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
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail