Velvet Revolution… the American Style!

Velvet Revolution… the American Style!

10733903_10204594123724561_6924067085075188717_o

Unless you have been under a rock (or sedated) for the last week, you must have heard that on Nov 10th, 2014 it was 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. What you may not know, however, is the fact there is another 25 years anniversary coming up! Yes, it is the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in then-Czechoslovak Socialistic Republic (CSSR) on Nov 17th, 2014.

What is most fascinating, and also troubling to me, is the fact that there are celebrations and commemoration events scheduled and planned all throughout the week of Nov 17 through Nov 22, 2014 in Washington D.C. These events include a future of democracy panel discussion, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra performance, Gala at the Czech Embassy in Washington D.C. (no, sadly don’t have an invite), to a Panel Discussion on Vaclav Havel’s Legacy Today (yes, I scored an invitation by simply begging the organizers. Thank you very much!) to the Dedication & Unveiling of the Vaclav Havel’s Bust in U.S. Congress (I will be begging the organizers once I arrive in D.C.) all the way to something most extraordinary!

On November 17th, students, faculty and Alumni of the world-class respected and coveted Georgetown University will be re-enacting – yes, you read right – re-enacting the events of Nov 17th, 1989 in Prague where the brave university students took to streets of Prague and demanded more freedom! Czech students were peaceful, did not make any troubles, except of course for gathering and speaking publicly which was unlawful and criminal in then-Czechoslovakia. To punish the students and make them dispersed, the Communist regime, under the tutelage of president Gustav Husak and Prime Minister Milos Jakes (none were ever held accountable), sent units of Police (Verejna Bezpecnost) in heavy riot gear, with sticks (“pendrek” in Czech), tear gas and water cannons to “take them down”.

The rest is, as they say, history…

havel

So let’s recap: Georgetown’s students, faculty and Alumni, while celebrating International Students Day, will be re-enacting events of Nov 17, 1989 and of coming days, including reading passages of speeches and proclamations made by then-student government and their leader Simon Panek (current Director of Czech global humanitarian organization ‘People in Need‘ and in Washington D.C. for the events) and by the leader of Obcanske Forum [Civic Forum] Vaclav Havel, the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first democratic president of Czech Republic. Why is this so extraordinary and remarkable?

Because there are NO such commemoration events planned in Czech Republic! That’s why.

Plain and simple. Sad, isn’t it…? I contacted a number of friends in Czech Republic asking them about celebrations. Nothing…

This one fact should tell you everything you need to know about the status of Czech politics and the standings/respect of Czech politicians. I no longer say I am in politics, or that I studied politics, or that I do politics, or that politics is my passion – I do not say that when I come home. I do not speak of politics, about a strategy for democratization of institutions, about my passion for state/nation-building or about my expertise in political systems… Why? Nobody is interested in hearing it.

Sadly, this only further ensues my original worry that while D.C. will have Velvet Revolution the American Style, there are no such celebrations or massive commemorating events in Czech Republic.  But there should be!

How easily we forget that Velvet Revolution brought down 40 years of communism, and after 21 looooong years marched the Soviet tanks back to Mother Russia, tanks that invaded & occupied our sovereignty since the Prague Spring in 1968. Velvet Revolution brought us freedom, liberty, opportunity, multi-party political system, free democratic elections, and it also opened our doors to Western culture. It brought us choices and responsibility, and maybe that is the problem?

Czech

The only questions comes to mind: What happened in 25 years to Czech society that we do not celebrate, ney, that we don’t even turn around in our beds to commemorate such a historic and historical occasion?

What happened to Czech people, politics and culture that we no longer appreciate the freedom to study abroad, for example, or the freedom to travel to Egypt or Italy, decide an election, shop whatever and wherever we want, learn foreign languages, etc…  What happened is certainly THE question.

Well, what happen is LIFE, life happened. And with life came the loss of fluffy future based on political slogans seen through rose glasses.

Now, devoid of the proverbial ‘rose glasses’, we must face the ‘horrors’ of having to be responsible for ourselves, having to be responsible for our choices, for our society AND for the status of our political system & political culture. Scary stuff I tell you!

There is no longer “them” (as in the communist) to be blamed for the status of our lives, politics or the status of our culture. Now, it is “us” and that is starring at us in the mirror every day. What will we do with “us” ? Will we turn “us” back into “them” -> as in allow the Communist who inflicted so much devastation and pain onto my country back into full slay of power and openly into government? It is all up to “us“!

Yes, people are disillusioned, tired, fed up, hurt. They are learning the hard way that democracy is hard and “freedom ain’t for free” as they say. People feel betrayed and used, as if there is no justice. And perhaps there isn’t, not right now anyway.

So what are we going to do about it? Do we have it in ourselves to stand up again, demand changes, demand accountability, demand AND accept responsibility and finally demand some respect? Can we do it?

Will it be “us” or will it be “them”? …Tis the question. 

                                                                                                                   Czech 2

So for now, I will be in Washington, D.C. commemorating my Velvet Revolution, revolution “I did” and where I was active. I will be commemorating my home country that I love so much, but for now, I will be celebrating Velvet Revolution the American Style!

PS:

We better remember that during the 1948’s national election, it was the Communists who were elected during the last democratic elections for next 42 years, because they promised pink fluffy future of political slogans seen though rose glasses.

http://www.speaker.gov/press-release/vaclav-havel-bust-will-be-dedicated-november-19

http://www.25yearsofdemocracy.org

Ukraine Today: Political Realism First, Please!

Ukraine Today: Political Realism First, Please!

(original post on humanitarian situation written on Feb 20th, 2014 in Sacramento, CA, USA. Updated based on last week’s cease-fire and political agreements on Feb 24th, 2014 in Sacramento, CA, USA)

 

czech vlajka znak

I was a young Czech nurse when the atrocities were happening in the Balkans, and NOBODY from the EU moved a finger, nobody helped them! I often asked myself what would have I done…?

While I had no influence over it, as after the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, after 40 years of oppression, and 20 years of Soviet occupation, I finally was allowed to travel abroad and I left home.

I looked after children, cleaned houses and pubs, learned English by myself at nights, held 2-3 jobs in order to follow my dreams of studying and obtaining my Nursing licenses in Canada & USA, only to go further towards my biggest dreams of earning multiple university degrees in global politics, global health & regional development & administration at prestigious U.S. universities (CSUSM and UM). CSU grad kept her ‘eye on the goal’ – San Diego Union-Tribune San Diego Union-Tribune regional newspaper did an interview with me about my road towards BA in Political Science Magna Cum Laude coming from post-Communist country.

To this day, I am ashamed to be European for our utter failure in the Balkans! Seeing the almost unrepairable damage that conflict left until today, over 18 years later, is utterly heartbreaking. We all bear responsibility.

For better or worse, the ONLY leader who proved to LEAD was U.S. President Clinton, who due to the long-standing ‘Monroe Doctrine’ did not and could not put “boots on the ground” as Americans love to say, but instigated aerial raids. President Clinton’s role in this conflict is being discussed even today, however, speaking as someone who has deep historical roots to Peoples abandoned and left ‘behind’ by the Western powers in their time of need, without any help… (i.e. The Munich Agreement of 1938, The Prague Spring of 1968 -> followed by foreign invasion of my beloved homeland by 5 foreign armies, led by, you guessed it, the Soviets and their criminal leader Leonid Brezhnev). Trust me when I tell you, you want help, any help!

California Capitol Sacramento

It is only here, in this country, where we have the incredible luxury to discuss and criticize actions of which we quite often know very little. BUT, let me finish, it is a part of our political system, it is a part of democracy and as a democracy “groupie” myself, I fully respect and admire this system very much. In fact, I have been actively involved in the post-communist transition to democracy and democratization of institution in Czech Republic on the local political level for past 20 years, and it is Job’s job. It is only when you are on the ground, demonstrating against the power that is usurping you and denigrating you, waving your flags, being beaten and shot that you are looking towards the skies hoping to see some allies and The Allies!

 

For my beloved Czechoslovakia in 1968, the year my amazing parents got married and sadly also the year their HOPE and DREAMS were squashed by the Soviet invasion, there were, for very obvious Cold War reasons, no sky allies or any Allies… And we (as in my fellow countrymen, since I was not even ‘an idea’) were looking up and waiting, every day! In the years afterwards, during the deep Normalization process (just a different word for Communistic indoctrination enforced by the Soviets), we were secretly listening to the Radio Free Europe and Voice of America (both I believed financed by the U.S.) in our basements, faced with hard jail time if caught, waiting for hours to hear our country even being mentioned! And this is how people of Ukraine feel today.

We are amalgamate of our previous experiences, and I really do “FEEL” the past plight, hurts and betrayals of my people and my country. Well, visiting every concentration camp around during yearly school ‘day trips’ since 2nd grade left DEEP scars and nightmares in my soul. At the same time, it also cemented such un-moveable human resolve, built foundation for my ‘Fight-or-Flight‘ (political & systemic) response, and cemented my strong sense of protection, responsibility for others, and especially for those weaker and unable to look after themselves => any more questions why I am a nurse, political operator and a humanitarian? Nope, did not think so.

We have a collective responsibility and we have obligations.

Now as a proud (dual Czech and) U.S. citizen and a highly degreed and educated RN and a political operator, at this point my love & passion for politics, strategy and campaign goes away and my nursing and humanitarian responsibility takes over. That is exactly WHY I DO politics, to PREVENT bloodshed! However, once you cross over a certain threshold, it is no longer about my ability “to do” politics but about my ability to “take care of people”. People need help no matter who is shooting at them and my nursing training and practice precludes me from judging my patients, and that I had some I did not like in my 15+years! Period.

I wrote an article last May 2013 year asking  Should the EU Care About Syria? The Balkans, Anybody?

Now, the question is HOW much, WHO should and WHY “they” should be concerned over Ukraine! ‘They’ as in the now portrayed as Evil The West / EU vs. the always evil East / Russia.

I don’t know about you, but I picked my ‘evil’ long time ago (and we are very happy together, thank you very much). I already lived under devil dominant depressing doormat of freedom-non-existent Soviets. I will pick The West in any shape or form, any time … and yes, I will get lots of criticism for it, but I am strong I can take it.
What I will never do, however, is to apologize for my views of Russia. I lived it, I survived it, I got out. Thank god I now have my beautiful blue U.S. passport!

Ukraine today is at the crossroads.

Country is divided, economically bankrupt, feels betrayed and lied to, plus people are in deep mourning. However, on the other hand, once the elation of a certain part of population over ‘their’ victory will wean off and reality of bad economy, current lack of leadership, deposed president MIA and the looming threat of Russia not far away will set in, people of Ukraine will have a lot to deal with. During my research, I found ONE thing they all agree upon (well, mostly) – they want to keep Ukraine united, as in NOT split in the Western and Easter / Russian parts. If I were at the negotiating table, I would hold on to this and would NOT let go…

 

I do hope those strong and determined people are ready, prepared and aware that much harder task is ahead of them! Sitting across from your political opponents and rival who you hold responsible (and vice-versa) for what just transpired, will truly show how dedicated and serious about DEMOCRACY the people of Ukraine really are.

Knowing how Russian tyrant Putin feels about Ukraine since he considers it to be a part of his Mother Russia and the center of Pravoslav religion, holding them hostage at will over access to natural gas and other resources and aid … and hearing as a freedom loving and globe-trotting Czech the same tyrant Putin saying that he ALSO consider my Czech Republic to be still under his sphere of influence, my heart stopped!

We’ve already been there, it was hell, and nobody wants to go back…

It is my unequivocal belief we all have global roles to play, we all can help and serve wherever we can.

Thus I am able to feel the plight, fear, resolve but also the uncertainty of people of Ukraine today.

Ukraine has difficult times ahead, and nation-buidling, state-craft and democratization of institutions while re-building trust in government and placing transparency into old systems are amongst the MOST difficult and HARDEST of social and political projects. Look at the U.S. how they are struggling with it around the world, and they have been living it for well over 200 years! Now look at the post-communist countries of Eastern Europe having their “freedoms” for about 20 years… Need I say more?

Should the EU Care about Syria? The Balkans, anybody..?!?

MDG : world map with numberof IDP by conflict

This is the disturbing world map of internally displaced people [refugees] in 2012 (link to map below)

Want to know what I see when I look at it? …The shame of BALKANS! Why you ask?

Perhaps because I am a proud Czech American and thus have closer to European affairs.

No wonder!

I was a part of the Velvet Revolution in than-Czechoslovakia, I spent 3,5-hrs every day on a bus to and from Prague so I could demonstrate on Venceslav Square demanding the departure of the Communist party from power, I spoke up fiercely and alone at meetings when discussing course of actions in removing still-to-power-clenching communist leadership at my brand new place of work and town, I was a party to democratic political changes, city institutional reforms and democratization process of a medium-size town in Czech Republic.

I have always been involved in Czech political affairs, and because in the future I want to serve my people who so deserve learned leadership, I dutifully researched democratization process and studied politics, women’s studies, global health, regional development and administration at american universities – yes, at the seat of democracy.

Also, I was lucky enough to have a couple of internships at the European Parliament (EP), I know wonderful hardworking people there, but I’ve also seen the massive bureaucracy and the European Union (EU) machine led by Eurocrats, NOT by democratically elected leaders responsible and accountable to their people. So my interest seeing this map rests with Syria, as I worry about a possible slide to the 1990’s disaster and utter European disgrace in the Balkans.

 

7003564524_901dbb457b_m

 

While I understand the region maps and I know that Syria is farther away than the Balkans, since the region is clearly not under the American influence and due to the Monroe Doctrine the U.S. does not even put ‘boots on the ground’ in the vicinity, it stands to reason it falls under the European influence – since the region in question had been under the French influence in modern history.  In 1920, a League of Nations gave France a mandate to administer the region of Syria & Lebanon. France divided Syria into administrative regions under the disguises of “decentralizing” government only to keep its power and influence over a strategically important piece of real estate. At last, France proclaimed Syria’s independence in 1941.

 

Fast forward 70 years and you are the beginning of this bloody and catastrophic civil war conflict where more than 2.4 million people were displaced in Syria by 2012, with another almost million people expected to flee this year (up to half a million by June  2013) and all be absorbed by Lebanon, Turkey & Jordan. This is tragic. 

Another alarming issue, next to the fact that no Western power(s) will help, is the fact that very soon Jordan and Lebanon will stop accepting refugees as they are already sending signals of distress because they have no resources or space to deal with such an influx of people in dire needs. Clare Spurrell, an IDMC spokeswoman said “Humanitarians can’t save Syria, it has to be the politicians … what you are seeing are people who are utterly exhausted…” (link to article below)
The only power that possibly could (as in do something) is France as this region used to be under French influence, but with their new socialist president sending pretty clear signs he will not lead any efforts, unlike Sarkozy in Libya, we are left to the “will” or the lack there of, Russia (and China, of course).
6807914150_a7d0cbea61_m
Only if and when Russia will get some brain power, and only after Putin will stop computing how it will best serve him and only him, only then the UN Security Council (UN SC) can agree on a Resolution and a course of action by invoking Article 42 of its Charter stating that “if peaceful means have not succeeded in obtaining adherence to Security Council decisions, it may take such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security” (link to the UN Charter below)
Only then, and without the UN SC Permanent Members Russia and China Vetos, can the Security Council authorize the use of force allowing intervention and ‘boots on the ground’. 
Now, whose boots and how it will be financed is another question…

 

What always disturbed me, ever since the massacres in the 1990’s at the Balkans, is the absolute inability, ineptness, and the total lack of any (real!) interest of the EU in these events. 

As an European, it is simply unthinkable for me to comprehend they are still unable to get their committees moving fast enough – or at all, not sure – in order to put their efforts together and lead or spearhead this (or any) effort! The absurdity of this situation is that they do have time to pass stupid and useless EU legislations, such as banning calling Czech rum Rum (just using a simple example)!

What a waste of institutions, waste of time, and waste of so much money! 

 

This is how it looks when the U.S. is not leading the world’s police action anymore.  And for the world, get used to this! This is how it will look in the future when the U.S. is no longer the world police dog. Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. 

People are dying and being massacred by their own government, 3 million refugees are exhausting the human, financial and material resources of neighboring countries, and we are sitting at home on our couches and are even bored to watch it on the nightly news. 

I am NOT saying the U.S. should invade Syria, god no! I am simply calling for a real and constructive political effort to mobilize the international community, or in the instance of EU + EP [as this region falls in their influence because it is certainly not under American influence] – at least, mobilize your own community, the very community that pays your salaries and benefits(!) and help some people in need! People that, in fact, do not live that far away from the EU borders! (…yes, it is little far, but I am making a point here. The U.S. is way farther away….)

 

My Conclusion and the Balkans connection:

The catastrophic vision of history repeating itself not that far away from European borders, while “she” continues in her complete obsession with its rivalry between Germany and France, by Great Britain’s refusal to conform to almost any EU rule, all the way to Germany and France’s almost totalitarian rule over the new EU Member States, Czech Republic included, may indeed preclude the EU powers that be in recognizing an opportunity to strike and deliver an actual humanitarian help, action or initiative; an initiative that in the long run could prove to bring a great political capital and economic benefit for the EU.

Why is it that nobody sees or recognizes this… ?!?

Maybe they do – but that brings us back to the Eurocrats who are ruling their committees and all EU’s actions.

So Syrian refugees, tough luck!  

See how Europe got to that deep black hole of shame when (not)dealing with the Balkan conflict? 

It took, yes you guessed it, an American President, who mindful of the Monroe Doctrine, did not meddle into European affairs, used NATO, and did not put any boots on the ground. He sent air strikes. 

P.S.

…Oh, and by the way, who was it that for past 2 years was working hard behind the scenes as not to look like the leader of this effort and sent millions in aid just few weeks ago? Yeah, Hillary and the U.S. 

So, the score so far is Clinton and Clinton 1  :  EU 0

1) World map showing displaced people:
2) Analysis of 2012 internally displaced people: Syria & DRC
3) United Nations Chapter