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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Tuesday | March 11, 2003

Is Bush II 'multilateral'?

Two Bushes decided to wage war in Iraq. One did so the right way, multilaterally, the other did it the wrong way. Of course, people now argue that Bush II is a multilateralist because Spain and Italy and Bulgaria support the US. But the true definition of "multilateral" is not whether a country supports you, but whether it is willing to back up that support with actual military forces.

Take a look at the multilateral coalition Bush I managed to piece together for Operation Desert Storm:

Afghanistan: 300 troops
Australia: 4 ships
Bahrain: 3,000 troops
Bangladesh: 6,000 troops
Belgium: 1 frigate, 2 minesweepers, 2 landing ships, 6 C-130 planes
Britain: 43,000 troops, 6 destroyers, 4 frigates, 3 minesweepers, 168 tanks, 300 armored vehicles, 70 jets
Canada: 2 destroyers, 12 C-130 planes, 24 CF-18 bombers, 4500 troops, Field Hospital (1 Canadian Field Hospital)
Czechoslovakia: 200 chemical warfare specialists
Egypt: 40,000 troops (5,000 special forces paratroopers)
France: 18,000 troops, 60 combat aircraft, 120 helicopters, 40 tanks, 1 missile cruiser, 3 destroyers, 4 frigates
Germany: 18 Alpha-Jets and 212 soldiers stationed in Erhac/Turkey during the gulf war. 5 Minesweeper, 2 Supply Vessels, 500 sailors.
Honduras: 150 troops
Hungary: 1 medical unit
Italy: 3 frigates, 4 minesweepers, 10 Tornado Aircraft
Kuwait: 11,000 troops, 2 missile boats, 1 barge operations platform
New Zealand: 50 medical soldiers and 2 C-130s
Niger: 500 troops
Oman: 25,500 troops, 63 airplanes, 4 Exocet-armed ships
Poland: 1 Hospital Ship
Qatar: 1 squadron of Mirage F-1E fighters
Romania: 180 chemical warfare experts
Saudi Arabia: 118,000 troops, 550 tanks, 180 airplanes
South Korea: 5 C-130 transport planes, 1 medical unit
Syria: 17,000 troops, 300 T-62 tanks
United Arab Emirates: 40,000 troops, 80 planes, 200 tanks
What's that, 25 countries in addition to the US? Not to mention UN Security Council resolutions, NATO support, EU support, and Arab League support. That's multilateral. On the other hand, let's see what Bush II has cobbled together:
Australia: a couple hundred commandos
UK: About 30,000 soldiers and airmen
This is what the neocons and chickenhawks claim is "multilateral"? They have no support from the UN, none from NATO, none from the Arab League, none from the non-aligned movement, none from any multilateral organization.

And worst of all, UK participation in a non-UN-sanctioned war is still hazy. Given that the Australian SAS is traditionally assigned to UK command in these types of operations, we may still see a literal unilateral invasion by the US.

But even with UK and Aussie participation, there is no doubt that while "multilateral", such an invasion would make a mockery of the term as it is understood in the real of interational relations. Bush I was multilateral. It's amazing that Bush II is actually kin of our first Bush president.

Update: This more complete list shows contributions from 39 nations (including the US). As Jake notes in the comments:

Many are tokens or medical personnel, but the sheer breadth of the coalition is pretty remarkable: from mujahadeen from Afghanistan to 7,000 troops from Pakistan, to a lone corvette from Denmark. The first Gulf War was about the maintenance of the institutions of international order; this one is about destroying it.

Posted March 11, 2003 01:40 PM | Comments (64)


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