As the Reagan administration weighs countermeasures to the Polish crackdown, and seeks to coordinate them with its European allies, West Germany has advised against a move now to impose or threaten Western sanctions against Poland or the Soviet Union.
Bonn's reluctance, according to West German Foreign Ministry officials, is said to be based on a view of the Polish situation that continues to prefer to see Warsaw's declaration of martial law as an effort to save Poland from Soviet invasion, rather than as a proxy for the same thing. Bonn officials still hold out the hope that Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland's premier and Communist Party chief and the head of the country's ruling Military Council, either intends or can be persuaded without Western sanctions to return his country to a course of reform.
This perception would appear to place West Germany at some odds not only with Washington but also with Paris and London, where officials seem more inclined than at the start of Poland's martial law to see Moscow's hand.
U.S.-European consultations on how to respond to Poland's imposed state of emergency are still in an early phase, say American and German officials here, and the views and positions among Western alliance members about the course of events in Poland could shift as a clearer picture of Warsaw's intentions and Moscow's involvement emerges.
West German officials stressed that the lack of firmly sourced reports from Poland about the purpose of the crackdown requires a cautious response from the West.
They cautioned against an overreaction by Western governments that could escalate the crisis and precipitate a Soviet invasion after all.
This position was said by Bonn officials to have been conveyed last night by Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher in a meeting here with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger, who has responsibility for European affairs and is on a swing through Western Europe this week to discuss the Polish situation. Eagleburger yesterday stopped in Rome in addition to Bonn and was in Brussels today.
While the United States is not believed to have asked the allies for their participation in any measures yet, the consideration that is being given in Washington to actions ranging from an economic boycott of Poland to a cut in diplomatic ties with Warsaw has made Bonn officials nervous. West Germany's aim appears to be to attempt to forestall any U.S. moves in those directions.
Throughout the past year and a half, the West German government and public have feared a crackdown in Poland would wreck the basis for detente in Europe.
In addition to the substantial economic and humanitarian interests at stake for West Germany if the Cold War returns, the political fortunes of the government of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, already severely strained, would take another blow by his conceding that detente had been defeated.
West German officials say that, for the moment, the West's strategy should be to exhaust all political channels to Warsaw and Moscow to win a relaxation of martial law and a resumption of Poland's democratization process.
Efforts by Poland's powerful Roman Catholic Church are regarded here as the best chance for achieving this end.
Hopes for an early turnaround in Poland received a pessimistic appraisal from West German newspapers today on both the left and the right.
Declared the Frankfurter Rundschau, normally a pro-Social Democrat paper, "Although the events are providing more and more proof that the Polish military's action is coordinated with the Soviet Union, Jaruzelski is approaching the West above all for aid. It almost seems as if the West is to be blackmailed with Poland's debts."
"A lot of naivete is necessary to believe Jaruzelski's assurances that the reforms are not to be abrogated and that merely law and order is to be restored," said the independent Frankfurter Allgemeine.