The gallant graffiti of Polish resistance tell the military government of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski that "winter belonged to you; spring belongs to us." But the brutal truth is that this Polish spring, now beckoning, will belong to neither one.
"There will be no Polish uprising," an administration analyst flatly predicts, and accordingly no need for the sort of counter-crackdown that might bring Soviet forces into play. But there will be no respite, either, for the government, no tension-easing accommodation, no relief from the crushing impact of food shortages and economic paralysis. At a private gathering here recently, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser for Jimmy Carter, warned that the Polish stalemate "cannot endure" at its current level. "By late spring, there is likelihood of increased public unrest and of mounting repression," he said. "The problem is likely to reach dimensions that will make it impossible for the West to ignore." Many administration experts agree.
While applauding the administration's response to date, Brzezinski argued: "We have so far neither defined our goals nor fashioned a strategy for achieving them. A policy of limited irritants on behalf of vague but seemingly very extensive goals, without any constructive incentives, is not going to make Moscow change course."
From returning visitors and other intelligence sources, the administration's Poland-watchers have nearly unanimous reports of stiffening resistance, more open defiance, especially among young people, as warmer weather eases mobility and communication. Meantime, the only economic resource in abundance is electric power--a measure of factory closings. American and allied economic sanctions, as even Jaruzelski has publicly confirmed, are "significantly" complicating Poland's "grave economic situation." The result, again in Jaruzelski's words: "The tremendous importance of the irreplaceable" assistance of the Soviet Union is "becoming ever more evident."
To Brzezinski, the solution suggests itself: a "calibrated" combination of "punitive steps" (scrap the European pipeline, revive the grain embargo, declare Poland in default) and "concrete inducements for Moscow to move in a positive direction. In exchange for the standard Western demands--the lifting of Polish martial law, freeing of internees, and "dialogue" with Solidarity and the church--he would pitch in to help revive Poland by rescheduling debt, offering long-term credits. He would offer to relax restrictions on U.S.-Soviet trade. To all this, he would link fresh initiatives on arms-control measures.
Assorted administration officials have publicly indicated they would embrace one or another of these measures. What's missing is a settled internal decision on how to proceed--with exactly what combination of incentives and sanctions. "How can we expect the Russians to read us," asks one well- placed insider, "if we can't read ourselves?"