The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) kept close track of developments in Czechoslovakia throughout 1968, but the alliance did not pursue a coherent policy toward the uprising. A close examination of NATO actions from January 1968 until the invasion on 20–21 August helps explain why a coordinated approach never materialized. Certain structural features of the alliance and a host of domestic and external distractions precluded a joint response. NATO members worked individually rather than collectively to avert Soviet military action through quiet diplomacy, but these efforts made almost no difference.

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