The Rise and Fall of the Brezhnev Doctrine in Soviet Foreign Policy

By Matthew J. Ouimet | Go to book overview

7

Staring into
the Abyss

The theory of "no conflict" did not permit an understanding of the nature
and sources of contradictions and crises in the framework of socialist
cooperation, not to mention creation of mechanisms and procedures for
their timely disclosure, prevention, or elimination. This led to erroneous
decisions which led to the deformation of relations between socialist states.
—V. I. Dashichev at a 1989 roundtable discussion on Eastern Europe

We were not victorious
but we fought.
We could not get rid of the tyranny,
but stopped its course.
We did not rescue our country,
but defended it.
And if history will be recorded one day
we will be able to say
that we resisted!
—Lajos Kossuth

ONCE THE SOVIET LEADERSHIP had circumscribed its options in Poland, a renewed urgency regarding martial law returned to its relations with Warsaw. Moscow quickly perceived that the fate of communism in Poland, and quite possibly throughout Eastern Europe, now depended entirely on a domestic resolution of the Solidarity crisis by Polish forces. Should Warsaw prove unequal to this task, the alliance would look to the Kremlin for evidence of its commitment to socialist internationalism. When, instead, Moscow moved to stabilize its relations with the new opposition government, the full bankruptcy of Soviet bloc integration would be exposed for all to see. As the revolutions of 1989 would later show, the consequences of such a revelation would be politically catastrophic. Hence, Warsaw simply had to be made to realize that its responsibilities to the rest of the socialist camp prohibited any further concessions. The time for adjusting the "correlation of forces" was past. Martial law was needed swiftly and decisively.

However, Kania's ability to survive the political fallout of Moscow's June letter did little to encourage Soviet faith that Warsaw would soon take action against Solidarity. Nor did it augur well for the resurgence of a pro-Soviet, conservative Party platform at the Ninth PZPR Congress, now scheduled to convene in July 1981. Although Soviet military leaders, in coordination with leading press organs, could increase the level of tension along the Polish-Soviet frontier, only time would tell how long the Poles would remain intimidated by empty threats.

-205-

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