New 1968 documents come to light

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Archives reveal that the U.S. expected an invasion of Czechoslovakia, but failed to act

Newly opened US State department archives show that in 1968 the Lyndon B. Johnson government was expecting Warsaw Pact forces to invade Czechoslovakia, but chose to do nothing about it, Mladá fronta Dnes wrote on Thursday, citing Vít Pohanka, the Czech Radio correspondent in Washington.

The documents show that, previous to Prague Spring, in 1967, the American government was more interested in a dispute over Czech gold, assembled by the Nazis in World War Two and later confiscated to the US, than it was in the increasing government tension that eventually turned into a wave of liberalism sweeping the country. The name of the country's liberal Communist Party Chairman, Alexander Dubček, was virtually unknown.

By March and April of 1968, the thaw in the conditions was too obvious to ignore. American Ambassador in Prague, Jacob Beam, wrote that the liberalizing trend was a good thing for America, but pointed out that the government coalition was too weak to renew democracy in the country and questioned Moscow's reaction if it tried to do so. At that point, the US State Department decided to keep its distance from events in Czechoslovakia.

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