President Bush has been widely criticized in the media and elsewhere for his unilateral approach to the war in Iraq. While the media have largely ignored their contributions, many nations have supported the United States since the very beginning of the Iraqi war. As the President said in his State of the Union address in January, criticism that the United States is acting unilaterally is hard to explain to allies in “Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea?Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria?and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq.”
The Heritage Foundation showcased the efforts of one of America’s allies during a June 9 event “Honoring Poland as a Vital Partner.” Poland has committed 2,400 troops to Iraq and supported America in its war on terror from the beginning, said the ambassador of the Republic of Poland, who spoke at the event.
Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski said that Poland understands that in order to count on help from your allies, you must be willing to help them when asked. When the United States began looking for partners two years ago to help address new security threats, Poland answered yes, Grudzinski said. Since then, the Poles have been steadfast in their support of the United States.
“Poles have always had very warm feelings for the United States,” Grudzinski said. During recent months, most Polish citizens have not exhibited major anti-American sentiments, even when those sentiments have been widely expressed in other parts of Europe, the ambassador said.
Poles hope that in return for their support of the war, the United States will increase investment in Poland and help reinvigorate that country’s economy, Grudzinski said. The Polish people would also like for the United States to ease the visa requirements necessary for citizens of Poland to travel to America. Poles would like for visa regulations to be on par with those the United States has established for other countries in Western Europe.
These concessions, Grudzinski argued, could help reinforce the two countries’ friendship. He added that the basis of the friendship between Poland and America lies with the two countries’ belief in freedom and democracy and can be traced back to the fight for American independence.
“When the United States launched its fight more than 200 years ago, Poland sent two of its most brilliant generals. As time has passed, Polish-American relations have only become stronger,” Grudzinski said. He said that Polish troops fought along with American troops and those of other nations during World War II. Today, Polish and American soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder in Iraq, and the people of Poland are willing to use whatever resources necessary to help the United States in the war.
“As a result of our history, Poland knows very well that dictators must be confronted, not appeased,” Grudzinski said. The people of Poland understand that peace in Iraq will come not from solemn declarations, but from action, he said.
Perhaps other countries would do well to remember that. Last week, the United Nations finally lent some support to the war on Iraq when the Security Council passed a resolution supporting the upcoming transfer of power to the Iraqi interim government. However, declarations such as these fall short of the action necessary for peace that Ambassador Grudzinski mentioned. Half of the members of the Group of Eight that met last week?France, Germany, Russia and Canada?have said they do not intend to support the war in Iraq with troops, according to a June 8 report by William Branigin of The Washington Post.