PRESIDENT BUSH must decide. If he comes to Poland only to repeat old hackneyed phrases, he will miss a historic opportunity. But if he comes and announces a significant program of aid, then his visit could become a historical event which would begin to erase the disastrous heritage of the Second World War and the Cold War.
What George Bush says here will reach beyond Polish boundaries. For in a decisive way, the success or failure of our efforts to create a new, more-successful economic and political system will influence other countries in the region, and even play a decisive role in the evolution of general East-West relations.
What is happening in Poland should appeal to Americans. Like in Boston two centuries ago when the people started to say with conviction, ``No Taxation without Representation,'' Poles now are saying, ``Nie Ma wolnosci bez Solidarnosci'' - ``No Freedom without Solidarity.'' Solidarity has succeeded in uniting the country, and challenging the existing order.
The game is far from over, but things will not be as before. We have won trade union pluralism. There is increased freedom of expression and movement. More than 80 percent of Polish farmers own their own land. A strong, independent Roman Catholic church protects the deepest moral values of the land. And the opposition has freely elected members in parliament.
So although Poland cannot be called a free and democratic state, it already does not fit into any totalitarian-communist straitjacket. It is no longer is a satellite country of a great imperial power.
Many of the state and social structures still have their roots in the remote epoch of Stalinist rule. That is what now must change. Our communist leadership may not be ready to give up power, but it is serious about sharing its leading role.
Importantly, these revolutionary changes are not taking place against Soviet will. Although there is definite interest in Moscow about what is going on in Poland, we believe it is possible to expand the frontiers of freedom inside Poland, and further our own already substantial sovereignity without a Soviet veto.
In this conjunction, American policy cannot be a simple continuation of the old line of containing communism's spread. Communism no longer is spreading. Nor can America just continue a policy of differentiating between bad and good communists. It must create a new policy which aims to force communists to continue giving up powers to democratic forces.
The single most important enemy of democratic transformation in Poland is not the Soviet Union. It isn't the nomenklatura. It isn't communist ideology. It is the economic situation.
The biggest and most powerful free nation of the world has a definite responsibility. We do not just ask for handouts. We ask for investments that will produce more direct benefits to US security than any new nuclear missiles or fighter jets.
We ask for a strong American statement on the inviability of human rights and the freedom of information. What has happened in Poland is possible because our public opinion could be well-informed about events.
Finally, we ask for an agressive policy of rapprochement with the USSR. That means negotiating seriously with Mikhail Gorbachev. We know Poland still must fight for her own freedom. But Poland and the other small nations of the world can only advance towards democracy and prosperity in a climate of detente.