It’s official. MNF-I is no longer. It has become USF-I.
Almost no one in America noticed. And almost no one in Iraq cared. MNF-I was the military acronym for Multinational Force Iraq – more commonly referred to by the grandiose phrase invented by Bush, Cheney & Company: “The Coalition of the Willing.”
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Some coalition. It essentially consisted of 130,000 or so U.S. troops, about 11,000 Brits, and a smattering of others from such countries as El Salvador, Kazakhstan, and Estonia. In truth, George W’s “coalition” was never anything but a thin PR cover for his unilateral invasion of a nation that had done us no harm and posed no threat to us.
Over the years, even the pretense of a coalition disappeared, as country after country withdrew their token contributions. Since last summer, America has been the lone ranger in Iraq, so a new spin was invented, transforming MNF-I into USF-I, or United States Force Iraq. At a dog and pony show in Baghdad on January first, the demise of multinational support was formally hailed by our military chieftains as a tremendous advance, marking “a new era in Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Iraqis themselves are less effusive about the progress that’s been made. Sectarian hatreds have resurfaced, horrific bombings are on the rise, and parliament is so fractured by ethnic, religious, and regional disputes that it has not even been able to schedule the national election that was supposed to be held this month.
Meanwhile, we still have 130,000 troops there, costing us $12 billion a month. As we enter the eighth year of this misbegotten war, America’s blood and treasure has not bought us any of the love the Bushites promised we’d see. Indeed, whether MNF-I or USF-I, most Iraqis still refer to our ongoing military presence as “the occupation forces.”
“Iraq ‘coalition of the willing’ became an alliance of one,” Austin American Statesman,” January 1, 2010.
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