1968 Begins With A Bang

1968 started off with a bang!

On January 5, 1968 in Czechoslovakia, then part of the Soviet Union, Alexander Dubcek was elected head of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia and almost immediately put forward reforms that Moscow was, to say the least, no happy with.

Dubcek loosened restrictions on the freedom of the media, on freedom of speech and on the ability of his citizens to travel. After Dubcek decentralized the state-run economy and introduce democratic reforms the Soviets had had enough. As a hint that they were not pleased with Mr. Dubcek’s actions, 500 000 Warsaw Pact soldiers and tanks were mobilized into Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovakians met the Soviet troops with non-violent resistance, even trying to make friends with the forces, who surely wished they were somewhere else than Prague.

Despite the non-violent resistance, the Warsaw Pact troops prevailed, and Moscow maintained its control over the satellite state until the entire Soviet Union fell apart. That a military action was met by peaceful protest would prove to be an aberration in 1968.

At the end of January half-way around the world in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese forces, along with the VietCong, staged what we now call the Tet Offensive. Near midnight on January 30, nearly 100 000 North Vietnamese troops attacked cities, towns, and military personnel in South Vietnam, sparking panic, confusion, and chaos.

Napalm

But the U.S. and its South Vietnamese allies were able to regroup and eventually pushed their opponents back, but the damage had been done in public opinion. Americans, seeing horrific pictures, now called for a peaceful resolution for the conflict and military personnel even sought a non-violent end to the war nobody knew why they were in.

With these two events 1968 was off to a rocky start, but it was just getting started. By February people around the world saw the viciousness of the Vietnam War and were startled by what they saw. As was President Lyndon Johnson

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s