Havel statue in DC Drew Angerer/Getty images

Europe Against the Ropes

On November 8, as Donald Trump was sealing his victory in the US presidential election, a conference in Brussels commemorated the legacy of the late Václav Havel. As we enter the Trump era, that legacy could not be more important, especially for Europe.

MADRID – On November 8, as Donald Trump was sealing his shocking victory in the United States presidential election, a conference in Brussels commemorated the legacy of the late Václav Havel, the first post-communist president of Czechoslovakia (and later the Czech Republic). As the world enters the Trump era, that legacy could not be more important, especially for Europe.

It is hard to imagine two figures more different than Havel and Trump. The former was an artist and intellectual who fought his entire life for truth, working tirelessly to bring out the best in people and societies. The latter is a self-obsessed huckster who rose to power by playing on people’s basest emotions.

Havel’s values have much in common with those that drove, after World War II, the creation of the liberal world order, which has brought unprecedented peace and prosperity. Trump’s election, however, suggests that the US may no longer uphold those values, much less continue to fulfill its post-WWII role in maintaining international order.

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