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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Poland to stay on patrol?


Presidential contender Lech Kaczyński says Poland may keep its troops in Iraq longer if the US helps modernize the army.

The co-leader of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party and its candidate in the October 9 Presidential race said he saw Poland's alliance with the United States as the cornerstone of security for the country.

"We are ready to discuss with the United States the issue of Iraq," Kaczyński told a meeting with foreign diplomats. "We want to be loyal allies."

Kaczyński emphasized, however, that Poland should expect something in return. "We would be interested in broader cooperation in modernizing our army," he said.

The outgoing leftist government backed the American invasion of Iraq and contributed a sizeable initial contingent of 2,500 troops to the US-led coalition there.

But with the overwhelming majority of Poles opposing Poland's presence in Iraq and general and presidential elections approaching, the leftists told Washington this summer that the remaining 1,700 troops would pull out by the end of this year.

Kaczyński and his party are in second place in recent opinion polls ahead of both elections behind the center-right Civic Platform (PO) and its leader Donald Tusk.

Tusk recently signaled he was in favor of pulling Polish troops out of Iraq although he was not specific on the timing.

The two parties are set to form the next coalition government after Sunday's parliamentary elections.


Blogger Redneck Texan said...

I wish they would just go ahead and pull their troops so we can stop pretending to be real ideological allies.

Hey Dude, I am watching my first "New" Hockey game and.......its weird man.

There is a freakin penalty on nearly every shift. The entire game seems like a power play. 5-4 4-4 4-3 5-3 3-3....no hitting, a score every few minutes.....its just not right.

They have gutted the gladiatorial aspect of it.

9/21/2005 04:31:00 AM  

Blogger Gustav said...

I think Tusk is just riding public opinion until he gets elected. It's interesting that he doesn't offer a timetable, despite that the current government has been planning exiting Iraq as early as January.

Poland's strategic alliance with the US is of utmost importance - so it would be idiotic for him to pull a Schroeder. However, I'm not convinced of how important Polish troops are to the effort there, except that it gives Bush one more country to count when he insists how broad his coalition is. Polish public opinion is against involvement in Iraq, but it's not a burning issue. Poles are concerned with other things.

So what Bush says will go. Since the current government has been making plans to leave Iraq for a while now, it might just happen without any protest from the US anyway.

But is support in Iraq your only measure of allegiance to the US?

In many senses, Poland and the US are ideological allies. I think the average Pole would agree much more with the political views of an average American than an average German or Italian.

But Poles believe the relationship should be reciprocal, which is fair, and how foreign policy works. The US keeps dragging its feet on adding Poland to the Visa Waiver Program. Just today, the US excluded Polish citizens from the visa lottery starting from 2007. There are so many here who just want to visit their relatives in New York or Chicago.

Did you notice that Polish national airline, Lot, finally decided on Boeing's Dreamliner to replenish its transatlantic fleet? This was much more than just a business decision. The French and Germans will be none to happy about that, but it's another huge contract for an American firm.

Then there's buying Lockheed Martin's F-16s, and Polish troops in Iraq for 2 years despite overwhelming opposition. Earlier this year, the US promised military aid, but hasn't delivered.

So some politicians try to get elected, and you start talking about "pretending" to be allies? That's a very low threshold.


I was afraid that might happen. Is this the price we have to pay for more people to watch, so the sport can support itself?

9/22/2005 03:31:00 PM  

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