Assess The Importance Of The Political And — страница 4

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Czechoslovak affairs, as they were worried about the effect the reforms had on their regimes. It was decided to hold a meeting in Cierna on July 29th. According to sources, the Czechs displayed solidarity and support for Dubcek s regime. Moscow s calculation that the Czech leadership will crack under pressure and ask for USSR s intervention proved to be wrong. It was agreed that USSR would withdraw the troops from Czechoslovakia in the near future. This took place in Bratislava on August 3rd. The leaders of the Warsaw Pact partners met to endorse on the truce reached in Cierna. However the wording of the Bratislava conference was woolly and the meeting resolved nothing. Issues discussed were very general, therefore the interpretations of the meeting were different for both sides.

The Czechs left Bratislava feeling they convinced the others of their loyalty to the Warsaw Pact, believing their sovereignty was assured. The Bratislava declaration was a document which the Czechs could interpret as a license to continue their reform program . Yet USSR got a very different understanding. They hoped the Czechs would halt the reforms, setting up a pro-Russian administration. If that failed, they would invite Russians to resolve the situation by arresting Dubcek and his supporters. As well as that they were hoping the party would re-gain control of the press. Though at one point it may have seemed USSR gave in to Czechoslovakia, and the world had witnessed another David-over-Goliath victory , the Soviet Union was soon to break the illusion. On August 10th the

proposals for revising the statutes of the Czechoslovak communist party were published, condoning the rights of the minority to state its views in public after a majority decision had been reached. Edmonds believes that this in the eyes of orthodox communists was the crime of factionalism. How could this be allowed in a system where public opinion prevailed that of an individual? The political and military considerations that were pressurizing Kremlin became too evident. Ignoring the Cierna and Bratislava conferences, the Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia on the night of August 20-21st. In my opinion, one of the primary factors that USSR was bothered about was the fact that Czechoslovak reforms were drifting out of the party s control. According to Steele, Dubcek and his

colleagues had shown neither the will, nor the determination to control the developments. USSR always had influence and control over the Warsaw Pact countries, reforms were never allowed to go too far. It was clear that the further the Czechoslovak system changes, the harder it will be to reverse it, and once re-gain control of the situation. There was also the threat that extremist groups in Czechoslovakia will seek independence from the USSR. This in turn could undermine the Soviet reputation in the whole world. This brings us to the following factors behind the decision to invade. USSR was put under pressure not only by the strategic position vis- -vis the West, but also the opinions of the whole communist camp. China strongly criticized USSR for lack of control over the

situation, and leaders of Poland and East Germany suggested Soviet Union s intervention, before things got out of hand and reforms spread all around the buffer states, the so called domino theory . Steele believes that Moscow couldn t afford another defection. As well as that the effect on the regime within Soviet Union itself was hard to predict. Each new development in Czechoslovakia increased the difficulty of holding the line against reform at home. At the same time, the arguments against the invasion remained weak. There was the likely effect that the invasion might bring on the other communist parties in the world. China at this point was already out of the question, so the only power that could be concerned was Cuba, and Castro was too dependent on USSR anyhow. There were

the communist movements in the West, but none of these were strong enough, or really recognized. The question of potential Czech resistance – in Hungary 1956 a lot of Russian lives were lost. Yet Czechoslovakia was different; there was no traditional enmity towards the Russians, neither the desire to fight. Besides, after Cierna and Bratislava conferences the Russians could invade using the element of surprise. This is where military considerations come in. Seeing as Warsaw Pact maneuvers had been continuously in progress since July, the massive invasion of Czechoslovakia could be conducted successfully. Finally came the concern about West s reaction. The Russians calculated that if the invasion would have any effect on d tente or the talks with US about the reduction of