East Europeans give mixed reviews on wayward Poland
* In the Chechoslovak government view, Poland is repeating the "mistakes" of Czechoslovak leader Alexander Dubcek in 1968 -- and is by implication ripe for invasion by Soviet and fraternal Warsaw Pact forces.
* In the Yoguslav view, the Soviet Union should not invade Poland, as the Foreign Ministry specifically warned Dec. 5.
* In Between are all the other Eastern European ruling elites. They are balanced between fear of having their own one-party power undermined by creeping Polish pluralism -- and fear of Soviet invasion of Poland that would mean reversion to rigid Soviet discipline of Eastern Europe.
Fear of the Polish example is most stark in the two East European Communist parties with the least legitimacy among their own poeples, and Czechoslovak and East German ones. They have the most to lose from any spread of citizens' influence on goverments.
That these two countries are Poland's neighbors only intensifies their alarm and the virulence of their reactions. Prague's and East Berlin's media have been the shrillest in denouncing alleged "counterrevolutionaryand foreign (usually West German) influence on the free Polish trade unions.
Since "counterrevolutionary" is one of the strongest denunciations in the communist lexicon -- and since alleged "counterrevolutinary" forces in Czechoslovakia were cited by the Russians as the reason for the invasion in 1968 -- the question arises as to how much the Czechoslovaks and East Germans are being steered by Moscow in their diatribes.
Soviet diplomats tell Western counterparts privately that the commentaries represent Checks and East German initiatives only. The general Western estimate , however, is that the commentaries are generally approved, though not written, in Moscow. They are useful in bringing Soviet pressure to bear on Poland while still being "deniable" by the Kremlin.
In any case, Prage and east Berlin have their own reasons for the offensive against the dangerous Polish heresy. The regine in Prague rules only by grace of Soviet bayonets, having been installed after the popular "Prague spring" of liberalization was crushed by the Soviet and Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968.
The Prague government knows that its Czech and Moravian citizens might be eager to follow the Polish example of free trade unions. There is a trade union tradition from Czechoslovakia's interwar democratic period; spontaneous trade-union organizations sided fiercely with Alexander Dubcek after the soviet invation; and this year Ostrava miners -- who were among the first to back Dubcek's reforms in the Prague spring -- have enviously watched the grass-roots Polish miners' unions just over the border.
Similarly, the regime in East Berlin, even though it made a relatively successful social compact with consumers, Lutherans, and intellectuals in recent years, is the one in East Eurcompact with nationalism: German national pride could too easily turn into West German rather than East German national pride.
So far there have been no signs of any yearnings by East German workers to emulate their Polish brethren. East German anti- Polish feeling, the memory of the Soviet Army's suppresion of the East Berlin workers' demonstrations in 1953, and the maintenance of three times as many Soviet troops as East German troops inside East Germany all assure worker passivity.
But Berlin, too, has its traditions: It was the 19th-century birthplace of the whole modern trade-union and socialist movement. If the Polish unions survive, East German workers might eventually be susceptible to their example.
At Eastern Europe's other extreme is post- Tito Yugoslavia. Belgrade is grateful that the Poles have kept the Kremlin so occupied to the north that it has not had many resources left over to apply to destabilization of the new Yugoslav leadership. Belgrade also sees nothing to fear in the Polish model of greater worker initiatives, since it has had strikes and worker participation in management for decades. The Yugoslav government has therefore been clearcut in its opposition to Soviet intervention in Poland.
In Eastern Europe the most complex reaction to Polish developments has come from Romania. Bucharest had conducted a foreign policy autonomous from Moscow, but a domestic policy of rigid party control of society. For foreign policy reasons Romania did not participate in the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and does not want the Soviet Union to resort to military intervention to resolve its Polish dilemma or any other Eastern European problem.
Domestically, however, Bucharest has displayed some nervousness about the possible impact of the Polish example on Romanian workers. Notably, schizophrenic Romania took part in the Warsaw Pact summit in Moscow at the beginning of this month -- a participation it denied the Soviet Union at a similar gathering prior to the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
As for the other Eastern European, Bulgaria has followed the Soviet line and has been less virulent than the Czechs and East Germans. Hungary has avoided any public criticism of the Polish leadership and free trade unions.