“Hatred is an elixir, a potent political bomb, a seductive answer to the unbearable banality of life.” So said The New York Times’s Roger Cohen beginning his keynote talk at ICWA’s annual dinner on November 18, 2022 at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC, where some hundred fellows, trustees, diplomats, journalists and friends gathered for our first big meeting since the pandemic’s onset.
It was spectacular, and Roger’s lyrical words about this year’s terrible events in Europe mesmerized. Describing his reporting in Ukraine and elsewhere, and the changes sweeping the continent, he said Europeans “have been galvanized from a self-regarding torpor.”
They understand the confrontation over Vladimir Putin’s murderous war in Ukraine can’t be lost “or the principles we hold dear, and learned so painfully across the arc of the 20th century, will ring hollow. A highway will open to Russian and Chinese domination of the 21st century, and a world where freedom, the rule of law, open societies and the defense of human rights are undone.”
We also marked founder Charles Crane’s friendship with the first president of independent Czechoslovakia, Tomas Masaryk, and Crane’s support for the independence movement. Crane’s great-grandson Joseph Bradley—emeritus professor of history, University of Tulsa—described his motivations, including support for pan-Slavism as well as admiration for leading liberal political reformers at a time the United States—for all our faults—promised a new kind of great power foreign policy supporting democratic values and self-determination.
And we heard from Jan Havranek, the Czech Republic Embassy’s deputy chief of mission, and Kateryna Smagliy, first secretary at the Ukrainian Embassy.