubceks humanistic approach towards the art of politics serve his country well?

My friend from the high school we together studied at 1964-1968 wrote to me a bitter letter a couple of years after Prague spring was crushed. He stayed behind I left Czechoslovakia for Sweden. The essence of his writing was “never again should we be lured by careless promises made by careless politicians” thus pointing a fingers at Dubcek and his fellows politicians. Did he want to tell me that acting well and in a humanistic way can lead to the road to hell?

Today I can’t think otherwise than Alexander Dubcek was a well meaning but not enough realistic politician. How could he misjudge the tensions his policy created? He played roulette with the whole nation. And he lost. The Czech people lost the freedom for another twenty years. The whole generation was robbed of their lives.

I think that it was not so few Czechoslovaks who wished during the occupation period to be lead by a more realistic politician during The Prague Spring.

Late in the evening on December 11, 1981 the father of my cousin’s wife knocked on the door to their flat in Warszawa, Poland. In his hand he held tickets for the night express train with destination for Zurich, Switzerland. Father of my cousin’s wife was high officer of Polish army working at the High command. The next day the general Vojciech Jaruzelski proclaimed a martial law over the Poland with the help of military coup thus probably preventing the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Army.

My cousin lives with his family in Winterthur, Switzerland since December 12, 1981.

Was general Jaruzelski more realistic politician than Alexander Dubcek was? Did he “save” Poland from a complete Soviet occupation? Did his military coup saved Poland from a civil war between forces supporting “Solidarnosc” and forces fighting for continuing domination of communist in politic of Poland?

I’m not saying that Jaruzelski was right or that Dubcek was completely wrong. After all the spring time of 1968 was full of hope. And days of sorrow followed Jaruzelski coup d´etat. What I’m trying to say is that we judge sometimes looking mostly at the means and next time looking at the ends. Sometimes we do use short perspective next time long perspective is used for judgments. These make the truth in the art of politics rather hard to catch.

What kind of politicians would we like to have? These with humanistic or realistic approach towards world affairs and towards their own people?

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda

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1. I have inferred from your original posting that you favour politicians who lack a commitment to human rights and values.

2. I have inferred from your original posting that you believe that the best way of dealing with countries you may have disagreements with is to be aggressive towards them?

What kind of threat do you talk about? Are you pointing at this sentence maybe?

"He confronted Soviet Union when this land started to place deadly middle distance SS-20 missiles in Western parts of Russia and satellite countries of Central Europe aimed against the cities of Western Europe. "

Probably not .......

Therefore I did ask for more opinions. I thought that maybe some other debaters would understand my point of view in a better way that you. I was simply talking about the dilemma between humanistic and realistic approaches towards the world affaires.

Trying to discuss the obvious fact that politicians waiving with a document and bragging about “Peace in our time” like Chamberlain did in 1938 are far worst in the world of politics than Churchill who knew that the Empires of Evil have to be fight against. Even if it costs.

Of course I did my comparison with the help of another pair of politician’s Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan mainly because I didn’t want to hurt British feelings.

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda

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Are you saying that it would have been more appropriate to have a leader who would have continued the policies of Novotny instead of Dubcek? Is "continuous darkness" to be preferred?

Did Dubcek's humanistic approach towards art of politic serve his country well?

I am not in a position to judge this.

I do however find your use of the words "realism" and "realistic" problematic.

Would it have been more "realistic" for Dubcek to continue with a Stalinist policy just because the odds were stacked against him? Or does this interpretation just reflect a psychological preference for the status quo?

Was it more "realistic" for the USA to engage in a dangerous and uncontrolled arms race because it led to the collapse of the USSR or were they just reckless but lucky? Could this interpretation just reflect a preference for an aggressive foreign policy?

I prefer my politicians with values and principles. Chamberlain is certainly not a good example of this by the way.

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Was general Jaruzelski more realistic politician than Alexander Dubcek was? Did he “save” Poland from a complete Soviet occupation? Did his military coup saved Poland from a civil war between forces supporting “Solidarnosc” and forces fighting for continuing domination of communist in politic of Poland?

This is an interesting point. On the surface it might well appear that political leaders who attempt to achieve democracy bring pain and suffering on their people. For example, Richard Carlile was a famous campaigner for democracy in England during the early part of the 19th century. One of his meetings led to the Peterloo Massacre. Carlile ended up in prison (a place where he spent many years of his life) and the government passed the Six Acts that imposed even more restrictions on the freedom of the people. The sort of democracy that Carlile was asking for was not achieved for another 100 years. In fact, all the things that Carlile fought for, including freedom of the press, the end of child labour, legalised birth control, equality for women, etc. were never achieved in his lifetime. He definitely ruined his career (he had been a successful journalist) and died in poverty. Unlike Dubcek is now a forgotten figure (although I do what I can to promote his memory).

My opinion of Richard Carlile is very similar to the way I see Alexander Dubcek. They caused short-term misery but created long-term good. I believe they both contributed to establishing democracy and the freedom of the press in their countries. Therefore I much prefer people like Dubcek and Ludvik Svoboda (any relation) to Gustav Husak.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRcarlile.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRpeterloo.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDdubcek.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDsvoboda.htm

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Are you saying that it would have been more appropriate to have a leader who would have continued the policies of Novotny instead of Dubcek? Is "continuous darkness" to be preferred?

Did I say that anywhere in my description of Dubceks political deeds? You certainly do have a peculiar ability to interpret what people are not saying at all.

Many historians familiar with the situation in Czechoslovakia in 1968 suggested that Dubcek should have push for the same kind of policy as Janos Kadar involved himself into in Hungary after 1956. That meant by that time to slowly, step by step move from the suffocating hug of Soviet Union and moving towards more democracy and freedom. It was also pointed by many that Dubcek as a well educated “aparatchnik” should have known better…..

I do think that this approach: to feel what is realistic in the long run is more rewarding to humanity that just simply talking about humanistic ideals. It’s probably what makes politicians great when an evaluation of their deeds by the mirror of history is done.

I did write these two articles because there is ongoing debate about the “crises in the Middle East” and “Bush and Kerry election”. I did just feel that I would like to look at some of the problems discussed in these two debates in more principled way. Without being obstructed by day to day events which sometimes draw ones focus away.

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Was it more "realistic" for the USA to engage in a dangerous and uncontrolled arms race because it led to the collapse of the USSR or were they just reckless but lucky? Could this interpretation just reflect a preference for an aggressive  foreign policy?

When looking back at the second period of 20th century one could simply catch the essence by saying “The Cold War”. Both participants had at their disposal weapons which could destroy humanity in few seconds when used. Nevertheless this MAD doctrine used and accepted by both sides at the same time gave us (at least in most of Europe and America) the improbability of a devastating war.

Which system was more threatening at the excess of its capability and which was threatening just in acceptable way? Was the Soviets introduction of SS-20 middle distance missile breaking suddenly the balance of power between Soviet and USA more or less threatening than Reagan’s “Strategic Defence Initiative” in respect to bring us closely to the brink of war? Or was it exactly in opposite way? It´s hard to tell.

But I was not discussing that. I was simply trying to talk about “good guys” who often (sometimes?) make things worst and the not so “good guys” rather often hated by easily led opinions who after all can show a greater success when dealing with the world affairs.

I called these two types of politicians realistic and humanistic minded politicians …. And provocatively asked which should be preferred.

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda

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I prefer my politicians with values and principles.

You call for politicians with values and principles. Aren’t all politicians equipped with these two virtues? Would you sincerely and without any doubt say that Tony Blair for example does not have any values and principles?? Or that George W. Bush does not have any values and principles??

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda

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