Saturday, September 16, 2006

What’s in it for Poland?

The new Polish military adventure in Afghanistan will cost the cash strapped government 100 million dollars.

Leader of Samoobrona, Andzrej Lepper (photo above with rather large tooth pick), is scornful of the Afghan mission. After PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski came back from Washington following his very short meeting with George W. Bush, Lepper commented: “That’s the most expensive five minutes Kaczynski ever spent.”

"Instead of helping Polish pensioners, teachers and nurses, we are sending our soldiers to a war. It's a scandal," Lepper said. "Poland cannot afford such a commitment".

Other opposition parties have come out against the deployment. SLD leader Wojciech Olejniczak said Friday that Poland already had troops in Iraq and Lebanon and could not afford to "dispose of its forces with such ease. Poland is not a military power. We can’t afford this."

Another rural based party, PSL agrees. In fact, all the 'leftist' parties here are against.

A spokesman for Kaczynski's party, Law and Justice, said that the 1000 troop offer by Poland was decided “way before Kaczynski went to the US.” Poland initially offered 500 more troops but has since doubled the offer. The NATO conference in Warsaw last weekend was probably when the offer was made.

Poland offered that amount in the hope that other countries would start coming forward and offering more too. But so far, so little.

Afghanistan and the 2007 Budget Bill

At a time when Lepper and LPR’s Roman Giertych are pushing for more to be spent on agriculture and education – their two respective ministries – it must be galling to see 300 million zloty being spent on the Afghan adventure at the drop of a hand grenade.

Lepper has repeatedly threatened to leave the coalition if he does not get increases in public spending.

The government has said that government debt in the 2007 Budget must be capped at 30 billion zloty. Many economists think this is too high a figure as it is.

Others, like lowly paid teachers, medics, police... scratch their heads and wonder just what Poland gets from all this posing in war zones? No more money is being offered to the education and agriculture ministries but the defense ministry gets another 300 million zloty, to be spent on something with little tangible benefit for Poland.

Many think Afghanistan is a dangerous diversion.


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Anonymous said...

"This Polish troop deployment will be a long term effort with more casualties than experienced in Iraq, lets hope something has been extracted from the Americans to justify this."

Ouch!...sounds painful. BR, Poland should not go into these troop commitments with an open hand. No one is promising them anything if they make this commitment.

beatroot said...

I see you have got yourself a beautiful photo to go with your signed up nom de plomme! Nostalgia is passing through me in glorious bitter sweet waves...

Anyway...just what the deal was, who knows. Off set deals, when Poland gets lots of nice contracts? Poladn was promised 6 billion dollars worth after Iraq war. They only have managed to get around 1 billion.

They are also thinking about this anti-missile system on Polish soil.

All the Poles I know and many I don't feel the country is getting a raw deal, to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Hi BR, I got a new hat and coat and had to take a pix. I think there is a slight resemblance to Gustav. Maybe we're related!

Well how many troops has Poland got deployed to the theatre? Two thousand? Soon to be three thousand? How many are deployed from Britian? What is the European total minus Britian? I think overall its not high.

beatroot said...

I think Polish troops, when they arrive in FEBRUARY will make up about about 5% of the force. And the area that they will be in does not seem to be the dangerous ones. The nations taking the casualties at the moment are Canadians and British.

Fighting stops in Afghanistan in November - it's just too cold - and starts up again in the spring.

So the Polish troops are not going to be much use.

So, why bother?

Mullet: don't know where Step is...maybe I annoyed him when we had argument about 9/11. But I end up annoying most people sometimes, so I hope he doesn't take it personally.

Gustav said...

Is the 300 million really coming from the budget? I think that most of Polands defense spending in Afghanistan is paid for by NATO. And while I"ll agree that teachers here could be paid more, I doubt that it"s something NATO would pay for - Unfortunately.

beatroot said...

I think that most of Polands defense spending in Afghanistan is paid for by NATO.

Don't think so. That's defense budget.

Romerican said...

Many think Afghanistan is a dangerous diversion.

I couldn't disagree more. The amount of Poland's contribution to the various conflicts are paltry at best, when viewed from the eyes of effectiveness or impact. However, it does buy Poland a bit of credibility and respect at the table of world politics for stomaching a couple of aches in order to prove its' NATO-worthiness. Most folks have to toss some chips into the game at some point. And it's always costly.

Afghanistan is worth being involved in. It is not a distraction.

beatroot said...

So you are, I think it is fair to say, in disadreement with most Poles. Opposition to yet another troop deployment here is significant. Fact.