The Incredible Shrinking Coalition


It was always a con job. Some of the “members,” like Costa Rica, weren’t even members at all. Others, like Spain, Italy and the U.K., were there despite overwhelming opposition from their own people. Other countries, like those of Central Europe and Central America, were bribed and coerced into “joining.”

Well, now even the sort of willing are leaving this sinking ship.

Take Italy. After having one of its secret service men blown away in a hail of American bullets at a “mobile roadblock” set up to protect new U.S. Spy Czar John Negroponte, Italy is finally heeding the wishes of its people and pulling out all of its 3000 troops.

Italians were outraged that the car carrying the security officer, which had just successfully rescued a female Italian journalist who had been held hostage by Iraqi gangsters for a month, was blasted by U.S. forces in a hail of machine gun fire that wounded three, including the rescued hostage herself.

Spain pulled out of the coalition last year after its involvement in Bush’s invasion of Iraq led to an Al Qaeda terror bombing of the Madrid train station and ultimately to the defeat of the incumbent conservative government, which had been a big Bush backer.

More recently, some of the other bigger “partners” in the coalition (meaning those that were aoerced or cojoled into contributing a few hundred to a few thousand troops out of the 150,000 total) have been quitting too. The Ukraine, fresh off a popular election that finally ousted a corrupt Soviet-era kleptocracy, announced a few days ago that it is bringing home its 1500 soldiers from Iraq. Poland already said it is pulling out its 1700 troops, and Holland has completed its pullout of all 1700 soldiers.

Once Italy’s troops are gone, the only countries left in Bush’s grand coalition with more than 900-troop commitments will be South Korea (3600) and Britain (8000). Twelve other members of the so-called coalition, including Thailand, Honduras and Hungary, already quit some time ago.

The remaining members of this grand alliance–a total of 18 countries including Georgia, El Salvador, Albania and Estonia–will be contributing a grand total among them of 4826 soldiers, most of whom, like of Korea’s contingent, are actually non-combatants. The military powerhouses among this elite group are Denmark (530), Bulgaria (450), which itself is considering withdrawal, and Australia (300).

At this rate, it won’t be long before even Macedonia (34) and Kazakhstan (27) abandon us, and then what?

And of course, with Italy, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands and the Ukraine gone, the big question is: with the Coalition of the Willing crumbling like this, can Britain be far behind?

Then it would be just the U.S. and the Iraqi puppet regime standing tall against the forces of evil.

If this is winning the war on terrorism, I wonder what losing looks like.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at

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CounterPunch contributor DAVE LINDORFF is a producer along with MARK MITTEN on a forthcoming feature-length documentary film on the life of Ted Hall and his wife of 51 years, Joan Hall. A Participant Film, “A Compassionate Spy” is directed by STEVE JAMES and will be released in theaters this coming summer. Lindorff has finished a book on Ted Hall titled “A Spy for No Country,” to be published this Fall by Prometheus Press.