Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. said yesterday that martial law in Poland has not succeeded and that the danger of Soviet intervention may be greater than it was before the military crackdown two weeks ago.
Haig, in an interview with The Washington Post, said, "Passive resistance in my view will continue, and it will be aggravated by the consequences of economic stagnation and social-economic privation."
He said it is "much too early" to conclude that the danger of direct Soviet intervention has receded, adding: "I think it may even be more possible than before these events occurred." Excerpts from the interview are on Page A6
"Martial law has not succeeded, and it would be premature to suggest that it had," Haig said. "Once the decision was made to institute repression, the prospects of applying what is necessary to achieve that outcome are stronger rather than weaker."
He also said "the calculus" in future choices in Warsaw and Moscow has been affected by the decision, after months of pained tolerance, to resort to force against the Solidarity union movement.
While communications between Poland and the Soviet Union are reported by U.S. intelligence to be extremely active, there has been no report of major troop movements in Russia that would presage direct Soviet intervention. Haig's concern, as he expressed it, seemed to be based primarily on the continuing danger of bloodshed and civil strife that could not be contained by Polish authorities.
According to Haig, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law "either in response to Soviet pressure or as a decision made in Moscow." Haig did not say conclusively which he believes to be true.
Haig said Jaruzelski's address to the Polish people on Christmas Eve was the first response to President Reagan's televised remarks on Poland Wednesday night and his personal letter to Jaruzelski of the day before. Haig suggested that the postponement of Jaruzelski's speech from Wednesday, its previously expected time, until Thursday was in order for the Polish general to hear first what Reagan had to say.
Haig said Jaruzelski's speech was "extremely moderate in tone" but added that it failed to contain assurances that martial law is being revised. Haig noted that the initial actions of the Polish leadership, which he described as "a military junta" that has supplanted the government and the Communist Party, were couched in moderate language but were "steely" in character.
Haig said that the internal dynamics in Poland, including reports of discussions between the generals and the influential Roman Catholic Church, suggest that a move toward reconciliation "is still a possibility."
In assessing Jaruzelski's role, Haig discussed two broad schools of thought: that the Polish leader is "a patriotic nationalist" seeking to preempt Soviet intervention, or that he is "a Soviet proxy" seeking to turn back the clock in Poland to the days before the rise of Solidarity as an independent union in August, 1980.
"I think either of these extremes is a misreading," he said. "The truth is somewhere between the two, but probably closer to the latter."
Haig cautioned against accepting either judgment in full, apparently because of the consequences of either conclusion. If martial law is seen as a nationalist effort to stave off the Russians, the West might be expected to support it. U.S. policy at present runs strongly in the other direction.
If, on the other hand, Jaruzelski is a Soviet surrogate and the Russians are dictating the action, there would seem to be little chance for outside leverage on the Polish crackdown, Haig agreed. But he added, "There's much evidence to challenge that theory in its extreme."
"For 18 months," Haig noted, "for whatever reason, both the Polish government and party, which has now been supplanted by a military junta, felt constrained not to face a showdown."
Secondly, the Soviets, despite what he described as "major steps to intimidate, coerce and threaten" the Poles, did not intervene with force.
The restraints have not disappeared, even though "an internal repression replete with ambiguities" was launched, Haig said.
Whatever theory of motivation one accepts, Haig said, the U.S. responsibility, along with that of its allies, is to "optimize the leverage" for reconciliation, compromise and compliance with the Helsinki accords.
The current and future significance of the Polish events for the western alliance and East-West relations is of historic proportions, according to Haig. In his view, these events "have a fundamental effect on the broadest issues surrounding East-West relations and future international dynamics."
Haig spoke of unity at this point as a major priority, especially in the context of what he described as a long-term effort by the Soviets to split the western alliance, particularly to split off West Germany.
He went into some detail in describing the recent strains on the alliance, including a seemingly sudden turn against detente on the part of the Reagan administration. At the same time, he seemed relatively confident that the differences can be managed within the basic policy direction on Poland set by Reagan in his speech Wednesday night.
The American president "must be the pacesetter," Haig said, apparently referring to the unilateral measures Reagan announced. At the same time, a president could push some of the allies into Moscow's arms "if that pacesetting is dominated by unilateral considerations," he said.
At bottom, Haig said, "I think the Europeans correctly feel as much concern about the events in Poland as we do," although he added that "some have differing perspectives as to causal factors" and "somewhat less impatient outlooks."
He acknowledged that attempts to work out a NATO-wide system of sanctions would cause difficulties for countries like West Germany, which has extensive trade and financial ties with the communist bloc, and that it might be unrealistic to expect all to respond in exactly the same way.
But, while stressing that "communications on this sensitive subject be thorough," he said "our own judgments cannot be constrained by the lowest common denominator of the European consensus."
Haig put particular emphasis on the 1975 Helsinki agreements, which were signed by 35 nations including the United States, Poland and the Soviet Union. The signatory governments pledged to respect "the human rights and fundamental freedoms" of their citizens and to refrain from "any intervention, direct or indirect, in other participating states." In talking about these provisions, Haig said:
"These are the factors which incidentally underlie a prospect for detente and improving East-West relations--that there would be adherence to internationally agreed-upon norms and rights. Either that process was anticipated as an imperative by the Soviet leadership, or it was contrived as a mockery to the whole concept of detente itself.
"It constituted a whole new framework for international relations between east and west. . . . Clearly, either the east as well as the west entered that with good will and an intent to abide by its obligations, or it was a charade, or it was a subterfuge for more insidious objectives. Poland is merely a manifestation of the broader aspect of Helsinki and the underpinnings for detente."
In response to questions about whether the Soviet Union interprets the Helsinki accords as recognition of its hegemony over Poland and the other countries of Eastern Europe, Haig replied:
"I think this is after all one of the main questions that has to be answered, but it should not be addressed in the classic sense of the post-Yalta era. It should be addressed in the context . . . of post-Helsinki. That's why sterile arguments of spheres of influence which may have been assumed in a post-Yalta situation and by historic precedent with Czechoslovakia and Hungary are not applicable in this instance."
Regarding the Polish debts to the West, a factor which distinguishes the present situation from earlier suppressions of liberalizing movements in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Haig said the administration is not trying at this time to influence the actions of private U.S. banks which hold $1.3 billion of Poland's $16 billion in debts to foreign private institutions.
The banks, he said, "have incurred their obligations on their own calculation . . . and we have great confidence that their assessment of the uncertainties with sound business criteria is an adequate restraint. That does not mean that events could not alter that." He added that while they cannot be overlooked, "it is important that we do not permit such a significant political event to be skewed by excess concern for financial implications."
As for debts owed to the U.S. government, Haig pointed out that additional U.S. credits to Poland are being held in abeyance while repression continues and until the situation becomes clearer.
Haig was asked about the significance of Reagan's report in his nationwide address that "the martial law proclamations imposed in December by the Polish government were being printed in the Soviet Union in September."
According to the secretary of state, "the implications of it are that one must not give unusual weight to the theory that it was the excesses of Solidarity during the months of October and December which triggered the clampdown."
Haig said that the actions and resolutions of the Polish union might have influenced the timing of the crackdown, because they further strained the limit of tolerance of the Polish military and Communist Party and of the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the union's activity tended to erode "support for active resistance" among non-union elements of the Polish population.
Nonetheless, "the fact that the planning for the crackdown had been so extended in character" belies the idea that the fundamental cause was recent actions by Solidarity, Haig said.
Haig, casually dressed in a checked sport coat, a knit tie and dark gray slacks, appeared to be relaxed and confident during the Saturday morning interview in his State Department office. This has been Haig's demeanor since the first day of the Polish crackdown, when he took a walk and played tennis between conferences about the crisis, which emerged while he was in Brussels at the end of a NATO meeting.
As a former NATO commander, Haig is perhaps better prepared by past experience to deal with a Central European crisis having military overtones than that in any other area. Moreover, he is on close terms with Western European leaders and far more familiar with their attitudes than any other figure in the top rank of the Reagan administration.