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What's the status of the international coalition working with the United States in Iraq?

Your war questions answered

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You want status, eh? Is "too small" a good answer? If you don't like that, we could go with "not enough."

What kind of pansy, pinko, lefty America-hater do you have to be to suggest that our so-called coalition is barely worthy of the name?

Well, take your pick. There's the Gen. Eric K. "I told you before the war that you needed more soldiers, so you marginalized me" Shinseki-type. Then there's the Paul "I ran the Iraq occupation for the White House and recently told an audience that we didn't have enough soldiers in Iraq -- oops, I thought that speech was off the record" Bremer-type.

The latest type is the Pentagon's Defense Science Board-type. Those traitorous terrorist sympathizers -- who are obviously criticizing Bush's leadership at this critical juncture because they want Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, or even worse, John Kerry, to be our president -- have recently concluded, out loud, that we don't have enough soldiers in Iraq to stabilize it and that one of the (obvious) solutions is to get our allies to contribute more.

Clearly, these people on the Pentagon's so-called Defense Science Board didn't bother to watch the first presidential debate. If they had, they would have heard President Bush tell us that "our coalition is strong," and that there are "30 nations" with soldiers "standing side-by-side with our American troops" in Iraq. Furthermore, they would know that President Bush doesn't like it when anyone "denigrates the contributions of these brave soldiers" by suggesting that they're inadequate.

Far be it for me to denigrate the coalition in a way that would piss off the president. He might read this on one of the "Internets" and send some goons my way. I'm just gonna list them. I report, you decide. Neat concept, huh?

The following is a list of the nations in our Iraq coalition. The number in parentheses that follows the country's name is the number of soldiers it has in Iraq:

United Kingdom (8,361), Italy (3,085), South Korea (2,800), Poland (2,500), Ukraine (1,400), Netherlands (1,345), Romania (700), Japan (550), Denmark (496), Disneyland (Just checking to see if you're paying attention. This is long list.), Bulgaria (485), El Salvador (380), Hungary (300), Australia (300), Mongolia (180), Georgia (159), Azerbaijan (151), Portugal (128), Latvia (122), Fantasy Island (see Disneyland), Czech Republic (110), Lithuania (105), Albania (71), Estonia (55), Tonga (45), Kazakhstan (29), Mike Lookinland (he was Bobby Brady; see Disneyland), Macedonia (28), Moldova (12), and last and least, Norway (10).

For you non-Rain Men, that's a measly 23,907 soldiers. There's no need to stoop to denigration when simple addition will suffice.

Without some sort of plan to get our allies motivated, that already small number is gonna shrink. The war in Iraq is unpopular and, unlike here, a lot of the countries in our coalition have leaders who can't hold office without winning their elections. Just this year, we've already lost small contributions from Nicaragua, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, the Philippines, Treasure Island (I kid because I love), Thailand, Singapore and New Zealand.

Poland has indicated that it's gonna start withdrawing its soldiers in January. Among other reasons, they want out because it's expensive to be there (about $100 million per year) and they're unhappy with the low level of American financial aid they're getting ($66 million) for their efforts. It's the coalition of the billing!

The president is right about it being wrong to denigrate the contributions of the courageous soldiers who've joined us in Iraq. I just wish he'd quit denigrating our intelligence by trying to convince us that the coalition is anything more than what it is: symbolic.

Compared to the massive coalition that Bush Sr. assembled for Gulf War I: First Blood, the current coalition is a sad joke. In Gulf War I, the troop contributions of Egypt (40,000), Oman (25,500) and United Arab Emirates (40,000) each exceeded the current coalition's total. Hell, even France sent 18,000 top-notch soldiers. In our current coalition, the second largest armed force isn't even a national military, it's the private U.S. security contractors. They alone nearly outnumber the coalition.

andisheh@creativeloafing.com

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