Bribes for Poland

Or a "solidarity initiative", as the White House likes to think of it. Or a "financial inducement", as the writer of this FT article delicately put it.

Or, speaking a little more historically, "hiring mercenaries", a time-honored imperial tradition. Just a few examples: the Assyrians hired various kings in their imperial periphery, notably North Syria (although one of these kings, Kilamuwa of Sam'al, appears to have engaged in a little historical revisionism, claiming that he hired the king of Assyria, not the other way around [historical revisionism - it never goes out of style!]); the Roman employment of formerly "barbarian", "Romanized" groups is reasonably well known; and, closer to home, Great Britain used Hessian (German) soldiers as part of its doomed efforts to prevent the United States from becoming independent.

But the money isn't what's really important - really:

"Poland has been a fantastic ally because the president and the people of Poland love freedom," Mr Bush said.

See, Poland isn't involved because of any money, or "financial inducements", or anything like that. It's simply the good feeling (love, actually) that one gets from being involved in a project associated with "freedom" that keeps the Poles in Iraq. The money is strictly to, uhh, cover any costs that may arise from carrying around so much love in the Polish people's hearts. Right.

Anyway, if Congress rubber stamps Bush's bribe, and if Kwasniewski accepts it, Poland (and the other countries on the receiving end of the "solidarity initiative") can take its place in history as a bit player in the effort to prop up yet another empire.

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