The Autonomy of Solidarity
This chapter combines an overview of American support for the Polish opposition during the 1980s with a specific exploration of the Solidarność’s trade union’s independence from Washington and its ability to mould its relationship with policy makers in the US. Three key factors are essential for understanding the Polish-American relationship. First, the purveyors of American democracy aid consistently voiced trust for the Poles to determine their own path forward. Second, limitations on American control of how Congressional money was expended in Poland placed limits on US oversight. Finally, the Solidarność leadership exercised notable influence in Washington on how and for what purposes American money was allocated to the Polish opposition. As this case study illustrates, the vectors of power in democracy promotion were not mono-directional. Rather, democracy promotion had positive outcomes when the United States provided resources to equal partners who independently determined how best to use those funds in their indigenous pursuit to create more pluralistic and democratic societies.