Max Kuhelj Bugaric ’19

Introduction

The 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary is an interesting case from the perspective of both diplomatic history and international relations theory.[1] I argue that defensive realism, as expounded by Stephen Van Evera in his influential work Causes of War: Power and the Roots of Conflict, best explains broader motivations behind the invasion. In terms of Van Evera’s (1999) theory, the Soviet Union, like all states, “[sought] security as a prime goal,” and due to “national misperceptions of the fine-grained structure of international power” (p. 11), it saw the developments in Hungary as a threat to that security. More specifically, for the Soviet Union, the situation in 1956 was a “window of vulnerability,” i.e. “a growing defensive vulnerability” (Van Evera, 1999, p. 74) where Hungarian withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact would not only have destabilized the collective security arrangement but also, given the zero-sum nature of the broader Cold War context, strengthened the West. The invasion was therefore a preventive war in the sense that the Soviets wanted to avoid facing a neutral Hungary with material or diplomatic backing by the West, potentially sympathetic Warsaw Pact member states, or possibly both. To use Van Evera’s (1999) definition of preventive war, the invasion was “launch[ed] … to avoid a later war waged under worse conditions” (p.76).

However, Van Evera’s theory does not provide a causal explanation for the Soviet decision to intervene; the explanation it provides necessarily relies on the operation of a number of broader patterns and motivations arising mostly from the structure of the bipolar Cold War world. Hence, I introduce the concept of the “deterrent demonstration effect” (DDE), which instead explains how the events in Hungary (and Poland) directly prompted the Soviet invasion.[2] First, the DDE elucidates why the events of the Polish October – which preceded the Hungarian Crisis by a number of days but in conceptual terms closely paralleled it – did not prompt a Soviet military response. Second, and still within the context of general Soviet concerns and motivations, the DDE illustrates how the Soviets opted for punishing Hungary for its behavior because doing so directly protected their security posture, not only in Hungary but also within the Soviet Bloc as a whole.

In the first section of the paper, I examine how Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” shook the Soviet Bloc and destabilized Poland and Hungary. In the second section, I continue by discussing why the centrality of the Warsaw Pact to Soviet security and Hungary’s role in the arrangement made the Soviets feel especially threatened during the tumult of 1956. In the third section, I contrast the Polish and Hungarian situation within the framework of the DDE and explain why the Soviets intervened in the latter but not in the former case. I conclude by expanding on the implications of the DDE; namely, on how it increases the explanatory power of defensive realism and thus helps us better understand the contemporary international system.

The “Secret Speech”

The intended audience for Khrushchev’s Secret Speech was, as the name suggests, rather limited, but news of it spread through the Soviet Bloc with rather destabilizing consequences. Admittedly, as Charles Gati writes, “[t]he revolution began, perhaps, in the winter of 1944-45, when the Red Army occupied Hungary, and when over a period of three years the Hungarian Communists, relying on deception, intimidation, and force, seized power” (p. 141). However, even if it was the events of those three years that set Hungary on the path of resistance, it was the Secret Speech that pushed it over the edge and prompted the 1956 Revolution.[3] Hence, a brief discussion of the speech and subsequent events is necessary.

Khrushchev’s focus were, as Orlando Figes (2014) puts it, “Stalin’s crimes” (p. 249), but “[f]rom attacking Stalin it was a short step to questioning the Soviet system as a whole” (p. 251). “The speech,” he continues, “changed everything. It was the moment when the Party lost authority, unity and self-belief” (p. 252). The domestic consequences were extremely significant, and so was the speech’s effect on other Soviet Bloc countries. Namely, in the words of Peter Kenez (2006), “[t]he consequences of Khrushchev’s revelations were particularly harsh in the Soviet satellites. Here communist bosses who had committed crimes by copying Stalinist methods were still in power. On the one hand, they could not prevent the adoption of a new Soviet line coming from Moscow, but on the other, they wanted to retain their posts” (p. 193). The result was tumult in Poland and Hungary, concludes Kenez (p. 193). The overall resultant situation threatened Soviet security both directly and indirectly. Directly by giving rise to the possibility that Poland and Hungary might end up going their own way and thereby disadvantaging the Soviets geostrategically, and indirectly by countering the guiding force behind the establishment of the Warsaw Pact: the Soviet Union’s determination to, as Gerard Holden (1989) articulates it, “consolidate its own bloc” (p. 9).

Understanding the events in Poland and the Soviet decision not to intervene militarily helps explain why a different path was chosen in Hungary. During the events of the Polish October, the Soviets were faced with the prospect of a reformist Poland under the leadership of Władysław Gomułka – who was set to become First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR) – but they ultimately refrained from using force. There are two main reasons for this. First, and most importantly, in a speech on October 19, 1956, Gomułka made it very clear that nothing could have been further from the goals of the Polish government than undermining Soviet security: “Poland needs friendship with the Soviet Union more than the Soviet Union needs friendship with Poland. … [Granville’s ellipsis] Without the Soviet Union we cannot maintain our borders with the West” (cited in Granville, 2004, p. 46). Furthermore, the events of the Polish October did not confront the Soviet leadership with anything comparable to the high degree of political instability that the Hungarian Revolution brought about. [4] In fact, since the revolutionary government in Hungary was intent on holding open elections and lifting restrictions on party formation, the situation must to the Soviets appeared to be one of not mere instability but of potential catastrophe. Second, a clash with the Polish army would have been costly; as Johanna C. Granville (2004) frames it, “the Moscow leaders were … deterred from intervening in Poland by the Polish threat of counterforce” (p. 53). While a guarantee of Poland’s continuing devotion to the Warsaw Pact and of its adherence to the Soviet foreign policy line must have played the predominant role in soothing Soviet fears, the fact that Gomułka had been successful in advocating for domestic policies that were at the very least not exactly what the Soviets wished for created a disagreeable precedent. The Hungarian Crisis, beginning less than a week after Gomułka’s speech, offered the Soviets a convenient outlet for demonstrating that, among other things, the Polish case was to be the exception and not the rule.

Eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact, and Hungary

Van Evera’s defensive realism shows why the Soviet Union and its primary strategic rival, the United States, perceived Eastern Europe as strategically vital. For the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact, which was a means for continued control of Eastern Europe, was thus at the very heart of security concerns. Losing Hungary would have been unacceptable for the Soviet Union; not only was the former situated in the center of the strategically crucial Eastern Europe, but also having it leave the Warsaw Pact would have undermined the security arrangement’s utility as a Soviet control mechanism.

Van Evera’s (1999) theory offers a good avenue for an explanation of the importance of Eastern Europe: different actors’ perceptions of a situation are generally more significant than the actual characteristics of said situation (p. 6). In this context, it is thus the United States’ perceptions of the role of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact in Eastern Europe that are also very important – they shaped United States policy, which in turn greatly influenced (but was, of course, also influenced by) Soviet policy. As a 1956 National Security Council report on Soviet influence in Eastern Europe opens: “The satellites … augment the political, military and economic power of the Soviet Union and extend Soviet power into the heart of Europe. The permanent consolidation of Soviet control in this area would represent a serious threat to the security of Western Europe and the United States” (p. 119). Therefore, the possibility that not all of the Eastern European satellites were objectively indispensable to Soviet security in the region did not mean that the Soviets thought there was any less need to maintain total control over them. After all, if United States policy clearly reflected the belief that Soviet control of Eastern Europe was in fact threatening to the security of Western Europe – which it did – then the Soviet Union would have perceived any setback in this area as a victory for the West and a blow to Soviet power and influence. The fact that the Soviet Union acted accordingly in the region merely confirmed the United States’ thinking, reinforced both sides’ policies, and thereby cemented complete control over Eastern Europe as a central element of Soviet security.[5]

For the above reasons, the importance of even minor setbacks would always be amplified, but this does not mean that Eastern Europe was strategically important merely because the two sides thought it was. The Eastern European satellites in fact “augment[ed] the political, military and economic power of the Soviet Union and extend[ed] Soviet power into the heart of Europe” (United States National Security Council, 1956, p. 119). The satellites’ 1953 strength added 1,317,000 active ground troops, 266,000 security troops, and 5,046,000 “trained and partially trained” reservists to the Soviet manpower pool (United States National Security Council, 1953, 46). The satellites also boasted a combined population of 90.1 million in 1953, and supplemented Soviet industrial strength, albeit the significance of that contribution varied widely from country to country (United States National Security Council, 1953, 47-53). The United States and the Soviet Union also kept a very close eye on each other’s strategic nuclear capabilities,  with a 1956 Special National Intelligence Estimate thus noting that “[w]e believe the Soviet leaders estimate that the minimum military requirements for their national security include the maintenance of effective early warning capabilities on the Satellite borders” (Foreign Relations of the United States, Document 137). Finally, it was still significant that the Eastern European satellites, especially Poland and East Germany, could have served as a springboard for a Soviet conventional attack on Western Europe.[6]     Therefore, for the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact was a useful means to a necessary end – exerting control over Eastern European satellites. As Holden (1989) writes, “the Warsaw Treaty … provide[d] a broad legal basis for Soviet troop-stationing in Eastern Europe” (p. 8). Although, as the above author (1989) mentions, there is an argument that the Warsaw Pact was from the outset intended to improve “military efficiency” of the Soviet Bloc as a whole (p. 7), a much more dominant motivation for creating the arrangement must have been the Soviets’ wish to maintain control over the region. As Mark O’Neill (2010) writes: “For most of its existence the WTO [Warsaw Treaty Organization, or Warsaw Pact] served primarily to control any national ambitions among the member states. It also served to justify the presence of Soviet troops in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Romania” (p. 230). In much the same manner as NATO’s role was, as allegedly remarked by Secretary General Lord Ismay, “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down” (Andrews, 2005, p. 61), the Warsaw Pact was intended, and for the Soviets, necessary, to keep the Americans out, the Russians in, and the Eastern Europeans down.

The contribution of Hungary to Warsaw Pact strength and Soviet security was small but still significant, especially from a geostrategic perspective. The Hungarian contribution to the military manpower pool was modest: in 1953, the country had 185,000 active-duty ground troops (fourteen percent of the satellites’ total number of active-duty forces), 35,000 security troops (thirteen percent of the satellites’ total number of security forces), and 450,000 trained and partially-trained reservists (nine percent of the satellites’ total number of reservists) (United States National Security Council, 1953, p. 46). However, as the 1953 NSC report observes, Hungary’s “economic contribution to the USSR and its strategic situation on the Soviet lines of communication with Austria and on the approaches to Italy and the Balkans make it a key satellite from Moscow’s viewpoint” (p. 49). Certainly, Soviet security did not depend on Hungarian military power, but the geographic position of Hungary was significant.

The zero-sum nature of the Cold War, especially in Europe, meant that losing Hungary would not only have reduced the favorability of the Soviet geostrategic disposition, but also possibly provided the West with a direct route to the Soviet Union. In other words, Hungary, like Poland and East Germany, albeit to a lesser extent, was a source of “strategic depth.”[7] Perhaps most crucially, Hungary’s border with the Soviet Union was easily traversable,[8]  which must have made the possibility of the West exerting influence over the former particularly alarming. Admittedly, Hungary might not have joined NATO, but due to leaders’ propensity to, as Robert Jervis puts it, “see imaginary dangers” (cited in Granville, 2004, xiv), that threat was magnified in the Soviet leadership’s eyes. Indeed, the decision to invade Hungary was made in an atmosphere apparently dominated by such thinking, with Khrushchev stating that “[w]e … should not withdraw out troops from Hungary and Budapest. We should take the initiative in restoring order in Hungary. If we depart from Hungary, it will give a great boost to the Americans, English, and French: the imperialists. … To Egypt they will then add Hungary” (cited in Granville, 2004, pp. 66-67).

The nature of the Soviet military mindset in the 1954-60 period further increased the salience of the strategic depth provided by Hungary. As a Moscow Institute of Military History figure characterizes Soviet military thinking between 1954 and 1960, it prescribed a “[s]trategy of nuclear wa+r by means of massive nuclear strikes: nukes first and tanks second, breach the enemy positions” (Gavrilov, 2012, p. 125 (figure 8.1). It would appear that the Soviet military leadership thus believed in the power of the offensive, and according to Van Evera’s (1999) theory, under such conditions “cumulativity” – “[a] resource [being] cumulative [when] its possession helps its possessor to protect or acquire other resources” (p. 105) – is reinforced (p. 144). This is a consequence of the fact that in a world where “conquest is easy … even a small resource advantage might be parlayed into large gains or used to forestall large gains by an opponent” (Van Evera, 1999, p. 107). In short, Soviet perceptions of the “offense-defense balance”[9] did much to amplify the need to hold onto the strategic depth – a cumulative resource[10] – provided by control over Hungarian territory.

The nature of the decision facing the Soviet leadership was by no means one-dimensional; that is, the consequences thereof would not be confined to strategic calculations – they would extend into the realm of ideology and reputation. As US government documents from 1956 show, using kinetic means against the Soviets was not feasible, but imposing reputational and ideological costs was. The Policy Planning Staff, for example, met on October 23 and outlined a range of suggested responses to Soviet actions, including that

We should ready an appeal to the UN, for use in the event of Soviet intervention, and let the Poles and the Soviets know that the appeal is at hand. We should speak to neutralist countries on whose friendship the USSR evidently sets store (e.g., Yugoslavia, India) concerning the dangerous consequences of Soviet military intervention in Poland, in the hope that they would be moved to tell the Soviets what a dim view they would take of such intervention. (FRUS, Document 96).

This would add to the costs of intervention by limiting the Soviets’ maneuver space in international relations, but the US approached the events from an ideological angle as well. A telegram from the US Legation in Hungary thus called for the issuing of a statement “along [the] following lines”:

[The] US considers [the] intervention [of] Soviet forces and [the] ruthless killing [of] unarmed Hungarians as yet another example of [the] continuing occupation [of] Hungary by alien and enemy forces for their own purposes and [the] employment [of] these troops to shoot down Hungarian people breaks every moral law and demonstrates that Hungary is to Soviet Russia merely a colonial possession, the demand of whose people for democratic liberty warrants the use of naked force. (FRUS, Document 103).

These are just two examples of a general effort to impose the aforementioned reputational and ideological costs; in other words, part of the imperative to, as articulated by the NSC, “exploit fully throughout the world propaganda opportunities afforded by recent events in Poland and Hungary” (FRUS, Document 151). The Soviet leadership was undoubtedly aware that an intervention would provide the West with a valuable propaganda opportunity, but the threat to security necessitated swallowing these costs.

In short, Soviet security was to a great extent dependent (and especially perceived as such by both sides) on control over Eastern Europe – hence the need to preserve the Warsaw Pact. Hungary itself was also important, both in geostrategic terms and in terms of the integrity of the Warsaw Pact.

The Deterrent Demonstration Effect and the 1956 Soviet Invasion of Hungary

The general Soviet motivations behind the need to retain control over Hungary are best explained by the operation of defensive realist mechanisms – as the previous section shows, having Hungary go its own way would have dealt a significant blow to Soviet security. However, in order to provide a causal explanation of the Soviet decision to invade Hungary, defensive realism should incorporate the deterrent demonstration effect (DDE), according to which Soviet punishment of Hungary would subsequently deter other Warsaw Pact member states from considering deviation from the Moscow line.

The “demonstration effect,” as defined by Ragnar Nurkse (1957) for the purposes of economics, has actors emulating practices they perceive as better than the ones they had customarily relied on:

When people come into contact with superior goods or superior patterns of consumption, with new articles or new ways of meeting old wants, they are apt to feel after a while a certain restlessness and dissatisfaction. Their knowledge is extended, their imagination stimulated; new desires are aroused [italics mine], the propensity to consume is shifted upward. (pp. 58-59).

 

The DDE, on the other hand, discourages an actor from engaging in practices that in similar situations (1) were punished by other actors, and (2) ultimately proved harmful to the enacting actor’s own interests or security. Furthermore, the greater the number of times similar past practices did not elicit punishment, the less intense the DDE tends to be. Thus, actors wishing to deter practices that in the past went unpunished will try to compensate for this history by attempting to punish more severely. Finally, due to the inherent difficulty of gauging how severe the punishment needs to be to prompt the DDE and the fact that states’ focus predominantly on maintaining their security (Van Evera, 1999, p. 11), they will generally err on the side of harsher punishment.

The quick succession of the Polish October by the Hungarian Crisis presented a “window of opportunity”; that is, it was “a fading offensive opportunity” (Van Evera, 1999, p. 74) for the Soviets to suppress dissent within their bloc through the effects of the DDE. Framing the Soviet invasion of Hungary in terms of the DDE might appear problematic, as the question that a quick glance at the situation prompts is why the Soviets did not simply intervene in Poland and, if the theoretical assumptions relating to the effect are indeed correct, thus prevent a Hungarian Crisis-type situation from even emerging. There are two main reasons for this. First, as already mentioned, a military intervention in Poland would have been costly, and as Khrushchev himself noted, “finding a reason to start a military conflict against Poland would be easy, but finding a way to end it would be hard” (cited in Granville, 2004, p. 53). The prospect of a protracted military conflict and pacification operations was intimidating not only due to the material costs but also because such an outcome would have evidence of the Soviet Union’s inability to punish swiftly and effectively. In other words, the DDE would have been rather limited or would not have operated at all. Second, Poland refrained from engaging what the Soviet Union found most threatening, the contemplation of a sharp turn away from the Soviet foreign policy line (cited in Granville, 2004, p. 46). Even if the Soviets had been able to defeat Polish forces swiftly and pacify the country effectively, the resulting DDE would not have operated in a manner optimal for Soviet security; it would have strongly discouraged other Soviet Bloc countries from attempting internal reform, but not from considering foreign policy deviations. Had there been a DDE, it would have been the “wrong” DDE. Allowing Gomułka to become First Secretary and promise internal reforms did not set an insurmountable precedent. If a different Soviet bloc country started to exhibit signs of considering foreign policy deviationism – as Hungary did – it could still be punished and a bloc-wide DDE thus achieved.

Military intervention in Hungary was a relatively good option for the Soviets because it would not only ensure the satellite remained part of the Soviet Bloc, but also because it would produce the “foreign policy compliance” DDE an intervention in Poland could not. Indeed, judged by the criteria that made Poland an unappealing target, Hungary was a very suitable candidate for military intervention. Overall, the invasion of Hungary would serve the goal of protecting Soviet security very well.

First, the Hungarian armed forces, both in absolute terms and relative to the Polish armed forces, could not have effectively resisted the Soviet military. The figures from 1953 make this quite clear: the Hungarian Army consisted of 185,000 active-duty personnel, and even though Hungary had a pool of 450,000 trained and partially trained reservists (United States National Security Council, 1953, p. 46). a swift Soviet strike against the active elements of the Hungarian Army and the resulting confusion would have preempted a full mobilization. In comparison, Poland had a 330,000-strong army in 1953, but given Khrushchev’s aforementioned statement about the difficulty of achieving a swift decisive victory there (cited in Granville, 2004, p. 53), the Poles would likely have had an opportunity to mobilize a substantial portion of their reserve pool, which numbered 1,535,000 personnel in 1953 (United States National Security Council, 1953, p. 46). Unlike in the Polish scenario, the Soviets could punish Hungary severely and crush resistance so efficiently as to prompt a bloc-wide DDE.

Second, by invading and punishing Hungary, the Soviets would make it very clear what kind of behavior they found unacceptable – the fact that Hungary appeared likely to abandon the Soviet foreign policy line. Admittedly, the official Hungarian declaration of neutrality came on November 1, one day after the Soviet decision to invade (Granville, 2004, pp. 70-71). However, at what Granville (2004) calls the “grassroots level,” voices had begun articulating this intention earlier: “Documents indicate that Hungarian and Soviet communist officials had been hearing hints from other Hungarians, i.e., students, local officials, and radio broadcasts, about the desire for neutrality … ever since the Twentieth Party Congress in Moscow” (p. 71). Furthermore, as Granville (2004) reports, “on October 31, Zoltán Tildy [a member of Nagy’s cabinet] told [Soviet Presidium member Anastas] Mikoyan in Budapest that Hungary would leave the Warsaw Pact. … [S]ince Radio Budapest had broadcast more than one call for neutrality and Warsaw Pact withdrawal on October 31, it is [also] likely that one of the Soviet diplomats heard it and reported it to Moscow” (p. 72). Insofar as proximate security considerations are concerned, Granville (2004) thus correctly concludes that the Soviets invaded in order to “preempt … a [Hungarian] withdrawal” from the Warsaw Pact (p. 72). In terms of the DDE, however, the Hungarian crisis presented a closing window of opportunity for the Soviets because not punishing Hungary and perhaps having it go neutral would have set a precedent, and achieving a bloc-wide DDE in subsequent cases would have required the Soviets to respond much more disproportionately.

Conclusion

While Van Evera’s defensive realism does explain Soviet motivations behind the wish to preserve the integrity of the Warsaw Pact and even to retain control over specific satellites, it cannot fully account for the why the Soviets intervened when and where they did. Van Evera’s theory overpredicts Soviet intervention: following the tenets of the former, one reaches the conclusion that the Soviets should have ended up intervening in both Poland and Hungary. In fact, in Van Evera’s conception, the Soviet Union would sooner have intervened in Poland than in Hungary, essentially because the potential loss of Poland represented a greater threat. This paper suggests that an important mechanism attendant upon the translation of “national misperceptions of the fine-grained structure of international power” (Van Evera, 1999, p. 11) into preventive war is the DDE. In Van Evera’s (1999) conception, “[w]indows tempt declining [italics mine] states to launch an early war before the power shift is complete, either to avoid a later war waged under worse conditions or to avoid later being compelled to bargain from weakness” (p. 76). Thus, incorporating the DDE into Van Evera’s model allows for the expansion of the preventive war explanation so that it encompasses conflicts where the aggressor was a state that did not truly perceive itself as being in decline. With the DDE influencing decision-making, states will still initiate preventive wars in order “to avoid a later war waged under worse conditions” (Van Evera, 1999, p. 76), but not because their own absolute or relative power would decline with time. Rather, it is the utility of the DDE that diminishes with time, with each missed opportunity to punish undesirable behavior.

For explaining the dynamics of the contemporary international system, the mechanism that caused the Soviet invasion of Hungary – the DDE – also appears to hold considerable promise. This is especially true if Nuno P. Monteiro (2014) is correct in that “[s]ince the fall of the Soviet Union … the United States has been the world’s sole great power” and that we hence “[l]ive in a unipolar world” (p. 3). For Van Evera’s model, this would be problematic because, as Monteiro (2014) notes, “[i]f Washington so decides, it has the capability to deny any other country access to space, airspace, and the high seas… [S]ince the end of the Cold War, no other state has the capability to engage in prolonged politico-military operations around the globe” (p. 3). If other states cannot really harm the United States – i.e. if the United States’ can feel secure – why would it still be intervening militarily all around the world? Surely, individual states, especially small powers like Serbia or Somalia cannot harm the United States. The DDE can and does account for this: while individual instances of practices that the United States does not approve of might not be directly harmful to its security, the spread of these practices conceivably could. Intervening against practices that taken together could prove threatening, while they are still emergent and do not yet represent a stable pattern, generates a DDE. The DDE, in conclusion, increases defensive realism’s explanatory power in general, but especially in the way it can account for the regularity of unipole military intervention in the current era.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] By “1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary,” I refer to the Soviet military’s “Operation Whirlwind,” which was launched on November 4, 1956. I do not consider “Operation Wave” – which commenced in the night between October 23 and October 24 – to be a bona fide invasion because it is not an instance of interstate conflict. As Johanna C. Granville (2004) explains, “as a result of [Hungarian First Secretary Ernő] Gerő’s failure to quell the unrest, the first Soviet intervention in Hungary, on October 23-24, was actually an invasion by invitation [italics mine]. Although [Gerő’s successor Imre] Nagy was later blamed for inviting the troops, and [András] Hegedüs (the former prime minister) actually signed the official written invitation ex post facto, it was Gerő who verbally requested them” (p. 57).

[2] The term “deterrent demonstration effect” is used by Emanuel Adler (2009) to describe an aspect of the United States’ war on terrorism. He argues that “the United States went to war in Iraq partly to deter Islamic terrorism, expecting that terrorists in the Arab world would internalize the deterrent demonstration effect [italics mine]” (p. 100). However, Adler makes no effort to define the term.

[3] I would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for this point.

[4] I would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for this point.

[5] To a certain extent, this appears to be a “which came first” question, but the effect – both sides’ having reached the conclusion that control over the region was crucial for Soviet security – is much more important.

[6] As the 1953 National Security Council report notes, Poland “occupies the main approach to Germany and Western Europe” (p. 47), and East Germany has “high strategic importance to Moscow in the struggle for control of all of Germany” (p. 52).

[7] Term used in Van Evera, 1999, p. 111.

[8] “[T]he Soviet-Hungarian border was on a plain” (United States National Security Council, 1953, p. 49 (note 44)).

[9] Term used in Van Evera, 1999, p. 10.

[10] According to Van Evera (1999), “Military bases and strategic depth [Van Evera’s italics] are cumulative resources if they provide military strength that cannot be cheaply replaced” (p. 111). This was clearly true for Hungary.

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