122. Telegram From the Embassy in Poland to the Department of State1

2230. Please pass White House, Defense. Deptel 1930; Embtel 2226.3

I am convinced that our reaction to expulsion of Engbretson and Ochs,4 and Polish proposal to limit number of military attachés and enlisted men, must not be permitted to spill over into and jeopardize our economic and cultural programs and objectives.
Our negotiating position difficult because
We apparently have greater interest in maintaining military attaché and enlisted staff in Poland than Poles have in keeping them in U.S.
Those officials who are currently prevailing in Polish handling of attaché incident appear to be hard-liners bent on deteriorating U.S.-Polish relations. In contrast to our position and that of many responsible Polish officials, they would be pleased to see attaché matter adversely affect U.S.-Polish economic and cultural relations.
Our principal weapons of retaliation are in economic field. We could hurt Poles by ending MFN treatment, limiting size of their commercial staff in U.S., refusing them CCC credits, etc. However, use of such weapons would be self-defeating; these would be negative acts with adverse effects on our own foreign policy objectives.
Use of such economic weapons would be detrimental to our interests because:
Not only here, but elsewhere in Eastern Europe, long-range trend is running in our favor, primarily because of economic pressures: for trade, for internal economic reorganization and liberalization, and for improved standard of living. Another factor is growing influence of economic pragmatists, many of whom are in high-level policymaking posts, who understand glaring deficiencies in prevailing economic system. Our long-range interests are served by expanding rather than reducing our economic cooperation and involvement, by supporting these trends toward economic liberalization and people in leadership who are sympathetic to and give direction to these trends.
Development of our economic relations with Poland has been prime example to other EE countries. Our retaliating in economic area would be used to depict U.S. as unreliable partner and would adversely affect our efforts for improved economic and cultural relations in other EE countries. They are well aware of sudden unexpected U.S. actions in past which unsettled U.S.-Polish economic relations, i.e. in 1964, withdrawal Poland’s eligibility for Title I PL-480 purchases and, in 1962, Congressional action to remove Poland’s MFN status. Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, and Sofia would eye with increased suspicion a USG that talks “bridge building” but acts in the opposite fashion. They would be much more inclined to view such action as a capricious shift in U.S. policy rather than outgrowth of military attaché incident.
It would seriously undercut our position of leadership and influence with our NATO Allies, most of whom are now committed to a resolution of the Central European impasse, including expansion of economic relations with the EE countries. The French could quite persuasively point to this as evidence that the U.S. fails to understand needs and aspirations of nations of Europe, East and West. They could logically argue that at very time when U.S. and many of its NATO Allies are talking of NATO as an instrument of East-West détente, the U.S. in its bilateral relations with its major EE trading partner is moving in opposite direction.
Such action would inevitably result in Polish retaliation. Our USIS staff and projects would be most likely targets. Cultural, student, and other exchanges, which have been so effective in increasing presence and influence of U.S. in Poland, would be curtailed. We might also look [Page 339] for cancellation of our foreign claims settlement agreement, particularly if MFN were terminated.
As a corollary to rejecting use of negative economic weapons, we should develop instruments for positive negotiation. We should continually seek ways to mesh more closely U.S. and Polish economies with objective of strengthening hand of moderates in government by making it increasingly difficult and costly for the hardliners to prevail. Making available Ex-Im Bank credit guarantees, and thus permitting Poland to buy much needed U.S. machinery and equipment on normal credit terms, would increase Poland’s dependence on U.S. economy. So would possibility of long-term agricultural credits which we were able to offer before Congress cut Poland out of PL-480 program in 1964. To same end we should offer some positive solution to problem arising out of Poland’s 1967–68 dollar repayment hump which is at least partly result of our abruptly ending long-term PL-480 loans to Poland shortly after Poland committed itself in 1964 to $30 million 3-year agricultural commodity loan. In another area, a return to policy of bilateral reciprocity with respect to diplomatic travel restrictions would have positive appeal to Poles and strengthen hand of moderates in government by creating atmosphere of reduced tension and improved relations between our two governments. Also on our agenda, perhaps out of necessity more long-range than foregoing, should be repeal of relevant sections of Battle and Johnson Acts. These laws impede exercise of kind of positive diplomacy President Johnson has enunciated in his “building bridges” pronouncements. Their continued existence seriously damages case of moderate elements in governments of Eastern Europe.
Not because of attaché incident, but because they stand in their own right as elements of constructive U.S. policy, I believe we should act now on measures listed below. Their adoption will make it progressively easier for moderates to support better U.S.-Polish relations and resist actions designed to worsen them. Therefore I strongly urge we act now to:
Make available Ex-Im Bank credits to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria.
Authorize EE country Chiefs of Mission to enter bilateral negotiations to eliminate travel restrictions on diplomatic personnel.
Do everything possible to insure insertion of Presidential discretion clause into Findlay Amendment to Food for Freedom bill.
Offer Poles positive solution to 1967–68 dollar repayment hump, including: use of dollars due on 1964 three-year loan for current U.S.G. expenses; five-year re-scheduling of 1964 loan repayment (which would include replenishment of our travel fund); and English language teaching zloty project. Details will be spelled out in subsequent Embtel.5
Our specific reaction to present attaché incident impasse should reflect thinking expressed in first five paras part one of this telegram.6 In addition, reaction of DepFonMin Winiewicz and FonMin Rapacki to my earlier attempt to settle our problem, convinces me that we cannot rely upon either direct confrontation or appeals for moderation. Polish military and security officials seem determined, while FonMin, as reflected para 4 Embtel 1747,7 would be most happy to have continuing irritant vanish by eliminating both military staffs. Therefore, I now recommend that our strategy be to deemphasize issue and to extent possible let time and effect of positive action in other areas induce a more reasonable attitude.
Our first reaction should be to wait until the two attaché clerical replacements arrive in Warsaw. Timing of Polish visa authorization and other pertinent arrangements will provide guide to current atmosphere. In interim, we should implement para 5 this telegram to extent possible.
I would have Frankel in few days begin “ground rules” talks with Polish military liaison officer and suggest to Polish Embassy that they begin ground rule talks in Washington.
If we reach a point in coming weeks where we must formally respond to their Embtel 2181 proposal,8 I would say, in a firm but conciliatory manner, that we believe traditional U.S.-Polish practice permitting sending state determine diplomatic staff requirements should be preserved. Equality of strength in our various diplomatic and consular staffs has not been past practice. ConGen in Chicago is three times size of our Consulate Poznan. Polish 24-man trade mission is without U.S. equivalent in Poland. We would wish to preserve this tradition, and we make this point simply to point out reasonableness of traditional practice.
I would also say that, while we are in no way compromising our prerogative to determine our own diplomatic staffs, it might be helpful for them to know that our own plans for the next year call for replacement of only two of the three attaches PNGd, drawing on Dept. suggestion para 2 Deptel 1794.9 Also, while we cannot say what results will be, our evaluation of enlisted men needs during time our attaché officer strength is down to three, may result in not replacing one or perhaps two of enlisted men scheduled to leave early in 1967. (FYI—If this becomes [Page 341] necessary we would compensate by assignment additional administrative employee to Embassy Admin section and utilizing qualified working wife. End FYI)
I strongly recommend acceptance above approach designed to preserve 10-year prerogative each country ascertain size own staff. If para 10 becomes operative, we would in effect tacitly accept temporary reduction attaché staff while preserving our right to make final determination our own requirements after atmosphere clears and procedures agreed upon. Prospects for resolving matter would improve by working on problem in calmer atmosphere and shifting attention to fruitful discussions of our recommendations in para 5. Hopefully, also, the ground rule discussion, if aggressively pursued, could contribute to reducing many of the frictions that have developed in the attaché field over the past few years.10
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 17 POL–US. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Bucharest, Budapest, Prague, Sofia, and USUN.
  2. Beginning in spring of 1965, the dates and transmission times of all incoming Department of State telegrams were in six-figure date-time-groups. The “Z” refers to Greenwich mean time.
  3. Telegram 1930 to Warsaw, June 16, transmitted the Department of State’s request for comments on the expulsion of U.S. attachés. Telegram 2226 from Warsaw, June 18, reported that Embassy comments would be sent on June 20. (Both in Department of State, Central Files, POL 17 POL–US)
  4. On April 6–7, Polish police used physical force to detain and seize property belonging to U.S. military attachés. Following a U.S. protest and Polish reply that was deemed unsatisfactory, the United States on May 4 expelled a Polish air attaché. On May 13, the Polish Government declared three U.S. attaches persona non grata. The United States responded on May 20 by declaring two Polish attaches persona non grata.
  5. Not further identified.
  6. Reference is to numbered paragraphs 1–5 above.
  7. Not found.
  8. Telegram 2181 from Warsaw, June 11, reported on Polish readiness to close the attaché incidents and to negotiate a new agreement on the status of military personnel attached to the respective Embassies. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 17 POL–US)
  9. Telegram 1794 to Warsaw, May 26, outlined U.S. proposals for resolving the status of Polish and U.S. military representatives. (Ibid.)
  10. In telegram 1971 to Warsaw, June 24, the Department of State forwarded a draft response to Polish proposals prepared in the light of Gronouski’s suggestions, and requested comment. (Ibid.)