“I’m afraid for Central Europe. Flirting with Russia is tantamount to a death sentence,” says the historian Lukesh

UK will survive Brakcet, and America will survive Donald trump. At least, in an interview with Lidovky.cz says Igor Lukeš, a prominent historian of Czech origin living in the United States. But that’s who he fears is in Central Europe, which was between the millstones of the East and West. “The Czechs still do not understand that flirting with Russia is tantamount to a death sentence”, warns Lucas in the hope that the Czechs would tie their future with the European Union.

— Lidovky. cz: In the lecture You read in the Library of Vaclav Havel last week, You talked about populism in America and Eastern Europe. In Your opinion, the success of Donald trump, or Breaksit will lead to the fact that populism will fully absorb the political culture, including in Eastern Europe?

— Igor Lukeš:
Brakcet not have gained the upper hand, if it were not for the campaign with huge posters on the bus where it was written that every week in Brussels gets 350 million pounds, although they would have to send in medical and home insurance. When started this campaign, the statistical office said that this figure is an exaggeration. However, it continued to fight for votes. After the success of the referendum Dominic Cummings, Director of the campaign in support of Brexia, acknowledged that it was a lie, but if she said, Brakcet would have won. Still, I think the Brits will survive Brakcet, and America will survive Donald trump. I can guarantee that. But here’s who I’m really afraid of is for Central Europe. I can’t understand why the political elites of such countries as Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, flirting…

— With Russia?

Exactly. It is with Russia. I don’t understand their idea that the Czech Republic can become a bridge between West and East. It’s like they can’t learn the lessons of recent history. Indeed, during the Second world war, being in London, Benes and his foreign Minister Masaryk constantly talked about some kind of bridge. Of course, the British, the Americans and other Nations were reminded that the bridge is still something, on what go.

— Should we keep in memory things that happened to us during the Second world war and after it? As You wrote in the book “Czechoslovakia over the abyss” the Americans have underestimated the danger of the Russian enemy and his influence in Czechoslovakia. And when everyone realized it was too late. Is it possible to extract from those events some lessons?

— Of course, Yes. But I would like to comment on the beginning of this issue. Indeed, the Americans at first did not realize the true nature of Stalin’s Russia. However, the main problem is that this is not realized and the Czech people. Values that are enforced by Gottwald, Nejedly, Zapotocky, Slansky and the whole company took not only those who sided with the Communists, but the so-called democratic elite. For example, had imposed a complete ban on any criticism of the Soviet Union. People with democratic ideals, such as Benes and Drtina, did not dare to make any critical remarks about Stalin’s Russia. Therefore, the main lesson is not that the Americans are not immediately understood, but the fact that the Czechs didn’t understand anything so far.

— And whether they ever understand, or this battle is lost?

— Never give up on ten million people. Hope dies last, but now is the time for people living between the millstones of the East and West, pulled, finally, the lessons. It is best described this situation Palacky in a letter to Frankfurt in 1848. He said that any flirtation with Russia for small Nations of Central Europe tantamount to a death sentence.

Whether the European Union is the force that is able to counter?

— I really hope. That’s why I don’t understand why in the Czech Republic are so few people supporting the EU. I mean not only politicians, which often is not a single good word about the EU — after all, these people represent a significant portion of the Czech public. And this I totally understand. From membership in the European Union first and foremost benefit is not Denmark, the Netherlands or Sweden. Those countries have long been unable to take care of themselves. They always had a certain level of freedom and economic prosperity. But the country on the territory between the West and Russia need membership in such organizations more than anything else. And I don’t understand why people with such indifference attitude to the European Union.

— We should follow the example of the inhabitants of the Baltic oppose attempts by Russia to influence them?

— It has long been aware of the threat posed by Russia, and act accordingly. For example, Estonia is sounding the alarm and crying out, “We’re here. Don’t forget about us. We are in NATO. We — integrated into the Western structure of the country. Send us their soldiers.” The Czech Republic is scheduled to travel to several armored vehicles, and the Parliament discusses it endlessly, as if we provide someone a great service for what US taxpayers are willing to pay for national security of such countries as Czech Republic or Estonia.

We live in a “postactions” era, and this issue will become a major forum on the Meltingpot, which is part of the music festival Colours of Ostrava in Ostrava. President trump accuses the media of the mainstream that they are spreading fake news. Isn’t he right in part, given how easily today on the Internet to convince of something a large number of people?

Fake news spreads, above all, himself. This is a classic example of a situation when the thief shouting “stop thief!” Trump lies paved a path to success. On the website Politifact, which won a Pulitzer prize, has estimated that 69% of all of trump’s statements were not true or an absolute lie. 16% were true or partly true. Now let’s consider that the people who live in Arkansas or West Virginia and have no idea about the rest of the world, just can’t listen to trump critical. If he says that China is destroying the American economy, that a lot of people believe him because they do not understand economic subtleties. These people think that they stole the work that now someone is doing in China. But these people excuse the fact that they were never outside, for example, Arkansas. The irony is that the lie being spread by those who are educated and intelligent.

— If they act intentionally themselves and believing what is said or they go for it consciously?

— They act consciously, because there will always be people who believe the most incredible nonsense. I’m sure there is an army of those who two in the morning, sparring on the Internet with people whose opinions are ideologically different. Some of this, of course, pay, but there are crazy people who do it voluntarily.

— How to deal with this propaganda, and who it needs to fight?

It’s not easy. Many of those who try to expose the manipulation of public opinion, ridiculed. They say, everything is an American conspiracy theories. Especially in the Czech Republic many of those who refuse to believe. But these people, in fact, reject science. But, for example, less than one percent of scientists deny that man affects global warming. But our “expert” Klaus likes to point out that such-and-such scientist against the theory of climate change, although in the scientific community, such specialists are just 0.26%.

— What actions of the President of trump after the inauguration was truly successful? For example, his attack on Syrian air base spoke as a proper solution.

— Let’s see. Trump repeatedly proved that the geopolitical reality cannot be ignored. For example, he softened his harsh rhetoric. For example, trump has twice postponed the decision to move Embassy in Israel from tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although I was required to do it immediately. Of course, it’s good that trump has several times looked over the edge of the abyss and seen what horrors can expect peace in the event of a wrong decision. And he just stepped back, what I think is a particular manifestation of the wisdom of the statesman.

— The forum Meltingpot You will act in the section, the name of which implies that the Russian intervention in elections in the United States last year sparked the worst scandal since the atomic spies. I mean those people who at the end of the Second world war and the beginning of the ensuing cold war gave the Soviet Union information about the nuclear research in the US and the UK. Did the scandal really have reached such proportions, and not an exaggeration of it all?

— When one state is actively trying to influence the outcome of elections in another state, we are dealing with this violation of sovereignty. The investigation, which clarified the relationships of the people around trump, is still underway. For example, his son-in-law Jared Kushner has some connection with the Russian Bank VEB, which belongs to the Kremlin and was listed in the sanctions list. If people close to the President have taken large loans to such Bank, then, seriously violated the us laws. This is currently under investigation and will soon find out.

— Can this “Russkoe Delo” become fatal for trump?

— I think so, but it all depends on how the matter will concern the Republicans in Congress. In fact, the only important they are. Trump has done what I’ve done, and any expert in constitutional law will tell you that his actions a certain way to qualify. As a result, they can lead to dismissal. Now it is important that you get up there on the side of trump’s people like senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and all the Republicans, conservatism and patriotism which no one doubts. If they don’t support the President, his story will end quickly.

— What is the current state of American diplomacy? Say that many important positions in the leadership of the state Department remain vacant, and Rex Tillerson is totally unable to cope with the situation. This limits the ability of diplomats at the talks with foreign partners.

— If you examine the project of the American budget, it becomes clear what trump sees the priorities. It significantly increases the defense budget, and the budget on diplomacy, on the contrary, extremely reduces. This speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. Diplomacy sidelined, plays the role of Cinderella, although America is in dire need of public diplomacy.

— Then why is this happening?

Because trump, excuse me, primitive man. This is a person who has no practical experience in politics. I’ll go even further and say politics does not interest him. For political activities must possess a number of qualities, one of which is patience. Trump it is not. He thinks he can, like a bulldozer, to overcome any obstacle. Trump worships only one God and his name is testosterone. And the budget looks appropriate. Giving billions to the Pentagon, trump, in his own eyes. But rather, it proves only one thing: he doesn’t understand that needs to do America in this complex world.

— So what is the future of diplomacy? Whether it climbs?

— She has a good future, because it employs very smart people. Just look at the last two ambassadors in Prague. Generally people who work in diplomacy, I think, the most intelligent and talented. They are really working for the benefit of the United States, whoever is in the White house.