Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic: The Security Record of “New Europe”

In the run-up to the Iraq War, the governments of France and Germany stated that they did not support an American-led war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. When asked at a press event in January 2003 what he made of their opposition, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld replied, “Now, you’re thinking of Europe as Germany and France. If you look at the entire NATO Europe today, the center of gravity is shifting to the east.”

In a letter published on January 30 in the Wall Street Journal, eight governments signaled their alignment with the Bush administration on Iraq. Among the eight signatories were Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic—the first countries added to NATO’s rolls following the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union.

These countries’ alliance with the United States matters. Maybe it would not go so far as to make New Europe “new” again, but it would be a useful first step in renewing and deepening ties.

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