We are all certain of the odium that we attach to fascism. Every year as the experience of fascism fades ever further into the reaches of time our denunciations of it grow in passion and eloquence. Why do we not perceive communism with commensurate loathing? As the brutal suppression of the Poles should serve to remind us, communism is equally as ferocious as Nazism; and, as attested to by its superior longevity, communism is vastly more effective in snuffing out occasional flash fires of freedom.
By the same token, why do we maintain any reservations whatever about thrusting the Soviet Union into the same dark moral category where we thrust Nazi Germany once it became apparent that Hitler's idealistic yearnings for his country were merely the bogus rationales of a brute? As barbarisms go, the Soviet Union is no more benign than Nazi Germany; though the Soviet Union is probably responsible for a lot more unmarked graves and, if only by virtue of its greater age, a lot more violence.
The Soviet Union today maintains the same position in the world that it has held since Hitler's fall: it is the world's preeminent menace to peace. It endures as the world's most effective enemy of freedom, a regime intent on obliterating all the precious human values associated with freedom. Violence all around the world would recede dramatically were the bellicose intrigues of the Soviets to end. Military arsenals would diminish. Intractable diplomatic problems would ease. Terrorists and spies would suffer an instant decline in their quality of life. Moreover, the civilized nations of the world would again be able to defend decency without fearing confrontations with Moscow or interminable guerrilla warfare with Moscow's generously supplied agents, and Poland's economy could be brought into the 20th century.
Were it not for the Soviet Union, the Polish army would be in the service of the Polish people rather than in the service of the Soviet empire. The Poles would not be having their best men murdered and beaten in jails, as their labor union is destroyed, the fabric of their society again shredded and their poverty assured thanks to the brutal reimposition of the most benighted economic system since feudalism.
Poland is now having its political and economic hopes dashed, and why? Because the paranoiacs in the Kremlin fear any stirring of freedom no matter how frail. Henry Kissinger has been saying it over and over again for the past 16 months: the Soviets cannot countenance free trade unions and political diversity.
There is among our foreign policy elite a relentless tendency toward meliorism and fantasy. In their minds, world politics is the domain where gentlemen resolve all things through suave negotiations, and where no one is ever impaled on a bayonet. Despite the grisly horror that daily takes place in the Third World, despite the Gulag, despite the Soviet divisions in Afghanistan and the yellow rain there and in Southeast Asia, these sleek lawyers continue to believe that signatures on a piece of paper will dissuade the cold-blooded practitioners of Realpolitik.
Today these congenital optimists are scrutinizing the news reports for evidence that things are going to be okay in Poland. They might succeed. They have deluded themselves through so many other tragedies; it is possible they will find in the suppression of Poland grounds for reassurance. But the truth is that many Poles are going to lose their lives before the Soviet design has been imposed on them. As has happened before in Eastern Europe, intellectuals will be suppressed, workers will be suppressed, families and friends will be separated forever. Despite the purring among our foreign policy elite, Polish bones will be broken and blood will ooze.
What is to be done? Americans should demonstrate, and Europeans too. Soviet flags should be burnt, and the Soviet Union abominated.
Polish Americans have already begun the demonstrations, and the redoubtable Lane Kirkland of the AFL-CIO has gone into action. Students all over America should march now, and why not be joined by civil rights leaders and feminists, and Reagan Republicans? It is far better for the cause of peace that protests be organized at the grass roots than at the governmental level. As for the Reagan administration, let it be forthright. Armies do not mobilize and maneuver in Eastern Europe unless the Kremlin approves. If the Soviets want arms and commercial negotiations with the West, they should order Gen. Jaruzelski to abide by the Helsinki agreements and by those domestic agreements his government has signed with Solidarity. Until the suppression ends in Poland, the United States and all Western European nations should end Polish aid and refuse to reschedule Western bank loans. The nations of the West need not provision Soviet prisons.