Poland to withdraw from Iraq

AP is running a report that Poland’s president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, will withdraw Polish troops from Iraq.

President Aleksander Kwasniewski, a key Washington ally, said Thursday he may withdraw troops early from Iraq and that Poland was “misled” about the threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

His remarks to a small group of European reporters were his first hint of criticism about war in Iraq, where Poland currently has 2,400 troops and with the United States and Britain commands one of three sectors of the U.S.-led occupation.

“Naturally, one may protest the reasons for the war action in Iraq. I personally think that today, Iraq without Saddam Hussein is a truly better Iraq than with Saddam Hussein,” Kwasniewski told the European reporters.

“But naturally I also feel uncomfortable due to the fact that we were misled with the information on weapons of mass destruction,” he said, according to a transcript released by the presidential press office.

Earlier in the day, Kwasniewski said Poland may start withdrawing its troops from Iraq early next year, months earlier than the previously stated date of mid-2005. He cited progress toward stabilizing Iraq.

That’s two allies in two weeks for George W. Bush – and in the run-up to the election too. So much for support from “New Europe.” Spain and Poland are the only non-Anglo nations sending any meaningful number of actual troops.
 

22 thoughts on “Poland to withdraw from Iraq

  1. “Don’t forget Italy.”

    Recent news reports:

    “AN Italian government minister today broke ranks with his pro-war government on Iraq, telling a newspaper last year’s invasion could have been a mistake.” – from: http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,9008295%255E1702,00.html

    “ROME – At several tense junctures since Italy dispatched troops to Iraq last year, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has emphatically stated his commitment to keeping troops there, and he did so again this week. . . But Italian political analysts say the terrorist attacks in Madrid, the election upset in Spain and the proposed withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq have unequivocally put the Italian prime minister in a delicate, difficult position.” – from: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0317-02.htm

  2. Patrick,

    I vote with RSN. If multilateralism won’t let you defend your interests properly (Caveat: I see both the war in Iraq and the struggle with AQ as being in the U.S. interest), then unilaterlaism it must be. Dems de breaks…

    Bernard Guerrero, veteran

  3. It must be very encouraging for Bush supporters to know that al-Qaeda are out there calling for his re-election in November:

    “CAIRO (Reuters) – A group claiming to have links with al Qaeda said on Wednesday it was calling a truce in its Spanish operations to see if the new Madrid government would withdraw its troops from Iraq, a pan-Arab newspaper said. . . The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader ‘more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom.'” – from: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/nm/20040317/wl_nm/security_spain_truce_dc&e=2&ncid=721

  4. I vote with RSN. If multilateralism won’t let you defend your interests properly (Caveat: I see both the war in Iraq and the struggle with AQ as being in the U.S. interest), then unilaterlaism it must be.

    True enough. It’s just that without a multilateral fig leaf, it’ll be increasingly difficult to distinguish US involvement in the Middle East–no matter how well-intentioned–from run-of-the-mill American imperialism.

  5. That article about our (italian) minister Buttiglione doesn’t reflect exactly his position and it is a perfect example of biased journalism. It is true that Buttiglione originally was not sure of Iraq campaign, but he has always supported the alliance and he is firmly against a withdrawal of italian troops leaving allied forces alone. The bad news are not from italian government, fully committed to the coalition of willing. Concerns come from june european elections in Italy. If we’ll have a debacle of Center-right parties our govern can fall and center-leftists can bring power. In this case we’ll be aligned with zapatero …..

  6. “In this case we’ll be aligned with zapatero ….”

    Yeah, as we learned from Spain, democracy is not guaranteed to produce an outcome some would prefer. But there is an alternative. Consider this photo pic of Rumsfeld warmly shaking Saddam’s hand in 1984: http://www.thepatriotsact.org/welcome.htm

    That was mid way in the Iraq-Iran war (1980-88) – both sides used chemical weapons.

    Of course, that wasn’t a problem then.

  7. Well, it didn’t take long for the Poles to clarify their comment. The Polish troops will stay:

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=518&ncid=732&e=7&u=/ap/20040319/ap_on_re_eu/poland_iraq

    The original comment was apparently made to French reporters who, of course, were quick to put their own spin on it. And it’s not surprising that the anti-American people running A Fistful of Euros were quick to lap up anything that’s deemed harmful to the US.

  8. Fistful of Euros is anti-American? My reading comprehension skills must be deteriorating. I didn’t notice that at all.

    Or maybe yours are…

    “True enough. It’s just that without a multilateral fig leaf, it’ll be increasingly difficult to distinguish US involvement in the Middle East–no matter how well-intentioned–from run-of-the-mill American imperialism.”

    As an American looking at that sentence it seems kind of funny. It is Europeans and ivory tower professors who worry about American imperialism. Most Americans don’t think in those terms because we don’t want control over countries in the way that any normal use of the word ’empire’ would imply. So if you have that concern, I would suggest that you encourage your countries to be deeply involved in US ventures–we won’t be paying attention to that issue on our own.

  9. Sebastian:

    As an American looking at that sentence it seems kind of funny. It is Europeans and ivory tower professors who worry about American imperialism. Most Americans don’t think in those terms because we don’t want control over countries in the way that any normal use of the word ’empire’ would imply.

    That’s right. Hence, the gap between American and non-American perceptions.

  10. Sebastian: If you have any doubts that this site is run by anti-Americans, see the side bar “Worth a Look” section, March 21, and read Scott Martens “most excellent… refutation” of Huntington.

    Whatever you may think of Huntington, Marten’s “refutation” is a biased screed that reads like an anti-American rant.

    Other contributors tend to be more subtle, but the subtext is there, which basically goes like this: Europeans are morally superior to America in all aspects of civilized life.

    All this from a continent that has produced Communism, Fascism, Nazism, two World Wars, the Cold War, the Holocaust, the Mafia, etc. etc…, and all this in just the last century.

  11. Sebastian: If you have any doubts that this site is run by anti-Americans, see the side bar “Worth a Look” section, March 21, and read Scott Martens “most excellent… refutation” of Huntington.

    Whatever you may think of Huntington, Marten’s “refutation” is a biased screed that reads like an anti-American rant.

    Wow. Specify, please. I didn’t pick up on that at all. Unless you equate “anti-American” with “anyone who doesn’t give unconditional support for the US,” that is.

  12. Randy: There are so many instances of overt bias and bigotry in Scott Martens’ thesis, that I would not be able to ennumerate them in a short post. The yardstick to use is applying a comparative analysis: whenever he criticizes America, one must ask “compared to whom? The Europeans?” And, of course, that is where the bias is.

    For example, this passage:

    “It makes me think of those idiots who see slavery as some sort of regrettable blot on the perfect government devised by the founding fathers, instead of seeing the real, enduring, structural and persistent effect it had and continues to have on American institutions.”

    In other words, Martens drags out the old slavery issue and insinuates that slavery still has an effect on America! (Racial prejudism, certainly, but not slavery – a typical European bias). We should ask why Martens brings this up, and not the effects of serfdom on Europe, which could be said to account for the deep class divisions still in existence in all European societies much more than the past era of slavery in America. Is he compensating for something?

    But the main bias I’d point out, though, is this:

    When Martens analyzes how Spanish-speakers in America get treated, he insinuates that there is a continuous, overt state (he doesn’t specify at what level, federal, state or local) policy of repression against the use of Spanish. But the fact of the matter is that the majority of Americans simply DON’T CARE if someone chooses to use a language other than English. The only time that they care – the only time that it matters – is if other citizens are forced to PAY TAXES to sustain someone else’s desire to use a language other than English.

    In most of the cases where localities have passed language laws in America, we can trace that it was initially a community budget issue: a local school board announces that more funds – higher taxes – are needed if the community is to accommodate a certain influx of non-English speaking students. Such instances have often led to a counterreaction from the electorate, because no one wants to see their taxes go higher. So the language issue in America is always about taxes, taxes, taxes, and the consistent desire of the American electorate to minimize more of these.

    It’s not surprising that he skirts the whole issue of taxation, and chooses to concentrate on such issues as cultural values, social structures, community support, and the like. Those are very socialist, Eurocentric interpretations of values, all of which get extolled in order to lay the groundwork for the assumption that society’s taxes should be used to sustain, enhance, and support them. But in America, this is anathema. Society can function without these things (to the horror of Europe!), and not only function, but thrive… which is why the American example is such a threat to socialist Europe.

    That is, after all, the underlying reason European academia (supported by taxation) has formed such an anti-American bias over the decades. America is the model that must be defeated for European socialism to be sustained.

    Now, I’m not a fan of Huntington’s recent thesis. I think Huntington is way off the mark, forgetting the power of American TV culture in eventually uniting all the disparate cultures within America. But we should keep in mind that what really riles socialists such as Martens about Huntington is not this thesis, but his much better work, “The Clash of Civilizations”, which threatens the precious beliefs of socialists about the eventual triumph of multiculturalism. So, by extension, Martens’ attack is an attack on that thesis, though this one is much more easy to defeat.

    Yet that could have been done without resorting to all the anti-American bias.

  13. RSN:

    In other words, Martens drags out the old slavery issue and insinuates that slavery still has an effect on America!

    It does. Why else are African Americans, uniquely among all American ethnic minorities, doing so badly, and why else have they done so badly?

    We should ask why Martens brings this up, and not the effects of serfdom on Europe, which could be said to account for the deep class divisions still in existence in all European societies much more than the past era of slavery in America.

    Firstly, because he’s not talking about Europe. Secondly, because Europe has seen fairly radical mobility particularly in the mid-20th century, to the point that Europe is now as socially fluid as the US. (And thirdly, he’s Canadian.)

    So the language issue in America is always about taxes, taxes, taxes, and the consistent desire of the American electorate to minimize more of these.

    That’s because it is. If you’ve got a language with large numbers of speakers, but you don’t provide state structures where people can use the language at no cost to themselves (like public schools or government services), then people will stop passing on the language. That’s why Francophones in Canada place such importance on the ability to school their children in the French language. “[C]ultural values, social structures, community support, and the like” don’t really matter if the state is unwilling to extend the necessary support–the fate of Franco-Americans in New England, possessing those traits but lacking any official support for French-language public schooling or government services in French, proves that.

  14. RSN

    I’m American, and find that there’s a certain strain of my countrymen who seem incapable of bearing criticism of the US without declaring it anti-American. You appear to be of this strain.

    This is something that has bothered me for years. America is a strong, loud and proud nation. Why are so many of its most vocal proponents so incredibly sensitive to criticism (and, often, so prone to self-pity)? It seems to me that we are more affected by this vice than any other nation – though I will admit that just as I see America’s strengths more readily than I see other nations’, I am also more cognizant of its weaknesses.

    Does anyone have opinions on this?

  15. Reuben: If you’ve an American who’s lived in Europe, then you’d notice the anti-Americanism even more.

    America loves to criticize itself. And criticism about America gets heard in America. But European bigotry is in a class all by itself.

    The key to remember is that this bigotry is a necessity for entrenched special interest groups in Europe, who seek to prevent any tampering with the protections of the welfare state, whether that welfare state is a viable model or not.

    America is often cited as the model not to follow in Europe. It serves the purposes of the special interest groups to demonize America as much as possible – call it camouflage, if you will – in order to distract attention from their real worry: that the American model might be a success…

  16. Randy: You’ve totally missed my point. You assumed right away that loss of language diversity is a thing that should be prevented by the state.

    I pointed out that this notion has been consistently defeated by the American electorate.

    Not because they hate other languages: they couldn’t care less. But because they hate the idea that they would have to pay for someone else’s desire to use another language.

    It’s not about culture. It’s about money. And that is an American cultural trait.

    Pretty laudable one at that: it is the reason why America is so strong today.

  17. RSN:

    You assumed right away that loss of language diversity is a thing that should be prevented by the state.

    No, I didn’t. I said that if you want language diversity, then you have to get the state involved in supporting it, that it doesn’t really matter how many supporting institutional structures or cultural traits you have so long as the langauge isn’t given official status. My tone was descriptive, not prescriptive.

    [Americans] hate the idea that they would have to pay for someone else’s desire to use another language.

    It’s not about culture. It’s about money. And that is an American cultural trait.

    Pretty laudable one at that: it is the reason why America is so strong today.

    America’s strong because it’s monolingual? The two traits don’t seem mutually exclusive, I fear. Can you expand on your interpretation>

  18. No,no. America is strong because it worships the bottom line, it worships money, it worships entrepreneurship that is not burdened by taxes. And it will forgo cultural and social engineering that interferes with this main preoccupation.

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