Vaclav Havel has died. I did not spend time on his plays but read his essays avidly. He was a great hero of the free. One of the things I admired about him, as noted in this piece, is his disregard for his own crowd’s leftist pieties. He never ceased to criticize Castro and Cuba for the elimination of human rights and self-government. He also supported the removal of the tyrant Saddam Hussein.
His greatest impact is on Central Europe. Not only did he become the last President of Czechloslovakia but the first of the Czech Republic. The Velvet separation of those two slavic nations contrasts vividly with the Yugoslav experience. It is rare that poets succeed in statecraft but the transition from Communism to freedom, from one Republic to two, and from the Warsaw Pact to Nato was not easy and was more likely to go awry than to succeed. He had a hand in each. Of the greatest champions of free men in the 80′s only Walesa and Thatcher yet live. There were giants in those days.