Final Word from Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anyone following the activities of U.S. Amb. Norman Eisen might have the impressionthat diplomacy is mainly about business. One day (according to the Czech media)he's lobbying for U.S. drug companies, the next day for Lockheed Martin jets andthe third for Westinghouse. Given the commercial nature of diplomacy, it's odd thatFrederick Kempe makes scant mention of business in his otherwise excellent book"Berlin 1961." He paints the picture of a weak, indecisive JFK who sold East Germansand other Central Europeans down the river instead of defending Berlin against theSoviets. The only mention of business is when he quotes Khrushchev as saying Rockefellerruns the U.S. and when he reveals that the hundreds of tons of barbed wirefor the Berlin Wall came from West Germany and the U.K. Readers of Kempe mightget the impression that commercial diplomacy is a post-Cold War phenomenon.Read a companion piece to this in Czech at Aktuálně.cz.

Glossary of difficult words

scant - barely sufficient or adequate;

to sell someone down the river - to betray someone, esp. to benefit oneself.


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