BEACON SOFT POWER AND PUBLIC DIPLOMACY SERIES:DAY 2
For Tuesday's segment of the series, Paul Kretkowski's Beacon
features a post by Professor Patricia Kushlis
, a retired Foreign Service Officer and specialist in Europe, Asia, the U.S., politics, public diplomacy and national security. Kushlis is also part of a trio of experts at the highly recommended foreign affairs blog, Whirledview
An excerpt:"Public Diplomacy Dateline 1975: A Meeting in Helsinki
In 1992, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) held its first major conference in Helsinki, Finland, a fitting memorial to the Cold War’s end. This 54-nation conference also commemorated CSCE’s 1975 beginning—the initial 35-state conference held in the same city but at a different time in a polarized world. The U.S. had only reluctantly agreed to participate, perhaps simply because the idea of a pan-European security conference had Soviet origins. America’s cold warriors—still smarting from Vietnam—feared wrongly the conference might hurt U.S. interests in Europe, the chief battleground between East and West. Baltic émigré communities also objected because they believed the conference would legalize then-national boundaries, keeping the three small Baltic countries forever in Soviet hands.
The 1975 conference included a human rights “basket” or negotiating group. Its negotiators drafted a declaration of support for individual human rights. The declaration became known as the Helsinki Accords—that first CSCE conference’s most important act. I don’t know why the Soviets agreed but they did—perhaps because they thought no enforcement or verification mechanisms existed, and so assumed the human rights provisions were empty words.
In the end, the Helsinki Accords—unbeknownst to us—provided the chief protection for and inspiration of tiny groups of anti-Communist dissidents from Prague to Moscow. They ultimately inspired the many to challenge the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union and to end Communism in Europe."
Read Patricia Kushlis' guest post in full here
Kushlis is correct, in my view. Helsinki's outcome on human rights was perceived as such a diplomatic disaster by the Politburo that the lead Soviet negotiator, a rising star who had expected a promotion to the "commanding heights" of the nomenklatura, went into a swift political eclipse. On the American side, former DCI Robert Gates
, known as a "hardliner" among Sovietologists in the IC community during his tenure, lauded the political and psychological effects of Helsinki in his memoirs.