Poland versus the USA - Mess with granting contracts for rebuilding Iraq

Polish President feels misled by not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Here is the second part of the explanations of a development in Polish-American mutual relations since January, when Polish pres. Kwasniewski met with G.W.Bush in White house in Washington DC.


USA president G.W. Bush and Polish president A. Kwasniewski with their wives during the welcoming ceremony, 2002 - the photography by courtesy of Richard Poremski

In the previous article Kwasniewski-Bush Meeting - Is Poland still offering unquestioning support to the U.S. War on Terror? - we were talking about the request of abolishing visas to Poles. This was really the main point of Kwasniewski's visit. Kwasniewski, who is a good diplomat, seem to lose his temper or maybe was just trying to make a point during, usually very cordial photo op in the Oval Office. When asked about visa issue - Kwasniewski in response to pres. Bush offering Poles the simplification with working visas which were also offered to Mexicans replied:

"We appreciate it very much, but it is the present. The future is no visa."
"Hmm," Bush said, according to a transcript. (read more about in here)


The third issue or the third complain which was debated in the White House refer to granting contracts for Iraq. Kwasniewski was hoping that somehow the pres. Bush could help Poland to win any of the important contracts in Iraq, since we are one of the biggest allies and our military force is the third largest after the USA and Great Britain. He visited the USA just before deciding on who is going to won a bid for a contract to equip new Iraqi army with everything from helmets and trucks to 16,000 AK-47 rifles. Kwasniewski also complained for relatively low level of American investment in Poland.
Understandably, his requests could not be fulfilled immediately by a pres. Bush. It is not the USA president but rather a Pentagon responsible for granting the contracts otherwise it would look that the system is corrupted. There is enough information in the press about contracts granted to Haliburton and how much controversy did these contracts arisen since this company was tightly bound to vice-president Cheney.

The only positive outcome of Kwasniewski visit to the White House was Bush's promise that his budget for fiscal 2005 includes a $66 billion request to help the Polish military, particularly with airlift capacity. By the way, Kwasniewski's travel home was full of surprises. Please read more about it in the following article.

A couple of days later - the winner of the bid for the contract was announced. It was not a Polish company, Bumar, but a little known company established just a year ago in Virginia called Nour. Later, the contract to Nour was revoked - because the prices offered by Nour were suspiciously low! There is a doubt how the bidding processes is really controlled by Pentagon - since the unknown company with incredibly low prices - Nour offered $330 million bid while the equipment alone would cost at least $500 millions - wins the contract where 19 international and well-established companies are participating. Besides its inexperience on the military market the questions were risen since this company had connections to Dr. Ahmed Chalabi, a member of Iraqi council. Read more about Nour mess.

There were many more questions about Nour. Nour included two Polish entities, the Polish Chamber of National Defense Manufacturers (PIPOK) and the small and rather unknown company Ostrowski Arms as its subcontractors. This second company was a subject of controversy since the very beginning since Ostrowski had some unclear connections to the Polish special services but also… did not have necessary license to export weapons, according to Polish authorities.

Update: The same Nour Company, although under a different name was re-awarded the contract again in June 2004. But it was suspended due to the suspicions of corruption (Chalabi connection).

Read about the development in Polish-American relations and change in the position of Poland in European scene after the terrorist attack in Spain in March 2004 in the next article Polish-American Relations after Terrorist Attack in Spain, Change in Polish-Spanish Alliance.

© by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn, March 19, 2004 (article #176)



I recommend:

One of the best one-volume histories of Poland in English is:

Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland (Oxford Paperbacks)

by Norman Davies


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