Ralph Peters wrote this article about Poland’s general support of liberty, the fact that they’ve been near the head of the pack in the coalition, and how we’re pretty much screwing them over.
While the establishment media agonize over the fickle moods of Paris and Berlin, there’s little mention in the press of the superb contribution made by our Polish allies – at great cost to their own country.
In the words of an American officer who works closely with them, “Poland has taken to the Iraq mission for idealistic and principled purposes: Its leadership and military truly believe that freedom and justice are universal values worth fighting for.”
Like the Czech Republic, which sent a few medics to the Persian Gulf then withdrew them in panic, Poland will get a standard package of $12 million for NATO-related programs. Other than some logistical support in Iraq, that’s it. Strategic peanuts for our most enthusiastic ally on the European continent.
Poland did have one request – a humble one, in the great scheme of things. Warsaw asked for $47 million to modernize six used, American-built C-130 transport aircraft and to purchase American-built HMMWV all-terrain vehicles so elite Polish units could better integrate operations with American forces. Much of the money would go right back to U.S. factories and workers.
Our response? We stiffed them.
Peters points out that Turkey, which not only denied access to Iraq for the 4th Infrantry Division but hemmed and hawed long enough to keep them from being shifted to Kuwait in time to take part in the invasion, is getting a sizable aid package.
Peters doesn’t note that Poland is able to bid on Iraq reconstruction contracts, something that opponents of our invasion can’t do. I’ve also read that the AK-47s we bought for the Iraq Army were purchased from Poland. And Poland may become the new location for some US bases if we follow through with the idea of closing bases in Germany. That’s not at all insignificant, but it’s not enough.
(I’d also like to point out that those who think France and Germany should be allowed to bid AND who also think we’re wrong to provide aid to Turkey but not to Poland because of Iraq issues aren’t being very consistent except in their hatred of the Bush administration.)
I think we’re right to freeze opponents out of the Iraqi reconstruction bidding. I don’t think we’re necessarily wrong to provide aid to Turkey and other places, since we have an interest in their stability and friendship. But to stiff the Poles makes no sense whatsoever. We should be falling all over ourselves to make them happy, not taking their support for granted.
This is going to be a very long, very difficult war. There are going to be long stretches where there is no overriding newsworthy military campaign to kindle public support, but where we will need the support of our allies as much as ever. We don’t want to look back at 2003 and 2004 five or ten years from now and wish we had made better decisions.
Poland is on our side. Solidly. And it (obviously) isn’t just because they want monetary rewards. That’s all the more reason to make sure they get everything they need and most of what they want. (via Instapundit)
UPDATE: Andrew Olmsted has something to say about this, as well.
The bureaucracies of the State and Defense Departments are hugely dysfunctional. Anyone familiar with bureaucracies can’t find that surprising, but those two groups bear much of the responsibility for protecting the United States’ interests overseas, and they’re blowing it. It is the responsibility of the Bush Administration to fix this problem, and to ensure that the United States government spends more time working on what matters and less time on internecine feuds.
As they say…Indeed.
UPDATE 2: Captain’s Quarters urges us to contact our representatives to urge them to address this. I think I’m going to do just that.