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Poland demands US troops be based on Polish soil
Poland has demanded that US troops be based on Polish soil in the wake of Russian war games which simulated a nuclear attack and invasion.
Radek Sikorski, Poland's foreign minister, said he was alarmed by recent military exercises conducted by the Russian army in Belarus, a country that borders Poland, and wanted the US military as a counterweight.
"We would like to see US troops stationed in Poland to serve as a shield against Russian aggression," he said.
"If you can still afford it, we need some strategic reassurance." Despite assurances given by US Vice President Joe Biden last month that Washington would stand by its Central-European ally there is growing unease in Poland that its interests have been sacrificed by an America eager to curry favour with Moscow.
Earlier this year, the US cancelled a missile defence shield that Poland was due to host, and details of its replacement remain scarce.
Mr Sikorski complained there were only six American soldiers on Polish soil.
"If you had on the one hand 900 tanks, and on the other six troops, would you be convinced?" he said of the recent Russian military exercise.
Russian politicians said they could not believe their ears. "Cold War reflexes are still alive in Warsaw," a Russian foreign ministry spokesman said.
The Russian foreign minister himself said he was astonished, while an unnamed Kremlin source told the Kommersant newspaper that Mr Sikorski needed his head examined. "It is better to ask the World Health Organisation for an assessment of Mr Sikorski's words," the official said.
If Washington agreed to Mr Sikorski's request, it would spark a diplomatic crisis with Russia at a time when President Obama is wooing Moscow to win its support on a range of international issues such as Iran.
Russian commentators said stationing US troops on Polish soil would also violate an undertaking Nato gave to Russia that it would not deploy major forces on the territory of Eastern bloc Nato member states.
The exact nature of the Russian war games that triggered so much anxiety in Poland remains unclear. Polish media are convinced that the exercises simulated an attack on Poland. Yet Latvian politicians believe they and not the Poles were the virtual enemy, while the Russian army contends the drill was not aimed at anyone.
Russia and Poland are old enemies. After spending more than four decades under Soviet domination, few in Poland trust Russia with many believing the Kremlin has a neo-Soviet agenda.
Russians meanwhile harbour an old grudge against Poles. Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, introduced a national holiday – Unity Day – to commemorate the expulsion of a Polish-Lithuanian occupation force from Moscow in 1612
Yet Poland are agreeing to send more Polish troops to afghanistan to take part in a pointless conflict. Why????
"More Polish Troops in Afghanistan
Staff Journalist | 23rd October 2009
This article has been read 671 times
Poland is to send 600 more troops to Afghanistan this spring
Poland is to send 600 more troops to Afghanistan. A military source told Gazeta Wyborcza that the U.S. is pressing its allies to increase the number of troops, and Poland is to have 2,600 in Afghanistan this spring.
The source revealed that Poland's current mission ends on 13 April, but the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, wants the number of allied troops to increase by 10 percent, or about 40,000. The source added that 2,600 troops, with 200 in strategic reserve, is the limit of Poland's current capabilities, and there will already be difficulties with gathering the extra 600.
General Waldemar Skrzypczak, the former commander of Poland's land forces, told Wyborcza, "The Americans are pressing for an increase because they consider our province of Ghazni as their 'rear'. They don't want the Taliban escaping to Ghazni and gathering strength there as they escape the U.S. offensive."
NATO is also urging allied countries to increase their deployment, but wants more civilians in Afghanistan as well. That is why a part of Poland's additional 600 troops are to be civilians. General Egon Ramms, the commander of NATO combined forces in Brunssum, Holland, told Wyborcza, "We need your specialists in economy, agriculture, industry, construction. Because we won't win this operation with the army alone."
In the lead up to elections in Afghanistan this summer, the Taliban intensified its attacks. As the number of Polish soldiers lost in combat since 2002 has increased to 14, the political and public debate on whether Poland should send more troops picked up. But now, after relations with the U.S. were evidently repaired by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit earlier this week, Poland seems willing to cooperate closely in Afghanistan again.
So far, the only other country that plans on sending more troops to Afghanistan is Great Britain, with Gordon Brown recently pledging to increase G.B.'s contingent of about 9,000 by 500. Meanwhile, Australia is to withdraw its 1500 troops. The U.S. has over 60,000 troops in Afghanistan."
- Poland gets money and arms from the US for being there.
- It distances themselves from fellow Slavs - Russia.
- It also helps to justify their military spending
- and of course inflates the country's image globally, at least as far as many Poles see it.
Call for demolition of Palace of Culture
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has repeated a call for the Palace of Culture and Science to be demolished.
The Stalin-era building dominated Warsaw's skyline during the Communist years but the minister says it is vey expensive to maintain.
Mr Sikorski told Polish radio that the building was colossally wasteful of energy, and would soon need a major overhaul costing tens of millions of US dollars.
He said it would be much better "to have a park, with a pond, where the inhabitants of Warsaw could go for a picnic."
Just days after Berlin celebrated the fall of the wall that divided the city and was a symbol of Europe's wider division, Mr Sikorski said destruction of the Palace would be highly symbolic.
He said it would be a "moment of catharsis" for Poland, comparable to the demolition of the Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-1920s.
His remarks are all the more pertinent since Poland has just celebrated National Independence Day.
The public holiday marked Poland's assumption of independent statehood on 11 November 1918, following more than a century of partition by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germany and, most recently, the former Soviet Union......
Excellent article from German Spiegel that summarizes why Sikorski’s request won’t be honored by the current Democrat administration. Where is George W when you need him
US Foreign Policy
Obama's Nice Guy Act Gets Him Nowhere on the World Stage
By Gabor Steingart
US President Barack Obama is back in the US after an Asian trip that produced few results.
When he entered office, US President Barack Obama promised to inject US foreign policy with a new tone of respect and diplomacy. His recent trip to Asia, however, showed that it's not working. A shift to Bush-style bluntness may be coming.
There were only a few hours left before Air Force One was scheduled to depart for the flight home. US President Barack Obama trip through Asia had already seen him travel 24,000 kilometers, sit through a dozen state banquets, climb the Great Wall of China and shake hands with Korean children. It was high time to take stock of the trip.
Barack Obama looked tired on Thursday, as he stood in the Blue House in Seoul, the official residence of the South Korean president. He also seemed irritable and even slightly forlorn. The CNN cameras had already been set up. But then Obama decided not to play along, and not to answer the question he had already been asked several times on his trip: what did he plan to take home with him? Instead, he simply said "thank you, guys," and disappeared. David Axelrod, senior advisor to the president, fielded the journalists' questions in the hallway of the Blue House instead, telling them that the public's expectations had been "too high."
The mood in Obama's foreign policy team is tense following an extended Asia trip that produced no palpable results. The "first Pacific president," as Obama called himself, came as a friend and returned as a stranger. The Asians smiled but made no concessions.
Lost Some Stature
Upon taking office, Obama said that he wanted to listen to the world, promising respect instead of arrogance. But Obama's currency isn't as strong as he had believed. Everyone wants respect, but hardly anyone is willing to pay for it. Interests, not emotions, dominate the world of realpolitik. The Asia trip revealed the limits of Washington's new foreign policy: Although Obama did not lose face in China and Japan, he did appear to have lost some of his initial stature.
In Tokyo, the new center-left government even pulled out of its participation in a mission which saw the Japanese navy refueling US warships in the Indian Ocean as part of the Afghanistan campaign. In Beijing, Obama failed to achieve any important concessions whatsoever. There will be no binding commitments from China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A revaluation of the Chinese currency, which is kept artificially weak, has been postponed. Sanctions against Iran? Not a chance. Nuclear disarmament? Not an issue for the Chinese.
The White House did not even stand up for itself when it came to the question of human rights in China. The president, who had said only a few days earlier that freedom of expression is a universal right, was coerced into attending a joint press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao, at which questions were forbidden. Former US President George W. Bush had always managed to avoid such press conferences.
A look back in time reveals the differences. When former President Bill Clinton went to China in June 1998, Beijing wanted to impress the Americans. A press conference in the Great Hall of the People, broadcast on television as a 70-minute live discussion, became a sensation the world over.
Clinton mentioned the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, when the government used tanks against protestors. But then President Jiang Zemin defended the tough approach taken by the Chinese Communists. At the end of the exchange, the Chinese president praised the debate and said: "I believe this is democracy!"
Obama visited a new China, an economic power that is now making its own demands. America should clean up its government finances, and the weak dollar is unacceptable, the head of the Chinese banking authority said, just as Obama's plane was about to land.
Obama's new foreign policy has also been relatively unsuccessful elsewhere, with even friends like Israel leaving him high and dry. For the government of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, peace is only conceivable under its terms. Netanyahu has rejected Obama's call for a complete moratorium on the construction of settlements. As a result, Obama has nothing to offer the Palestinians and the Syrians. "We thought we had some leverage," says Martin Indyk, a former ambassador to Israel under the Clinton administration and now an advisor to Obama. "But that proved to be an illusion."
Even the president seems to have lost his faith in a genial foreign policy. The approach that was being used in Afghanistan this spring, with its strong emphasis on civilian reconstruction, is already being changed. "We're searching for an exit strategy," said a staff member with the National Security Council on the sidelines of the Asia trip.
'A Lot Like Jimmy Carter'
An end to diplomacy is also taking shape in Washington's policy toward Tehran. It is now up to Iran, Obama said, to convince the world that its nuclear power is peaceful. While in Asia, Obama mentioned "consequences" unless it followed his advice. This puts the president, in his tenth month in office, where Bush began -- with threats. "Time is running out," Obama said in Korea. It was the same phrase Bush used against former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, shortly before he sent in the bombers.
There are many indications that the man in charge at the White House will take a tougher stance in the future. Obama's advisors fear a comparison with former Democratic President Jimmy Carter, even more than with Bush. Prominent Republicans have already tried to liken Obama to the humanitarian from Georgia, who lost in his bid to win a second term, because voters felt that he was too soft. "Carter tried weakness and the world got tougher and tougher because the predators, the aggressors, the anti-Americans, the dictators, when they sense weakness, they all start pushing ahead," Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker in the House of Representatives, recently said. And then he added: "This does look a lot like Jimmy Carter."
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
But listen up:
I know what keeps Obama awake at night. Let’s say we spend our $2 trillion in stimulus and get a couple of quarters of weak growth. Then once the effects of the stimulus wear off, we slip back into a deep recession, setting up a classic “W.” Unemployment never does stop climbing. This happened to Roosevelt in the thirties. So congress passes another $2 trillion reflationary budget. Everybody gets wonderful alternative energy infrastructure and bridges to nowhere. But with $4 trillion in spending packed into two years, inflation really takes off. The bond market collapses, the dollar tanks big time, gold goes ballistic to $5,000, and silver explodes to $50. Ben Bernanke has no choice but to engineer an interest rate spike, taking the Fed funds rate up to a Volkeresque 18%. Housing, having never recovered, drops by half again. This all happens in the 2012 election year. This is not exactly a low probability scenario. Remember Jimmy Carter? Are the equity markets pricing in this possibility? No chance.