Saturday, October 14, 2006

When America didn't support regime change

Statue in front of Parliament of Imre Nagy, executed as a plotter of the 1956 Hungarian revolt against the Soviets

George Bush also visited Hungary earlier this year. He was commemorating the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against Soviet control. The irony of that visit is just immense, no matter your political views.

Bush is embroiled in Iraq because of his desire to change the regime there and help Democracy grow. But in 1956 when Hungarians bravely rose up against the Soviets and demanded freedom, the U.S. distracted by conflict over the Suez Canal in Egypt did nothing.

Without support from the west, Krushchev rolled tanks into Budapest and crushed the revolt. More than 2,500 freedom fighters and civilians were killed -- bullets can still be seen in buildings around Parliment. Another quarter million were wounded and another quarter million forced to flee Hungary.

Nagy, meanwhile, a communist but a patriot who backed reforms and wider freedom for his countryman, could not even get a callback from western embassies as the end became clear. He took refuge in the Yugoslavian embassy for a while.

But he was lured out by a fake promise of amnestry, captured, tried and executed.

It is immensely sad to think of what might have happened if only...

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