Global Outlook News
President Obama was the first in many things and his inspirations were an essential party of his journey. Obama’s book, The Promised Land, hit the stands last week and it is the first of two memoirs. Guaranteed to be a best seller, Obama focuses on his presidency starting in 2011, after Osama Bin-Laden’s assassination, and on one of his more influential inspirations, The Czech Velvet Revolution.
n this book, Obama talks about his student days and what it was like to be a student during a post war communist world and witnessing society’s struggle against it. He watched the events unfolding in Czechoslovakia from a small apartment at Harvard University. He was only 28 at the time. Obama says in his book:
"I remember being amazed and hugely inspired. It was the same feeling I had a little earlier that year when I saw a lonely figure stepping into the path of the tanks in Tiananmen Square”.
In his mind, the Czechs and Slovaks insistence to "rid the world of old atrocities, hierarchies, divisions, untruths and injustices" spoke to his heart since it echoes the same values that he grew up with and that served him later in the White House.
In addition to recalling his writings, Obama describes in detail his meeting with his role model Václav Havel in 2008 when he was serving as a Member of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation. Havel, the first Czech President, managed to keep his values intact throughout his presidency. Obama saw this as a promise that not all politicians are corrupt, and that politics do not always create monsters.
However, when Obama meet with Václav Klaus, the Czech President during his presidency, in Prague, he knew that Klaus differed from Havel. Obama was very concerned about Klaus’s attitude towards democracy and expressed his concern for the stability of the Czech government. Obama makes a very intuitive comparison at the time between Klaus and Turkish President Erdogan, which turned out to be pretty accurate.
Obama claims that the economic crisis at the end of the first decade of this century opened the door to the rise of extreme nationalism, racism, anti-migration and skepticism towards existing unions and alliances in Europe, such as the EU. In Obama’s view, Klaus already personified some of these beliefs. Klaus believed he would get along well with the American Republic party, which left Obama perplexed.
"Although we tried to keep our conversation light, what I knew about his public stances - that he supported Czech Television's censorship efforts, that he was contemptuous of gay and lesbian rights, and that he was a famous denier of climate change - did not provoke me. particularly high hopes for political trends in Central Europe "
Obama strongly believes in the ideology of the Velvet Revolution movement. As Czechia celebrates its 31st anniversary of the Velvet Resolution, especially during a global pandemic, we can look to Obama’s impressions of Havel and derive inspiration and hope for the end of this year and the beginning of the next.