Remember George W’s assertion in 2003 that he was not rushing off to war in Iraq on his own whim? No, no, he cried, lookie here, I’ve got this big international “Coalition of the Willing” backing me all the way!
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Actually, his coalition was mostly a sham from the start. Of the 300,000 troops that it included, 250,000 were from the U.S., and Bush sidekick Tony Blair kicked in another 40,000. Of the world’s 194 nations, only 36 chipped in any troops for Bush’s cause, and most that did send some limited them to supporting roles, keeping them out of combat. Despite Bush’s pretense, the “multinational force” has really been a unilateral, American operation.
Now, however, there can be no pretense that it’s anything else, for Bush’s coalition has dwindled down to 20 countries contributing only about 11,000 troops to the Iraq debacle – and most of those will soon be gone.
While George W can’t speak the word “withdraw,” leaders of other countries are having no trouble these days saying it with great fluency and frequency. For example, Denmark has taken its 460 soldiers and gone home, Latvia’s 125-member contingent is down to 15, Lithuania brought its 50 soldiers home this summer, Georgia plans to withdraw 1,700 of its troops, and the Czech Republic will have all of its 100 soldiers out by year’s end.
Even the Brits are saying Bye-Bye Bush. Only 5,000 of their troops remain in George’s war, and half of them will be pulled out by spring, with the rest expected to be withdrawn by the end of next year.
Could the coalition be sending a message? I think they’re saying: Yoo-hoo, George… time to bring your troops home, too.
“Coalition of the willing’ is waning as nations pull out,” Austin American Statesman, October 10, 2007