The u.S. Government needs the support of the eastern european countries to give the occupying power an international appearance
Since one and a half month the gulf war ii is over. Since then, the death toll among coalition troops has slowly but steadily risen to one or two a day. More than 80 american soldiers have been killed and more than 300 injured by iraqi guerrilla groups. Coupled with the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have yet been found – and will never be found, some say – unease about iraq has grown more coarse in the u.S. And the u.K.
The u.S. Has therefore put prere on its allies in new europe to help control the new iraq. The desperation of the american government is so great that it is even willing to pay in part for these additional troops to ease the burden on coalition forces.
The unbelievable offer of the us government to india has been revealed by the indian express. It shows how desperate bush has become for support and relief. Despite the many promises, the india had refused to send troops as long as it was not a un mandate:
- Accommodate an indian army general as liasion officer at central command headquarters in tampa, florida as well as post 35 indian officers at its command and control headquarters in iraq.
- Offer progress on the "trinity ies"nuclear, hi-tech and space cooperation. Implied in this was that like russia and france, us would be more accommodating toward india when it came to the nuclear suppliers group (nsg) for transfer of critical technologies.
- Pick up the estimated $300-million tab for troop deployment.
- Help india recover its investments made during the saddam regime as well as get a share of the economic reconstruction efforts in iraq.
In august, a hungarian unit of 300 soldiers will be deployed as the so-called "peacekeepers" go to iraq. The usa is responsible for the transport to iraq. However, the pentagon has not yet decided whether they will travel by plane or by train and ship. The only known fact is that the total cost will be between 2 and 3 billion forints (about 10 million euros).
Hungarian participation in american-led adventures has so far remained limited mainly due to financial reasons. This time, however, washington wants to make sure that budapest can afford the assistance. But costs are only one side of the problem. Earlier this year, the deployment of a hungarian unit to afghanistan already became a contentious political ie. The opposition prevented the sending of armed troops, so a medical team was sent in their place.
Internationalization and relief
If all goes according to schedule this time, the troop contingent will be ready for the trip to iraq in mid-august. An advance team has already arrived in iraq to make the necessary preparations. The hungarians will be under polish command. This will also include bulgarians. The romanians will probably send a team of technicians.
By sending a small force from new europe to new iraq, the u.S. Hopes to kill two birds with one stone. First, washington is looking for a way to reduce the occupation of the new iraq "internationalize". And second, they are looking for a way to reduce the deployment of u.S. Troops.
Meanwhile, in the u.S., the political war has just begun. Before the iraq conflict, u.S. Defense secretary rumsfeld had claimed that not many troops would be needed to occupy post-war iraq. However, in the meantime, the dynamics of the conflict have changed fundamentally, from a battle between armies to a "low-intensity" guerrilla warfare, rumsfeld has drawn much criticism. The number of american troops in the region has remained the same since the fall of the regime, and some say it has even had to be increased.
And this is where the contingents from new europe come into play. Even if they are small, they represent the vanguard of a participation that will probably increase in number as the participating countries grow. Nevertheless, there are limitations, since the military capabilities of the new europe are small and the military is not well equipped. In addition, all countries sending troops have severe economic problems. Hungary, for example, is struggling with credit problems at the moment.
For this reason, many leading politicians in congress are now calling on the bush administration to get in touch with its european allies, especially germany and france, who are to be taken more seriously. There have already been calls for greater un involvement, which represents a complete reversal of washington’s position, after the decision taken on 1. May the victory was declared.
The ability of the u.S. To fully internationalize the occupation of iraq is hampered by the fact that there is still bad feeling between the u.S. And some of its european allies, even though the rhetoric that has been "healing wounds", has been spouted on all sides. In addition, the u.S. Is not willing to give up control of iraq to any extent.
The bush administration is consequently relying on a confused notion of nato involvement to make it appear that the occupying power is already internationalized. At least for rumsfeld, nato is already engaged in iraq, even if france and germany are not participating. The participation of some states from the new europe is supposed to provide a pseudo-justification for it.
In truth, nato is not officially involved, and nato headquarters in brussels has so far said nothing to that effect. Nevertheless, the government of hungary and other new europe governments have used the "nato involvement" as a pretext to get involved in afghanistan and now in iraq.
Resigned approval still prevails
Ultimately, the status of the peacekeeping mission in the new iraq by the new europe can be seen in the type of troops sent to the region. The hungarian troop contingent will wear american army uniforms like the others from new europe. The rationale is that american uniforms are better suited to the climate in iraq. However, it was quickly pointed out by those responsible for the troop contingents that the soldiers still wear the national insignia to distinguish them, even if this is not in the foreground. In times of war, such distinctions are not enough. An enemy is an enemy, no matter what uniform he wears. You only have to look at afghanistan: not only us soldiers have been killed there.
How powerful and reliable the troop contingents of the new europe will be will depend on how the guerrilla war will continue to develop. Not only are the soldiers being sent with meager equipment and a tight budget, but there is sure to be uproar in the homelands if they are attacked as the american and british soldiers were. Then, countries like hungary were not allowed to offer direct military support to the usa.
The general public of the new europe is currently resigned to sending troops to iraq. Nevertheless, there is latent opposition to the whole affair. In hungary, some soldiers who were supposed to go to iraq have already refused to go. If the "low-intensity"-war in iraq remains as it is now, then political majorities will protest not only in the u.S. And the u.K., but also in new europe.