A t first it appeared that we in the West were once again fated to watch helplessly as the media relayed reports of another East European tragedy. Amalrik’s sentence was doubled, Medvedev’s passport revoked while he was in England, Solzhenitsyn received death threats, Sakharov was attacked by the press. Krasin and Yakir were held for a year (three months longer than legal), and recanted in a closed trial that brought back memories of the ’30s; then they suddenly surfaced at a news conference, which reminded us that these are the ’70s and the game is being played by new rules.
These new rules go by the name of detente but how much they are changing, how much only obscuring the nature of the game, of course remains to be seen. The semipartnership with the Soviet Union creates a certain continuity in Soviet-American relations and seems to allow for possibilities of dialogue and influence (not just at the top), possibilities that did not previously exist when there were two separate and hostile monoliths. Thus, while we were outraged spectators of the invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia and of previous attacks on dissidents within the Soviet Union, we may now feel to some degree part of the game....
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $35 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.