US and Poland
THE important effort of rebuilding ties between the United States and Poland has taken another useful step forward, with Washington withdrawing its objections to letting Warsaw rejoin the International Monetary Fund.
It is important for the US to reestablish bilateral ties with Poland so as to encourage that nation to turn its eyes Westward again. The alternative would be to push Poland more forcefully toward the Soviet Union.
At the same time it is useful for the US to continue to hold some cards Poland would like to see played, in order for Washington to retain a prod toward gaining further concessions from the Polish government. One such card is most-favored-nation status; were Washington to grant this, Poland's exports to the US would benefit, because of lower duties and tariffs. The Reagan administration is properly withholding conferral of such status; further, it is questionable whether Congress would go along with such a move at this time, even if it were proposed by the White House.
The wisdom of Washington's cautious approach is borne out by this weekend's strife in Gdansk, where police forcefully dispersed demonstrators Sunday.
From the American Revolutionary War onward, Poland has had ties with the US; millions of Americans are of Polish descent. During the decade of the 1970s Poland established substantial connections with the United States and the rest of the West, in trade, agriculture, scientific, cultural, and other areas. These were largely severed when the regime of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski cracked down on individual freedoms three years ago by outlawing the Solidarity union and declaring martial law.
This trend was reversed in July of this year, when General Jaruzelski declared amnesty for political prisoners. The Reagan administration responded with appropriate caution. It eliminated a modest number of sanctions and declared that before ending more it would wait and see how broadly the amnesty was applied.
It now appears reasssured as far as the amnesty goes, and therefore has removed the IMF prohibition. Initially this step has a political meaning, indicating another small improvement in relations between the two nations.
Ultimately it could provide Poland with access to the capital it needs to rebuild its economy. As a condition of gaining this funding, however, the Jaruzelski regime almost surely would have to agree to a series of remedial economic measures imposed by the IMF. It might be a difficult step for the Polish government to take, but at the same time it might aid in getting Warsaw's economic house in order. In any case, it is expected to be many months before all the agreements would be in place to permit the loans to be made.