The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948-1983: Uncertain Allegiance
by Condoleeza Rice,
reviewed by Josef Kalvoda

From "Reviews of Books," in
The American Historical Review,
Vol. 90, No. 5, (Dec. 1985), 1236

Image follows, with text below that.

The American Historical Review,
Vol. 90, No. 5, (Dec. 1985), 1236

From "Reviews of Books,"  page 1236:

CONDOLEEZZA RICE. The Soviet Union and the Czecho-
slovak Army, 1948-1983: Uncertain Allegiance.
Princeton: Princeton University press. 1984. pp. xiv, 
303. $37.50.

To write a scholarly study on the relationship of the 
Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak army without 
access to relevant Czechoslovak and Soviet docu-
ments is difficult. Therefore, much of this book by 
Condoleezza Rice is based on secondary works. His 
thesis is that the Soviets directly influence military 
elites in the satellite countries, in addition to the 
Soviet Communist party interacting with the domes-
tic parties. Rice selects Czechoslovakia as a case study 
and attempts to show the role of the military as 
instrument of both national defense and the Soviet-
controlled military alliance.
Rice's selection of sources raises questions, since 
he frequently does not sift facts Itom propaganda 
and valid information front disinformation or mis-
inlormation. He passes judgments and expresses 
opinions without adequate knowledge of facts. It 
does not add to his credibility when he uses a source 
written by Josef Hodic; Rice fails to notice that this 
"former military scientist" (p. 99) was a communist 
agent who returned to Czechoslovakia several years 
ago. Rice based his discussion of the "Sejna affair" 
(pp. III, 11fi, 144) largely on communist propa-
ganda sources and did not consult writings and 
statements by former General Jan Sejna who had 
access to Warsaw Pact documents and is the highest 
military officer from the Soviet bloc to defect to the 
West since World War 11.
Rice's generalizations reflect his lack of knowledge 
about history and the nationality problem in Czech-
oslovakia. For example, in 1955 Czechoslovakia was 
not yet "the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic" (pp. 
83, 84). In May 1938 Ludvik Svoboda was serving in 
the Czech army, not organizing a Czech military 
unit in Poland. In the fall of' 1939 he was captured 
by the Soviet invading forces in eastern Poland: he 
did not "[escape] to the USSR" (p. 43). Rice's discus-
sion of the "Czechoslovak Legion" that was "born 
during the chaotic period preceding the fall of the
Russian empire" (pp 44-46) is ridiculous. (It was
"born" on September 28, 1914.) He is clearly igno-
rant of the history of the military unit as well as of 
the geography of the area on which it fought.
   Rice claims that "Czechoslovaks are supposedly 
passive and consider resistance to invading forces 
unnecessary and dangerous, preferring instead po-
litical solution' (p. 4). First. there are Czechs and 
Slovaks but no Czechoslovaks. Second, history shows 
that Czechs resisted the invading Prussians in 1866, 
that during World War 1 more than one million 
Czechs and Slovaks fought in the Austro-Hungarian 
armies, and that several tens of thousands volun-
teered for service in the Czechoslovak armies in
Russia, France, and Italy. In 1919 Czechs and Slo-
vaks fought the invading armies of Bela Kun in 
Slovakia. In 1939 and 1948, "the Czechoslovak pres-
ident, Edvard Benes. ordered his troops to the 
barracks," writes Rice. "[Alexander] Dubcek and 
Svoboda were, then just following precedent. Czech-
oslovak passivity meant that the decision of 1968 was 
preordained" (pp. 4-6). Nothing, indeed, is preor-
dained in history. Moreover, Benes in 1939 was no 
longer president but was teaching at the University 
of Chicago.
In comparing Poland in 1981 and Czechoslovakia 
in 1968, Rice does not mention the obvious: whereas 
Soviet troops have been garrisoned in Poland since 
the end of World War II and, therefore, an invasion 
of Poland was unnecessary, the main objective of the 
1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia was to force 
Dubcek's regime to accept the stationing of Soviet 
troops in the country.
The writing abounds with meaningless phrases, 
such as is its "last word": "Thirty-five years after its 
creation, the Czechoslovak People's Army stands 
suspended between the Czechoslovak nation and 
the socialist world order" (p. 245).

Saint Joseph College
West Hartford, Connecticut

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