Courtesy Reuters

Polish Futures, Western Options

Try to imagine, as Western specialists in communist affairs often do, a Politburo meeting in the Kremlin. It is the spring of 1981, the topic is Poland.1 Comrade A is impatient: "I thought Kania was one of us. He used to be in charge of their security forces. How is it he doesn't know what to do?" Comrade B is philosophical: "These Poles, they've never liked us, they never will. We liberate them from the Germans, we sell them cheap oil, we give them credit, we buy everything they can't sell in the West. What do we get? Why aren't they grateful?" Comrade C is bitter: "I'm sick and tired of all these East Europeans, but especially of the Poles. They want to be the 'bridge' between us and the West. (Laughter in the room.) Don't they know we want the West Germans to be the 'bridge'?" (More laughter.) Comrade D is business-like: "We have better things to do than to worry about Poland all the time. I move that we give this Kania fellow another chance. If he doesn't have everything under control by the end of the year, we'll move in. We'll call it 'fraternal assistance.' Enough is enough. What will the Americans and the Chinese think of us if we let this thing go on indefinitely? We're patient, of course. We're always patient, but we're not a paper tiger!" The motion carries.

It is now early 1983. Same location, same subject, the new leadership in place. Comrade A is still impatient: "This Jaruzelski, we made him a general, didn't we? Why did he release Walesa? Did he think we weren't paying attention to Poland in November? Jaruzelski should know that 'conciliation' and 'reform' can come only after everyone in Poland understands we're in charge." Comrade B is still philosophical: "Yes, when they're down, they'll appreciate anything. Let them be grateful for the reform! Let Poland be Poland!" (Laughter in the room.) Comrade C is still bitter: "We could afford

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