Time and again, John Kerry has been dismissive to the point of rudeness toward this country’s Coalition allies. None of America’s 33 partners ever had to send so much as a Q-Tip to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. The fact that any nation assigns even one citizen to fight shoulder to shoulder with U.S. GIs should elicit celebration and gratitude, not the sort of ethnocentrism that a sneering Boston Brahmin might expect to see gushing out of, say, Texas oil country.
Worse than a snotty host who snickers about guests who bring the “wrong” wine to dinner, Kerry snarls about nations that toil with America to build a safe, free, and prosperous Iraq.
In March 2003, Kerry dismissed these countries as the “coalition of the coerced and the bribed.”
In September 2003, Kerry said that “this President’s pride has brought us a coalition of the few, barely willing to do anything at all: 160 Mongolians, 43 Estonians, and 83 Filipinos isn’t a coalition; it’s a cover-up.”
Last March, Kerry told CNN: “The fact is that those countries are really window dressing to the greatest degree. And they weren’t there in the beginning when we went in, and they’re not carrying the cost of this war.”
Last April, Kerry virtually made America’s allies disappear. “To do this right,” he said, “we have to truly internationalize both politically and militarily. We cannot depend on a U.S.-only presence.”
On September 6, Kerry dismissed the notion that there are international boots on the ground beside ours. He called this “the phoniest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Kerry’s skinned-up nose would be ugly enough if non-American Coalition soldiers frittered away the hours by barhopping in Baghdad. In fact, they dine on hot lead with our boys and girls, too often in fatal servings.
According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count website, 124 overseas soldiers have been killed in Iraq as of last week. This includes, among others, 13 Poles, 19 Italians, and 66 Britons. Kerry’s sarcasm must be uniquely soothing to their shattered families.
As for the living, the Heritage Foundation’s Nile Gardiner has documented the extent to which America is not alone in Iraq and, indeed, is ably assisted by nations from around the globe.
Despite the high-profile departures of Spain and the Philippines, American GIs in Iraq serve with uniformed personnel from Albania, Armenia (as of this month), Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Thailand, Tonga, and Ukraine.
These 26,487 troops represent 17.3 percent of forces in Iraq, compared to the 126,500 U.S. soldiers who, it is fair to say, fill 82.7 percent of positions there. While Americans have suffered 89 percent of the war’s deaths, 11 percent of those killed were international soldiers.
“Faced with a barrage of misleading rhetoric, the American public could be forgiven for thinking that the trans-Atlantic alliance no longer exists,” writes Gardiner in his September 7 report, The Myth of U.S. Isolation: Why America Is Not Alone in the War on Terror. “The Coalition includes 21 nations from Europe, and nine from Asia and Australasia. Twelve of the 25 members of the European Union are represented, as are 16 of the 26 NATO member states.”
True, France and Germany are AWOL in this conflict. But neither France nor Germany speaks for all of Europe, as both Napoleon and Kaiser Wilhelm grew to understand.
President Bush should showcase this Coalition by hosting a White House summit on Iraq with these countries’ chiefs of state or foreign ministers. Publicly acknowledging their courage and sacrifice would educate Americans before November 2.
Using Gardiner’s report and other data, I produced a chart that identifies Coalition nations, their troop contributions, and fatalities in Iraq.
One could argue that America should have even more overseas assistance, or that blue-helmeted United Nations peacekeepers should be on patrol. But John Kerry’s self-contradictory insistence that America is both solo in Iraq and at the head of a coalition of the “barely willing” illustrates, yet again, his trouble with the truth.