Peppered throughout broadcast and print media reports on the Iraq War is the term “coalition”. Very early in the war, Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared on Fox News with Brit Hume and described the coalition members as “part of this great effort to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and provide a better life for the Iraqi people by getting rid of this regime.” But discovering who is part of this effort and what each coalition member is contributing (and why) is less than obvious. The White House webpage (www.whitehouse.gov) lists the coalition members without individual contributions. Digging and sifting through mainstream press articles, government, and NGO sources is required simply to learn exactly what kind of support the Bush Administration has pulled together. And, after reading the compiled list that follows, the real purpose of this “lie of omission” becomes apparent. Many nations that contributed troops to Gulf War I (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France) are noticeably absent from the current coalition. In addition, most current coalition members are participating in a very limited way – either by providing political support or postwar reconstruction and humanitarian aid. Certainly many non-coalition members will supply reconstruction or humanitarian relief as well –without the dubious title of coalition member – through the UN. Technically, the 49 countries in this coalition is a numerically larger group than the 43 countries in 1991, but only 3 countries are sending significant numbers of troops in this war – compared to the 17 countries which sent combat troops in 1991. Regardless, three-quarters of the 191 UN member nations elected not to participate in this coalition.
What truly marks a coalition member? Several coalition members depend on the US, UK, or Australia for economic or military aid, food, or national defense. Other countries (Ethiopia & Eritrea) are members in name only in the hope that the US will side with them in international disputes.
This quid pro quo mentality calls into question the idea that coalition members are merely “interested in securing democracy and peace for the Iraqi people” as the White House claims. As is plain to see, some coalition members are also interested in securing or continuing vital aid, resources, and influence for their countries.
Finally, while some countries (such as the former Soviet-bloc states) may truly want freedom for Iraqis, some coalition members do not extend several freedoms (religion, speech, assembly, association) to their own citizens.
Granted, not all coalition members deny freedoms or abuse human rights, but some do and this itself demonstrates a weakness of the coalition. So, the next time a reporter, anchor, expert, official, or pundit uses the term “coalition”, remember this list of contributions. In most cases, coalition is simply a euphemism for US. But then again, in a war where “conquer” is redefined as “liberate,” it isn’t very surprising that the US is the head of a rather weak-kneed “coalition” indeed.
The Big, the Bad, the US, UK, & Australia
300,000 total troops
— 45,000 UK (but no more according to Jack Straw)
— 2,000 Australia (along with 150 special forces, naval vessels, and warplanes)
— 1,000 non-combative, chemical, biological, and nuclear specialists or peacekeeping troops from other nations
= 252,000 US (85% of the military effort)
War on Drugs/Terrorism/Iraq/….
COLOMBIA Political support; Currently receiving US military assistance and set to receive $574m in US aid in 2004 to “combat drug trafficking and terrorist activity”; “active aerial eradication campaign underway” to prevent coca production; 55% of the population lives below the poverty line
EL SALVADOR Political support; Receives US funding for the “War on Drugs” (route for cocaine); Sending Salvadoran military officials with any UN post-war peacekeeping troops; To receive $40m in US foreign aid in 2004; 20% of total aid and 50% of total imports/exports are from the US; 48% of the population lives below poverty line.
NICARAGUA Political support; Receives US funding for the “War on Drugs” (route for cocaine); $6b in external debt; Two words—Iran-Contra; extremely unequal economic distribution—50% of the population lives below the poverty line; See “Drop the Debt in Nicaragua” for more details about this coalition partner.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Political support only; Basically the only partner for main exports sugar and coffee? Yup, you guessed, the US; Severe income inequality; Initial landing point of Columbus in 1492.
You scratch my back…
ERITREA & ETHIOPIA These bitter rivals seek US support in a boundary dispute. One hundred thousand citizens and residents from both countries are refugees as a result of the 1998-2000 border war. Human Rights Watch has documented: prolonged detention; lack of food, water, and medical care; beatings and other physical abuse. With the final decision concerning the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea scheduled for May 2003, both countries want US favor. In addition, freedoms of association, religion, press, and privacy protections are questionable or nonexistent in both countries.
Sure,…I’ll help you move….
ALBANIA 70 non-combat troops; Set to receive almost $35m in US foreign aid; Closely tied to the US economically; Journalists in Albania risk harassment, physical assaults, and charges of criminal defamation, particularly when reporting critically about public officials; Poor prison conditions; Seeking NATO membership.
BULGARIA 150 nuclear, biological, and chemical decontamination experts; Opened airspace and offered use of bases; Asked not to be listed publicly (Oops!); Currently seeking US financial/military support through NATO; To receive a little more than $40m in US aid in 2004; EU and NATO candidate.
DENMARK Submarine, small naval destroyer, military/medical personnel; Contributing to reconstruction; Opted out of some EU matters, such as currency; NATO member.
KUWAIT US and British troops are in Kuwait; Government can impose restrictions on freedom of speech and the press.
ROMANIA 278 experts in landmine removal and chemical-biological decontamination; Basing and overflight rights; Participating in post-conflict peacekeeping and humanitarian missions; EU and NATO candidate.
CZECH REPUBLIC Chemical-biological warfare support unit; Overflights rights; Helping with post-war clean-up and will house refugees if needed; To receive a little less than $12m in US aid in 2004; NATO member and EU candidate.
SLOVAKIA Non-combat troops, political support, reconstruction aid;Will house refugees if needed; EU and NATO candidate.
NETHERLANDS Sent anti-missile batteries and 360 soldiers…to Turkey to defend the border with Iraq; Participating in post-war peacekeeping operations; NATO member.
HUNGARY Provided a base for US training of Iraqi opposition members as interpreters and guides for US troops; Helping with reconstruction and refugees; NATO member.
SINGAPORE Opened military bases and air space to the US; Relies on “preventive detention” to deal with espionage, terrorism, organized crime, and narcotics (Is that like a doctrine of pre-emption?); 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC; Currently engaged in “land reclamation”which has concerned its neighbor,Malaysia.
UKRAINE 500 nuclear, biological, and chemical decontamination experts; Assisting with reconstruction and refugees.
Introducing…Compacts of Free Association (CFA)
In a Compact of Free Association, countries receive aid in exchange for US military access. However, since these three have no independent military, the US is also responsible for their defense. In addition to aid, CFA citizens are eligible to enlist in the US military. All three have citizens serving in the US armed forces, so technically these “coalition” members are providing troops.
MARSHALL ISLANDS Political support; Home to the US Army Base Kwajalein (USAKA) since 1964; Entered into a CFA in 1986 for $39m in annual aid.
PALAU US granted 50 years of military access to the islands in 1994 for $700 million spread over 15 years; South Pacific island nowhere close to Iraq; About 20 Palau citizens currently serve in the US military.
MICRONESIA Political support; Achieved independence under a 1986 CFA which is currently being “renegotiated” ($1.3b during 1986-2001); Directly from www.cia.gov:
“Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a sovereign, self-governing state in free
association with the US and totally dependent on the US for its defense….” Free and
dependent—interesting definition of free association.
With friends like these….
AZERBAIJAN Political support; To receive almost $50m in foreign aid in 2004; Torture and physical abuse of detainees in Azerbaijan is common for both political and non-political detainees.
UZBEKISTAN Promises support (as an ally in the war on terrorism); Receives US military assistance; To receive almost $60m in US aid in 2004; Human Rights Watch has documented arbitrary arrests, unfair trials, and torture of hundreds of independent Muslims since October 2001;Most government officials are former Soviet officials; Current president has held office since 1995 after several referenda to “extend” his term (which now runs until 2007); No functioning independent judiciary; Government controls the media and press; 88% of population is Sunni Muslim and primarily rural cotton farmers.
RWANDA An estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in 100 days in 1994;Male life expectancy is 38 years; Rural country with about 90% of the population subsistence farmers; Primary exports are coffee and tea and Rwanda wants access to EU and US markets; 11% of the population has AIDS/HIV; Citizens do not have the right to change their government; Prison conditions remain life-threatening – prisoners die of starvation and preventable diseases.
UGANDA Declared a British protectorate in 1860 and attained independence
in 1962; Expelled a UN aid agency rep in April after a disagreement over transfer of refugees; Diverse country in regards to geography and culture but not politics – only one military-controlled political party.
ANGOLA 85% of population subsistence farmers; Oil and diamonds are main exports; US purchases half of Angola’s total oil exports (which total 900,000 barrels a day as of 4/03); 50% unemployment; 85,000 soldiers and their 340,000 family members are completely dependent on government or international aid;World’s leading coca producer and supplier of 90% of US cocaine and an “active aerial eradication campaign underway” (via www.cia.gov); Freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement are all severely restricted.
These countries are not named on the official list, but several are participating in a far wider role than some named coalition members:
QATAR US Central Command headquarters located at Camp As Sayliyah; Al-Udeid air base
opened for in-flight refueling squadron, F-15 fighter wing and maintenance hangars;Member
of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which agreed to defend Kuwait if necessary; Built a
15,000-foot runway—far larger than its 12-plane air defense needs—prior to the War in Iraq.
SAUDI ARABIA Facilities open to the US military; GCC member; Religious freedom does not
exist in Saudi Arabia; Demonstrations of faith except those of the state interpretation of Sunni Islam are forbidden; Shi’a Muslims face severe discrimination.
BAHRAIN, OMAN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES All opened their facilities to the US military and are GCC members.
JORDAN US troops are stationed in Jordan near the Iraqi border manning anti-missile batteries in case Iraq fires missiles at Israel; Set to receive $1.1b in economic and military aid.
BELGIUM Overflight rights for US aircraft.
CROATIA Refueling stop for US transport aircraft.
EGYPT Keeping Suez Canal open to US warships; To receive $300m in economic grants—
which will then be used to secure $2b in loan guarantees.
GREECE Opened airspace, but will not send troops; US naval base in Crete serves US 6th Fleet and supports Navy and Air Force intelligence-gathering planes.
GERMANY Opened airspace and allowed access to US and British bases in Germany (remnants from WWII); Helping with post-war cleanup.
ISRAEL Traditional Middle East ally noticeably absent while other protectorates are included—like Tonga & Palau.
I’ll just supervise….
SOUTH KOREA May send engineering battalion (500 troops); Helping with reconstruction.
ITALY Opened bases and air space; Supportive of US position; Home to three US air
bases and 17,000 US troops; NATO member.
SPAIN Political support but no military assistance (80% of population oppose military
intervention); Offering warplanes…to defend Turkey from an Iraqi attack and one
medical ship; Opened NATO bases.
JAPAN Financial support for the reconstruction of Iraq; Japan’s constitution bans the use
of force in settling international disputes (What a novel idea! Wonder who thought of
that…? Oh, wait….).
GEORGIA Political/moral support and use of air bases; To receive a little less than $90m in US aid in 2004.
PORTUGAL Granted permission to use Lajes Field air base in the Azores Islands as a refueling stop; the Azores was also the site of summit between Bush, Blair, and Spanish
Prime Minister Aznar before the war.
ICELAND Postwar humanitarian relief; Has no independent army and is currently defended by the US-led Icelandic Defense Force; NATO member.
MACEDONIA & MONGOLIA Political support only.
SOLOMON ISLANDS Political support (has no independent military); Achieved independence from UK in 1978; Denies supporting the coalition or being a member but continues
to be listed on official White House list.
COSTA RICA, HONDURAS, PANAMA Political support; Panama’s official statement says that they: “understand your decision to grant to the Iraqi people the chance to enjoy democracy,
peace and respect for human rights.”
Follow the money
TURKEY Finally agreed to overflight rights and political support, but never agreed to specific military support and, as a result, lost a US proposal of $15b in grants and loan guarantees; Opposed to Kurdish control of oil-rich Kirkuk or Mosul in N. Iraq and fears an independent Kurdish state would include Turkish Kurds and territory; Kurd population denied political and cultural rights—speaking Kurd or wearing Kurdish colors is illegal; Currently involved in a dispute with Greece over Cyprus; EU candidate.
POLAND 200 non-combat troops and a logistics ship; Received a $3.5b US loan for 48 Lockheed-Martin fighter planes with the first payment by Poland due in 2010; Polish law requires that all public expenditures are matched with an equal investment package, so Lockheed-Martin put together a deal (estimates range from $6–12b) with GM,Motorola, and United Technologies; Scheduled to join the EU in May 2004; NATO member.
AFGHANISTAN Currently occupied and protected by US and other “War on Terrorism” allies; Set to receive $550m in US foreign aid in 2004 and currently receives $127m to fight terrorism, $170m to build an army, and $337m for relief, resettlement, and reconstruction.
PHILIPPINES Political/moral support; Currently receives US military assistance and will receive almost $90m in US aid in 2004; Popular revolt against Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos occurred in 1986 without US military intervention (or, in this case, protection), but rather by the people of the Philippines.
ESTONIA, LATVIA, LITHUANIA All three are currently seeking US financial/military support through NATO; None existed as sovereign states during the 1991 Gulf War; EU and NATO candidates.
(KINGDOM OF) TONGA Four times the size of DC (747 sq. mi.); Imports a high proportion of food and receives economic aid from Australia; Primarily plantation and subsistence agriculture; Tonga Defense Service is a 400 person force; Only monarchy in the Pacific.
Fact or Fiction?
MOROCCO—NOT ON LIST AS OF 5/1/03
Raised chickens for use in detecting chemical attacks (think canaries in coal mines), but the
harsh desert conditions apparently did in all but one lonely chicken, so pigeons used instead…FACT
Rumored to have provided 2,000 monkeys to help clear minefields, but all roads lead to a
Moroccan weekly, al-Usbu’ al-Siyassi and a UPI article, so as of now….FICTION
Sources: President George W. Bush; US Department of State, press release; Steve Schifferes, BBC News; Robin Wright, L.A. Times; Richard Beeston, Times Online; Human Rights Watch; Global Exchange; crikey.com.au; CIA; Asia Times; CBS News; Reuters; Boston Globe Online; Washington Post; The New York Times; Federation of American Scientists; Center for International Policy; www.un.org; Michael Freedman, Forbes; Christian Spillmann, Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet); Barbara Slavin, USA Today; Michael Doyle, Sacramento Bee; Government of Uganda webpage;UPI