Chapter 19 - Taking on Soviet Imperialism in Poland and Eastern Europe

Reagan at Westminster: Marxism-Leninism on Ash-Heap of History—June 1982. Reagan’s “must read” Address to the British Parliament on June 8, 1982, cited at length in Chapter 16, included the following words particularly relevant to Poland about the prior failures and coming success of a democratic revolution of popular uprisings against Soviet rule:

Around the world today, the democratic revolution is gathering new strength. . . . In the Communist world as well, man’s instinctive desire for freedom and self-determination surfaces again and again. To be sure, there are grim reminders of how brutally the police state attempts to snuff out this quest for self-rule—1953 in East Germany, 1956 in Hungary, 1968 in Czechoslovakia, 1981 in Poland. . . . The march of freedom . . . will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history. . . . The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets, but a test of wills and ideas, a trial of spiritual resolve, the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish, the ideals to which we are dedicated. . . .14

Reagan Statement—June 1982. Reagan’s Statement on the Situation in Poland, on June 13, 1982, continues Reagan’s public pressure by noting the gap between the Polish Government and its people, the impact of U.S. sanctions, U.S. political demands, and the contrast between the lack of Warsaw Pact economic assistance to Poland and U.S. aid provided through private organizations. Thus:

[Poland’s “Darkness” and “State of War”] Six months ago today darkness descended on Poland as the Warsaw Government declared a “state of war” on its own people. Today the Polish people’s spirit remains unbroken, and as the widespread popular demonstrations in early May indicate, the gap between the Polish people and their leaders has widened since December 13, 1981. The broad range of economic sanctions which we introduced against the Warsaw Government last December has had a strong impact on the Polish economy. . . . With each passing day, the impact of these sanctions grows, particularly in light of the unwillingness of Warsaw’s allies to provide substantial assistance. . . . [We will not lift these sanctions] until the Polish Government has ended martial law, released all political prisoners, and reopened a genuine dialogue with the church and Solidarity. . . .

[Private Sector U.S. Aid] The [U.S.] will continue to help provide humanitarian assistance to the Polish people through such organizations as Catholic Relief Services, CARE, and Project HOPE. Let us hope that the authorities in Warsaw will move to bring about a genuine process of reconciliation in Poland before the gap between the authorities and the people becomes even more threatening. (headings added)15

Reagan at the United Nations—June 1982. In his Address to the United Nations, General Assembly on June 17, 1982, cited extensively in Chapter 16, Reagan includes the following sentences on Soviet violations of the Yalta Agreement in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe:

Since World War II, the record of tyranny has included Soviet violation of the Yalta agreements leading to domination of Eastern Europe, symbolized by the Berlin Wall—a grim gray monument to repression that I visited just a week ago. It includes the takeovers of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Afghanistan and the ruthless repression of the proud people of Poland. . . . With God’s help we can secure life and freedom for generations to come.16

NSC Meeting on Eastern Europe—July 1982. Reagan’s NSC 56—U.S. Policy Toward Eastern Europe meeting on July 21, 1982 focused on recognizing measures toward Eastern European liberalization and assessing whether or not they were reflected in domestic or foreign policies. The case of Romania received special attention.

U.S. Intelligence Estimate on Poland—September 1982. An upgraded U.S. Special Intelligence Estimate, SNIE 12–6–82—Poland’s Prospects Over the Next 12 to 18 Months, issued on September 1, 1982, was somewhat pessimistic about Solidarity’s prospects, indicating that after a period of major pro-Solidarity protests, the regime’s Soviet-supported crackdowns were enforcing a stalemate in a tense situation. Thus:

The Jaruzelski regime tried but has not succeeded in gaining popular acceptance and continues to rule through fear and intimidation . . . [and not] any willingness to seek a genuine political accommodation. . . . Solidarity . . . has established an underground Temporary Coordinating Committee (TKK) but is still groping for an effective strategy. . . . The union’s leaders will cite the turnout of demonstrators against overwhelming odds as a moral victory. The regime has claimed that 65,000 took part, 4050 persons were detained, three demonstrators were killed and 63 injured . . . in the two weeks of demonstrations. [Meanwhile,] the authorities seized

[Book pg. 469]