Over at The American Prospect, foreign policy commentator Matthew Duss goes much further than I did yesterday in criticizing hawkish reactions to the recent events in Iran (which seems to have taken an ominous turn today). But in lamenting conservatives' Cold War revisionism, Duss indulges in a bit of his own:
[I]n a recent Politico profile, [Charles] Krauthammer scoffed at the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s and 1980s as "hysteria," which is the orthodox view among Reaganites.
The views of actual Communist dissidents, however, tell a different story. Such leaders as Czechoslovakia's Vaclav Havel and Poland's Adam Michnik, among others, have acknowledged that the cultural and intellectual exchanges that grew out of the anti-nuclear movement were important for the training and morale of their organizations and for preparing them for peaceful transitions of power after the Soviet Union collapsed. In a 1995 article for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, historian Mary Kaldor noted that the peace movement of the 1980s "was unprecedented in scale and in its transnational character," and in the way it made explicit links between peace, democracy, and human rights "[in seeking] links with individual dissidents and groups in Eastern Europe."
Actually, Havel in 1985 wrote an essay, entitled "Anatomy of a Reticence," about just this topic. And the conclusion was just about the opposite:
How much trust or even admiration for the Western peace movement can we expect from a simple yet sensitive citizen of Eastern Europe when he has noticed that this movement has never, at any of its congresses or at demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of participants, got around to protesting the fact that four years ago, one important European country attacked a small neutral neighbor and since that time has been conducting on its territory a war of extermination which has already claimed a million dead and three million refugees? Seriously, what are we to think of a peace movement, a European peace movement, which is virtually unaware of the only war being conducted today by a European state? As for the argument that the victims of aggression and their defenders enjoy the sympathies of Western establishments and so are not worthy of support from the left, such incredible ideological opportunism can provoke only one reaction–utter disgust and a sense of limitless hopelessness.
That quote and more beside are included in my 2003 Reason appreciation of Havel, "Velvet President."
So what has Havel saying about the Iranian crisis? From a recent interview he gave to Bloomberg News:
"The Iranian president does not represent any religious nor national or other ideas," Havel said. "In my eyes he is a man possessed. Unfortunately we are living at a time when a man possessed could easily inflict damage to a lot of people, due to modern technology.
"It is important that the West should not consider oil to be more important than human rights," he added.
The West could consider embargoes or boycotts aimed at the Iranian government, taking care to ensure they don't harm the people, Havel said. [...]
"What is possible and what I would repeatedly warn against is the policy of compromise and the notion that if we don't provoke evil, it will just go away by itself," Havel said. "On the contrary, that would just make it stronger."