over, such a withdrawal would cast doubt on the power and prestige of its transatlantic guarantor, the United States. Recent French overtures toward closer Franco-German defense cooperation would also have to be either discontinued or carefully limited under the terms of an agreement, and there would be other profound implications for intra-European defense arrangements.
The relationship between East Germany and the prestige and strategic position of the Soviet Union is still more important. The Soviet Union has never permitted a Soviet-sponsored Eastern European communist regime to declare itself neutral. Such a step is contrary to the crucial goal of progress toward socialism and a secure "socialist commonwealth"; it would be a serious blow to Moscow's prestige and credibility. Shortly after Austria declared itself neutral, socialist Hungary attempted to follow suit. The vehemence of Soviet behavior in destroying that attempt demonstrates the importance the Soviet Union attaches to this principle. Some months after the crushing of the Hungarian revolution, Hungarian foreign minister Imre Horvath explained on Budapest Radio the philosophy behind the Soviet action:
The neutrality of a socialist country must be assessed not only from the point of view of peace but also from that of the cause of socialism. While a true neutrality on the part of a capitalist country [i.e., Austria] means standing apart from the conquerors and those ready to go to war, the neutrality of a socialist country represents an underhanded attack on the cause of peace and socialism and its betrayal. 31
Czechoslovakia learned much the same lesson in the late summer and fall of 1968. The Soviet Union could not allow the German Democratic Republic to declare itself permanently neutral without risking serious collateral damage to its East European empire.
Because of the unusual nature of the Soviet withdrawal from Austria, it has been tempting since 1955 to ask whether the so-called Austrian solution might be repeated in other disputed areas. There are certain aspects of the solution that might be applicable to other international disputes, and those aspects have been described here. But neutralization as a tool of international-conflict resolution is useful only under extremely limited circumstances. In the case of Switzerland, neutralization by the European powers was essentially a recognition of the status quo and a desire to shore up that stable arrangement. Switzerland's perpetual neutrality was a de facto condition that had existed for some time and which members of the Concert of Europe were loathe to change.