Banking on military assistance: Czechoslovakia's struggle for influence and profit in the third world 1955–1968

Daniela Richterova, Mikuláš Pešta, Natalia Telepneva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

In the 1950s, Czechoslovakia launched an ambitious program of military assistance to countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Driven by the desire to obtain political influence and hard currency, the program involved the delivery of arms, military technology, and training to select clients. However, Czechoslovakia faced many challenges, as the country struggled to offer quality training to Third World partners and to control foreign soldiers who often challenged military discipline and social order. Moreover, Prague also struggled to make the program commercially viable, as arms sales and student numbers dropped in the early 1960s. This paper reconstructs the inception, structure, operational challenges, and debates surrounding the key objectives of the Czechoslovak military training program for the Third World in the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, it focuses on the ‘tug of war’ waged by key stakeholders running the assistance program, which set political and geopolitical interests against commercial gain. By interrogating the challenges of Czechoslovakia’s military assistance programs to the Third World, this paper provides a rare insight into Prague’s foreign policy at a crucial juncture, when it fashioned a new, activist role in the Third World. It challenges the assumption that this highly sensitive area of Czechoslovak foreign policy was defined either by politics or by commercial interests, rather arguing that it was shaped by a constant struggle between these two often competing priorities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational History Review
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2020

Keywords

  • Cold War
  • Czechoslovakian history
  • arms trade
  • Prague Spring
  • Soviet Union

Projects

Research Output

  • 1 Citations
  • 1 Article

Activities

  • 1 Organiser of major conference

Secret Struggle for the Global South: Espionage, Covert Action and State Security during the Cold War

Natalia Telepneva (Organiser) & Daniela Richterova (Organiser)

13 Sep 201814 Sep 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganiser of major conference

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