The implementation of martial law in Poland was a move made by the government to preempt a strike by the independent trade union Solidarity, a strike which would cripple many facets of life in the country and effectively tip the balance of power in the favour of the trade union and other anti- governmental organizations.
The basic facts as given above were subjected to vastly opposing interpretations by the Soviet Union and America. While the Americans upheld the right of the trade union workers to rebel against an oppressive and incompetent government, the Soviets condemned the "subversive" and anti- Polish activities of the group. The Americans look at the struggle as a freedom fight, as a heroic struggle against the unjust. This is immediately evident from the tone of the articles written in the New York Times.
Drew Middleton's article1for example justifies Solidarity's strikes and bid for power by comparing the events of the time to the history of Poland's struggle against Russia. He follows the story of Polish insurrections against Czarist rule, emphasizing the brutality of their control over the Poles, using phrases like ".when he crushed the Polish insurrection of 1830" when describing the Czar Nicholas the First's reign. He goes on to impress upon the reader the terrible nature of Russian governance -
"Nicholas was bent on total subjugation of the Poles",
"The universities of Warsaw and Vilna were suppressed; Polish students were forced to study in St. Petersberg."
"Marshal Paskevich.began an internal campaign to eliminate all traces of dissidence".
He builds up a picture of the subjugation of Poland by Russia in the 19th century, from an analysts point of view, implying the parallel with current (i.e. 1981-82) Communist governance. He clearly sees the Polish Solidarity workers as heroes and valiant fighters against injustice; phrases like "as regularly as the tides, Polish resistance to Russian domination has been reborn and has flourished" clearly point to his comparison between Imperial Russia and Communist leaders. In a way his attitude seems nave and emotional; he considers the uprisings to be of a "David and Goliath" character. But perhaps, it is a deliberate attempt to create this impression, to garner sympathy for the cause and Americas support of it. That the Americans desired the rebellion to be allowed to go on is clear, from the statements of Reagan and the Soviet papers.2
Reagan makes no bones about his wish for the "restoration of basic human rights" in Poland. He is firmly of the opinion that the internments and military rule constitute "outrages" against the Poles and draws a picture of the Polish government as a repressive puppet in the hands of the Soviet Union - "It is no coincidence that Soviet Marshal Kulikovand other senior Red Army Officers were in Poland while these outrages were being initiated." That he considers the move as a disgusting and unjustifiable use of "brute force" to suppress the people of Poland is clear and equally evident is the portrayal of the people as heroic strugglers for their basic civil rights; "..the light of liberty still glows in their hearts".
In the New York Times, an article quoting the Popes views on the state of affairs is also used to demonstrate the validity of America's stand3.