Troops from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine are serving in Iraq. Sikorski points out that costs for supporting those forces in Iraq take money away from military modernization.
Central Europeans had also hoped that the United States would help them modernize their militaries. Because it's so much cheaper to send foreigners to Iraq than Americans, this seemed a good time to help these armies come closer to NATO standards, which would make them more easily deployable alongside U.S. forces. Instead, these countries' investments in defense are being postponed to finance operations in Iraq.
Does the US foot any of the bill for the costs? Those countries are not well developed and have much lower per capita GDPs than the United States. That is why the salaries of their soldiers are low enough to make their deployment to Iraq much cheaper than is the case with US troops.
As Central Europe becomes increasingly integrated with the rest of the European Union US influence looks set to decline regardless of what the US does.
As of next year, Western Europe's pull in Central Europe will multiply. Millions of motorists will see signs marking EU-financed infrastructure projects; millions of farmers will get EU agricultural subsidy checks in the mail; and tens of thousands of journalists, scientists and academics will become eligible for EU grants. If the United States wants to remain a player, it better get into the game.
It is simply not worth it for the United States to try to compete with the level of aid the EU is going to lavish upon the former Warsaw Pact countries. But the US could get smarter and use small amounts of money to at least symbolically reward the countries that are providing troops in Iraq. For instance, a few small contracts to Polish companies (Poland provides the biggest troop contingent from Central Europe) to help in the rebuilding would go a long way. Also, some sort of US equivalent of Rhodes scholarships for Europeans would help to build ties.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 November 12 11:22 AM Europe and America|