MOSCOW'S POLISH PROBLEM

Created: 6/1/1981

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Moscow's Polish Problem

Moscow's Polish Problem

n the Fd jit Crisis

of Soviet Pohey

Tbe Soviet response io (Se Polish crisis kas'.a three broad phases From cbe initial sinkcs in0 until late November. Moscow adopted arestrained nance, it stood by as thc party Killed thc strikes on (he Baltic Coait in late August by granting urtprcccdcnicd concessionshe >orkrrs Thc Soviets approved of. and possibly facilitated.chief Gierek's removaleptember and firmly supported his Successor. Stanislaw Kania. During the fall, (he Kremlin applied tome pressure on ihe Polish regime to stand firm against ihe demands of (he free trade union. Solidarity, ba: appeared uniting to give thc new party leader maneuvering room (odeal wiih Poland'sJHJH

Kama's concessionsolidarity's escalating demands in late November prompted the Soviets to applymore overtly For the firs! time they appearede senously considering military intervention, but then settled for othera Warsaw Pact summit on 5make clear to the Polish leadership that Poland's alliesirmer line toward Solidarity From the summil until early April, Moscow steadily increased its media criticism, pressed the Polish regime to complete plans for martial law. and used the Warsaw Pact exerciseothnfluence events in Poland and to increase Pact preparedness to intervene militarily. Although these pressures On Warsaweak during laic March, the Kania regime againompromise with Solidarity, this time over thc incident in Bydgoszcz involving police brutality against Solidarity members (see appendii).|

Despite the regime's concession, wbichhreatened general strike. Moscow decided to ease the military pressure At the same time, however, itto haveeassessment of the situation. The important new factor, which may force theto alter its strategy, is thai (he initial confrontational approach taken by the PoUsh party leadership to the Bydgoszcz incident provokedroundswcll of support from (he rank and File for

eformhe partyplit inossibility. The issue ofraditional Mantisi-Lenmistnow overtaken the confrontation between iheand Solidarity as (he most crucial problem

Mosco-'s Political Option

At Ihe outset of (he crisis, the Soviets chose. ii'.ilit.ry prenure short oi'd re :

militaryit was the easiest, lean

costly course and because it held out hope of success.

even though it migh( uke years for the regime to

athonty in Poland |IJ

The primary reason Moscow chose thiscaurseand continues toenormous costs of military intervention :

Subduing Poland would require (he largest Soviet military operation since World War II and could involve fierce Polish resistance.

izable military force,iversionom plicate Soviet security planning in Europe. The War-taw Pact would be weakened in any potentialwith NATO by an inability to use Poland's armed forces, as well as those Soviet forces tied down in Poland

Thc economic price of the invasionnot to mention the costs of reviving Poland'swould be immense. Moscow would take on anburden of atear to keep (he Polish economy afloat. The disruption of thatwould in addition disturb increasingly integrated economies of (he Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CEMA) Western credits, technology, and grain deliveries would dry up for (he Soviet Union at least temporarily, further damaging its economic prospects.

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Moscow's effortalvage detenteritical strategicbe set backThe Soviet attempterail NATO's theater nuclear force (TNF) modernization would focrtder. and the Kremlin'* abilitynfluence those NATO member countries hedg ing or wwrt to increased defense spending would be reduced Tbe prospects for progress in strategic arms limitation talks with Ihe United States would presumably vanish. H

Apart from these costs, thereumber of factors that have allo*ed the Soviet leaders to temporize in their approach to the Polish crisis. They had no reason, at least for thc first several months.uestion the loyalty of Kania. the Polish party, or the Polish Army. Despite much concern on the pan of the other East European regimes, there has been no significant spillover of either labor or political unrest in any other Warsaw Pact country tkt

The Soviets probably also hoped that the situation in Poland could be turned around by political means. Moscow has had long experience with "Polish crises" and knows that conccssioni grimed under duressumber of occasions *ctr gradually whittled away.hich the Soviets alsobut then stepped back from militarybroadly similarhe current trouble in Poland. Al that time party leader Gomulka's success ia taking back most of what he conceded gave the Soviet leaders groartdi to believe that this course might be repeated asaji

Despite the damage to the Polish party from last summer's labor unrest, the Soviets were probablyC3nf.dehat thc party underhead of thc securitybe able to regroup and recouplosses Soviet officials expressed the view from the statt that Poland's crisis stemmed from economic factors and could be resolved through an economic revival. The Soviets apparently believed that the added stringencies thc Polish people would have to endure on the route to recovery would tarnish Solidarity's image as champion of working people. Moscow probably also calculated that Poland's Roman Catholic Church would actestraining force out of concern for Poland's national

Moscow'^ confidence in the validity of these premises has eroded as the crisis has progressed. The Polish leadership's unwillingness to confront Solidarity dt-

The transformation of (he Parliamentubber stamporum for (he debate of social issues.

The beginningscmocralizalionof the Polish Communist party

The dominant Soviet goal in the short run is to bring this processall and. over the longer run. reverse it andreater degree of party control over Polish society.inimum, the Kremlinoland lhat:

Maintains Communist parly preeminence.

Remains loyal to the USSR.

Supports Soviet foreign pcJky goals.

Fulfills its military commitments to the Warsaw

Pact.

its economic obligations to the CEMA countries. "JIJ

In specific areas, set out below, the Soviets have certain ultimate objectives and minimum requirements. As the crisis has progressed, ihey have loweredach area substantially and arcll-ing to live wilh much less than ihey would havepossible last August. If

Reattertion of Patty Control. Thc parly, rather than regrouping after August, has been weakened bydiscord and has proved an ineffective tactician in its confrontation with Solidarity. Optimally, (he Soviets want ihe party not to make any furtherand to demonstrate through firm action thai it is regaining the upper band.inimum. Moscow is determined lhat thc party avoid situations where it is forced to back down in the facehow of strength by Solidarity. The Soviets realize that there is noto the0 style of party rule and thus may be willing to accept some sharing of power by thc party in strictly defined areas like trade union and agricultural affairs, pj

Maimtemmntt af thtommnmiit Perry. Although ihe Kama leadership seems intent on preserving the party praciice o( democratk centralism, wherein decisions are made at the top and handed down, il is publicly committed to greater partyelections by secret ballot and with

, ill deteriorating control over local party branches, and the growthtrong reform movement among the rank and Tile have given rise lo grave doubts in the minds of tbe Soviet leaders that the Polish party has either the ability Of the will lo halt the liber aliza-tion process It has become increasingly dear (hat Ihe crisis, although sparked by cconomk issues, hat takenrimarily political cast and that thc political challenge Solidarily represents will not disappear wilh an Improvement in ihe economy Finally, ihe Church has not had the restraining influence on Solidarily (he Sovieit hoped foe; in fact, it pressed the regime to recognize thc new farmers' union. Rural ScJidarii) fj

Pursuing thc political option has carried costs of its own. Prolonged political and economic instability in thc USSR's largest and most importantlies astride ihe traditional Central European invasion routes lo and from Russia and isital corridor, essential to Soviet rnihtarycreatedamong the Soviet armed forces. Ai the same tunc, the continuation of the critit hat interfered with Soviet foreign policy objectives. With the Soviet threat to Poland on the front page almost continuously in the Weal, Moscow has been put on the defensive and has had difficulty focusing Western attention on some of its initiatives, particularly PresidentNF moratorium ffU

Poland's trouble* have also undercut the USSR'sin its pitch to developing(he Communist system is immune to such disruptions. The prolongation of the crisis is causing both political and economic problems for thc East European regimes and strains within thc Sovict-kd alliance system.ihe existence of those regimes rests on Soviet military power. Moscow's failure to stop Polishcould be interpretedign of Sovietby other East European populations and perhaps embolden them to make similar demands.IB

Bask Issues and Moscow's Otkctiies The revolutionary changes that have taken place in Poland over the pastonths include:

Thc establishment of trade unions, independent of pany control, for both workers and farmers.

The creation of an independent student organization.

The loosening of censorship

Seeiet

may loosen iherip on policy. The issue of par ly (iberaliuiion was (he primaty deietminant of ihe Soviet imcrvention in Czechoslovakia8 and has emerged as (he central issue in ihe Polish problem. Here too the Sovietshowever,eturn to tight, centralized rule is impossible and may eventujlly come toore diversified party if radical reforms ire avoided

Siter Solidarity Away from Politics. Solidarity has established itselftrong, organized political force with substantial velo power over party decisions. Over lime, the Soviets probably could learn to liveolidarity ihat focused primarily on trade unionthoughommunal system those issues are inherently pci;;lcal fJJJ

Moscow believes that,irst step, politicalmainly intellectuals, who arc giving toeolitical ideology must be split from the workers. The Soviets have pressed for the arrest ofsidenu. but

Kania has resisted, arguing that this wouldonfrontation with the union that thc government could not win. Instead, he is trying to use political tac(ics to separate the dissidents from thc union but has made little progress. The fear thai the regime may crack down, moreover, has helped prompt Solidarity 10

urther political dimension as protector of the dissidents and political prisoners Mfl

Unification of tht Trade Union Movement Under Parly Aegis. Moscow has continously championed ihe still-existing government-controlled unions, seeing themolitical counterweigh! to Solidarity and (he nucleus for an eventual reunification of Polish trade unions. Moscow and Warsaw want to breathe more vitality intooyal" unions, but have few practical ways to do soquicfcly ffj

Control of Two Existing 'Son-Communist Political Parties and Pretention of Formation of AVw Onei. The regime has been successful in (hit area, despite talk last fallatholic parly and receni ferment within the mainly middle class Democratic Party. The most serious ihreal might come from ihe new farmers' union. Rural Solidarity, which could drain support from Ihe increasingly discredited United Peasants' Party. In Czechoslovakiahere were public callsrue multiparty system at least five months tefote Moscow invader! MfM

Maintenance of Forty Control of Media. Even though the party has kepi the censorship mechanism largely intact, practices have been liberalized considerably. Kania. moreover, has been forced to give Solidarity

accesshe media and has been unablerom issuingheets aid leaileu. some ot' which have been highly critical of regime poiioc* TN Soviets might continue tolivenh lesscensonhip so long as open criticism of the Communist system or Poland's foreign policy, especially ill alliance eommil-menu isavoided Their decision to intervene militarily inasart b> iref censorship. They -tit monitor clo*ei. the regime's success at reining in union publicaiioni. ihe terms ofSolidarity't eventual access to the mats mc' dia, and the statutese* censorship bill no* being drafted fj

Remaining Options

Moscow's assessment of the chances for getting whli ii wants in Poland is probably bleakerthan at any time throughout the crisis The moene'iurn oiiten not only is not receding bvt hat spreadhe Communist party IJ|

The njnmilitary levers Masco*he Soviet!in (he Polish regime to resistr on ihe reformers to rnoderaie their demands, through directriticism of Kama and Prime Minister

tatements b> Sov.et Politburo members eip-itt:critical ot the V party, and additional bilateral or Warsa* Pact summits. Moscow also continue to support ihe few hardliners "hohe Polisfi cacership. hopinginimum to proem then remosal Replacing Kama with someone -ho -ouidougher policy no longer seems ioeasible option Even it'the Kremlin could pull thci>hardlineluid be deserted by the majority ot the party flBJ

oviet prospects for convincing Iheto declare martial law are limned With mostnaconj! leadership on record as opposed to suchsolution, it appears thai the only ihmgcompel Kania and Jarutciski to implementla- -ouldoviet ultima turno so orThere is little chance, moreover, thaicouldnstituted -ithout sparkingwhichin (urn. probably trigger aintervention Indeed, the only lever tha:if* uc-tervible deterrent effect has been thefffj

e pas: sit months, ai the end of Novemberate March. :ht LSSR and other Vt'iruw Pic:

irtrestPoUhJ.

S&'tt Ml'lkal Kvfaio:

/"aer Co-ttt/vd Armtd fan Politii P'im/ WiiSler mnJ Or-

Itnttla'uitltii: i'jir Cr'fan Dtftflf

;cok military preparations iha: .ncreased their ability to move inio Polandlimited forces on short nonce In neither case did the Sovieti complete preparations lhat would be necessaryarge combatassembly of stocks ofto overwhelm thc Polish Arm* should i;

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The Polish leadership's knowledge of these military preparations and the reporting of them by the V. ggggra press hateimited deierrcnt effect on unrest il Poland. The rattling of sabers and (he failure to follow up. bowocr. fate probably limned (he effectiveness of future Soviet posturing. The (hreaiof forceoer for thc Sovietseapon of lastbe employed only after (hey conclude (hat ihe Polish leadership is unable to bringuatwn under

The Military Option

Inilitary intervention, thc Soviets probably would not be much concerned(heol'a N'ATO military reaction. What-ouid concern them is (he estent to which ihe Polishand the party would oppose such an inters en (ion. and. even if the Polish military leadership shouldthe liKenrtood of resistance by Polish Army and internal leCuTMV force units B

The Soviet* probably now doubt they can count on Po'uh mi'ijry cooperation Therefore, in the event they decide to resolve the situation by military force,o confront the Poles with suchstrength (hat resistance would be futile. To project an image of unity on the part of the Warsaw Pact in fc/eccng Polish revisionism, the Soviets wouldantPact armed forces to participate in the intervention "fj

All Warsa- Pact combat forcesC around Poland are no- in garrison.ufficiently large-scale in-.aston force could be committed inajor mobilization of reservists and civilian vehicles and widespread logistics preparations would have to be conducted. Suchld require about two -eekj ttaVtai

Some of the preparations undertaken since last fall -til. howcer. make it easier for the Soviets to ready themselves :'or anumber of low-s'rsrtgchivisions in the western USSR have practiced mobilizing reservists since last September Moreover, during the Soyuz-Sl eiercise. Warsaw Pac: forcesd .inclinc plans for moving large combat t'ortei into and acrcm

Outlook

Trying to predict the course of any revolution ina risky venture, so too. with thc Soviet Union's response lodiffeientin Poland. It would be safe to predict, how-ever, that if patty rule collapsed, or if Poland pulled out of the Warsaw Pact or CE MA. Moscow wouldIt also seems likely that if the Polish party could limit the liberalization process, the Soviets couldmanage to liveolidarity ihat confined itself strictly to trade union issues. Kremlin decisionmaking in either of these cases would be greatly simplified

The development of the crisis thus far. however,ibat ibeourse is likely to runtheseihis is Moscow's dilemma. The strategy chosen, first by Solidarity and now by reformers inside the party, has been to confront the leadership, eitract concessions before retreating, and then consolidate for the neit round. The forcesIhe leadership arc well aware that they have ihe strengthringollapse of the system through an all-out confrontation. They areare thai this would bring in Soviet troops, and the* would lose everything they have gainedfjj

Left undisturbed, the liberalization process is likely to continue to evolve for years The difficulty for the Soviet leadership is to decide when ihe costs ofthis slow-motion0 continue outweigh Ihe costs of endingy military

It cannot be concluded that simply because ihe Poles coniinue io proceed wiih caution, thc Soviets also will forbear. The longer ihe liberalization continues, the deeper its roots grow and tbe costlier the Soviet option of using force becomes. Thus, the Soviet leaders may decide to intervene not in response to any particularas thc Bydgoszcz incident and iison the basis of their analysis of an accumulation of less spectacular occurrences thai seem to be evolving into an irreversible trend1 Mateo* cilli u.

Develapmenis outside Poland might play an imporiani role in Moscow's decisionmaking. The death offor instance, could shift the balance in (betoward thoseilitary intervention Similarly, if the Soviet* conclude ihat ihereis litile prospect for any meaningful improvement in their relations with key Westernave been removed.mm

We cannot say how dose the Soviets might be toadgmcai to intervene militarily, but from their perspective the trend in Poland is decidedlyFor Moscow, the key now is the course of (he liberaliza(ion in the Polish party It isoregone conclusion that the Polish leadership will be unable to control liberalization in the parly. But if (hitcontinues to gain strength before ihceitraor-dinary party congress in mid-July, the Kremlin willhoice to intervene militarily or risk losing any chance ofraditional Soviet-styleparly in Poland.9m

Secret

Appendix

Selectednts in ihe Polish Crisis

August

J October

ovember

Agreement. Regime agrees to numerous reforms, including the establishment of independent trade unions, after several weeks of negoiia-lions with striking workers and in the facehreatened general strike. Union otganirers acknowledge ihe leading role of the Communisi parly and agree that thc newnamednot actolitical party. The agreementactor in the replacement of party leader Edward Gierekeptember and initiates the liberalization process that has continued to the present. Moscow is surprised by strength of (he popular protest and reportedly endorses Gdansk agreementactical move necessitated by the need to defuse the immediate crisis. At the same lime. Moscow begins lo take measuresmprove thc preparedness of military forces that would be used in any militaryPJpJ^H

Nationwide Sirike. Solidarity, in its first snow of strength,ne-hour strike for pay increases and access to the media. More broadly, the strike is intended to push for the application for legalization that Solidarityin laie September, and to impress on the party the union's power. Action may have prompted new party leader Kania to hold his first meeiing with Solidarityeek later, and provided furlher evidence to Moscow that Solidarity commands substantialJ

Solidarity Legalization. In agreement worked out soon after Kama's late-October visit to Moscow, regimeersion of union's charter that it had earlier rejected. Although action is greeted jubilantly by union leaden, it fails to end labor unrest. Soviets publicly ignore the legalization, although ihcy may have given grudging approval in advance in the belief this siep would stabilize ihe situation.

December

Pact Meeting. Moscow summit is part of Soviet pressuretrxluding military movements at Poland'sresponse to escalating: labor unrest and the Polish regime's capitulation to Solidarity's political demands. Kama buys lirr.e. apparently on condition that he resist union demands more firmly.

Workweek Issue Resolved. Solidarity wins concessions on early introductionhour workweek, publicationnion newspaper, and radio-television coverage of union activities. Agreement comesonth of increasing tension between the union and the government, including two major work stoppages by union members, and on the evehreatened nationwide general strike. Regime threatens to impose martial law but does not follow through Soviet media coverage reveals increasing Kremlin displeasure with the regime for yielding on key :isi;cs ffJJJ

Jaruzelski Becomes Prime Minister. He retains his defense ministrypresumably to underscore warnings that the regime will use force unless the labor turmoil ceases. Appointmentesponse to growing party and union disenchantment with government's performance and to Sovietover continued concessions. Soviets strongly endorse appointment. Jaruzelski callsday strike moratorium, but is compelled to meet student demands for an independent union to secure domestic tranquillity, which lasts or.ly until early March. After conclusion of Soviet party congressarch, Soviet and Polish leaders hold summit. It reveals that Soviets had become less confident in Kania's ability to control libera Hut ion process.

Settlement of Bydgoszcz Incident. Agreement between Solidarity andconcludes period of heighlencd tension markedriefstriketormy party Central Committee plenum at which leadership is criticized for its hardline stance. Government promises, in the agreement, to punish those guilty of beating up Solidarity activists in Bydgoszcz and guarantees security of new union. Dissatisfaction within Solidarity leadership that negotiations had not been more fruitful leads to resignation of several militants. Moscow, after exhorting the regime to stand firm through its media and extending the Warsaw Pact exerciseases the pressure slightly. Jaruzelskiew strike moratorium in part to mollify the Soviets, who were probably displeased over regime concessions in thc agreement. The regime subsequentlyore moderate posture and approves registration of the peasants' union. Rural Solidarity,

Central Committee Plenum. Polish party leadership goes on record favoring greater party democraiization and makes limited personnel changes in response to growing pressure from rank and file for broader reforms. Eitrjordinary party congress is set for mid-July Soviet parly ideologue Suslov confers in Warsaw with Polish leadership ihe week before the plenum. Poles present case that some pany reforms are essential, while Susie expressed deep Soviet concern ever the move "JJV

il

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