Poland: Behind the Crisis (1982) : How the U.S. Plans to Take over Poland
How the U.S. Plans toFEBRUARY 11, 1981
Take over Poland
The U.S. is readying plans to take over Poland economically and politically, and it is this fact that raises the possibility of a counter-action by Poland's socialist allies.
The severe political crisis facing Poland is overshadowed in the U.S. media and press by the purported danger of Soviet intervention. The plans of the U.S. in alliance with Western interests to take over Poland have, on the other hand, been given little if any attention until just this week. However, because of the gravity of the situation and the perilous and unforeseeable consequences for U.S. and Western imperialist interests, some very pertinent facts as well as positions have now surfaced in the press.
ASPIN'S OP-ED PIECE
On February 6, 1981, Les Aspin, a former member of the House Banking and Currency Committee and now a member of the House Armed Services Committee, made public the orientation of the U.S. position with respect to Poland (New York Times, Op-Ed page). Although he uses language of a euphemistic character calculated to soften and make more palatable the takeover plans that the U.S. is projecting, he nevertheless lays them out in sufficient detail for anyone to get the message -- if not loud, then certainly very clear. It is probably directed particularly at calming the fears of the Western allies and holding them in line.
"If Soviet tanks," he opens, "do not determine Poland's future course, Western bankers can. " How's that? "The leaders of the Polish Communist Party," he goes on, "would never admit it, but the strongest foreign leverage on Poland is the huge debt to Western banks that Poland, unlike other Communist countries, has racked up. The Polish hard currency debt at the end of 1980 was about $25 billion," he says, "one of the largest debt burdens of any advanced developing country. Almost all of Warsaw's debts are held by Western banks and governments."
Aspin doesn't say how such a small, relatively poor country managed by a socialist government was able to obtain loans of such staggering amounts. The truth of the matter, of course, is that these loans were made on the basis that the Western capitalist countries would open their markets to Polish products, specifically destined for Western Europe and the U.S.
The capitalist governments, using the economic crisis as an excuse, have gone back on their promises to the Polish government and have in fact not only not opened wide the markets, but on the contrary constricted them as a means of further strengthening their financial hold on Poland and making it more or less inevitable that more loans would thus become indispensable.
CRUSHING DEBT BURDEN
Thus it is that mere debt service costs for the loans, says Les Aspin, "equal all that Poland earns in hard currency. In 1981 alone, Poland must borrow $11 billion to $12 billion."
It will require, Aspin continues, "about $3.5 billion to $4 billion in new hard-currency loans to finance debt service and to continue to run a trade deficit. ... Moreover, the prospect for 1982 is more of the same. ..."
Agreement to such huge loans and extortionate interest, which would normally be regarded by the responsible national leadership of a small country as spurious and extravagant, assumes the proportion, in this case, of real collusion between the banking interests and elements of the Polish leadership. That is why Aspin concludes that. The Polish debt now gives Western governments the means to influence the direction that the Polish government takes. ..."
What he really means is that the U.S. government in alliance with the Western imperialists can now dictate, not merely influence, the direction that the Polish government takes -- providing, he adds, "they coordinate their efforts" (which they are feverishly doing!) and (please listen to this!) "do not overplay their hand."
Aspin and those for whom he speaks are advising that the banks roll over the debts that will shortly be due and present certain conditions to the Poles. If the U.S. works it nicely and neatly, these will in reality effectuate a dismantling of what is left at the present time of the socialist system, and put the Polish economy under the control of the U.S. and its imperialist allies.
U.S. GUARANTEES 'UNPLEASANT ALTERNATIVES'
If Poland refuses to go along, he continues, it has only "unpleasant alternatives." If it should declare a moratorium and default, he says, "all lending to Poland would cease and its assets in the West would be seized. Nothing would be shipped to Poland without cash in advance."
This would be handing the Polish government the Iran treatment, whereby the U.S. seized Iranian assets in an effort to destabilize them economically and make it impossible for them to continue normal financial and economic relations with other capitalist countries.
If Poland merely tried to reschedule its loans and suspend payments on the principal unilaterally it would lose all "credit" with the West. In any case, "the loss of credit and the need to balance trade would mean immediate and major cuts in imports of food, spare parts, and raw materials. " However, he says, if Poland seeks to reschedule its debt on the basis of an agreement with the West, then of course the U.S. and Western banks can impose their economic system, if, of course, the West doesn't "overplay its hand."
BANKS HOPEFUL FOR A 'COLD TAKEOVER'
The U.S. program can then be implemented by the Polish authorities. In fact, he goes on to say, if the U.S. program is put into practice, then "with that program we could help underwrite a peaceful resolution of the economic and political crisis." In other words, the strength of the U.S. and Western banks in Poland is so large and their influence so great economically alone, not counting the political factors, that the U.S. imperialists have the power to underwrite a peaceful resolution of the economic and political crisis -- another euphemistic phrase for the cold takeover of the country and an end to the imperialist economic destabilization that is wracking the country.
And what would be the price, as he puts it, for Warsaw and Moscow?
"The price would be the toleration of an independent source of political authority: Solidarity." One has to reread this to really believe that it could be put in writing at a time when presumably the Polish and Soviet leaders can read it too! For what it says is that, in return for dismantling the socialist system and giving authority to an "independent" source (now we know how really independent Solidarity is if the bankers are willing to put their trust in it!), they will reschedule the loans.
Thus, "In exchange for rescheduling the debt, banks, at the behest of Western governments [meaning the U.S. and above all BankAmerica, Chase, Manufacturers Hanover, etc., ] would certainly be within their rights to urge [the softest of diplomatic euphemisms for dictate to] Warsaw to adopt economic reforms."
'REFORMS' MEAN OVERTHROW OF SYSTEM
Aspin doesn't spell out the reforms, but the Washington Post of February 11, 1981, which deals with the same question makes quite clear what these reforms would be. "It is widely believed in the West that the Warsaw government would have to take a number of reform measures . . ." The first mentioned is to "decentralize its management of the economy."
Decentralization of the management of a socialist economy under the existing circumstances of the Polish economic and political situation means to dismantle the socialist system. The public ownership of the means of production would then constitute merely a legal premise which, given the present political situation, would be reduced to a legalistic fiction and pave the way for complete dismantling of public ownership.
The second reform demanded, according to the Washington Post, would be to "give greater support to the private farmers as the most efficient producers." This means not merely permitting the existence of private farming, but for the new pro-capitalist government to support bourgeois agriculture "as the most efficient producers," which means giving it precedence over whatever collective and state farms exist. This would completely nullify whatever socialist forms exist at all.
U.S. GOVERNMENT OPENLY ADMITS PRESSURE
Finally, the U.S. government, which has previously extended loans and credit to the Polish government, and has never had the temerity, indeed the impudence, to openly attach strings to any loans, does so now. The Washington Post of February 11, 1981, quotes State Department spokesman William Dyess: " 'Our feeling is that what's needed most of all in Poland is internal economic reform. The Poles know this,' he said, indicating that until the Warsaw government itself takes action that shows it is 'serious' about improving the economic situation, the Reagan administration is unlikely to pump in more money."
It is therefore clear from both these sources -- the official U.S. government position as well as Les Aspin, who is speaking somewhat less officially but nonetheless authoritatively in revealing the facts and real position of the U.S. government -- that the U.S. banks working in concert with their Western European counterparts have embarked on what amounts to economic strangulation and destabilization in Poland. Once having gotten a strong foothold in the economic system by these enormous and extraordinary loans, they now seek to dictate an overturn of the socialist system.
DESTABILIZATION AIDED BY WEAK LEADERSHIP
This is an utterly new phenomenon in a socialist country, but is a time-honored practice of imperialist finance capital in the underdeveloped countries. They could not have accomplished this without a weak, vacillating, and accommodating leadership in Poland which has been incapable of dealing with the workers and has opened the door to anti-socialist, anti-communist, and counter-revolutionary elements whom the bankers recommend as a partner for collaboration with a pro-capitalist government.
As Aspin says, "An important element would be labor peace. Although the bankers need not say it [Aspin says it for them in such elegant language], peace can only be achieved by dealing with the Solidarity labor movement as a partner."
Is it possible that there are no socialist forces in the Polish leadership who are willing and able to fight back, rather than become enslaved to imperialist finance capital? Is it possible that Poland's socialist allies, particularly those on the borders of Poland, will sit idly by while BankAmerica, Manufacturers Hanover, Chase, etc., etc., complete the destabilization and takeover?
The Polish political crisis cannot long continue. Poland is truly at a crossroads. It will either find the inner resources and revolutionary determination to resist reenslavement to imperialism and resume the road of socialist construction, or it will once again become a satellite of imperialist geopolitics in the service of the U. S. banks and as a battering ram against the Soviet Union.
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