The New York Times finally ate crow for its bogus assessment of the Iraq coalitions assembled by President Bush and President Obama, issuing a correction Tuesday for its two-week-old claim that “unlike Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama has sought to surround the United States with partners.”
The offending article was published on September 11, the day after Obama’s primetime speech outlining a military strategy against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The president promised “a broad coalition to roll back the terrorist threat,” a phrase met with approval by Times reporter Mark Landler.
“Unlike Mr. Bush in the Iraq war, Mr. Obama has sought to surround the United States with partners,” he wrote.
It took the Times twelve days to finally reverse that assertion. “An article on Sept. 11 . . . gave an incorrect comparison between efforts by the president to seek allies’ support for his plans and President George W. Bush’s efforts on such backing for the Iraq War,” the paper explained. “The approach Mr. Obama is taking is similar to the one Mr. Bush took.”
While similar, President Bush’s 2003 Iraq coalition actually dwarfed President Obama’s alliance against the Islamic State – at least in its current iteration.
Bush’s international coalition to depose Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein involved over three dozen nations and tens of thousands of ground troops, including 46,000 from the United Kingdom, 2,000 from Australia, and thousands from Poland, Ukraine, South Korea, the Netherlands, and Georgia. Countries from Europe, East Asia, and Latin America all participated.
Obama’s anti–Islamic State coalition has proven smaller, and allied contributions more limited. His September 10 speech was vague, referencing only a desire to work with Middle Eastern partners in the region. Since then, Australia has promised combat advisers and France has conducted air strikes. Regional powers Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan joined the United States to strike targets in Syria on Monday.
But the United Kingdom and Turkey remain conspicuously absent from the president’s coalition, as do many of the United States’ traditional partners in Europe and East Asia.
The Times did not immediately respond when asked what prompted the correction and why it took twelve days to be issued.