Gati, Charles
December 1982
Foreign Affairs;Winter82/83, Vol. 61 Issue 2, p292
This section examines the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, particularly in Poland. Although the Polish crisis of 1980-1981 was the third major eruption of the post-Stalin era in Eastern Europe, Soviet leaders did not seem ready to respond to it. During the course of the first crisis, in 1956, they crushed the Hungarian uprising, installed János Kádár as Party Leader, provided emergency food and easy credit to the new regime in order to allay popular discontent, and spoke vaguely of change--but then pressed for severe punishment of those who could not be appeased. A decade or so later, however, they allowed Kádár to institute the New Economic Mechanism and build the foundations for his goulash communism. Today, Kádár can claim to have achieved a unique feat for a communist leader: he is trusted by Moscow, respected by the West, envied by other East Europeans, and cheered by his compatriots. In their second major crisis in Eastern Europe, the Russians intervened in 1968 in Czechoslovakia to put an end to Alexander Dubĉek's reform movement. Then, as always, the goals of stability and conformity were at the top of the Soviet Union's wish list for Poland and, indeed, for all of Eastern Europe. Regional stability would obviate the need to bail out unpopular and incompetent regimes or to save them through military intervention.


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