The costs the Soviets would have to pay for military intervention in Poland are likely to be enormous. This paper indicates why the Soviets will intervene in Poland reluctantly, and only as a last resort. But there should be no illusions: Intervene they will if they feel that Poland is slipping out of their grasp. For control of Poland is the key to Soviet control of Eastern Europe, which remains the primary Soviet foreign policy interest. The Soviets' dilemma is that they may be compelled to intervene in Poland to maintain their empire, yet intervention can only exacerbate their immediate problems at home and abroad with little prospect for long-term solutions. Such are the usual dilemmas of empires in decline.