Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Incredible Shrinking Coalition

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing,” that motley crew of cajoled and pressured mostly minor nations that provided token troops to send to Iraq along with the U.S. juggernaut during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is looking decidedly smaller today.

Since 2004, 17 countries, which had sent a total of 10,500 troops have pulled out entirely and brought everyone home. These include Italy, which at one point had the fourth-largest contingent of troops in the coalition (3200) and Ukraine, which had 1650 troops in Iraq, and also Iceland, which at one point had sent 2 soldiers, making it the smallest member of the invasion force.

Of course, the coalition was always much less than it appeared. Initially, the White House had announced that Costa Rica was a part of the coalition, but it had to drop that claim when Costa Rica pointed out that it has no army.

Most of the other countries in a coalition that at one point purportedly numbered 48 actually barred their soldiers from engaging in combat. Poland was the biggest of these, with 2500 troops in Iraq at one point, but with nobody fighting. Indeed, the only countries that actually supplied combat troops to do any fighting alongside U.S. forces were the U.K., which initially sent a force of 45,000, Australia, which sent 2000, and Denmark, which sent 300. Today, at a time that Bush is adding American troops, Britain’s troops in Iraq are down to just 5500, with most slated to be gone by year’s end. Poland’s non-combat contingent is down to 900, Australia has pulled out all but 628, and Denmark has 460.

Gone altogether along with Italy, Ukraine and Iceland are the Netherlands, Spain, Japan, Thailand, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Nicaragua, Singapore, Norway, Portugal, New Zealand, Philippines and Tonga.

That is to say, the U.S.-led “coalition,” in addition to the severely attritioned Britain, Australia, Poland and Denmark, is down to just 23 countries. But of these, only two are providing troops in four digits-the U.K. and South Korea, which has 1200. The other 17 members, which include Rumania, Georgia, El Salvador, the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Mongolia, Albania, Lithuania, Slovenia, Armenia, Boznia-Herzegovena, Estonia, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Bulgaria, are only providing a grand total of 2278 soldiers-none of them in combat roles.

This is quite a grand coalition our president has assembled!

It’s also a coalition that will scatter like chaff in a storm if the Bush administration follows the advice of Vice President Cheney and attacks Iran. At that point it will be the Coalition of One.

It must make the men and women of the U.S. military feel good to have all those allies with them as they drive their bedraggled Humvees through the IED-strewn streets of Iraq.

Especially when they know that most, if not all, of these coalition members only joined because they were threatened with aid cut-offs or bribed with promises of arms supplies and loans.

The problem for the Bush administration is that many of the members of this “Coalition of the Willing” were never really willing. Their governments may have been, but their people were not, and a number of governments-for example those in Italy and Spain-fell in large part because of popular rage over their countries’ involvement in Bush’s Iraq fiasco. Unlike in America, the voting public in these countries was able to force their governments to change course and get out.

There’s a lesson there.

Maybe after the Brits and the Ozzies leave Iraq, Americans will see the light and demand that the U.S. leave the coalition too.

Then maybe Iraq can start to recover from its long nightmare.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is “The Case for Impeachment“,
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]