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).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Off-Shore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?