Final Word from Wednesday, February 5, 2003

No satisfactory public explanation has been given for what took place last week regarding the pro-U.S. letter on Iraq from seven prime ministers and Václav Havel. Using diplomatic and public sources (BBC, ČT Česká televize, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung FAZ, Financial Times FT, International Herald Tribune IHT, Lidové noviny LN, MF Dnes MFD, Právo, WSJE), we've pieced together the following explanation for the Czech side of events. The Wall Street Journal initiated the idea in the name of journalism, but it quickly became a transatlantic political issue. The CR was a target as part of "new Europe." Condoleezza Rice spoke to Vladimír Špidla, and the Germans applied pressure too when they got wind. Not wanting to take sides, Špidla refused to sign but was glad that Havel, under the sway of Alexandr Vondra, did. The U.S. was happy too, because Havel means more internationally than Špidla. In the end, both the U.S. and "old Europe" won a partial diplomatic victory in Prague.


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