Sunday, May 21, 2017

From Prague to the Potomac: Trump’s Czech Mate

One glance at the map and it is easy to see the bullseye of Europe is Prague, as if the castle nation sits amidst a sea of blue NATO chess pieces: a great place for Vladimir Putin to plant seeds of distrust amongst allies arrayed against his myriad advances. Recently a strategic visit took place between our nations but without the bombast of current Washington politics. The result was that U.S.-Czech bilateral relations showed a welcome return to normal this month when the Czech Defense Minister visited Washington.
Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky came to the United States to attend a conference in Norfolk hosted by NATO’s Allied Command Transformation. He also held bilateral talks with Defense Secretary Mattis, and set aside a day to visit Nebraska, as part of ongoing discussions of a NATO initiative that ties together European partners with state National Guard units. This was a diplomatic nod by the Minister to the long history of Czech immigration to Nebraska.
Stropnicky’s visit presented a stark contrast to the increasing tilt by some Czech political figures toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia that we have seen from Prague over the past couple of years. The most recent example is the months-long circus surrounding claims by the Czech head of state, President Milos Zeman, that President Trump had invited him for a state visit — claims that the White House steadfastly ignored, contra Zeman’s protests. However, this came from the man who stated “I’m not drunk, it’s just a virus” at a crown jewels ceremony and likely experiences unrequited love outside Moscow’s arms.

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