Thursday, October 07, 2004

Coalition Of the Spinning

Sometimes it can take a day or two to pierce through the rhetoric of the debates. In my last post I brought up the comments Dick Cheney made about El Salvador, which was a shorthand revision of history. He also had the following history revision as well.

EDWARDS....You know, we've taken 90 percent of the coalition casualties. American taxpayers have borne 90 percent of the costs of the effort in Iraq. And we see the result of there not being a coalition: The first Gulf war cost America $5 billion. We're at $200 billion and counting. John Kerry will never give up control over the security of the United States of America to any other country. We will not outsource our responsibility to keep this country safe.

IFILL: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds to respond.

CHENEY: Well, Gwen, the 90 percent figure is just dead wrong. When you include the Iraqi security forces that have suffered casualties, as well as the allies, they've taken almost 50 percent of the casualties in operations in Iraq, which leaves the U.S. with 50 percent, not 90 percent.

The coalition of the willing was formed prior to the war led by the United States and Great Britain and a few others of note such as Spain and Australia. The rest were countries that many in the US had never heard of. At the time of forming the coalition of the willing there was no such thing as Iraqi security forces. At what point did the Iraqi security forces become part of the coalition of the willing to attack Iraq and Saddam Hussein? I don't recall any annoucement of this new member of the coalition coming from the White House or Pentagon or even the Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi.

Further I'd be interested in how Cheney compiled his Iraqi security forces casualties. Does this include the many police recruits that die in bombing attacks while waiting in line to apply for the jobs? And since we don't know at what point the Iraqi security forces became part of the coalition of the willing do we add in former Hussein military units that were disbanded after the US took control but then later recruited back into military units? For instance, if the resistance kills a former Republican Guard member that is now in the Iraqi security forces that in many cases have abandon their posts, is this a coalition force member killed or a traitor/enemy killing?

And it should be mentioned that one main reason Iraqis join the security forces is to simply have a job. Unemployement in Iraq is a huge problem and security is basically the only jobs available. Additionally there is a growing problem of infiltration of insurgents into the security forces.

I would say it would be a tough job for someone trying to decide what Cheney means by his statistics. Including the Iraqi security forces into the coalition of the willing is a twist of facts. Iraqi security forces should absolutely have their own category in the casualty count. And that is what the case was until apparently in the vice presidential debate when Cheney revised history and made the Iraqi security forces part of the coalition of the willing.

And then there is the Bush quote from the first debate, "Well, actually, he forgot Poland." This was in response to Kerry not mentioning Poland in the original coalition. Since that debate Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski suggested that their troops would fully withdraw from Iraq at the end 2005.

The poorly defined coalition of the willing has been changing and has been more like the "coalition of the spinning." For instance Costa Rica has requested that the White House remove its name from the list on the website. Seeing as they sent no troops or any money, aid, equipment, etc., they never should have been on the list. Besides Spain, other countries to withdraw troops from Iraq include, the Phillipines, Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. But I guess Dick Cheney decided to offset those troop losses within the coalition with Iraqi security forces. Maybe Cheney didn't want a new nickname to emerge, like the "coalition of the dwindling."


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