Sunday, January 30, 2005

Poland and the Grand Coalition

The Statesman's Yearbook of 2005 is the leading report on the most current ross Domestic Product (GDP) for each individual country. The GDP, as I understand it, is the average amount an individual grosses within a given country per year. I'm not an economist, truth be told economics is not my strong suit, but I can comprehend the capability of a nation or an individual based on how much money they gross.

Case in point-- Poland. According to the Yearbook, Poland has a GDP of $9,450...35th in the order of nations. Poland is not one of the 20 most prosperous nations, but among the 20 most prosperous nations you will find France, Germany, and Spain-- our former European allies. So my question is this: Based on GDP, what makes Poland capable of being a strong ally in the "coalition of the willing"?

According to the CIA World Factbook, approximately 18% of Poland's population lives below the poverty line, the unemployment rate is 18%, the external debt is $79.7 billion (as of 2003), and Poland receives economic aid from the European Union. The Polish government has been seeking a policy of economic liberalization, but has met bureaucratic obstacles and a great deal of corruption that has slowed the process.

When the "coalition of the willing" was named by the State Dept. in regard to U.S. action against Iraq, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said that his hope was that the willing nations would "all be able to do everything that is possible within their means to support the coalition militarily, diplomatically, politically, and economically."

I have nothing personally against Poland, the government or the people, but what possibly can Poland contribute to the War in Iraq? An ally is an ally...Yes, but shouldn't we consider the cost to our allies before requesting their unyielding support? Poland had originally committed 200 soldiers to the war, a much appreciated number I am sure, but couldn't those 200 men and women have been put to good use in their own country stabilizing the economy or assisting the masses of uneducated, poor, and poverty-stricken? The position of Poland in the coalition has a long history. Understandably, they have a strong position against dictatorship--especially oppressive dictatorships. After all they lost in WWII, I understand why they would feel inclined to assist in overthrowing an oppressive regime, but shouldn't they be assisting in the survival of their own people first and foremost?

My concern with Poland could easily be directed toward several of the original 30 countries of the coalition-- I know for a fact that several of those countries cannot feed their own people. How are we, the greatest and most prosperous nation in the world, asking for their assistance?

In October Poland announced that it will withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of 2005. Of course there is no telling how long an occupation of troops will be needed in Iraq. Poland now has nearly 2,500 troops in Iraq and with their departure will leave South Korea as the 3rd largest -contributor of troops. South Korea!?! The massive problems involved with this coalition don't solely ride on Poland as you can see, but Poland is certainly a prime example of how weak the coalition may be.

Why now? I chose to wait till after November's presidential election to comment on the coalition so no one could "accuse" me of riding the wave of Kerry ideas and misconceptions and I figured that today, Iraqi election day, is an important day to remind us all of the seriousness and sacrifice in Iraq.

As of October 4, 2004, 80% of the Polish population objected to Poland's troop involvement in Iraq and as of today 17 Polish soldiers have been killed.

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