Sunday, December 10, 2006

Poland's exit strategy from Iraq

It’s the Polish president’s decision whether to keep troops in Iraq or bring them home now – shame no one seems to have asked the Iraqis.

900 Polish troops were originally scheduled to pull out of the carnage of Iraq at the end of this year. But last Thursday, Defense Minister Radek Sikorski signed the necessary motion for a prolonged mission. President Lech Kaczynski, whose duty it ultimately is, will probably make his decision on whether Polish troops stay on another half year or year this week.

Last month Kaczynski said that Poland had ‘invested so much’ in Iraq that they should stay on until the ‘job was done’.

Over the past 36 months since Polish troops have been stationed in the south-central zone in Iraq, 22 including 18 soldiers lost their lives.


Polish officials said that exactly how long Poles stay is dependant on American ‘strategy and tactics’. Up until now these ‘strategy and tactics’ [ironic snigger] such as they are, have been built around a sound bite – George Bush’s mantra, “Stay the course’, an open ended commitment to the occupation until things, magically, get better.

But things on the ground refuse to get better – they just get worse.

So Bush has dropped the ‘Stay the course’ and is fumbling around for another sound bite, which he was hoping the much trumpeted Baker-Hamilton Commission would deliver.

But the commission’s report turns out to be a slim document with even thinner and less substantial ideas contained within it.

They realize that the war has destabilized the region (as those anti-war from the very beginning warned the fools in Washington and London that it would) so some creative diplomacy is needed involving Syria and Iran, they say. How Bush will manage that when he has labeled these regimes as ‘evil’ will be, in a gory, prurient kind of way, interesting to watch.

But much of the report echoes signals already coming out of the British and American governments that the ‘Iraqi government better get their house in order quick, otherwise we will just pull out troops (and reconstruction money’ anyway, whether they like it or not.’

The BBC reports what that the (democratically elected) Iraqi Prime Minister thinks of the latest American attempt to dictate events:

Mr Talabani said elements of the Iraq Study Group report undermined Iraqi sovereignty and its constitution.

The president said that on the whole, he rejected the report.

The arrogance of the Americans, British, Polish is stunning. They are literally trying to pass the buck for the bloody chaos they have created onto a weak and helpless Iraqis state – which was fatally weakened by the US-led invasion in the first place: the – de-ba’athification and so on – and the UN sanctions which preceded it, killing around 500,000 children by UN estimates in the process.

This is the deadly politics of denial. By refusing to admit that the invasion gave little chance to Iraqis to maintain a multi-ethnic state, post-Saddam, they are failing to learn the most important lesson in all this: that you cannot impose freedom, liberty and democracy from without.

The Baker-Hamilton Commission, the American government, the Democrats in Congress, the Blair government in London and the Polish government, should refer to what the Iraqis want when deciding whether to stay or leave.

But they won’t. The imperial arrogance continues.

We Must Not Leave Iraq, American Enterprise Institute
The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Recommendations: "Stay the Almost Course", Political Affairs net


sonia said...

Well, for once you're right. There was a regime change in Washington. Neo-cons are out. Paleo-cons are in. Instead of supporting the democratic forces in the region, US will begin to support the forces of repression. Deals will be made, even with Syria and Iran. What's Arabic for Yalta ?

Anonymous said...

Poland’s exit strategy is now simple; it time to go and the precise moment will be based on appearances.

Beatroot said: “the arrogance of the Americans, British, Polish is stunning. They are literally trying to pass the buck for the bloody chaos they have created onto a weak and helpless Iraqis state”

Not really an attitude of arrogance for the Poles as much as a cynical calculation. For Poland this was a matter of supporting the US notwithstanding if the US action was ill advised and executed poorly. The maintenance of the relationship was deemed the paramount interest not the outcome in Iraq. Just look at Australia to see a near parallel policy. Also expect Polish soldiers at the next US adventure.

The real losers are the Iraqis with peace nowhere insight.

beatroot said...

Neocons are ‘out’ because the neocons FAILED. As they always would. A few hundred lives might have been saved if they had stayed where they should have – hanging around the library of the American Enterprise. Institute. I would pack them all off and drop them off in the middle of Baghdad high street, where they belong.

Jan: The real losers are the Iraqis with peace nowhere insight.

Agreed. Although I heard Bush gibbering on earlier of the TV about how things are better for Iraqis in that they…er…um…’have a free press!’

I don’t know if he really believes that. For sure they have a law that says that they have a free press: but when editors fear printing anything that might bring on a truck full of bombs driven through the front of their building, then that is not really a free press, is it? I saw CNN’s International Correspondent programme a couple of weeks ago and Iraqi journalists were saying it’s just impossible to act as a journo in that country now.

And by ‘arrogance of the Polish government’ I meant going against the wishes of both the Poles at home – who had better sense than the neocons in opposing the war – and going against the wishes of the Iraqis, who never wanted the occupation, either.

Anonymous said...

the polish zone in iraq is rel peacefull.
So i do not think the polish government and its soldiers failed.
the poles did a very good job in their zone and the iraqis know that and like ,respect the polish soldiers....

the poles can leave iraq with their heads up...

sonia said...

Neocons are ‘out’ because the neocons FAILED.

You must admit that they had some help from the Left which did everything to undermine the democratic reforms in Iraq. They wanted Bush to fail in Iraq so much, they didn't care if the Iraqi people suffer in the process...

michael farris said...

"You must admit that they had some help from the Left which did everything to undermine the democratic reforms in Iraq"

Hmm Sonia, Bush friendly republicans controlled all branches of the US government and had approximately zero influence on anything done in Iraq pre or post invasion.
Face it, the W administration had every opportunity to do just what it wanted in just the way it wanted to and the result has largely been a nightmare of incompetence and missed opportunities.
Blaming the current problems on those who were warning the whole thing was not a good idea in the first place is intellectually dishonest at _best_.

sevenpointman said...

- An Exit Strategy for Iraq- originally and independently devised in September 2004.

By Howard Roberts

A Seven-point plan for an Exit Strategy in Iraq

1) A timetable for the complete withdrawal of American and British forces
must be announced.
I envision the following procedure, but suitable fine-tuning can be
applied by all the people involved.

A) A ceasefire should be offered by the Occupying side to
representatives of the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite and Kurdish communities. These
representatives would be guaranteed safe passage, to any meetings. The
individual insurgency and community groups would designate who would attend.
At this meeting a written document declaring a one-month ceasefire,
witnessed by a United Nations authority, will be fashioned and eventually
signed. This document will be released in full, to all Iraqi newspapers, the
foreign press, and the Internet.
( The inclusion of Kurdish communities in this sub-section was added in early September 2006-
as an attempt to define the goals of parity and fairness and to avoid any sectarian splitting
of Iraq.)
B) US and British command will make public its withdrawal, within
sixth-months of 80 % of their troops.

C) Every month, a team of United Nations observers will verify the
effectiveness of the ceasefire.
All incidences on both sides will be reported.

D) Combined representative armed forces of both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations and major community factions, that agreed to the cease fire will
protect the Iraqi people from actions by terrorist cells.

E) Combined representative armed forces from both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations/community factions will begin creating a new military
and police force. Those who served, without extenuating circumstances, in
the previous Iraqi military or police, will be given the first option to

F) After the second month of the ceasefire, and thereafter, in
increments of 10-20% ,a total of 80% will be withdrawn, to enclaves in Qatar
and Bahrain. The governments of these countries will work out a temporary
land-lease housing arrangement for these troops. During the time the troops
will be in these countries they will not stand down, and can be re-activated
in the theater, if the chain of the command still in Iraq, the newly
formed Iraqi military, the leaders of the insurgency/community factions, and two international
ombudsman (one from the Arab League, one from the United Nations), as a
majority, deem it necessary.

G) One-half of those troops in enclaves will leave three-months after they
arrive, for the United States or other locations, not including Iraq.

H) The other half of the troops in enclaves will leave after

I) The remaining 20 % of the Occupying troops will, during this six
month interval, be used as peace-keepers, and will work with all the
designated organizations, to aid in reconstruction and nation-building.

J) After four months they will be moved to enclaves in the above
mentioned countries.
They will remain, still active, for two month, until their return to
the States, Britain and the other involved nations.

2) At the beginning of this period the United States will file a letter with
the Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nations, making
null and void all written and proscribed orders by the CPA, under R. Paul
Bremer. This will be announced and duly noted.

3) At the beginning of this period all contracts signed by foreign countries
will be considered in abeyance until a system of fair bidding, by both
Iraqi and foreign countries, will be implemented ,by an interim Productivity
and Investment Board, chosen from pertinent sectors of the Iraqi economy.
Local representatives of the 18 provinces of Iraq will put this board
together, in local elections.

4) At the beginning of this period, the United Nations will declare that
Iraq is a sovereign state again, and will be forming a Union of 18
autonomous regions. Each region will, with the help of international
experts, and local bureaucrats, do a census as a first step toward the
creation of a municipal government for all 18 provinces. After the census, a
voting roll will be completed. Any group that gets a list of 15% of the
names on this census will be able to nominate a slate of representatives.
When all the parties have chosen their slates, a period of one-month will be
allowed for campaigning.
Then in a popular election the group with the most votes will represent that
When the voters choose a slate, they will also be asked to choose five
individual members of any of the slates.
The individuals who have the five highest vote counts will represent a
National government.
This whole process, in every province, will be watched by international
observers as well as the local bureaucrats.

During this process of local elections, a central governing board, made up
of United Nations, election governing experts, insurgency organizations, US
and British peacekeepers, and Arab league representatives, will assume the
temporary duties of administering Baghdad, and the central duties of

When the ninety representatives are elected they will assume the legislative
duties of Iraq for two years.

Within three months the parties that have at least 15% of the
representatives will nominate candidates for President and Prime Minister.

A national wide election for these offices will be held within three months
from their nomination.

The President and the Vice President and the Prime Minister will choose
their cabinet, after the election.

5) All debts accrued by Iraq will be rescheduled to begin payment, on the
principal after one year, and on the interest after two years. If Iraq is
able to handle another loan during this period she should be given a grace
period of two years, from the taking of the loan, to comply with any
structural adjustments.

6) The United States and the United Kingdom shall pay Iraq reparations for
its invasion in the total of 120 billion dollars over a period of twenty
years for damages to its infrastructure. This money can be defrayed as
investment, if the return does not exceed 6.5 %.

7) During the interim period all those accused of crimes against the Iraqi people,
or against international law will be given access to a fair trial.
The extent of the implications of the international nature of the crime, and the
security standards which exist in Iraq will dictate the place of the trial, and it’s subsequent procedures.
All defendants will have the right to present any evidence they want, and to
choose freely their own lawyers.
If they are found guilty they will be given all necessary appeals provided for by the jurisdiction
of their trials, and will be sentenced in Iraq, after all these appeals are exhausted.
If they are found not guilty they will be released and given protection under international law,
with the strict adherence to these laws by the judicial organs of a sovereign Iraq.