About that “Coalition of the Willing”

Now things get more informal. I’m going to drop by here from time to time and make some notes about how things are going for me in this experiment.

In ’s news we have the pathetic scene of the U.S. administration bragging about its impressive alliance. Rumsfeld bragged that “the coalition in this activity is larger than the coalition that existed during the Gulf War in .”

Except that it isn’t. Not even close.

In at least 33 countries sent forces to the campaign against Iraq and 16 of those provided combat ground forces, including a large number of Arab countries.

In the only fighting forces are from the United States, Britain and Australia. Ten other countries are known to have offered small numbers of noncombat forces, mostly either medical teams and specialists in decontamination, making a comparable alliance of about 13 countries.

U.S. officials have named 33 countries which support the U.S. invasion of Iraq but this includes countries which are providing overflight and basing rights and which are giving only diplomatic or political support for the invasion.…

They say some 15 other countries are cooperating with the U.S. war effort behind the scene, mostly by giving access to bases and airspace, but they do not want to be named.

In the United States and its allies did not count countries which provided overflight rights or political support because the campaign had the overwhelming support of the U.N. Security Council, which had voted 12-2 for the use of force.…

This time the United States failed to obtain U.N. Security Council authorization for the use of force. It gave up its efforts when it became clear that it could not win.

One of the biggest differences is that none of the declared members of the alliance are Arab countries, although some may be on the list of governments who prefer to act in secret, and several, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, are allowing their facilities to be used.

How proud can you be of an alliance where a third of its members are ashamed to admit it?

The Guardian’s Emma Brockes called up the embassies of such U.S. allies as Colombia, Georgia, and Nicaragua, to ask how they were helping (What can Eritrea possibly do to help the US in Iraq?):

Eritrea is one of the poorest, most war-torn countries in the world. I call the embassy to ask how it intends to show its support of the US and coalition of the willing, of which it is a member. There is a long, stunned pause before the spokeswoman says: “Can you call back tomorrow morning?”