THE CZECHOSLOVAK CRISIS

Created: 7/17/1968

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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Mandatory Review Case*Vfo^ Oocnment ILS3sV

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AGENCY

OF NATIONAL EST MOTS

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KEMOPATOUM FOR THE DIRECTOR SUBJECT: The Czechoslovak Crisis

The crisis over Czechoslovakia continues but appears to betalemate for the moment. All the parties involvedthe Czech leaders and factions, the Soviets, the other Cocniunist regimes in Eastern Europeare faced with agonizing choices. Some unforeseeable move by ooe or another may suddenly sharpen or resolve the crisis, or it cay continue for some time longer.

Prague's Dil

1. Since the downfall of Novotny last January, Dubcek has had to contend with two opposing political currents In Czechoslovakia. The liberal reformers are seeking to convert Czechoslovakiaifferent type of Communist regime. Their goalluralistic political order in which the Communist Party Is only first among equals, and where the public is offered freer speech, press, assembly, and travel, greater Judicial protection,arger voice in determining the economic goals of the society. This

reflects, at least la part, the resurfacing of pre-Caaaunist Czechoslovak tradition. But there are two novelties: theis being espoused by significant numbers of Communist Party members; and it has assumed an anti-Soviet cast. The press in Czechoslovakia has even dared to print accusations that Soviet advisers were mainly responsible for the purge trials of the, and for the death of Jan Masaryk.

2. Opposed to such tendencies are the relatively conservative, hardline elements in the Party. Most of them supported Novotny; most of them are more pro-Soviet than other Party members; moat of them have either been removed from leading positions in the Party, army, or security apparatus, or face that prospect sometime between new and the Party Congress in September. Apparently thesehave been distributing leaflets against the regime and maintaining direct contact with the Soviets. The letter of the Czechoslovak Peoples' MllitIs, aa printed in Soviet media last month, exemplified their views.

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3- Dubcek seems to be trying toiddle course, in

doing so, he has seamed to some to be weak and irreaolute

unwilling to defy the Soviets, yet unable to keep the party or the

country in line. To others, however, hekillful tactician,

demonstrably capable of putting his men In key Party and government positions and endowedpecial talent for negotiating with the Soviets. Theords" Declaration of the Czechoslovak ultra liberals did not directly praise Dubcek, while the harsh .Pravda articleuly, responding toid not directly attack him. Perhaps Dubcek himself does not know whether, if Czechoslovakia should go the road of Hungarye would play the role of Kadar, the reluctant Soviet puppet, or Kagy, the reluctant national martyr.

U. In any case, the Czechoslovak leadership is not acting on the initiative of Dubcek alone. It includes people like Premier Cemik, Party Secretary Cisar, and Presidium members Kriegcl and

_ Snrkoveky, who are essentially liberals, and who, in the face of the most recent Soviet pressures have been resolute, if not defiant. roup they probably desire to do almost anything to adjust the pace of the reform in order to preclude further Soviet interference in Czechoslovakia. But they feel the need to

X remove the conservatives from the Central Committee quickly, before those opponentshance to unite in desperation, and they are reluctant to move forcibly against tbe ultraliberels. The people who supportedords" Declaration, which Moscow

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has found so offensive, repreaent the eleoenta, party andwho triggered Novotny'a downfall, for the most part intellectuals, theyital link between the present leadership and the population at large.

5- The regine's dilemca thus la that on the one hand it la under pressure to sake aoee visible concession* to the USSR oroviet effort to overthrow it. On the other hand, it fears that these ease concessions night alienate the intellectualsubstantial part of the population and lead to public disorders. This too oould bring in the Soviets.

The Soviets

6. The Soviets apparently believe that Connunlst authorityCzechoslovakia Is seriously threatened. They fear that the Dubcek regine la either too weak toakeover by reviaiooiata and counterrevolutionaries or is actually conspiring to bring this about. The Soviets are obviouuly seeking ways to. forestallevelopnent and to reassert their influence. ould enable thea ioinal choice between two unpalatable alternatives, active military Intervention along the lines ofr tacit acceptance of Czechoslovakia'a defection.

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courses of action, or inaction, in present circumstances are to some degree hazardous and possibly divisive among the Soviet leaders. Some must wish to move quickly and with force; others surely see virtue in some restraint and have not given up hope that Dubcek can be strengthened or brought around.

7- ajor concern of at least aome of the Soviet leaders mutt be the opposition to strong Soviet measures expressed by other Coaauniat parties and statea. Yugoslavia and Romania have given the Dubcek regime strong public endorsement and condemned the idea of Soviet military action against Czechoslovakia. Inarty spokesman explicitly denied the validity of the USSR's comparison between Hungary6 and Czechoslovakia today, and Kadar at the recent meeting in Warsaw apparently tried to counsel Soviet restraint, as he evidently has done on other occasions. Influential non-ruling Connunlst Parties, especially the Italians and French, are also advising Moscow to stop short of the use of force.

Outlook

artly because of internalnd considerations such as these, the Soviet leadership has probably not as yet made

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up its collective mind whether to use its troops in Czechoslovakia. It has hoped that strong pressures may yet force meaningful concessions from Dubcek, suchurge of high-level "revisionists"like Party Secretary Cestmiran already attacked by name in Pravdailencing ofelements in the Czech press and radio. Or, failing this, it may still have hopes that such pressures can be used, to turn Dubcek out.

9- Very much depends, of course, on what now happens inside Czechoslovakia. Some appropriate concessions from Dubcek would remove the occasion for drastic Soviet action, at leastime. Souccessful conservative move against Dubcek. But the eventual consequences of either event are simply not 'calculable. Dubcek, for example, should he seek to appease Moscow might then come under open attack by liberal and moderate forces; the conservatives, even should they gain power, might find themselves faced with opposition in the streets. The Sovietsben onco asaln be confronted with the same old dangerous questions.

10. The possibility will exist for some time that the Soviets will choose to intervene rather than permit Czechoslovakia to

drift or to move decisively toward what would appear aa open disavowal of Communism or of the Warsaw Pact. The disadvantages cf such intervention by no means inconsiderable in their view would simply have to be borne. This certainly was their conclusionnd though they now have more to lose through intervention than they did then, they probably could not bring themselves to suffer the loss of Czechoslovakia andthat that would imply for their position in Eastern Europehole.

U. We know of no way of foretelling the precise event in Czechoslovakia which night trigger such an extreme Soviet reaction, or of foreseeing the precise circumstances which might produce within the Soviet leadership an agreement to move with force. Some particular events in the recent past which were essentiallyords"seem to have especially alarmed the Soviets and may have led to specific countermoves. Similar events could in the future affect the opinions of on* or another Soviet leader; there isanger, we think, that outspoken and Inpatient Czechoslovaks could. In effect, fore* the Soviet Politburoilitant consensus.

There Is also no way of knowing in advance the precise way the Soviets night choose to use their military power in Czechoslovakia. Moscow, however, would prefer to intervene at the Invitation of saae kind of pro-Soviet Czechoslovak authorityadar-Uke regie* and night wish to do so in the pane of restoring public order. oviet cove night be preceded or accompanied by Soviet-instigated civil disorder and the formationro-Soviet rump regime.

So long as the Soviet troops remain in Czechoslovakia, there will be danger of strong popular reaction. It may by now have occurred to Moscow that lta troops in Czechoslovakia are, in effect strengthening anti-Soviet sentiments, atiffenlng the resolve of even the moderate natioaallata in the leaderahip, and hurting the cause of the pro-Soviet conservatives.

lU. Should Soviet forces In fact be completely removed, the Dubcek government would have saae breathing room at home. It would thenetter opportunity to restrict the ultra-'Uberala, at least, for the time being, and in this way save saae Soviet prestige. After several months, and If, as aeeaa likely.

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he consolidates his control over the Central Committee during the Party Congress ic September, Dubcek would then feel safe ineasured pace of reform.

FOR THE BOARD OF NATIONAL ESTIMATES:

ABBOT SMITH Chairman

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