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Introduction to Topic and Committee
The Historical Security Council will be looking at a variety of issues that have happened in the past and has previously confronted the nations back then in the Security Council during the time period of such a crisis. The topics we will be looking at largely fall during the timer period of the Cold War. The focus of the committee is not only to diffuse the tension and impending nuclear conflict but also to strive for innovative ways in which to find better solutions to the event than the ones history has offered. The emphasis is to balance historical accuracy whilst striving for innovative solutions. That means historical accuracy is necessary up to the dates delineated in the timeline, but then delegates are not required to recreate the course of history when finding a solution after those dates.
Description of Issue
The Prague Spring highlighted the ―cracks‖ existing within the USSR bloc during the Cold War. It demonstrated the kind of stirrings for freedom of press, the release of political prisoners and other such liberal agendas were not solely delegated to the West but had a form of universality. The incident furthermore illustrates the fine line many nations have to walk in encouraging such a ―spring‖ in a highly polarized and tense political environment. The kind of actions and resolutions that come forth from this committee will have a striking resonance and precedence for the type of Arab Springs we see nowadays as well. Czechoslovakia experienced recession around the 1960s, thus compelling the president Antonin Novotny to decentralize the economy and turn more towards capitalism. However coupled with this economic liberalization was limited social liberalization, but it was this half-way liberalization that had already planted the seeds of discontent and the aspirations for full social freedom. This movement was expressed when Alexander Dubcek was voted in as a replacement; he stated is policy was one of lifting censorship and where "We shall have to remove everything that strangles artistic and scientific creativeness." The whole scenario is known as the Prague Spring. Some of the reforms had newspapers attacking and undermining the traditional communist party central committee system and increasing trade union rights. However, taking cues from the Hungarian
Uprising, Dubcek continued to pledge his allegiance and loyalty to the Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact. On the pretense that the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) would invade the Sudentenland, the Soviet Union offered to send in the red army to protect Czechoslovakia, an offer to which Dubcek declined on the probable grounds that the red army would be used to suppress the Prague Spring. Regardless, the Warsaw pact countries invaded Czech on August 21. Timeline of events (all in the year 1968): January 5: Alexander Dubček becomes the leader of the Communist Party, replacing Antonin Novotny. March 5: Abolition of censorship. March 22: Antonin Novotny, who is still head of the state, resigns. March 23: Meeting of the leaders of Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, East Germany, USSR and Czechoslovakia in Dresden. March 30: Svoboda is elected president of Czechoslovakia. May 8: Meeting of USSR, East Germany, Poland and Hungary in Moscow. May 30: Novotny and others communists are banned from the Politburo. June 21: Warsaw pact gets hold in Czechoslovakia. June 25: Release of political prisoners. July 14: After a meeting in Moscow, the USSR, Poland, East Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria send a letter to the Czechoslovak Communist Party. July 18: The Czechoslovak Communist Party proposes to hold discussions on ―objective information‖. August 3: Conference in Bratislava (Slovakia) between the ―Five‖ and Czechoslovak government. August 20-21: During the night Czechoslovakia is invaded. Dubcek and other member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party are forced to go in Moscow.
Definitions of Key Terms:
Iron Curtain - Coined by Winston Churchill, a term used to describe the chill between the western democracies and USSR and its satellite nations. The ―Five‖ – This refers to the list of USSR, Poland, East Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria. De-Stalinization- It is the process to move away from the political system created by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin as exemplified by personality cult and labor camp. Liberalization- A process to open up the political and/or economic system of a country Censorship- Refers to the authority's suppression of speech or other forms of expression of opinion by its citizens. Satellite states- Figuratively, these are states that are nominally independent but in truth beholden to another country and thus evolve around a center of hegemony. Brezhnev Doctrine- The doctrine that states the USSR can and will intervene in East European nations when they tend to capitalism
Positions of Key Member Nations and Other Bodies on the Issue
Ideologically Western/Democratic states (NATO): Post WWII, USA, the UK, France, Japan and West Germany typically had very strong political ties and agreements. Such countries have also generally championed democracy, human rights and western liberal ideals, although to varying degrees in different points of time and also depending on the domestic pendulum swings to different parties. At the height of the cold war, US was seen to be given the lead role in opposing the growing USSR due to the supposed decline in power as stated by the UK and the need for a reconstruction time period for France after the great war. Ideologically Soviet leaning: It would seem as though there are not as many countries that lean towards the USSR, however that is because many of them were simply absorbed by the USSR. In terms of land mass, the communist bloc was bigger than the western bloc. However it is important to notice that within many of these blocs were small pockets of dissent (Czechoslovakia) and also some countries, although communist, did not necessarily buy into the same strain of communism that USSR proposed. One such country being the People’s Republic of China, which although had stronger tendencies towards the Soviet Union had a series of fallout between their two leaders in the formation of the Communist Party in China.
Other blocs There are also a series of countries, such as Cuba, Cyprus, Iran, Ghana fearing the excessive influences of one superpower, those countries would pander to the other superpower and playoff the two to its own benefit rather than for the purposes of truly aligned political ideology. NATO North Atlantic treaty organization was formed in April 1949. Ten European nations, Canada, and the US formed this organization which was a mutual defense pact WARSAW Pact A pact formed by the Soviet Union and its satellites in 1955, seen by many historians as a direct response to the formation of NATO.
Czechoslovakia was a setting for frantic liberalization, with newspapers, freed from the restraints of censorship, immediately attacking the previous president of Czechoslovakia, his family members and the corrupt institution he upheld. The difficulty is both at once to sustain the momentum of such a movement, transforming it into something more tenable and sustainable, as well as to appease the larger political factions/groups one country is part of. The double standard or difference in foreign policy and the domestic agenda could not have been made more obvious by Dubcek and underscores the finicky lines countries must respect when turning to democratization. It is crucial to keep in mind that this Prague spring is not an isolated occurrence but rather part of the larger political and historical phenomena of the cold war. Certain, what can be considered domestically, wins, checkmates or progress on one of the two fronts of the two superpowers in the cold war could potentially endanger the international equilibrium as a whole. Countries must draw the connection between this crisis and crises occurring in other areas of the world such as the Cuban missile crisis, the affronts the countries collect as a result of such confrontations and the grudges some may hold coming into resolving the Prague Spring. Parallels as well as differences can be drawn between the Prague spring and the Hungarian Spring; what is important however is a recognition and at least awareness of such similarities and differences so as to reconcile history and political actions in the international realm. The cold war was defined by a series of non direct conflicts, played out as proxy wars between the USA and the USSR. In addition to this, the US, apart from fighting communism on an idealogical front, would supply numerous countries in latin America and post war Europe with economic aid
and loans for the purposes of facilitating a better stable government that was less likely to regress to communism. However the key issue here is the extent to which countries such as the US can extend their policing power into the domains and regions such as Czechoslovakia in order to stem the, perhaps overdone, influences from the USSR. The peculiarity of the situation is also found in the grass-root will of the people of Czechoslovakia for change as opposed to an artificial supplementation of democracy in another country as has become characteristic of the USA in the Middle East. Furthermore, the military intervention in autonomous states might enlighten or give increased insight into the varying systems of political government, what is the best recipe for an ease into democracy or the consensus that might arise from two very different states of government. It is important to note that the Prague Spring originated as a highly literary movement and then expanded the based to encompass the rights of labor unions, workers etc. Thus some countries may not list this crisis as high up on their list of priorities, especially under such a tense political climate when other issues seem to be more relevant. Yet these views must be tempered by the fact that is in the mandate of the UN charter to uphold all basic human rights.
Questions for debate:
Delegates must grapple with the most contentious issue once more—sovereignty. Is it enough for the UN to intervene every time there has been a violation of fundamental human rights? Or should delegates look at the long term perspective and preemptively implement mechanisms or intervene in situations that might spiral out of control. Delegations furthermore must investigate the extent to which the UN may intrude in certain affairs given that the concern over the Prague Spring predominantly surrounds not the violation of basic human rights, but higher and perhaps loftier human rights such as freedom of press and speech. Delegates must also strive to understand and determine how the UN should respond to the political ideology of a totalitarian state and the imposition of its ideology on other states in a forceful manner. Nations must furthermore be pressed with the confrontation of reality and solutions developed in the UN as the invasion by USSR was a clear violation of the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia. The question of actually convincing other nations to withdraw means mounting just reputational pressure on an international level is not enough. Management of the crisis is crucial for setting a precedent in managing future crises in which the heightened liberty of a country potentially threatens the security of others. It is important to ascertain an international arbiter is present should a new government come into place after the crisis and to prevent possible unstable power vacuums that may allow Prague to regress into a state worse off than before.
Furthermore, the inclusion of key central participants in the decision making process is paramount (even with the heightened p5 nation power vote), so that countries are not left out of equal representation. In addition, the lessons learned from the problem-resolution process need to be institutionalized as opposed to a quick fix, superficial resolution to the Prague Spring.
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/473793/Prague-Spring http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/prague_spring_1968.htm http://library.thinkquest.org/C001155/index1.htm http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDprague.htm http://www.marxists.org/glossary/events/p/r.htm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/155500.stm http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDprague.htm http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/473793/Prague-Spring http://www.pwf.cz/en/prague-spring/904.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/august/21/newsid_2781000/2781867.stm http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/his135/Events/Czech68.htm http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/prague-spring-begins-in-czechoslovakia
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