Why Did the Warsaw Pact Intervene in Czechoslovakia in 1968 but Not in Poland in 1980?

1956 words 8 pages
Why did the Warsaw Pact intervene in Czechoslovakia in 1968 but not in Poland in 1980?

When conducting a comparative analysis there are several arguments that need to be developed in order to come up with a feasible conclusion. Therefore by using a three-fold approach I will be exploring the question of why the Warsaw Pact intervened in Czechoslovakia but not in Poland. One could begin by focusing on the origin of the reforms in both countries. Czechoslovakia adopted a “top down” approach headed from within the Communist Party by the liberal reformist Alexander Dubcek, the First secretary of the party. This is contrasted with the reforms in Poland as they spurred out of “Solidarity” that consisted of the working class and
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The USSR was reaching a culmination of the political strain and struggle to keep tensions at a minimal. This uneasy environment was heightened by the summer Olympic games being held in Moscow. Thus the USSR was not prepared to stain its image abroad by sending troops into Poland and attracting unwanted attention.

The Polish situation can be further explained by examining past events involving Czechoslovakia. The invasion in 1968 sent an “unmistakable signal” through the Soviet Block; it defined how far the USSR was willing to go in order uphold its ideological principles. This notion fortifies the explanation why in 1981 following the troop movements in Ukraine and the Baltic States, Jaruzelski, fearing revolutionary outcome, crushed the Solidarity movement through the introduction of martial law. This fear of Soviet intervention demonstrated through the case of Czechoslovakia in 1968, ensured that the USSR was able to leave the Polish government in charge of their events. The martial law managed to supress the movement and successfully avoided tarnishing relations with Russia.

Some observers such as Hans Morgenthau conclude that the invasion in 1968 was carried out to prevent Czechoslovakia from shifting its alliance closer to West Germany. This shows that Czechoslovakia has never had to choose between independence and alignment, but between alignment with Russia and with Germany. Crampton also mentions this

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