Created: 6/1/1981

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Moscow's Polish Problem


Moscow's Polish Problem

Moscow's Polish Problem

Theomh-old social and poliltcul crisis ii. Poland prcsunu lhc USSR wiih one of its niosl significant and Com pic* foreign policy problem* clncc Worldhe Sovici response thus far ha> been measured, largely because ofire. as people's strong sense of nationaland historic oooosilion to the Russians, and because miliury interventionould carry enormous costs with no guaranteeatisfactory solution

At Ihc outset. Ihe Sovietsoliticalandressure short of militaryit was thecduinc and. on the basis of their eapciicnceniih past Polish crises, held out horse ot* success. Moscow's confidence tn this coortc of action, however, has eroded. Thc Kremlins assessment of its chances for getting whnl ii wants inreversal of ihe liberalization process and ihe reassertion of Cornenuarsi partyprobably Neater now than ai any point In the crisis The rnomcnitun of libera Irratmn noi only is not receding bat ha* spread to Ihe Communist party

Thc nonmitiiary levers Moscow is using teem increasingly ineffective, indeed, the only tool that has had an. obicnabk deterrent effect hat been the ii"eai of militarycc in the Mil sii month* the USSR and Other Warsaw Pact countries took military preparations lhat increased their ability to move into Poland on short notice The (allureo beyond rattling sabers, however, may have limited thc effectiveness of future posturing

The Soviet* probably doubt ihai ihey can count on Polish military

cooperation in rolling back liberaon Thcrefure. if they decide to inc military force, they will try to confront Ihe Poles with such overwhelming strength ihai resistance would be futile

left undisiirbed. ihe Polish liberaat mo process is likely to continue to evolve for years. The difficulty for the Soviet leadership is io decide ai what point lhc cosls of allowing ihis slow-moiio" revolution locoottnue outweigh the costs ol ending it by military force

Wc cannot say how close ihe Soviets might be ioudgment to intervene militarily, but from their perspective thc trend in Poland is decidedly negative. For Moscow, the key now is ihe course of lhc(rend in the Polish party. It isoregone conclusion that ihe Polish leadership will be unable in control libcralinKOn in ihe patty. Hut if that movearns significant strength before the caiisordmry party congms in mid-July. Ibe Kremlin willhoice to Intervene militarily or risk losing any chance ofraditional Scwie-itlyle Communis! party

in Poland

Moscow's Polish Problem

1 "iof

llw Soviet response lo Ihc Polish ernri hasewkl'Cdthree broadom ibc mi it' unlet ia0 ami* Ulc November. Moscow adoptedrestrained name; il Stood by ai thc eW'ty talliedhe uiiket on the Baltic Coast in laic AugM* byunprecedented eeaneeitiont te> Ihc worker! Thc Sonets approwrd jT. aad pottibly facilitated, party chief Gicrek'i removaleptember and (irmly luppo-ted hittucecstar.Sianislaw Kinla Ouring the (all. lhe Kremlin applied some peciiure on the Poliih regime to Hand firm agaiml Ihe demand' ol the free trade union.ut appeared willinghc nc* ruriy leader ataacuvcrini room to deal wits

Polarrii problcmi

Kanlt'i toSolidarity! ctealaiing demandt in lair Novembei prompted ihe Soviet! toare nore owelty for ibc dm time they appeared to be tennasly eomatrring military inieneniion. but iter teliled for other tactics-arsaw Pad summit on Smake clear io the Poinit leadiiihip that PoUndl alliesirmer lint lowaid Solidarity From ibe summit until early April.teadily in.rented itt media erittcnm. crtied ike PwVsh regime to compteie lex mamal law. and tried lhe WaretwPnet ones*:borh in influence cvcelt In Poland am) lo increate Pact preparedness to intervene militarily Althoughsare> on Wartaweat during laiche Kaata regime againensor ornut withlmr ibc incident -Brdgutici involving police brutality agaiml Sol-danty members (see append In 1

drier ihe regime'l concession whichhreatened teacral ueile.decided to case ihr military pressure Al Ihe tame lime, however, iln haveeaitctimrnl of thee import aai new factor, which may forcee iitiiiaiegy. Is thai the imtut ccatfraataltonal approach taken by Ihc Po>itb aariy leadershiphe bydfotrcf incident rro-oted VwCh(rourdiwellrom Ihe rank and We for

democratic icforrnolthr. parlypln in Ihc part) brumepeuibilny. The mur of rallying pnny nnity Mania-Leninisthit now overtaken ike confranisiion beiween theand Solidarity as the moil crucial problem facing Ihc Sovieti


Al ibc OWto ofn tht Semeulrucal opt-onaad mihury prcntart thoriect mililaryit was the easiest, least costly cotttK and because it held out hope of tucccsi. evenight take yean for the regime lo regain its anihority in IV

tne pornaryreatea Mcaeaw ehoteihrt courseindcontiniin toeammowicotli of military intervention

Poland would itovirc tbe largetl Soviet

si rwr Wo. la Wir IIwld

involve rieree Pufea resoiance

nim wouldong-term occupationirable miliary force;iversion would com-

pi-catr Srwielrrianning in Purnpr TheWsr.

taw Phi would be wcalmed in any potential cue Iron talma with NATO by an inability to me Poland* armed (ones ai well as those Soviet Irjrces liedoltad.

econcnic pnte of the invasion iltclf not in

ratal nta It* cotrsof revmag Poltnd >

-outd b* intrrieate. Moscow wnid take on an cco-nenweillion* year to keep ihe Pol.ih economy itVxat. The disruption of thaiwould in addition diuurb Increatintly inlegrated coonomKiof the Council for Mutual Economic AitnltncclCEMA) Weuern credits, lechnolocy. and grain deliveries won to dry an lor ihe Soviei Union ai Vtsi lemeioririly. further damaging in economic caotpertt.


Mohm'i effort loiaUagc detente"inckfi-

cl aiicnc"erailhcitci nuclear fdrcciTNFj modem nalico wc*lo tmrnmo. and ihc Kremlin! abilil> to influence (Vise NATO member countries hedging ur opposed ia incttaied defensebe reduced The pioiprcii for peogrcu inrm* limitationti wiihn*led Sum would pruimblyI

irtmowi. tHrve anneiabcr.

lhal Have Jllnwed the Soviet leader* lotemjieviieIheirKe Polish crisis. They had nn icaion. nl least for the firstmonths. too-fit-in ita loyalty of Kama, ihe Polish party, or the Poliih Army Oesp-IC much tonecr- on ihe pin ol ihe ojliearooca*here hai been aos^nficaaa ij>Ho*ci of either labo ot political ur.rcu in t'i ait>C' Wjeiaw paci eounir

The Soviets probably also hoped that (he situation in Poland could beound by political mum Mcrvco*ad long ei per ic nee withl<sh craws" and know* that eoneessiom giaatcd ua4c'umber of occaiiomgradually -a*hich the Semen alio consid-

ered bvi then iiepped back from military nitbrojdly umiiaihe current trouble in Poland At that lime parly teidei Gcmulka'a tuecesc tn

baeh tioR of what he comededlhc Soviet

leader. groaneh tu believe lhal the* COune mtflu bc repeated

Deir-le Ihe damage io Ike Polith pirn from la" summer's labor unrcu. the Sovieti -vie probablyconfident that thc party underfor-

head nl ihe vrwrityke able soleaaei Soviethe "t* from ihe nan thai Potaad'icriUs sicimwiefi from economic facsori aad eoaild bethrough an economic revival. The Soviets apparently believed that the added stringencies the Polish people would ha we to endure on ibe rouse to recovery would larmvh Solidarity's image asehamnicniofweeling people Moscow probaWy also eatcwla led Ihaioma" CaihaSK Cbarchad as aforce oat of concern for Polaad's aainasal meanly

onfidence ia the validity of these premise* nn eroded as the crisis his progressed. The Polnh Icjdcnhip* unwillingness to confront Solidarity di-


tsdeteriorating canlrotu'tr local iun> branches, and the growth ufa strung reform inCnumcnl among Ihc rank and Tile havc given rise to gnvc doubts in ihc minds of ibc Sovieie Polish party hasGJlhcr ihe ability or ihcall Ihc tibcrali'a-lion process. Il has become increasingly clear ihai ihe crisis, although sparked by eecer-mie isiuct. has takenrimarily political cast and thai ibc political challenge Solidarity represents will not disappear with an improvemeni in the economy. Finally, tbe Church hat not had the restraining intVacocc on Solidarity ibe Soviets hoped for: in Tact, il pressed Ihc regime to recognise the new farmers* union. Rural Solidarity

Pursuing lhe political option has carried costs of its own. Prolonged political and economiche USSR's largest and most important ally- which lies astride the traditional Ccnlral European invasion routes lo and from Russia and itital corridor,oviet military security .hat created anu-cty among lhe Soviet armed forces. At the tame lime, thc continuation o'lhccrisis hitinterleicd wiihSewici foreign policyt. Willi theire at to Poland on the front page almost continuously in the West. Moscow hat been putibc defensive and hat had difficulty focusing Western attention on some of its initiatives, particularly PresidentNI' moratorium

Poland's troubles hare also undercut the USSR'sin its pitch to developing nations- ihai thc Comnsunita lyilem it immune to uich dm Minnas The prolongation of the crisis is causing both politi&il and economic problems for the East European regimes and strains wiihin theSovtet-ied alliance systemthe earttcnce of those regimes reus on Sonet military power. Mciscow's failure tOSlopPMiihira lion could be interpretedign of Sovieiby other Easl European populations and perhaps embolden ihem to make similar demand;

Basle Issue* andtjcetires

The revolutionary changes lhal have taken place in

Poland over the pan II month* include;

establishment of Irade unions, independent ol party control, for both woikrat and farmers

creation of an independent student organiianon.The loosening of censorship.

I ranton of ihc Parliamentubber stamporum for lhe debate nl social ntuct.

- The beginning!emoeraiirationof the Polish Communist party.'

The dominant Soviei goal in lhe thori run is to bring thii processall and. ove' the longer run. reverse it andreater degree of parly control over Poliih society.inimum, the Kremlinoland that:

Communist parly preeminence.

loyal to the USSR.

Soviet foreign policy goals.

ill mililary commitments to lhe Warsaw Pact

its economic obligation* to the CEMA countries.

In specific areas, set out below, the Soviets have certain ultimate objectives and minimum requirements. As the cutis has progressed, ihey have lowered their eipccts-tion* in each area substantially and arcive with much less lhan ihey would haw:potsiblr lati Augutt

Rtanftion of Party Connol. The parly, raiber than regrouping after Augutt. hai been weakened bydiscord and hat proved an ineffective tactician in its confrontation wiih Solidarity. Optimally, ihe Sovleis want the party nol to make any furtherand tn demonstrate through firm action that il i* regaining the upper band.inimum.etermined that the part, avoid situationsit is (breedack down in Ihc facehc of strength by Solidarity The Soviets realitc that there it noio tbe pre-July IWO style of party rule and thus may be willing to accept some sharing of po-er by the party in tlriotly defined nrcat tike Irade union and agricultural affairs

Hawmimr of ihr Centralized Commaairr Party Although Ihe Kania leadership seems intent on preserving the parly practice of democitlieim. wherein decisions arc made al lhe lopsad handed down.s publicly committed to greater party-including elections by secret ballot and wiih

multiplemay loosen ihehe issue of pany liber* lira lion wai the pimarydtlcrmiaantof the Soviet intcrvemion in Cyechcato-akialri and hai emerged is tbe central issue in the Polish prodem. Here too the Sovietsind, however,eturn, to light, cent rait red rule is impossible and may eventually comeore diversified parly if radical reforms arc avoided

itj Away ftaat PaJilUt. Solidarity has established itselftrong, organized political force with subuaiilial veto power over parly decisions. Over lime, lhc Soviets probably could learn to liveolidarity lhat focused primarily on trade unionI houghommunist sysiem those issues are inherently political

hat,irst Step, politicalmainly intellect tub. who are giving theolitical ideology must be split from the workers. The Sovici* hive pressed (or iheareesiof ihc dissidents, but Kama has resisted, armini that this wouldoafronution with ibe union that the government could not win. Instead,rying to use political tactics to separate the dissidents from (he union but has made Hi tie progress The (ear lhat the regime may Crackdown, moreover, has helped prompt Solidtimy to

urther political dimension as protector of the dissident* and pobiical prisoner?

Unification of thc Trade Union Motemeat iladtr Pony Argil. Moscow hi* continoutly championed the it ill-enisling government controlledeeing ihemoliticalhiolidarity and Ihe nucleus for an eventual reunification of Polith irade unions Moscow and Warsaw want to breathe more vitality into the "loyal" unions, but have few practical

wayc lodo toouiekly.

Cotiroln-Cammumiit Political

Pariin and Picttaiitin ef Formation of Ne* Ours. The regime has been successful in ibis area, despite talk last (alluholic party and recent ferment within the mainly middleclais Ocmocrinc Party The most serious threat might come (rom the new farmers* union. Rural Solidarity, which could drain support (rom Ihe increatiagly discredited United Praia its' Party. In CecclvosWvakiahere wore public callsrac multiparty system at least five months before Moscow invaded

far end ace Patty Control of Media. Even though the party his kept Ihc censorship mechanism largely intact, practices hive been liberalized considerably. Kania, moreover, his been forced to give Solidarity

access to thend hatunable torom atbii| mown newt sheet* ind leaflets, torn* of whicheea highly critical of regime policies. The Soviet* inic In tool mac towith lest censorship to long at com aiiieum if ihe Communist syiicm or Poland's foreign policy, especially lit alliance commit-mcnt^ ii avoidedn Crixhrauoraluaai prouipced in pan bi ihcll monitor closet) thcmcccnai reiann in anionhc terms of So>ida.rityi eventual acern to the miuand ihe iiaiuirsew censorship bill now being dra'tcd


MoKOw'taueumcu of thc chances forgetting what li want* in Polandprobably bleaker non thanai any time throughout ihe emit The mome mum ofea aotot; but ha* spread lo Ike

fivnmun.ll party

The "orvvil.iari levcii Motccrw ia uaiaa seem incieai-mgly melee live. Thecould put (under pres Hire On the Polish retimeeus( libcraliiilton.or on ihe reteerner* to moduaie Iheirhrooih durll media criticiim of Kama and Prime Mmistei

couniric* took military prciMimiOM- ability to move intoti limited force* on i'ihi notice. In neilhci cue did iheSovteit completethai would be rarcesaaiy to fieldlaiec <umbaiatacmbl) off maiui

help, the PcJtiti Arm) should il rCuM

The PoJi>bfcrv>-tedteo'noliiai' peepo. ration* and the repotting o* ihem by ibc WtNMhjvelmrted rtrtnren* eTeel onoland Theabers and the failure to follow up. however, have probably limited ihe effect!venal of iiiiovici posi ij 'ii The threat of force haslewlever for the Sovietseapon of tailbe employed only aftci they conclude that iheeadenhiri ii unable tobrini the situation

under Con HO*


tnilitary miervenuoeuibe Soviets pfahably would aot be much omened wiih ihc pct-.ib-Myufa NATOreiaVary reaction What would

COKiern ihemhc eatanthich the Polilh leader-

.hip and Ihe pany weald oppoac inch an intervention, and.evenhe Poluh military leaderibip should ac-uuiescc. (be likelihood of romaneeby Polish Army and internal security lorce uulis

1 he Soviet* probably now doubt ihey can count on Polith military cooperation. Therefore, in lhc event they decide to resolve the situation by military force, ihey will try to confront (hi Poles witb such over whelanins urcngih that lesntaaeebe falde To rjroicet an image of amty an ihc part of (he Warsawejecting PeJihihe Sewwti wouldISO want oilier Pact armed forces lo participate in the intervention

vlTarar*nt. large-tale inforcec-viiiEd ine mohihradonofnd civtban rctucaci aad

wideapread ognnci pr'naratrant -end havee conduct th preparation would recvixeeii

Some of (be pecparationi ondertaken since last fsll will, however, makeeaiarr for Ibe Soviets to ready Ihemwlvci 'or anumber ottdength SewKl ebvrt-smthe wosera USSR have pracliccd mob-linrig reur.uu nrxe tut September Moreover, during the Soyul-ll eaerene. Warsaw Paci forces ooponte Poland had antyefme plans forlarge combat forces into andPotanrj,

Out lank

f ritng lo predict the coune of j" f

n.idein -rnnil l> PoUnd'i.rtay venture, lo too. with ibc Sovici Uruon't rctpo*sc io different dewcl-

Pubnd. Il "MuM be Safeeed an.

curt, thai if pony rake Polandf lite Warsaw Pact orouldIl ulio iccmi likely thai if thc Polish parly could limit the libera I'ration ptoccit. ibe Soviets couhlmanage to liveolidarity thai confinedrace uiwon issue* Kremlin deem onng t" en her of Iheve cavci vow Id be

grcaily amplified

The devetopmeni of ihe ciili ibu> far.iuk aesis lhal the revolution's course it likely to nantheseihrs islenirri The uratecy chosen, fint by Solidarity and now by reformed muOe the parly, haionfront the leadership, curaci conectsioM before ictreatmf. and then on.ntitlate lor theound. Thc forceshe leaderihip are well awareeythc strength lo (MiniollaptC ol Ihc syiirm ihrouah mi all-out confrontation. They ace equally awaren would brute.Sovtei iicur* and Ihey wautd toteeverything ihey have gained i

Left undmurbed. ihe libcralirationikely lo CuMinuc to evolve for years The difficulty for the Soviet leadership is to decide whenthis slow-motiono continue outweigh Ihe ecu nf ending it by millS'v force

Il cannot be coaeludcd that uaripry because Ihecontinue to proceed with caution, the So-ieti also -ill forbear The longer ihe hberalir.nioncontinues, the deeper its roots grow and the cositier the Soviet option uf using force becomes Thus, ihe Soviet leaden may dec-lc to intervene not in itsponte to any particular event- such as ibc Bydgoirei uacideat sad iiicon.ut on the baui of theirf an accumulation of leasccurrences lhat teeme evolving into aa mevrnible tread

"trtaviMMotto* calk *

Dc-cliipmcnt- ouIihIc Poland might imnorunt role indolnonmakiog Thc death uf Rre>h-

nev. for -uvr. could lhifl the balance inen* favoring"tihlary

Slrrvliilr. if tbe Soviet* conclude thai therelittle protpctl fur any meaningful improvement in their relations with key Weticrnrucial rc> ilralnl will have been removed

We can act say io- close the Sennets rmgM be loudgmeaa to intervene avilrtanly. but from their perspective the trend in Polaiid esdecidedly nega-live, forhe hey no* is Ihc course of the liberaon in Ihc Polish paily. It isoregone conclusion that ibe Polish leadership will be unable tobc rati tat ion in the party Bui i' lhatcoaimuci to gair strength before ihe eairparly cofigreci inJuly. Ihe Kremlin

hoice to intervene militarily or nil tcning any Chance of prciei.ingtradilronal Sevrci-style Com irtuniil parly in Poland




in the Polish0

11 strremrnt. Regimemerc-ire'orrm including Ine

establishment of indcpendcet iriik unions,alter several weekso(wiih sinking workers snd in ihe facehreslcncd generalCommunist parly and

agree thae newnamed Solnoi act aiparty The agreementactor in the replacement of partyGierek on SSepiember and initiates ihe liberaliiation processlo lhe prcsenl, Mcntow is surpriied by strength of thcGdansk agreementaciieal move

neceiiitated by ihc need lodcfuse the immediate crisis. Ai the same time. Moscow begins to lake measures to improve ihe preparedness of military forces that would be used to any military coniirtgeney

)Suite.n hs first therw of tire rutin,oe-tw

Strike for pay incrcatci andaccestio ihc antdit More broadly, the strike it intended to push for ihe apcucaiion for legaliiation lhat SolMlarilym late September, and lo impress on tbr party the unions power. Action may have prompted new parly leader Kania to hold hit firsi meeting wiih Solidarityeek later, and provided lurlher evidence lo Moscow lhal Solidarity commands substantial nationwide support

10Ugaazatio. In agreement workedoul toon aderate-

October vim to Moscow, regimeersion of union's charier that ii had earlier rejected Although action is greeted jubilantly by union leaders, it fails to end labor unreii Srwieis publicly ignore the irgal.unon. although they may have givenor oval in advance in lhe belief ibis step would stabrlire the wualiee

Wnnaw Pact Meeting. Moscow summrl rs part of Soviet pressure cammilitary movements at Poland'sresponte to escalaling labor unresi and the Polish regimes capitulation io Solidarity's

political demands. Kama buys tifiw,ipfiwircnily onie resist union UtrmimH more Hrml}

Workweek Issue Resolved. Solidarity wins conee-ssion* on early introductionhour workweek, publicationnion newspaper, and ladso-telcvision coverage of union activities. Agreement comesonth of increasing tension between the union and the government, including Iwo major work stoppages by union members, and on the evehreatened nationwide general strike. Regime threatens to impose martial law bul docs not follow ihrough. Soviet media coverage reveals increasing Kremlin displeasure with ihe regime for yielding on key issues

Jaru'rtski Becomes Prime Minister. He retains his defense ministrypresumably to underscore warnings thai lhe regime will use force unless the labor turmoil ceases. Appointmentesponse to growing party and union disenchan'menl wilh jrovernment's performance and lo Sovietover conlInued concessions. Sonets strongly endorse appointment. Jarutelsfci callsday strike moratorium, bul is compelled to meet Student demands for an independent unionecure domestic tranquillity, which lasts only until early March. After conclusion of Soviet party congressarch. Soviei and Polish leaders hold summit. Ii reveals thai Soviets had become less confident in Kania'sability to control liberaliiation process.

Setllr^neol of Bydgosgci Incident. Agreement between Solidarity andconcludes period of heightened tension markedrief nation-wmSc striketormy parly Central Committee plenum at which leadership is criticiicd for its hardline stance. Government promises, in the agreement, lo punish tbose guilly ol beating upSolidartly activists in Bydgosici and guaranlecssecurityof new union. Dissatisfaction wiihin Solidarity leadership that negotiations had nol been more fruitful leads lo resignation ol several militants. Moscow, after cihorting the regime to stand firm ihrough its media and extending the Warsaw Pact exerciseases Ihc pressure slightly. Jsruzclskiew strike moratorium in part io mollify lhe Soviets, who were probably displeased over regime concessions in lhe agreement. The reamesubsequeniiyore moderate posture and approves registration of the peasants' union. Rural Solidarity.


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