Poland could still be invaded by the Soviet Union between mid-January and the end of March, thinks US Rep. Les Aspin (D) of Wisconsin. "Americans are breathing more easily about Poland, generally believing that each day that passes without a Soviet invasion makes an invasion all the more unlikely," he observes in a statement issued Jan. 2. "But, in reality, the most dangerous time for Poland is just around the corner."
Representative Aspin, chairman of the House Intelligence Oversight Subcommittee, believes that the Soviets lean toward an invasion for three reasons.
"First, there is the bureaucratic momentum. A great deal of time, effort, and money is being expended on preparations, which have a way of taking on a life of their own," he says. "While the [January to March invasion] window is open, Kremlin decisionmakers will be reminded of the old dictum: use it or lose it. If those leaders decide not to invade, the opportunity will pass; if Poland blows up, guess who will take the heat?"
Second, Aspin notes, "The overriding concern of the Russians is the perpetuation of Communist Party control in Warsaw; by definition that means crippling the nascent independent trade union movement."
Third, he adds, Party Secretary Stanislaw Kania faces opposition in his own party. "That opposition sees a Russian invasion as a means to effect a clean sweep of the Kania clique. Thus, there are elements within Poland eagerly urging the Russians to get on with it."
Aspin insists that on no other occasion "of which we are aware" have the Soviets failed "to use the mobilized forces at their command after such massive preparations." He says Czech intelligence officers claim it took the Russians six months to prepare the invasion of Czechoslovakia. "Six months, they insis t , is the standard [time]," he observes.