Contextualizing the Czech-American Relationship in the Light of NATO and Military Partnership: Creation, Evolution, and Cooperation
By Markéta Šonková
A shared appreciation of democratic ideals and human rights stood for one of the cornerstones of the foreign policies of the former Czechoslovakia and the U.S. as well as an ideological link between the two countries. At least this is what we learn when tracing the steps of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Woodrow Wilson that lead to the creation of the First Czechoslovak Republic. Those very ideals were brought back to the forefront after the Velvet Revolution when Václav Havel took the helm of the once again free Czechoslovak state. By the early 1990s, the geopolitical situation had, however, changed and it was necessary for the young post-Soviet state to become part of larger Western structures, such as NATO. Being part of NATO is still one of the cornerstones of Czech defense and foreign policy, even though under the first term of Miloš Zeman’s presidency, presidential diplomacy tried to move us more towards the East, and the U.S. under Donald Trump has turned more isolationist in its foreign policy approach. When re-examining the centenary of the Czech-American relationship, it is important to discuss the post-1989 era in which the Czech Republic, at least politically, entered in the West and forged an alliance that has changed its security outlook.