A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 89: Bulgarian Report on the Defense
Ministers' Meeting in Bucharest, December 8, 1980
Bulgarian Gen. Dobri Dzhurov's report, not terribly informative on its face, is inter- esting precisely for that reason—because of what it reveals about Warsaw Pact think- ing about the Polish crisis at this time. At bottom, even during this critical period, the alliance was still undecided about what to do. According to the CIA informant, Polish Col. Ryszard Kukliński, Soviet-led forces were finally supposed to intervene against Solidarity on December 8, the day this report was written. But the Warsaw Pact sum- mit of December 5 ended with the decision not to take military action for the time being. In fact, an exercise began near the Polish borders at about this time, but it was abrupt- ly terminated on December 9, even though the plans continued in effect and the assem- bled units remained in a state of readiness. Tellingly, the Polish military representa- tives at the Bucharest meeting supported the eventual use of force—but for simple reasons of personal survival.During my visit to Bucharest I had meetings and talks with a number of Soviet and Polish comrades on the situation in the Polish People's Republic. Their views and assessments tend to be the following:
1. There are two sources of power in the Polish People's Republic. The "Solidarity" trade unions are winning more and more recognition as a dominant power in the country. The party and the state leadership, and partially the government, in spite of the fact that they have the armed forces and the security authorities under their control, lack the courage to take the necessary measures to win recognition as the only legal power in the country.
2. It is considered that due to weak agitation and propaganda almost nothing has been achieved to accomplish the main task that was assigned at the Sixth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers Party—strengthening of the party ranks. The party is not being led by the necessary class positions.
3. The second task set by the Plenum—to put up resistance against the anti-socialist elements—was not present in the activities of the party and the state either, which has resulted in a strengthening of the counterrevolutionary forces, whereas the government and the party have become weaker.
4. The comrades from the Polish Armed Forces think that "there is no way to retreat, the gallows are behind "us"." They can see two ways to overcome the crisis— a political solution, which was accepted as the general line at the Sixth Plenum, and the use of force. The first one has practically failed, therefore the second one remains.

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