116. Editorial Note

On the evening of December 12, 1981, First Secretary of the Polish United Workers Party Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law in Poland. Secretary of State Alexander Haig was in Belgium for a meeting of the North Atlantic Council. “The news was flashed to me at three o’clock Sunday morning Brussels,” he wrote in his memoir. “The timing of this action, which obviously had been meticulously prepared—and which we knew had been planned in minute detail in the U.S.S.R.—came without forewarning to the United States.” Using a secure telephone in his hotel room, Haig spoke to Vice President George H.W. Bush in Washington and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger on a plane over the Atlantic Ocean. (Haig, Caveat, pages 246–250) Haig also spoke to President Ronald Reagan, who was at Camp David, from 9:12 to 9:16 a.m. EST. At 1:33 p.m., Reagan flew from Camp David to Washington and met with Bush, Deputy Secretary of State William Clark, White House Chief of Staff James Baker, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Deaver, and Acting President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Nance, from 3:03 to 3:22 p.m. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) Minutes for the telephone call and the meeting were not found. Reagan wrote in his diary that day: “A long walk in the morning then an afternoon at the desk. Somehow it seems easier there. Word received that Poland has moved on Solidarity. Leaders have been arrested, union meetings & publications banned, martial law declared. Our intelligence is that it was engineered & ordered by the Soviet. If so, and I believe it is, the situation is really grave. One thing certain—they won’t get that $100 mil. worth of corn.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, Volume I, page 92) Further documentation of the U.S. response to the declaration of martial law in Poland is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, volume VII, Poland, 1977–1981.