. . . reprieve in Warsaw
POLAND'S sudden release of its 225 political prisoners, many of them jailed leaders of the banned Solidarity trade union movement, is an encouraging step. Warsaw's action warrants the approbation of the global community and, in particular, the United States, which imposed stiff sanctions on Poland in the early 1980s. The US-Polish division of recent years has been one of the more unfortunate outcomes of the East-West impasse. Millions of Americans still have family links to Poland. But even more important than that, many Poles have long looked to the United States as an example of pluralistic, democratic government to be admired and emulated. Indeed, until the crackdown by the Polish government on the Solidarity movement, Poland had been evolving into a relatively pluralistic society in the regimented East-bloc context. It was to check that drift toward power sharing that the Soviets, and the regime of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, cracked down on dissidents.
Of course, one sudden positive action -- even the release of political activists -- does not an entire new foreign or domestic policy make. So the US will be justified in waiting a few weeks, as the Reagan administration likely intends, before proceeding with any easing of its own current policy toward Poland.
Poland is facing enormous economic troubles, including a $32 billion Western debt. It needs an infusion of aid. Continuing isolation by the United States is not going to meet Poland's long-term need. Nor would a deeper public unrest in that society, if economic conditions worsened.
The weekend release of political prisoners opens the way for a more constructive dialogue between Warsaw and Rome, a goal of both sides. The US should also consider a restoration of political and economic links.