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[casi] Support for U.S. is tepid at best

Hi All,


This message is being sent on March 19, 2003 at 6:38 pm  MET.

Will it pass the admin's vetting and if so, when will it finally reach the
list ?
Will it then still serve its purpose of timely information ?




THE GLOBE AND MAIL, Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Support for U.S. is tepid at best

Globe and Mail Update

With its hopes of UN support shattered, the United States is trying hard to
show that it still has international support for its impending war in Iraq.
Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that 45 countries had
lined up behind the United States.

"Behind" is the key word. Most members of this coalition of the willing
not be in the front lines. In fact, most will not be taking part in the war
at all.

That makes this very different from the first Persian Gulf war, when 34
nations took part, including Britain, France and leading Arab states such
Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia. In that conflict, 160,000 troops --
one-quarter of the total -- came from countries other than the United
States, and other countries paid $53-billion of the $61-billion (U.S.)
tag. In the sequel, by contrast, only two countries are likely to be
the Americans on the front lines. Britain has sent or committed 45,000
military personnel and Australia 2,000. A handful of others will send token
military contingents but will not take part in actual combat.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have sent troops that specialize in
warfare decontamination. Poland will deploy 200 troops. Denmark will send a
corvette and a submarine. Tiny Latvia may send a suitably miniature

That, so far, is about it. Most of the others on Mr. Powell's list are
providing only secondary help, such as the use of their bases or airspace
for U.S. forces.

Mr. Powell's group of 45 was not, in fact, a list of countries that had
agreed to help the United States. It was a list of those countries that
support the idea of military action against Mr. Hussein.

Some of those on the list, which includes countries as small and poor as
Albania, Azerbaijan, Eritrea and Nicaragua, are offering only moral
Japan, a close U.S. ally, will contribute only to the reconstruction of
Iraq, not the defeat of Mr. Hussein. Spain's main contribution is a
ship and a backup frigate, a surprisingly weak contribution given that
co-sponsored the now-abandoned United Nations resolution that would have
authorized force. Remarkably, 15 of the 45 countries were not even
identified by Mr. Powell because they preferred not to be named.

So, in the end, Washington is going to war with a couple of staunch
comrades-in-arms, a few minor helpers, a bunch of cheering onlookers and a
group that won't even be publicly associated with the effort.

It is hardly the "formidable" coalition that deputy defence secretary Paul
Wolfowitz predicted this month.

Especially damaging to Washington is the lack of public Arab support. In
last conflict, the United States could argue that its war to remove Mr.
Hussein from Kuwait was backed by many of his Arab neighbours. That helped
defuse the charge that the UN was an imperialist interloper.

This time, Persian Gulf war allies such as Syria and Egypt are openly
against the war, and others that helped in 1991 are doing far less this
-- although some may be among the unnamed allies. Saudi Arabia, which was
the base for the liberation of Kuwait, wants no part in this war. All it
will agree to do is allow U.S. and British planes to keep patrolling the
Iraqi "no-fly zones" from its bases.

The one bright spot for Washington is the support it is getting in southern
and eastern Europe. The conservative governments in Spain and Italy have
come out in support of the drive to disarm Iraq by force, while some
countries in the former East Bloc support Washington out of gratitude for
its stand against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. That support helps
offset the opposition of European countries such as France, Germany and

On the other hand, most of the supportive European governments are defying
the antiwar views of their own people.

The weakness of the U.S.-led coalition does not matter much to the
which can do the job on its own. But with such a thin list of allies,
Washington will have a much harder time claiming political legitimacy for
the war.

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