A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 61: Czechoslovak General Staff
Study on the Warsaw Treaty, December 21, 1968

The Czechoslovak General Staff prepared this study about the role of the country in the military organization of the Warsaw Pact four months after the Soviet interven- tion. As such it presents a somewhat different point of view from critiques prepared only months before during the height of the Prague Spring, although it also tries to preserve some of the ideas from that period (see Document Nos. 51 and 52). This study argues that Czechoslovakia has always played a major role in the Warsaw Pact, and should continue to do so. It emphasizes that the country has been second only to the USSR in promoting the strengthening of the Pact's military organs, and it asserts the need to move toward greater institutionalization of the organization, as had taken place in NATO.

"…"

From the viewpoint of organization and lines of responsibility, the Warsaw Treaty has always been too loose a bond, failing to utilize all the potential to which it is entitled by certain provisions, and has not yet reached its desired condition in terms of the statutory and structural consolidation of its parts. In this sense, it cannot compare to the organizational refinement of NATO, in spite of the more forward-looking social order it is built upon.

In "our" political circles, the fear is sometimes expressed that by striving to strengthen mainly the military bodies of the Warsaw Treaty we may leave an impression of insincerity about our efforts to achieve a European security system, as mentioned in Art. 11 of the Treaty.

It needs to be stressed here that by strengthening these bodies, we would not even reach the organizational level of the NATO military bodies, and the aforementioned argument can thus be regarded as unsubstantiated.

In fact, accomplishment of the measures in question would make possible the attainment of the objectives set by the Warsaw Treaty and increase the effectiveness of the Treaty itself. This path also appears to offer the best way to eliminate the drawbacks in the way the Treaty has operated in the past; it would fully meet the needs of strengthening cooperation among socialist countries, so urgently needed in the current state of international affairs. This applies especially to the military bodies of the Warsaw Treaty. "…"

It must be said that these questions have been addressed at conferences of the coalition's defense ministers and chiefs of general staff, and at consultations of representatives of troops and services; largely, however, they had to do with the urgency of a particular problem, not an attempt to examine systematically certain statutory principles.

At such occasions, the leading officials of the Czechoslovak People's Army have always been among those who have taken the most initiative. "…" They were regard-

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