Saturday, September 25, 2004

A Closer Look at "The Coalition of the Willing"

Is there a multinational force in Iraq, or is the invasion and occupation of Iraq a unilateral act of aggression by the US?

Let's look at the members of this coalition, and their contributions;

United States - 140,000 troops
United Kingdom - 7,900 troops
Italy - 2,700 troops
Poland - 2,400 troops
Ukraine - 1,700 troops
Netherlands - 1,400 troops
Romania - 700 troops
Australia - 250 troops
South Korea - 600 medics and engineers
Japan - 550 troops (humanitarian aid)
Denmark - 496 troops
Bulgaria - 485 troops
El Salvador - 360 troops
Hungary - 300 troops
Mongolia - 180 troops
Azerbaijan - 151 troops
Georgia - 159 troops
Latvia - 122 troops
Portugal - 128 military policemen
Lithuania - 105 troops
Slovakia - 105 chemical warfare troops
Czech Republic - 80 military policemen
Albania - 70 Special Forces troops
Estonia - 55 Special Forces troops
Tonga - 45 Royal Marines
Singapore - 33 troops
Kazakhstan - 29 troops
Macedonia - 28 Special Forces troops
Moldova - 12 troops

There is one more category of forces on the ground in Iraq that need to be added to this list;

Private military contractors (mercenaries) - approximately 20,000.

Those who have left the coalition;

Nicaragua - 230 troops left in February 2004.
Spain - had 1,300 troops withdrawn on April 28, 2004.
Honduras - 368 troops withdrawn by end of May.
Norway - 150 humanitarian troops withdrawn on June 30 2004.
Dominican Republic - 320 troops withdrawn by end of May.
Philippines - 51 medics, engineers and soldiers withdrawn July 14 2004.
Thailand - Withdrawal of last 100 troops on 10th September 2004.
New Zealand - 61 army engineers finished their deployment in September 2004 and were not replaced.

Take a look at the facts, without any commentary, and come to your own conclusions. Is this a global coalition?

There is no question that we owe each of these soldiers our thanks for putting their lives on the line for a cause that no doubt many felt was worthy and noble. And our sympathy and support needs to be extended to all of those who have lost loved ones.

However, what needs to be discussed as we stand a few weeks from an election, is the leadership of President Bush. Did he successfully pull together a global coalition?

The American Conservative, in which Pat Buchanan is listed as one of their editors, can certainly not be dismissed as another "liberal rag" spouting treason and tripe. Here is part of this publication's self description;

We believe conservatism to be the most natural political tendency, rooted in man's taste for the familiar, for family, for faith in God. We believe that true conservatism has a predisposition for the institutions and mores that exist. So much of what passes for contemporary conservatism is wedded to a kind of radicalism - fantasies of global hegemony, the hubristic notion of America as a universal nation for all the world's peoples, a hyperglobal economy. In combination with an increasingly unveiled contempt for America's long-standing allies, this is more a recipe for disaster.

Against it, we take our stand.
Within their August 30, 2004 issue, an article appears written by Eric S. Margolis entitled Coalition of the Coerced; America's allies rethink their Iraq commitment. We're offered some additional information about the current coalition in Iraq;

* Italy's conservative prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has also come under intensive popular pressure to pull his nation's 3,000 troops out of Iraq. Over 80 percent of Italians oppose military involvement there.

* After none of the fabled WMD were found, Poland's former prime minister expressed grave doubts over keeping 2,460 troops in Iraq, but elected, in spite of intense domestic opposition, to maintain them until the middle of next year, a decision likely encouraged by lavish stipends from Washington.

* The Netherlands has announced it will withdraw its 1,100-man contingent by mid-2005.

* Norway, New Zealand, and Thailand, all smarting from public protests, will pull their token units out of Iraq by this September.

* Ukraine, which sent 1,600 soldiers to forestall U.S. criticism of its egregious political corruption, is considering a pullout.

* South Korea is grudgingly sending 3,700 more men, in spite of violent objections by its people and the beheading of a hapless Korean hostage.

* Australia has only 250 men left in Iraq, but even this small number has become a major issue in its forthcoming election.

* The rest of the coalition is an opera bouffe collection of tiny states that sent token units to Iraq to curry favor in Washington...Most voters in these nations opposed sending troops to Iraq.

* The only truly voluntary contributors - i.e., not bribed or bullied - were the Netherlands, in thanks for aid in World War II; Denmark, for obscure ideological reasons having to do with either right-wing politics or herring; and tiny Albania, in recognition of America's salvation of Kosovo's Albanians from Serb ethnic cleansing and massacres...

* Hungary and other Eastern European states felt a deep of gratitude to the U.S. for their liberation from Soviet rule, though helping Bush's occupation of Iraq may not be the best way to express their rapture over freedom from imperialism.

* Notably absent are any Arab nations.

* The most interesting contributor is Japan, with 240 "non-combat" troops. This tokenism is the small price Japan pays for America's security umbrella, which protects it from China and North Korea...
Please note this is not John Kerry speaking, or even heretical Jake. It's an internal discussion within the conservative movement.

The conclusion of this article is worth noting as well;

Most of the Coalition of the Willing were promised cheap Iraqi oil by Washington, or oil concessions. But as resistance forces sabotage Iraq's oil pipelines, these promises are coming up short, and plundering Iraq's wealth is turning out to be a challenge.

Ironically, far from building a powerful coalition to garrison Iraq under U.S. command, what President Bush has really managed to do is to provide formerly rudderless left-wing parties around the globe with a red-hot new cause with which to rally and electrify their supporters. At the same time, he has made himself the most detested man in world affairs. Those conservative governments that continue to support him and the U.S. occupation of Iraq do so at their peril and are becoming alienated from their own voters.

In short, Mr. Bush has done more to electrify the international Left and give it a sense of common purpose than anyone since Che Guevara. That's true coalition building - just not the kind Washington had in mind.
I find myself in agreement with the author of this article. Agreeing with a position supported by Pat Buchanan? Great Leaping Lizards! Am I becoming....shudder...a conservative? Next thing you know, I'll be beating my readers over the head with a bible.

So, what say you? Is this a global coalition of the willing, or is it windowdressing at best, or a coalition of the bribed and coerced at worst?


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