History Of The Prague Spring Of 1968

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The 1960’s were the height of the Cold War. Tensions grew high as the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, competed around the globe for influence. Places like Korea, Vietnam, Egypt, and Cuba all were Cold War hotspots that escalated tensions between east and west almost to the point of nuclear war. However, most of these confrontations between the superpowers took place outside of Europe. One notable exception was the Prague Spring of 1968. The Prague Spring of 1968 had the potential to be as serious as the Cuban Missile Crisis, yet there was no confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union in Czechoslovakia.
Alexander Dubček and his coalition came to power in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and brought forth
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The invasion and subsequent occupation went smoothly, as Warsaw Pact troops encountered little resistance due to President Ludvík Svoboda’s secret promise to the Soviets to keep Czechoslovak troops out of combat and in their barracks. After a series of negotiations in Moscow, leaders from both Czechoslovakia and the USSR issue the Moscow Protocol, legitimizing the occupation. Alexander Dubček returned to Czechoslovakia and remained First Secretary until April of 1969. Throughout the occupation, Czechoslovakians used civil resistance to protest the Soviet occupation. Czechoslovakia underwent a ‘normalization’ process that slowly overturned the reforms instituted by Alexander Dubček and his reformist allies.
The Prague Spring was not a permanent, radical revolution that would convert Czechoslovakia in to a liberal democracy overnight, and the United States recognized this. The Prague Spring, while good to see happening on the other side of the iron curtain from the perspective of the United States, was not large enough or dramatic enough to prompt American intervention. The most important aspect of this is that Alexander Dubček and his reformist allies were under heavy diplomatic pressure from the Soviet
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The Communist world was not a united one in 1968. The Sino-Soviet split was the biggest break in the bloc, but other communist states like Yugoslavia also distanced themselves from the Soviet Union. Just because these states separated themselves from the Soviet Union, did not mean they wanted democracy or even to just be allied with the United States. They were still communist regimes, and in the case of Czechoslovakia, it was simply not reasonable to show any significant support for a country that was still technically a communist country. If the United States had intervened in Czechoslovakia, either politically or militarily, there was no guarantee that the reformists in the CPCz or in the government of Czechoslovakia would have welcomed it, even if the normal citizens of Czechoslovakia did welcome
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