- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2005

President Bush wants to give $400 million to what he has called the “coalition of the willing” in Iraq and Afghanistan, and yesterday told Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski that a full quarter of that money would go to Poland.

The $400 million fund, which the White House calls the “solidarity initiative,” would be part of the $80 billion Mr. Bush has asked Congress to allocate for ongoing military operations in the war on terror.

“I don’t get to write the checks in the American system,” Mr. Bush said during an Oval Office meeting with Mr. Kwasniewski. “I assured the president that when it’s all said and done, that would be the request that we would put forward. I’m confident the Congress will respond.

“Poland has been a fantastic ally, because the president and the people of Poland love freedom,” he said. “And I know the people of your country must have been thrilled when the millions of people [in Iraq] went to the polls and showed that people from all parts of the world want to live in a free society, just like your great nation has shown the world over the last decade.”

The White House is expected to send the $80 billion request to Congress next week, which also must sign off on Mr. Bush’s plan to earmark the $400 million to staunch allies.

The White House said the funding request reflects “the principle that an investment in a partner in freedom today will help ensure that America will stand united with stronger partners in the future.”

The money is a reward for “nations such as Poland, which have taken political and economic risks in order to act on their convictions,” the White House said, but it did not identify the other countries.

Other nations that have made significant contributions of troops to Iraq include Australia, Italy and Denmark, as well as Eastern European countries that — like Poland — spent decades under the control of the Soviet Union.

The extra money for Poland comes at a time when Mr. Kwasniewski is under increasing political pressure to draw down his country’s troops from Iraq. Poland is in command of a multinational security force in central Iraq that includes 2,400 Polish troops, the most from any country excluding the United States and Britain.

“During our meeting today we talked about Iraq,” Mr. Kwasniewski said. “Poland participates in the stabilization mission in Iraq, and we are full of optimism thinking about that country and about the successful completion of our mission.”

Poland is expected to soon withdraw about 800 of its troops from Iraq, leaving about 1,600 there until the end of the year. Poland has made no commitment to stay longer.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide