Final Word from Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fifty years ago yesterday, the New York Times was still holding out some hope that the Soviet Union would end its occupation of Czechoslovakia. "Husak-Rusak" slogans are chalked on house walls, the paper reported, but "a dwindling number of Czechoslovaks still hope that the party chief, a flinty and astute Slovak who spent nine years in prison in the fifties on charges of 'bourgeois deversionism, nationalism and chauvinism,' may in reality be playing out a machiavellian scheme to get the Russians out." Two days later, the confrontation with soldiers was on the front page, and the NYT quoted demonstrators as chanting, "Long live Dubcek!" and "Traitor Husak!" By Aug. 24, the Times was reporting that the "Dubcek! Dubcek!" cries could hasten Dubček's downfall and strengthen Husák. On Sept. 3, the NYT wrote of "Capitulation in Prague" and said that the "nub of the Husak 'realist' position is that a weak small state has no right to stand up to a powerful state." [ Czech Republic 1968 invasion Warsaw Pact USSR Moscow ]

Glossary of difficult words

Rusák - a pejorative term in Czech for "Russian";

to chalk - to write or draw with chalk;

to dwindle - to diminish gradually in size, amount or strength;

flinty - (of a person or his or her expression) very hard and unyielding;

astute - having or showing an ability to accurately assess situations or people and to turn this to one's advantage;

deversionism/diversionism - sabotage;

to hasten - to cause (something, esp. something undesirable) to happen sooner than it otherwise would;

the nub - the crux or central point of a matter.


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