In Afghanistan and Poland, the Soviets want control. We want, with and for the Afghans and Poles, independence. Yet it should be obvious that the Soviets cannot attain full control, because resistance in both places will continue. History assures it. It should be equally obvious that full independence for Afghanistan and Poland is also not available.No great power would allow it. For those two places, moreover, history does not allow it, either.
Perhaps there is another way: Finlandization.
Finland, having lost two wars to the Soviet Union by 1945, had to pay a price. Though it restored its domestic life pretty much on its own terms and lives now essentially in the spirit of its Western - heritage, it lost territory and was forced to follow a foreign policy consistent with Moscow's view of its security requirements. Most egregiously, it had to grant Moscow a right (unexercised) to intervene in the event of "aggression" on the northern front.
Unfairly to the Finns, who were dealing from defeat, Finlandization -- clumsy word -- has come into the Western political vocabulary as a synonym for appeasement.It connotes caving in to the Kremlin, slopping out of NATO into neutralism, and the like. But that refers to Western Europe. What I am talking about, borrowing from Selig Harrison of the Carnegie Endowment and William Pfaff of the International Herald Tribune, is the Finlandizing of Soviet-occupied countries, Afghanistan and Poland. That's another cup of tea.
Let's be clear: Finlandization means conditional sovereignty. It means ending the foreign occupation but accepting some inhibitions, especially on foreign policy, thereafter. It would not be acceptable to Afghans or Poles who insisted on full sovereignty, including the option to take actions or join combinations that troubled their only menacing neighbor. It would only make sense if they thought it represented a realistic improvement on what the future otherwise holds.
Moreover, since the Finlandization of countries in or almost in the Soviet orbit entails at the least a rearrangement in the balance of power, it cannot come about unless both Washington and Moscow somehow agree. That's life in the 20th century. If Moscow sees the process as a trick to switch the two countries from the Soviet or non-aligned column to the American column, it will surely resist -- and more forcefully than Washington has resisted Cuba's opposite switch over the last 20 years. The process only becomes feasible if the United States accepts Soviet requirements of security and prestige. Otherwise, forget Finlandization.
Here things get interesting. Inrespect to Afghanistan, the United States has just given a boost to a West European plan to end the Soviet occupation in a context of 1) broadly based guarantees of Afghan independence and non-alignment and 2) the choice of a government by "representatives of the Afghan people." With the Europeans, the State Department expressed regret at Moscow's unfavorable "initial" response.
There is no way of knowing now whether the Soviets will continue to demand that the world recognize their puppet in Kabul, or whether further Afghan resistance or some other factor will induce them to change their mind. Also, not much of the West Eurpoean plan is yet in view. But it's in the Finaldn pattern. I find it interesting that the Reagan administration, even while it does what it can to increase the costs of the Soviet occupations, seems to be aboard the European plan.
Poland is different. It didn't start out as a pro-Soviet neutral in distant Asia but as a Warsaw Pact ally on what is politically and emotionally the Soviet Union's most sensitive border. One can argue that by playing to Polish nationalism, withdrawing Soviet troops and letting the Poles run their home affairs, Moscow would vastly enhance its security. But this cannot be an easy argument to sell in the Politburo. That is why William Pfaff argues that NATO would have to make certain compensating changes in Western Europe.
For me, Pfaff goes too far. If Poland is to be Finlandized, it will have to be in fact, not in name. The process of making it explicit would be too upsetting to the Western Alliance, too hard, and perhaps unnecessary.
On step, however, is necessary. Ronald Reagan must convey that his larger purpose is something other than the destabilizing of the Soviet Union and the deliberate rending of its empire. To the extent that he convinces the Kremlin he is interested in Poland's liberty not for its own sake but for the United States' strategic and ideological advantage, he ensures that Moscow will keep the pressure on the Poles.