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

 

 

More articles by:

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).

January 16, 2018
Mark Schuller
What is a “Shithole Country” and Why is Trump So Obsessed With Haiti?
Paul Street
Notes From a “Shithole” Superpower
Louisa Willcox
Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness: Stewart “Brandy” Brandborg
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Sinister Plan to Kill the Iranian “Nukes” Deal
Franklin Lamb
Kafkaesque Impediments to Challenging Iran’s Theocracy
Norman Solomon
Why Senator Cardin is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning
Fred Gardner
GI Coffeehouses Recalled: a Compliment From General Westmoreland
Brian Terrell
Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo
Don Fitz
Bondage Scandal: Looking Beneath the Surface
Rob Seimetz
#Resist Co-opting “Shithole”
Ted Rall
Trump Isn’t Unique
January 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Democrats and the End(s) of Politics
Paul Tritschler
Killing Floor: the Business of Animal Slaughter
Mike Garrity
In Targeting the Lynx, the Trump Administration Defies Facts, Law, and Science Once Again
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
Uri Avnery
Bibi’s Son (Or Three Men in a Car)
Dave Lindorff
Yesterday’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa
Jeff Mackler
Lesser Evil Politics in Alabama
Jonah Raskin
Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John Campbell McMillan
Jose-Antonio Orosco
Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy
David Macaray
Everything Seems to Be Going South
Kathy Kelly
41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo
Weekend Edition
January 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
George Burchett
Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett
Roberto J. González
Starting Them Young: Is Facebook Hooking Children on Social Media?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Between the Null and the Void
Andrew Levine
Trump After Bannon: What Next?
John Davis
Mud-Slide
Ajamu Baraka
The Responsibility to Protect the World … from the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Stirs the Methane Monster
Paul Street
Lazy Liberals and “the Trump Effect”
Carmen Rodriguez
Trump’s Attack on Salvadoran Migrants
Mike Whitney
Oprah for President, Really?
Francisco Cabanillas
The Hurricane After Maria
Luciana Bohne
World War I: Crime and Punishment
Steve Martinot
The Ideology of Pepper Spray: Force and Violence in a Can
Martin Billheimer
Beyond the 120 Days of the Silicon Valley Dolls
Patrick T. Hiller
An Olympic Glimmer on the Horizon – North Korea and South Korea Stepping Down the Escalation Ladder
Ron Jacobs
The Vietnamese War: a Different Take
Binoy Kampmark
Fuming in the White House: the Bannon-Trump Implosion
Joseph Natoli
What to Worry About and What Not to Worry About
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto, Bayer and Neoliberalism: A Case of Hobson’s Choice
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Bullying of Cuba
Kenneth Surin
Bigger in Texas
Arturo Desimone
The Untouchable Leader Who Stood Up to Gandhi
Peter Crowley
To Cheerleaders of Iran Protests: Iran is Not Our Enemy, a Sponsor of Terror or a Tyranny
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail