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

underground printing presses and reportedly arrested scores responsible for underground literature. . . . Many activists were presumably spotted in . . . the demonstrations and will be apprehended. . . . We believe the most likely prospect is a continuation of the present situation: rule from the top by a regime . . . with control over a dispirited population assured by use of force.17

White House Statement—September 1982. Unlike the dry tone in the above intelligence assessment, a Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on Violence in Poland on September 1, 1982 reflected Reagan’s passionate tone in assailing the Polish government and pressing the case for free trade unions and basic rights. Thus:

The President deeply deplores the acts of violence which resulted in the tragic loss of life in Lubin. He deeply regrets and condemns the use of deadly force to break up peaceful demonstrations in Warsaw and other cities on Solidarity’s second anniversary. . . . The fact that demonstrations involving thousands occurred in eight major cities in the face of Government warnings that security forces would use violence to put them down and dole out summary punishments vividly illustrates and demonstrates the strength of the dedication of the Polish people to free trade unions and other basic liberties. The deaths . . . can only serve to deepen the already extensive chasm separating Polish authorities from the Polish people . . . and dramatize the significance of the policies which the President announced last December.18

NSDD 54—U.S. “Differentiation” Strategy on Eastern Europe—September 1982. Presidential Decision Directive NSDD 54—Policy Towards Eastern Europe, issued on September 2, 1982, builds on NSSD 5–82 and the interagency study it called for on the U.S. policy of “differentiation.” It confirmed Reagan’s revolutionary strategic goal of fragmenting Warsaw Pact coherence and bringing the Eastern European countries into an extended Western European community.

Differentiation will aim at: encouraging more liberal trends in the region; furthering human and civil rights in East European countries; reinforcing the pro-Western orientation of their peoples; lessening their economic and political dependence on the USSR and facilitating their association with the free nations of Western Europe; [and] encouraging more private market-oriented development of their economies, free trade union activity, etc.

[U.S. Instruments] The U.S. Government will employ commercial, financial, exchange, informational and diplomatic instruments in implementing its policy toward Eastern Europe to include the following: Most-Favored Nation (MFN) status . . . Credit Policy . . . International Monetary Fund (IMF) membership . . . Debt Rescheduling . . . Cultural and Educational Exchange and Informational Programs . . . Scientific Exchanges . . . High Level Visits . . . International Organization . . . [and] Restrictions on Eastern European Diplomats and Consular Personnel.19

NSC Meeting—September 1982. The notes for NSC 62—Polish Debt [and Latin American Debt] on September 30, 1982 point to continued U.S. suspension of international discussions of Polish debt rescheduling and to a consensus within the Administration against undertaking a Private Sector Initiative for Poland.

Reagan Address to the Nation: “Let Poland be Poland”—October 1982. Reagan’s Radio Address to the Nation on Solidarity and United States Relations with Poland on October 9, 1982 responds to the Polish Government’s decision to break and cancel the November 1981 Gdansk Agreement and to declare Solidarity illegal on October 8. Reagan places this action and U.S. and global reaction into the context of “Let Poland be Poland” and his Cold War strategy’s larger historic cause of freedom. Thus:

[The Polish Action] Yesterday the Polish Government, a military dictatorship, took another far-reaching step in their persecution of their own people. They declared Solidarity, the organization of the working men and women of Poland, their free union, illegal.

Yes, I know Poland is a faraway country in Eastern Europe. Still, this action is a matter of profound concern to all the American people and to the free world. . . .

[Party/Government Union versus Free Unions] The Polish regime’s action . . . made it clear that they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights—the right to belong to a free trade union.

[Book pg. 470]