Sunday, February 03, 2008

Germany And Poland Take A Turn On The Wheel Of Fortune

We have here an interesting dichotomy at work in Europe, and one that has great import for the future.

Germany rejected out of hand a NATO/US request to deploy combat troops against the Taliban in war zones in southern Afghanistan. Like many EU nations, the Germans have refused to allow their troops to be used in combat, limiting them to logistics and garrison duty.

Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung said his country's contingent of 3,200 soldiers would stay put in the northern provinces, where they patrol some of the most secure areas of Afghanistan. "That will have to continue to be our focus," Jung said to reporters.

NATO is trying to add at least another 7,500 troops to the 40,000 troops already in Afghanistan, and what it needs are combat troops. But so far, few of the NATO nations without combat troops in Afghanistan have complied.

Even worse, some of the other members of the alliance have quite rightfully gotten resentful. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently threatened to pull his 2,500 Canadian troops out from the hot spot of Kandahar if they're not re-inforced. And the Dutch and British are reportedly facing political flak at home to reduce their troop contingents as well.

Apparently Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democrats, a centerist conservative party are more amenable to Germany doing more in Afghanistan, but thanks to the nature of coalition politics, they govern with the leftist Social Democrats who would probably be happy to pull Germany's troops out of Afghanistan altogether.

In Poland, on the other hand, the government now says it has what it calls 'an agreement in principle' to host part of the US Missile Defense Shield in Europe on Polish territory.

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said that he satisfied that the United States will deal with security problems that Poland wanted addressed as part of the which he meant help with Poland's air defenses.

What the Poles want is short- and mid-range air defenses—Patriot or THAAD missiles—from the United States. This is directly aimed at Russia's military presence in the region. Putin has already threatened to retarget nuclear missiles at Poland in response to what he sees as a U.S. attempt to counter Russia.

It looks like the Poles will likely get what they want.

It's interesting to contrast the attitudes of the two nations.

I can't help but think about how magnanimous the US was to Germany and the German people after Hitler's defeat, the billions we spent and the troops we stationed there to keep them free, starting with the early days of the Cold War and the Berlin Airlift. Obviously that's just a distant memory, at least among a certain contingent of the German public. Many Germans have apparently not only forgotten this history, they are actively seeking to bury it.

The Poles, on the other hand have a much more recent recollection of tyranny and thus a lot more appreciation of American efforts to free them from the Soviet yoke. And it may also just be that the Poles, unlike the Germans, finally remember the bitter lessons of their history and realize that without a powerful ally like the United States, a free Poland is doomed to be crushed between the Russians and a resurgent Germany, just as it has been four times in the past.

Both decisions are symptomatic of forces that are at play in Europe and will shape the future of the continent,NATO, and America's relationship with European nations.


Anonymous said...

Whilst there is plenty of flak in the UK from the usual suspects, the Left and other fellow travelers of the Religion of Peace, there is also justified flak from those who care about our Forces. They are just stretched too thinly is one observation. They are not getting sufficient time to recuperate from one tour and be trained for the next before being sent off on it. The other observation is that with few forces actually in the UK, it is so much easier for the slow motion coup d'etat that is the EU to take place. The forces are too busy to worry about the shenanigans going on at home.

Anonymous said...

Interesting - but it must be noted that the Americans have done nothing to free Poland from the "Soviet yoke" - from the burning of Warsaw when Churchill urged Roosevelt to put pressure on the Soviets to use their airspace to Martial Law where the US - "in their hearts" were with the Poles.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello Yokel,
Part of the reason for that is the wholesale degradation of the UKs' military capacity by a decade's worth of Labour government, plain and simple.

Hello, Anonymous,
I've heard such sentiments from European Leftists before, but they simply don't ring true.

Granted the US could and should have not allowed the Soviets to take Eastern Europe, but there was a political decision made to accede to the Soviets demands in order to defeat Hitler.It certainly didn't help that the Roosevelt government and especially the State Department was riddled with Soviet agents and sympathizers,including Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss, who was one of Roosevelt's closest advisers during Yalta.

But the fact remains that we did not know that then,nor did we have any inkling that Soviets would use WWII to create a colonial empire, of which Poland was a part.

Nor were we willing to risk a nuclear war once the Soviets obtained the Bomb, again through spies like the Rosenbergs....not even to save Poland or Hungary. Although again, I grant you that we severely overestimated the Soviet's military capabilities.

Ironically,the same people who espouse the views you do were vociferously opposed to the steps Reagan took to defeat the Soviets in Europe and bring them down, such as locating MIRVs in Europe and confronting the Soviets in their military adventures through out the world.

In short, if it wasn't for the US, Poland would still be under the Soviet yoke,Anonymous.

Gratitude is at best a transitory emotion,particularly among nations, but it appears that a little bit of it might be in order here.

russelllindsey said...

I have to say, this is one of the better blog entries I've read in a long time.

My boyfriend has 100% Polish ancestry (which is rare in the US) and is rightfully interested in Polish history, current events, etc. We talk about the relationship between Germany and Poland a lot. He's convinced that if there is some big event on the world stage, it will once again be between Poland and Germany (while everyone else is paying attention to events in the Middle East.

Again, great article! Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it (sadly, this applies to much of Europe).


Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Lindsey,
Nice to see my favorite Misguided Blonde rambling here again..thanks for the kind words.

As far as your boyfriend's prediction, I would only add `Germany or Russia' instead of just Germany.

Take Care,


russelllindsey said...

Weird - I actually forgot to add Russia to what he actually said.

We talk about it all of the time. A nice lesson on ancient history and current events all at the same time!

He's hoping that Poland is well-prepared this time. We both think that it will be, but you can never be too sure.

Thanks for remembering me!

I love your blog, and so does Brian!


Anonymous said...

Dzien Dobzy -

With respect, Freedom Fighter, I disagree with your superficial reading of Polish history. History must be deconstructed.

The US did indeed know of the Soviet plan for Poland. That is a fact. Poland has always been expendable. Your reading of history is filtered through the lens of Polonia, not Poland.

The notion that it was Reagan who defeated the Soviets is absolutely a shallow reading of history. Yes, he was in office when the wall came down, but the collapse of the Soviets must be viewed in its larger context. To begin, the economic war (of which the cold war was truly about - increasing the size of the military until the economy broke) was 50 years in the making. The Cold War crushed their economy.

As well, to attribute the collapse of the Soviets to Reagan lacks an analysis of the internal resistance that occurred throughout the Union. It is then a denial of Polish agency, Czech agency, Romanian agency - etc. Resistance from within is a large factor.

Americans need to stop taking credit and expecting gratitude for things in which their are other world actors that make an impact and contribute to change.

To suggest that there is no gratitude is shameful. Poland has troops in the mire known as Iraq. What else does the US want in return? Defense Missile Bases in Poland that will only threaten Poland's position with her neighbors.

The discussion, of course, is interesting!

To Lindsey - I would like to suggest that 100% Polish ancestry is not rare in the US. It may be unusual in your geographic location, but visit Buffalo, Detroit, and of course, Chicago and you will meet many "100%" Poles!

Anonymous, also known as L. Kwiatek

Freedom Fighter said...

Good Morning! And welcome.
When anyone says to me that history must be 'deconstructed' it immediately brings to mind Franz Boas, who invented the deconstructionist movement in history..which,when you get beyond the verbiage says essentially that facts can be manipulated for a political agenda.

If you read `Crusade in Europe' or Churchill's history of WWII, you will see that what the Roosevelt administration agreed to was a temporary Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe. CHurchill, of course realized what the Soviets were up to - Roosevelt, a sick man manipulated by several close advisers who were Soviet moles and sympathizers, did not. SO when you say that the US was aware of th eSoviet paln for Poland,that must be qualified - although I agree that expecting the Russians to abide by those agreements was naive, to put it mildly.

I must disagree that the Cold War alone crushed the Soviet economy, rather than the inefficiency of the marxist command economy itself, and that Reagan had nothing to do with it. In fact, it was the massive increase in US defense spending and the challenge to Soviet military adventurism
( Angola, Afghanistan, Grenada For example) that accomplished that..along with deliberate covert aid to resistance. That strategy was coordinated by Reagan with Pope John Paul, among others and to suggest that Reagan had nothing to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Poland's freedom is simply incorrect in my view.

Nor do I suggest that Poland is behaving with ingratitude - quite the opposite. If you reread the piece, you will see that I am actually contrasting Polish and German attitudes.

I would likewise disagree with your characterization of Iraq as a `mire'.

While I would agree that the reason for attacking Iraq was very different than the one given, the fact remains that Osama bin-Laden and Ayman Zawahiri themselves have made it a major front in this war, that al-Qaeda is being defeated and that the Poles, the Australians and others have played a valiant part in this war that most Americans are unaware of.

I would also urge you to rethink your obvious opposition to the missile defense bases.

To survive as a free country,Poland needs strong allies, or it will be crushed and enslaved. That is what has happened in the past, because of Poland's unique position as the buffer between Germany and Russia.

There could be no better insurance of Poland's freedom than US bases on its soil.Have you been listening to the noises Putin has been making lately?

Thank you for dropping by - as you say,the discussion is interesting!