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Published on Oct 2, 2009
(December 23,1981) In August 1980, a worker's strike began in Gdansk, Poland in reaction to the struggling economy and massive shortages. In a compromise, the Communist government legalized Solidarity, but this only increased tensions. Imports from the Soviet Union and the West failed to improve the economy, with more strikes becoming endemic throughout 1980 and 1981. Fearing a Soviet military invasion to restore order, President Ronald Reagan issued a stern warning to Moscow in the spring of 1981. On December 13, the Polish Communist Party, prodded by the Soviets, declared martial law and outlawed Solidarity. Reagan wished to quarantine the Soviets & Poland with no trade, or communications across their borders, he told the National Security Council, and tell our NATO allies & others to join us in such sanctions or risk an estrangement from us. In the following televised address, however, the president issued more modest sanctions on Poland.