counter create hit Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the End of the Cold War - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the End of the Cold War

Availability: Ready to download

As the most populous country in Eastern Europe as well as the birthplace of the largest anticommunist dissident movement, Poland is crucial in understanding the end of the Cold War. During the 1980s, both the United States and the Soviet Union vied for influence over Poland's politically tumultuous steps toward democratic revolution. In this groundbreaking history, Gregory As the most populous country in Eastern Europe as well as the birthplace of the largest anticommunist dissident movement, Poland is crucial in understanding the end of the Cold War. During the 1980s, both the United States and the Soviet Union vied for influence over Poland's politically tumultuous steps toward democratic revolution. In this groundbreaking history, Gregory F. Domber examines American policy toward Poland and its promotion of moderate voices within the opposition, while simultaneously addressing the Soviet and European influences on Poland's revolution in 1989. With a cast including Reagan, Gorbachev, and Pope John Paul II, Domber charts American support of anticommunist opposition groups--particularly Solidarity, the underground movement led by future president Lech Wa&322;&281;sa--and highlights the transnational network of Polish emigres and trade unionists that kept the opposition alive. Utilizing archival research and interviews with Polish and American government officials and opposition leaders, Domber argues that the United States empowered a specific segment of the Polish opposition and illustrates how Soviet leaders unwittingly fostered radical, pro-democratic change through their policies. The result is fresh insight into the global impact of the Polish pro-democracy movement.


Compare
Ads Banner

As the most populous country in Eastern Europe as well as the birthplace of the largest anticommunist dissident movement, Poland is crucial in understanding the end of the Cold War. During the 1980s, both the United States and the Soviet Union vied for influence over Poland's politically tumultuous steps toward democratic revolution. In this groundbreaking history, Gregory As the most populous country in Eastern Europe as well as the birthplace of the largest anticommunist dissident movement, Poland is crucial in understanding the end of the Cold War. During the 1980s, both the United States and the Soviet Union vied for influence over Poland's politically tumultuous steps toward democratic revolution. In this groundbreaking history, Gregory F. Domber examines American policy toward Poland and its promotion of moderate voices within the opposition, while simultaneously addressing the Soviet and European influences on Poland's revolution in 1989. With a cast including Reagan, Gorbachev, and Pope John Paul II, Domber charts American support of anticommunist opposition groups--particularly Solidarity, the underground movement led by future president Lech Wa&322;&281;sa--and highlights the transnational network of Polish emigres and trade unionists that kept the opposition alive. Utilizing archival research and interviews with Polish and American government officials and opposition leaders, Domber argues that the United States empowered a specific segment of the Polish opposition and illustrates how Soviet leaders unwittingly fostered radical, pro-democratic change through their policies. The result is fresh insight into the global impact of the Polish pro-democracy movement.

32 review for Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the End of the Cold War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rhuff

    Every story is happy or sad, depending where you end it. Gregory F. Domber’s “Empowering Revolution” is a reconstruction of US aid to martial law Poland in the 1980s. As such it is an excellent, if somewhat blinkered, account of this period; a detailed step-by-step analysis of US efforts to help Solidarity survive martial law and grow into a democracy-in-waiting. But I write “blinkered” because its specific subject cannot, for this reviewer, escape the overall focus of Reagan’s larger strategy n Every story is happy or sad, depending where you end it. Gregory F. Domber’s “Empowering Revolution” is a reconstruction of US aid to martial law Poland in the 1980s. As such it is an excellent, if somewhat blinkered, account of this period; a detailed step-by-step analysis of US efforts to help Solidarity survive martial law and grow into a democracy-in-waiting. But I write “blinkered” because its specific subject cannot, for this reviewer, escape the overall focus of Reagan’s larger strategy nor its post-cold war outcome. Hence three stars. Even the Polish pre-Communist democracy “restored” in 1989 - per Domber’s mainstream assertion - had enjoyed only nominal existence since Pilsudski’s May Coup of 1926, until its final liquidation by German invasion and Soviet liberation therefrom. Domber seeks to counter arguments by conspiracy theorists, who see the East European dissident movements in general - and Poland’s in particular - as mere extensions of the CIA with no agency of their own; or by the triumphalists, who wish to take primary credit for destroying Communism. His thesis is summed on p. 10 of his introduction: “. . . American policy toward Poland in the 1980s provides a useful, successful example of how a patient and temperate application of political and economic sanctions, a sensitivity to working alongside allies, and a strong commitment to independent, moderate voices calling for reform – empowering a segment of the indigenous population rather than forcing an American-led model of transformation – can change the world, promote democracy, and enhance the United States’ strategic interests.” Solidarity assistance became the blueprint for other cold war transformations, as in the Baltic States; and the more heavy-handed color-coded, NGO-led revolutions in the next generation, toppling “regimes” in Serbia, Georgia, and then Ukraine. The result was obviously not the empowerment of moderate, transparent voices, though they did speak for American interests. Poland’s democracy empowerment had better success for reasons peculiar to Poland: it was white and Christian with strong historic links to Western Europe and the United States - “people like us” in a tough spot. (I’ll be polite here, and not use a loaded word like “racism.”) It also bordered a powerful adversary with retaliatory capability. These conditions did not apply with other “soft targets.” But in any case Domber gives too modest a role for US efforts to influence outcomes. How “independent” are indigenous actors plugged into outside lifelines for their survival, even if there’s no “dictation?” Reagan’s aid to the Polish opposition was much more than “just trying to be helpful,” as he is quoted on p. 253. Domber’s contradictory conclusions admit as much. The irony of Reagan’s defending labor rights in Poland was noted at the time, in light of his breaking the air traffic controllers’ strike of 1981, at the very hour of Solidarity’s height. The US was the consistent enemy of democracy promotion in South Africa and Israel, where it preferred “constructive engagement” with regimes more oppressive than Communist Poland. Or it actively supported violent democracy suppression, as in El Salvador; and fomented terrorist insurgency, as in Nicaragua and Afghanistan. Thus Reagan’s “idealists” had free reign to deal with challenges outside Europe, while his “pragmatists” had the upper hand in Poland due to the risks of great-power confrontation via more robust methods. Solidarity’s ranks were seen as the (necessarily) non-violent contras on the frontlines of Europe. In the Reagan years such democracy promotion to “aid revolution” was primarily a point-of-entry tool for weakening state power in the enemy camp. If it also empowered the governed, all the better: provided Domber’s proper “subset of the indigenous opposition” prevailed. But within the US sphere such concepts were intrusions, linked to the enemy, to be fought. After all, why would the already Free World need structural “democracy reform?” Only in Reagan’s second term would this be applied – albeit grudgingly - toward allies such as Chile or the Philippines, whose atrocious human rights records had been consistently swept under the rug for years in service to America’s strategic interests. This double standard was also noted by critics of official democracy promotion. It becomes doubly ironic in putting Poland’s political and social strife to “good use,” given that America’s own domestic social movements and opposition leaders had long been accused of conspiracy and collusion with Communists and Soviet agents. If - during the civil rights movement, or the CIO organizing drives of the ‘30s - John L. Lewis or M. L. King were on the “take” from Moscow as openly as Walesa and Solidarity from Washington, their leadership and organizations would have been destroyed more effectively via the FBI, the McCarren Act, HUAC, and Congressional committees than General Jaruzelski’s martial law regime. One need only recall the violent paranoia seizing the US State Department anytime it caught a whiff of Communist collusion in a US "ally": Iran, Guatemala, Guyana, ad infinitum. Moscow’s forbearance after Brezhnev’s death was also remarkable, given the USSR’s prior heavy intolerance of even mild gestures of independence in its sphere. As Domber says, Jaruzelski’s openness to reform was inconceivable without Gorbachev’s go-ahead. And again, quite the opposite of US reactions to “defective behavior” in its own zones of dominance. (There has never been more than passing gestures of “glasnost” toward Cuba.) But it’s fair to note the only other time Reagan reacted with such anger at foreign events, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. His rage at Israel’s on-ground behavior threatened the very foundations of its “special relationship,” causing even the armor-plated Begin to blink. Domber acknowledges, albeit indirectly, that the NED was a surrogate for the CIA, channeling funds to selected targets after the Agency’s not-so-hidden hand had its fingers pinched in the 1970s. The NED was an NGO umbilical cord to Solidarity, much like the direct state-to-state assistance for Israel (or Soviet assistance to Cuba.) And like those direct subsidies, the NED never micromanaged allocation or use of its funds, as Domber says; it just ensured they rested in the right hands. The Polish public was of course extremely grateful for the more general assistance filtering through the sanctions. Domber’s contention that American aid did not, of itself, turn the voting public against the old party machine is true, as far as it goes. Opposition and public had plenty of domestic reasons to seize any weapon offered to fight their confused rulers. But such “soft power” aid *did* change the nature of the opposition in general and Solidarity in particular. What had originated as a workers’ general strike became a “responsible,” “realistic” intellectual-led movement preaching austerity for the dumb masses in the name of future prosperity – exactly like the Communists after 1945. After empowerment the results showed quickly. I contend that Kuron, Michnik, Bujak, Wajda, Gemerek - the “vanguard” of Solidarity, wined and dined by the US Embassy, spokesmen for well-funded opposition thinktanks - were not really the “moderates” Domber makes them, beyond being amenable to American counsel and advice. They were, in fact, ideologues “forcing an American-led model of transformation,” becoming even more extreme under US tutelage; electrically eager in their do-no-wrong endorsement of every free-market reform pushed from Washington. Thus - under Solidarity’s economic expert, Leszek Balcerowicz - tens of thousands of hopeful workers longing for free-market prosperity found themselves in unemployment lines, while well-connected apparatchiks of the old ruling party cashed in on the new freedom. As we read here, the seeds of this were planted during the martial-law funding pumped in by the NED, allowing Solidarity to survive and rise to challenge the Party for power in 1989. By then the abdicating Communist Party was more than glad to dump its economic woes on Solidarity and the Americans. Freedom’s triumph after that world-shaking year is not part of Domber’s story, which is just as well for the happy end it implies. The likes of Solidarity could not happen today, signifying its defeat, according to chronicler David Ost, not its triumph. Poland has joined the ranks of the Free World where structural reform is now an enemy of freedom, no longer needed because “Democracy has triumphed.” Liberal economics are firmly in the ideological saddle, and such a massive uprising against state power would threaten its strategic position as a NATO asset. A new Jaruzelski would find only approval and encouragement from Brussels. As a result Poland returned to the 19th century, with the most unequal society and highest rate of unemployment in Europe outside Albania. While the new elite jetset to Berlin and New York, the unemployed masses follow looking for work as a century ago. Poland was economically transformed into the Mexico of the continent; this year, as NATO missiles become operational, it will become Europe’s Cuba. The peace and democracy dividends have indeed paid off for the high and mighty, even if the cold war has not ended but merely changed form. But I’ll give Domber this much due: there’s nothing wrong with the essential strategy. If NED-style “democracy empowerment” had been tried with allies – not just a tool for weakening enemies – it would have saved the US many external headaches down the road. Supporting the secular democrats of Iran in the late 70s, for instance, would have “stabilized the region” more longterm and securely than supporting the Shah; the same goes with the liberal wing of the Cuban revolutionary movement of the 1950s, rather than empowering Batista’s air force with napalm. “American interests,” however, were defined by an either-or cold war prism that made such approaches unthinkable unless – as in Poland – they could serve a direct cold war purpose in subverting an enemy regime. This, once again, is the fatal flaw in Domber’s analysis and conclusion of Poland as a repeatable success story. The operative principle of the book and the story it recounts is summarized succinctly on p. 172: "For relations to progress, the Poles had to follow the series of steps dictated by the United States." This still applies, not only in Poland but throughout the "new and improved" eastern Europe.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nick Pohl

    Good work that refutes the general claims by the Reagan and Bush administrations that they defeated communism and overthrew it in Poland, when in fact, much of their policies were counter-intuitive. The real credit goes to a change in approach by Gorbachev, Western money that supported the effort through numerous channels, and with the Polish people themselves.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shelby Epps

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carl

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  7. 4 out of 5

    Braden Barrentine

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maximus

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Stasiewski

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  11. 5 out of 5

    James Wilson

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Benson

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adam Aksnowicz

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  16. 5 out of 5

    Valar Morghulis

  17. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mark Fitzpatrick

  19. 4 out of 5

    Krzysiek (Chris)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Asagami.Sodium.Salt

  21. 4 out of 5

    Will

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tom Callaghan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Valentina Maraziti

  24. 5 out of 5

    Derek

  25. 5 out of 5

    muji

  26. 5 out of 5

    Theaardvark01

  27. 4 out of 5

    F

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jazmin

  29. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Leigh

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cory Brunson

  31. 5 out of 5

    pplofgod

  32. 5 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.