The Contrarian of Prague

by Julie Walsh on March 10, 2008

in Blog

Being president of the Czech Republic is more like being England's monarch than the president of the United States. While the Czech president has veto power over certain types of legislation, his role is supposed to be mostly ceremonial.

But Vaclav Klaus — who was re-elected last month after being chosen by the Czech Parliament as head of state in 2003 — has not been content to confine himself to ribbon cuttings and state dinners.

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The Contrarian of Prague

by Lene Johansen on March 10, 2008

in Politics

Czech President Václav Klaus was one of the speakers at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, and his message was unequivocal. It is not about climatology. It is about freedom.

“Future dangers will not come from the same source. The ideology will be different. Its essence will, nevertheless, be identical – the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of its proponents about their right to sacrifice the man and his freedom in order to make this idea reality.”

While most other politicians have gotten on the self-sacrifice-at-the-green-altar bandwagon, blinding themselves to the blood that is dripping from that altar, Václav Klaus has the intellectual decency to be Thomas Stockman of his peers. He was a dissident during the communist era, and now he is a dissident among international state leaders.

His recent portrait in the Wall Street Journal portrays several issues, where he chooses to stay off the bandwagons that other European politicians has gotten on, that includes climate change, Russia, and the Kosovo independence. It takes courage to be a lone voice of reason in a world of group think.

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