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If we could talk with Leonid

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We wish we could have a heart-to-heart talk with Leonid Brezhnev. For the moment at least the fear of an imminent Soviet intervention in Poland seems to have subsided. the Russians have rumbled their weaponry in threatening tones. NATO has responded with forceful, if not unanimous, voice on what it would do if such a dark event actually happened. East and West both have fully weighed the consequences to each in terms of detente, trade, gas pipelines, and the like. Yet we feel something more might be said on the subject, and if by some remarkable feat we could walk into the Kremlin and chat with the Soviet leader this is what we would like to say:

"Leonid Ilyich! We in the West are very troubled by the events in Poland. We know you are, too, though for different reasons, and we wonder how deeply you and your colleagues have thought through the future. Your contry really stands at a crossroads. For it must decide whether ti will continue to hold together its alliance by military power alone, or whether it will take the risk of a posture of restraint and begin to build the kind of solidarity and friendship with allies that rest on mutual confidence and respect. That really would be an alliance -- a strong one because it wouldn't be based on force!

"Yes, we know the risks for you. And your fears. Many in the West are familiar with Russia's history and they appreciate the dangers your country must feel as it remembers the terrible record of aggression and hatred directed against it over the centuries. The Russian nation was brutalized by the Mongols. It was invaded by Germans, not once or twice but many times. By the French and by the Swedes. Nor were the Poles themselves kindly to you in the days of Polish kings and princes. So we understand why you feel safer surrounded by states and governments loyal to the communist system and bound together by a military pact. And why you're determined to keep that alliance from falling apart.


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