ANALYST Ivo Samson from the Bratislava-based Slovak Foreign Policy Association talked to The Slovak Spectator on May 3, sharing his views on Slovakia's mission in Iraq and challenging the opinion of Interior Minister Vladimír Palko, who said the deployment of troops in Iraq was a mistake.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Minister Palko thinks that the deployment of Slovak troops in Iraq was a mistake. Do you agree with this opinion, which is shared by the majority of the Slovak opposition?
Ivo Samson (IS): I think that it is necessary to differentiate between the subjective views of opponents of the Slovak soldiers' presence in Iraq and the legitimacy [of the move]. If the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime was good, then the deployment of soldiers from other states to participate in the peacekeeping operations was good as well.
The continuation of military operations in Iraq one year after the completion of the [official] military operations does not testify to the defensibility or indefensibility of the attack on the Iraqi regime. If it did, then we could also accept the opinion that everything that does not go well militarily is a mistake. If we wanted to take this idea to the extreme, then we could say that the Poles' military defence against the Germans in September 1939 was a mistake because it was not successful.
TSS: Do you think the withdrawal of Slovak soldiers from Iraq would be a good move?
IS: It would definitely be justifiable. The Slovak soldiers went to Iraq to fulfil a peacekeeping mission, which they currently cannot realise under the conditions of war, possibly even civil war. That's why they could leave, only to return when it is possible for them to participate in the original intention of their mission. The departure of the Slovak soldiers would thus not be a "betrayal" but rather, with regards to the new circumstances, a capitulation to the blackmail of the international terrorist scene.
Such a departure would support the idea that Europe is weak and it is possible to dictate conditions to it under the threat of violence. From this perspective the withdrawal of Slovak soldiers - whose participation is symbolic , an expression of international support - could prove counterproductive for the future. Because the Slovak soldiers in Iraq are volunteers, Slovakia should wait until power is handed over to the Iraqi administration. If they cannot handle it, it will already be "their problem" or the problem of the Iraqis. [It will be possible to say then that] they got their chance.
TSS: In relation to the presence of the Slovak soldiers in Iraq, is the country under the threat of terrorist attacks?
IS: Terrorist attacks are a threat to every state, or to citizens of every state, regardless of whether their unit joined the pro-US coalition in Iraq. In the end, the most frequent victims of terror attacks are inhabitants of Arab and other Muslim states such as Algeria, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, and the autonomous Palestinian region who are often not even necessarily aware that there is a conflict in Iraq. Certainly, however, the possibility of terrorist attacks in Slovakia is higher because the country is a participant in the war in Iraq. But with regards to how Iraqi terrorists behave - killing their own civilians - Christian morals should preach that this is a just war; a protection of the innocent.
10. May 2004 at 0:00 | Martina Pisárová