Shub, Anatole
January 1969
Foreign Affairs;Jan1969, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p266
This article discusses the lessons learned from the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union in August 1968. Surely the most striking aspect of the invasion of Czechoslovakia was the way it surprised even the closest observers. To be sure, many had perceived the danger of military intervention earlier in the summer--and particularly during the three tense weeks between the so-called Warsaw Letter of the Soviet leaders and their friends, and the climactic conferences at Cierna-nad-Tisou and Bratislava. Following these conferences, however, the entire world, including the Czecho-slovak leaders themselves, believed that the crisis had been resolved by compromise agreement. Belief in Soviet predictability has been called into question not merely by the suddenness of the invasion but by the peculiar manner in which the decision to intervene appears to have been taken. The invasion of Czechoslovakia has also undermined a popular belief that liberalization in Eastern Europe could precede and compel change in the Soviet Union itself. This belief nevertheless ran counter to the facts of 1955-56. The Czechoslovak experience shows even more clearly that the influence of Eastern Europe on the Soviet government is either limited or perverse.


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