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Dear Mr. History,

There is one thing in history that particularly interests me. Was President Lyndon Johnson aware of the plans of the Soviet Union and its vassal states to invade Czechoslovakia in 1968? I thank you for your answer.


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Papers in the Lyndon B. Johnson Library suggest that everyone in the United States from the president on down were taken by surprise when the Soviet Union made its move on August 20-21, 1968. Just prior to the invasion, Soviet and smaller Warsaw Pact forces were maneuvering into place under the guise of a joint exercise. Meanwhile, Kremlin officials had been debating the risk of the Czech reforms spreading to other Warsaw Pact governments against the possible consequences of armed intervention before finally choosing the latter course. In the short run, the invasion succeeded—Johnson was in the midst of committing more troops to Vietnam and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle Wheeler, flatly declared “There is no military action we can take.” For the time being, Johnson canceled a scheduled summit conference with Leonid Brezhnev on nuclear disarmament, but there was little else that could be done.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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