(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if
source is cited.)
The Reagan-Pope plot for counter-revolution
By William Gottlieb
The cover story of the Feb. 24 issue of Time magazine revealed a
small part of the class war waged by the Reagan administration, in
close cooperation with Pope John Paul II, against the East European
countries and the USSR. This class war aimed at nothing less than the
overthrow of the workers' states and destruction of socialist
In the article, Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame quoted Ronald Reagan
to the effect that the Polish organization Solidarity was central to
the attack on the workers of Poland, of Eastern Europe in general, and
of the Soviet Union. "We [Reagan and John Paul] both felt that a great
mistake had been made at Yalta and something should be done," Reagan
explains. "Solidarity was the very weapon for bringing this about
because it was an organization of the laborers of Poland."
The U.S. government and its agencies of subversion, with the Central
Intelligence Agency in the lead, worked closely with the reactionary
Catholic Church hierarchy headed by Pope John Paul II. But it also
worked through the AFL-CIO, the so-called Socialist International, and
the Swedish and French Socialist parties and governments.
The notorious William Casey, the late CIA director, played an
especially prominent role, according to Bernstein. The Reagan
administration took full advantage of widespread confusion among
progressives about the real nature of Solidarity--a pro-boss
organization that falsely claimed to be a trade union.
According to Bernstein, Reagan met with John Paul II in the Vatican
Library in Rome in June 1982. At the meeting, Reagan and John Paul
"refused to accept a fundamental political fact of their lifetimes:
the division of Europe as mandated at Yalta and the communist
dominance of Eastern Europe." Despite Gorbachev's illusions, neither
Reagan nor John Paul was a believer in peaceful coexistence.
"A free, noncommmunist Poland, they were convinced, would be a dagger
to the heart of the Soviet empire," Bernstein wrote.
Translating this boss talk into ordinary language: Reagan and John
Paul agreed that if a capitalist neocolonial government under
Solidarity could be established in Poland, the fall of the other
socialist countries in Eastern Europe would rapidly follow and the
USSR itself would be disastrously undermined.
The leaders of Solidarity, of course, knew full well what they were
doing, even if they weren't informed of all the conspiratorial
details. Bernstein wrote, "Walesa and his lieutenants were aware that
both Reagan and John Paul II were committed to Solidarity's survival."
`Tons of equipment'
"Tons of equipment--fax machines (the first in Poland), printing
presses, transmitters, telephones, shortwave radios, video cameras,
photocopiers, telex machines, computers, word processors--were
smuggled into Poland via channels established by priests and American
agents and representatives of the AFL-CIO and European labor
Poland was saturated with a wave of propaganda that would have
impressed Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels himself. "Books and
pamphlets challenging the authority of the communist government were
printed by the thousands. Comic books for children recast Polish
fables and legends, with [Polish leader] Jaruzelski pictured as the
villain, communism as the red dragon, and Walesa as the heroic
knight." Radio messages proclaiming "Solidarity lives" and "Resist!"
were broadcast by Solidarity with "a transmitter supplied by the CIA
through church channels."
Bernstein wrote, "AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland and his aide Tom
Kahn consulted frequently with Poindexter [of Iran-Contra fame], Clark
and other officials at the State Department and the NSC [National
Security Council] on such matters as how and when to move goods and
supplies into Poland, identifying cities where Solidarity was in
particular need of organizing assistance, and examining how Solidarity
and the AFL-CIO might collaborate in the preparation of propaganda
Bernstein quoted former Representative Edward Derwinski as saying:
"Lane Kirkland deserves special credit. They don't like to admit [it],
but they literally were in lockstep [with the Administration]."
Lane Kirkland claimed to be fighting the rabidly anti-labor Reagan
administration on behalf of U.S. workers, though he conducted this
fight with a notable lack of energy and effectiveness. But the same
Kirkland was working hand in glove with Reagan, John Paul & Company to
destroy the workers' states in Europe.
Disaster for workers
The result is that tens of millions of workers in Eastern Europe and
the Soviet Union are losing their jobs and livelihoods. They are being
forced to compete with U.S. and other workers on the world labor
market. This further undermines the trade unions, wages and working
conditions of workers in the U.S. and around the world. Kirkland's
behavior was a gross violation of even elementary trade union
principles, which demand that everything be done to diminish and not
increase competition among the world's workers.
Bernstein indicated that John Paul got something in return for his
role as the CIA pope. He obtained U.S. withdrawal "from, among others,
two of the world's largest family planning organizations: the
International Planned Parenthood Federation and the United Nations
Fund for Population Activities."
Nor did the pontiff-CIA neglect the Middle East: "The Administration
consulted with the Vatican on other matters as well. In Lebanon, the
Reagan Administration adopted policies favoring the interests of the
church and Maronite Christians." The privileged Maronites are the base
of the fascist pro-Israel Phalangist Party in Lebanon, an organization
that has engaged in many attacks on Palestinian refugees.
CIA, Vatican and Nicaragua
Bernstein confirmed that the Vatican was involved in supporting the
contras in Nicaragua. "Casey used church channels to deal with the
contras, though the Vatican itself took no official position on the
war in Nicaragua," he wrote.
There was a broad movement here against the CIA's dirty war in
Nicaragua. The progressive movement--except for Workers World
Party--had no criticism, however, for Reagan, Casey & Company's
equally dirty war against the workers of Poland, Eastern Europe and
the Soviet Union. Many progressives fell lock, stock and barrel for
the propaganda that Solidarity was a free trade union fighting against
"Stalinism." It was fashionable to be for both the Sandinistas and
Now the Central American people have to conduct their struggle to be
free of Yankee imperialism under far more difficult conditions. And
the socialist governments in Cuba, China, north Korea and Vietnam are
targets of a similar class war by U.S. imperialism, which includes
attempts to promote "independent trade unions" like Solidarity.
Bernstein by no means revealed the full story of the CIA, John Paul
and Solidarity. He had very little to say about what happened before
Reagan became president. He was also silent about the role of the
imperialist banks in the destruction of the Polish economy. (For
information on this subject, see the pamphlet "What the Banks Did to
Poland" by Sam Marcy.)
Despite its limitations, however, Bernstein's Time article is must
reading for every trade unionist and progressive, and anybody else who
wants to understand the economic and social catastrophe now unfolding
in Eastern Europe and the USSR.
This article originally appeared in Workers World newspaper. A
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