About Czechs, without Czechs, in Nov. 1989

18.11.2019 - EB

In a declassified National Security Directive from Sept. 22, 1989, U.S. Pres. George H.W. Bush informed cabinet secretaries, the head of the CIA, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of the U.S. Information Agency (Voice of America) about relations with the Soviet Union. Bush wrote in the secret document that, "Moscow must authoritatively renounce the 'Brezhnev Doctrine' and reaffirm the pledge ... to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state." Two months later, on Nov. 16, the New York Times quoted a senior U.S. official as saying that the USSR had "assured the U.S. that it would not intervene militarily in Eastern Europe." This no doubt emboldened those in Prague in the coming days who knew of the articulated Soviet policy. Non-intervention was subsequently welcomed by the vast majority of Czechs and Slovaks, but the underlying principle was once again the same: About them, without them.

Glossary of difficult words

declassified - officially declared to be no longer secret;

National Security Directive - a presidential directive issued for the National Security Council, generally highly classified;

to renounce - formally to declare one's abandonment of (a claim, right, possession or policy);

to refrain - to stop oneself from doing something;

to embolden - to give (someone) the courage or confidence to do something;

to articulate - to pronounce (something) clearly and distinctly;

underlying - at the basis of (something).

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