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Coalition of the Willing

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I read the phrase in the newspaper nearly everyday. Coalition of the willing. I’m never quite sure who the coalition includes until a brief article appears about Bulgarians coming under fire. Then I know that the coalition includes Bulgarians. For the most part, though, the media has not reported who is in the coalition or what they have contributed. Has the media completely fallen down on this issue and ignored international contributions to the war in Iraq because of an anti-war, anti-U.S. bias? Or is the coalition such as sham that the media does the Bush administration a favour by ignoring it?

If you want to know who is officially in the Coalition of the Willing the list is published on the White House’s website.

The official list: www.whitehouse.gov

Some of the members invite ridicule. (I’m sorry Palau, but you can’t play in the big leagues if you can’t handle the wisecracks.) Other nations have purchased newfound respect and credibility, most notably Poland.

Still, you will need to read more than a few New York Times articles and White House Press releases before you can figure out just what it is that each member of the coalition contributes.

A freelance journalist based in Boston, Constantine von Hoffman, has done the research and put together a list of the coalition complete with facts and figures. Who sent troops and how many? Who’s putting their money where their mouth is? It’s all there.

The Coalition of The Willing: Facts & Figures:
www.areporter.com/sys-tmpl/thecoalitionofthewilling/

The biggest partners in the coalition are, of course, the U.S. and the U.K. with 300,000 and 45,000 troops, respectively, in Iraq. Poland, which gets a fair amount of media coverage, has 200, but you may be surprised to learn that the Netherlands — that’s right, the pot-smoking left-liberal Dutch — have 360 troops in Iraq. Twenty-five members of the coalition contribute nothing. Denmark has sent a submarine, (apparently being inspired by the frigate Canada contributed to the war against land-locked Afghanistan.)

It’s easy to mock the list, but, in all fairness to the coalition partners, there is no declared Coalition of the Unwilling. It’s not known what Iran, Syria, and supposed allies like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are contributing to the Iraqi “resistance”. Neither do we know what material support Saddam Hussein’s regime received from Russia and France after the United Nations passed sanctions on Iraq.

The Coalition of the Willing may or may not be an exercise in political silliness, but the Coalition of the Unwilling is no laughing matter.

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