441 CHRONICLESntenland belong “irreversibly” to thenSoviet empire. In so doing we relegatenthose unhappy peoples to a kind ofnalien “yonderland” or limbo, rulednover by the Kremlin. We make ourselvesnthe unwitting victims of a verbalnpollution, of a linguistic fait accompli,nthereby helping to legitimize the partitionnof the continent and the continuingnexistence of the bristling, minestrewnnbarrier which presently scars thenface of Europe.nMilan Kundera was right. And innurging us to be more circumspect innour ways of thinking, he was offeringnus the same sort of friendly admonitionnas the Russian historian Mikhail Hellerndid when, at a conference onn”disinformation” held four years ago innParis, he remarked on the paradoxicalnanomaly of our contemporary world innwhich (because of blue jeans, T-shirts,nand sneakers) “the universal mode ofndress is American, while the universalnmode of speech is Sovietese.” (Thatninvaluable diplomatic fig-leaf, “detente,”nis one example, like the nownuniversally accepted cliche, “thensuperpowers”—which so convenientlynplaces the USA on the same level ofnmoral opprobrium as the USSR.)nPrague — like Berlin, Dresden,nWarsaw, Budapest, Vienna, and Zagreb,nif not Belgrade—belongs historicallynand geographically to Central,nnot to Eastern Europe. One strikingnproof of it is what happened to Bohemian(the westernmost part of Czechoslovakia)nin the immediate aftermath ofnWorld War II. With the sole exceptionnof Saxony and Thuringia, parts ofnwhich were briefly occupied in Maynand June of 1945 by units of GeneralnPatton’s Third Army, western Bohemianwas the only region of what arennow called the “satellite” countries tonhave been occupied by the US Armynas a result of the war against Hitler’snReich. Probably not one American in anthousand realizes it, but we then had anzone of occupation which ran fromnnear the northwestern Sudeten bordertownnof Cheb past Marienbad andnslightly east of Pilsen, all the way southnto the Austrian border. Compared tonwhat the Red Army had occupied—nnine-tenths of Czechoslovakia—it wasnnot much, but at least it was something,na symbol of our presence in andnresponsibility for this part of CentralnEurope. The question of Czecho­nslovakia’s independence having barelynbeen discussed at the Yalta and PotsdamnConferences — where the burningnissues were the future of a defeatednCermany and of a “liberated” Polandn— General Eisenhower had to make anquick trip to Prague in October 1945nto consult with President Eduard Benes;nand it was thanks to a joint agreementnthen reached that in Decembernof that year the US Army’s Twenty-nSecond Corps and the Soviets’ FifthnGuards Army simultaneously evacuatedntheir respective zones of occupation.nIn August 1968, when the USSR’snmilitary forces reinvaded Czechoslovakia,nthe United States could have pointednout that the Soviets were violating ansolemn US-Soviet-Czechoslovakiannagreement made back in 1945. Wencould even have declared that we hadnevery international right to reoccupynour own former zone of occupation innwestern Bohemia, including the majornindustrial city of Pilsen (home of thengiant Skoda arms factory). Needless tonsay, we did nothing of the sort. Hisnprestige already sadly battered by thenwar in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson wasngradually relinquishing power to hisntroubled Vice-President, HubertnHumphrey, while Americans werenonce again in the paralyzing throes of anpresidential election campaign. A historicnopportunity for taking the diplomaticnoffensive was thus missed, withnthe result that US policy in CentralnEurope — if one can speak of anythingnas clear-cut and definite as a “policy”n—became one of tacit acceptance ofnthe new Brezhnev-dictated “statusnquo.”nWhat the Warsaw Pact invasion ofnCzechoslovakia achieved was not simplynSoviet occupation of regions ofnwestern Bohemia the Red Army hadnnever overrun in 1945; it in effectnshattered the genuine detente whichnhad begun to emerge in 1967 andnwhich had made such progress that itnhad acquired a special name—that ofn”polycentrism.” What this meant wasnthat the two “superpowers”—to lapsenagain into Sovietese—were graduallynlosing their grip over their respectiven”client states” and “satellites.” As anresult, a kind of continental spectrumnof regimes was beginning to appearnwith all sorts of political and socialngradations — extending from the infra­nnnred neo-Maoism of Albania, thenstandpat communism of the Brezhnev-nSuslov crowd, to the more flexible andnhumane “socialism” of the Dubcek-nSmrkovsky team, and on across thenmap of Western Europe, with its differentnsocial-democratic and conservativengovernments, to the extreme right andnultraviolet “fascism with a humannface” (an expression coined by thenCzech chess player Ludek Pachman)nof Francisco Franco and Antonio Salazar.nThis truly meaningful developmentnof sociopolitical coexistencenwould inevitably have eroded the IronnCurtain and put a gradual end to thenunnatural division of the continent intontwo hostile blocs. But August 1968 putnan abrupt end to that auspicious evolution.nThe lid was clamped down onnCentral and Eastern Europe, the fissuresnin the Iron Curtain were oncenagain sealed. And it was all done sonswiftly and successfully that overnightn”polycentric” vanished from the vocabularynof our pundits. How many ofnthem, I wonder, even recall its heyday?nVery few. Proof of how right Jean-nFrangois Revel is when he says, “Ourngreatest enemy is amnesia.”nFor, lo and behold! emerging fromnthe ashes of that genuine, polycentricn”reduction of tensions” rose itsnphoenix-like successor, the much publicizedn”detente” of the early 1970’s.nThis bogus apparition was founded onnthe outspoken proposition that onen”socialist” state has the right, and evennthe obligation, to “assist” (i.e., invade)nanother “socialist” state in the name ofnproletarian fraternity (what came to benknown as the “Brezhnev Doctrine”),nand on the unspoken admission by thenWest that the USSR, by virtue of itsnmilitary achievements during WorldnWar II and because of “the legitimatensecurity interests of the Soviet Union”n—one of the fateful phrases uttered bynJack Kennedy during the tense monthsnpreceding the Berlin Wall crisis ofn1961—had every right to prolong itsn”temporary” occupation of Czechoslovakianindefinitely. It was this utterlynphony detente which that grand masternof diplomatic sleight-of-hand, HenrynKissinger, managed to get an initiallynskeptical Richard Nixon to swallow,nhook, line, and sinker.nThe crowning achievement of thisninherently deceptive “detente” was thenHelsinki Final Act, duly endorsed byn