THE Polish government of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski is facing a series of tests involving its management of the troubled Polish economy, its ties with Moscow, and its relationship with the Polish people. How the Jaruzelski regime handles itself during the weeks ahead is expected to have a profound effect on the ability of Poland to maintain the current movement toward political normalization. It is vital that the United States, and other countries with important ties with Poland, provide Warsaw with the moral and financial support needed to ensure that stability - and economic progress.
Without oversimplifying the situation, Warsaw is facing intense pressures from two directions:
Moscow is prodding Poland to rev up its economy. Moscow is pegging its own growth for 1987 at 4 percent. A number of East-bloc nations are following suit. But for Poland to reach that level seems highly problematic.
At the same time, dissidents within Poland are seeking more openness for underground Solidarity trade union leaders. Such a step, they contend, would be consistent with the regime's ``normalization program'' announced in September, in which amnesty was provided for large numbers of dissidents. And if that renewed challenge were not enough for the Jaruzelski government to deal with, it also faces intense challenge over economic policies from within official government circles.
The government was forced to back down on a series of planned austerity measures designed to tighten up Poland's decentralized economic system. Warsaw is now arguing that the about-face on economic policy is proof of the regime's eagerness to liberalize its political system.
Clearly, the Jaruzelski government is caught betweeen a rock and a hard place. Poland needs to modernize its economy. That will in part require some belt tightening. But such an austerity program would conflict with calls for further political liberalizing - and, at the least, threaten retention of Poland's relatively decentralized economy, as considered in East-bloc terms.
General Jaruzelski must obviously level with the Polish people on the need for economic reform. At the same time, the regime must refrain from any renewed crackdown on dissidents.
The US, for its part, should consider lifting the remaining sanctions on Poland. And financial assistance should also be extended by Western nations.