FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Czech Mate for Condi

by JOSEPH KALVODA

Review in American Historical Review (1985):[please note that the reviewer evidently believes Dr. Rice is a man]

CONDOLEEZZA RICE.
The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948-1983: Uncertain Allegiance.
Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1984.
Pp. xiv, 303. $37.50

To write a scholarly study on the relationship of the Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak army without access to relevant Czechoslovak and Soviet documents is difficult. Therefore, much of this book by Condoleezza Rice is based on secondary works. His thesis is that the Soviets directly influence military elites in the satellite countries, in addition to the Soviet Communist party interacting with the domestic party. Rice selects Czechoslovakia as a case study and attempts to show the role of the military as instrument of both national defense and the Soviet-controlled military alliance.

Rice’s selection of sources raises questions, since he [sic] frequently does not sift facts from propaganda and valid information from disinformation or misinformation. He passes judgments and expresses opinions without adequate knowledge of facts. It does not add to his credibility when he uses a source written by Josef Hodic; Rice fails to notice that this “former military scientist” (p. 99) was a communist agent who returned to Czechoslovakia several years ago. Rice based his discussion of the “Sejna affair” (pp. 111, 116, 144) largely on communist propaganda sources and did not consult writings and statements by former General Jan Sejna who had access to Warsaw Pact documents and is the highest military officer from the Soviet bloc to defect to the West since World War II.

Rice’s generalizations reflect his lack of knowledge about history and the nationality problem in Czechoslovakia. For example, in 1955 Czechoslovakia was not yet “the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic” (pp 83, 84). In May 1938 Ludvik Svoboda was serving in the Czech army, not organizing a Czech military unit in Poland. In the fall of 1939 he was captured by the Soviet invading forces in eastern Poland; he did not “[escape] to the USSR” (p. 43). Rice’s discussion of the “Czechoslovak Legion” that was “born during the chaotic period preceding the fall of the Russian empire” (pp. 44-46) is ridiculous. (It was “born” on September 28, 1914.) He is clearly ignorant of the history of the military unit as well as of the geography of the area on which it fought.

Rice claims that “Czechoslovaks are supposedly passive and consider resistance to invading forces unnecessary and dangerous, preferring instead political solution” (p. 4). First, there are Czechs and Slovaks but not Czechoslovaks. Second, history shows that Czechs resisted the invading Prussians in 1866, Russia, France and Italy. In 1919 Czechs and Slovaks fought the invading armies of Bela Kun in Slovakia. In 1939 and 1948, “the Czechoslovak president, Edward Benes, ordered his troops to the barracks,” writes Rice. “[Alexander] Dubcek and Svoboda were, then just following precedent. Czechoslovak passivity meant that the decision of 1968 was preordained” (pp. 4-6). Nothing, indeed, is preordained in history. Moreover, Benes in 1939 was no longer president but was teaching at the University of Chicago.

In comparing Poland in 1981 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, Rice does not mention the obvious: whereas Soviet troops have been garrisoned in Poland since the end of World War II and, therefore, an invasion of Poland was unnecessary, the main objective of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia was to force Dubcek’s regime to accept the stationing of Soviet troops in the country.

The writing abounds with meaningless phrases, such as is its “last word”: “Thirty-five years after its creation, the Czechoslovak People’s Army stands suspended between the Czechoslovak nation and the socialist world order” (p. 245).

JOSEPH KALVODA teaches at Saint Joseph College West Hartford, Connecticut.

 

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail