Exit Havel

July 28, 1992

The departure of Vaclav Havel from the office of president of Czechoslovakia allows the parliaments of its two republics to concentrate on the terms of their dissolution. It is a sad exit. The world has not seen the last act of the playwright Mr. Havel as a politician, in all probability. But a revival would be on the smaller stage of the Czech Republic, without Slovakia. His theater always did play better in small, intimate houses.

Czechoslovakia is not quite dead yet, but life support systems have been removed. The last breath will come by autumn. The split follows the June election, which put a nationalistic and socialist party in power in backward Slovakia, and a nationalistic and capitalist party in the wealthier Czech Republic. They killed Czechoslovakia.

The civility of these goings-on is a lesson to Czechoslovakia's neighbors. The substance is not. Separation is unlikely to benefit either half of the present country. But it is going to occur.

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