Coalition of the willing

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"We now have a coalition of the willing that includes some 30 nations who have publicly said they could be included in such a listing.... And there are 15 other nations, who, for one reason or another do not wish to be publicly named but will be supporting the coalition."—U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, March 18, 2003. [1]

Composition of the "Coalition"

Of the 30 nations that were stated as providing support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, only 5 of them provided any military troops in the effort during the invasion [2]:

Albania: 70
Australia: 2000
Poland: 200
Romania: 278
UK: 45,000

The Private Military Corporations contracted to the Loose Cannon Pentagon and U.S. Department of State "may provide a more international contribution (more foreign troops from more foreign countries) than government sources. It's hard to know with any certainty however, since they are un-monitored and un-accountable. What is certain is that the U.S. military cannot function without them." [3]

This is to be compared with the 300,000 troops the U.S. has committed to the effort. Therefore, excluding the United Kingdom, no other country is providing any significant military support, and any other forms of support from the "coalition" are not apparent. "The Bush administration has frequently compared the level and scope of international support for its military operations in Iraq to the coalition that fought the first Persian Gulf War," reported the Washington Post on March 20, 2003. "But the statements are exaggerations, according to independent experts and a review of figures from both conflicts. ... The current operation in Iraq is almost entirely a U.S.-British campaign, with virtually no military contribution from other countries except Australia. 'It's a baldfaced lie to suggest that' the coalition for this war is greater than that for the 1991 war, said Ivo H. Daalder, a former Clinton administration official ... at the Brookings Institution who supports the war against Iraq. 'Even our great allies Spain, Italy and Bulgaria are not providing troops.'"


What has not been openly stated by the Bush administration is the number of concessions that have been given to countries voicing support for the war. Multiple news stories have reported how the administration is providing billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer dollars in "aid packages" to garner support for the war for countries like Turkey, Israel, and Jordan [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9].

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) (web) compiled an analysis of 34 nations cited in press reports as supporters of the U.S. position on Iraq, titled "Coalition of the Willing or Coalition of the Coerced?" The IPS study finds that "most were recruited through coercion, bullying, and bribery." According to IPS Middle East analyst Phyllis Bennis, "It's hardly a new phenomenon for the U.S. to use bribes and threats to get its way in the UN. What's new this time around is the breathtaking scale of those pressures -- because this time around, global public opinion has weighed in, and every government leaning Washington's way faces massive opposition at home." [10]

Some nations included in the "coalition of the willing," such as Japan, merely offered statements of support for U.S. actions (and did not send any troops at all until well after collapse of the Iraqi military). These statements are certainly worth noting, but they fall far short of the billions of dollars in funding and other resources that these same nations provided during the first war in the Persian Gulf. Moreover, at least one of the nations on the Bush administration's list seems to have been included without its knowledge or consent. According to the New Zealand Herald, "Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza yesterday said 'thanks but no thanks' after hearing his nation had been shanghaied into the US-led Coalition of the Willing." [11]

History of the Coalition of the Willing Concept

"The Challenges of Peacekeeping and Peace Support in the 21st Century," February 2000

The first session in an international series of workshops and conferences regarding the Challenges of peacekeeping and peace support: Into the 21st century was held in Stockholm, Sweden, at the National Defence College (NDC) in September 1997. The workshop's objective was to

"engage an international group of experts in exploring and expressing more effective and legitimate ways of dealing with regional conflicts, bearing in mind the importance of satisfactory civil-military relations, limited resources and the complexities related to the integration of diverse national approaches to peacekeeping and peace support activities. The workshop also sought to promote and facilitate increased co-operation and co-ordination between influential agencies and institutions from a wide variety of nations and cultures focused on seeking creative and proactive solutions to the challenges of peace support operations."
Meetings subsequent to Stockholm were "hosted at the Russian Public Policy Centre (Moscow, March 1998), the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy (Amman, October 1998) and the Institute for Security Studies (Pretoria, November 1999)." The fifth conference in the project was scheduled to be hosted by the U.S. Army Peacekeeping Institute in May 2000.

The matter of "project ownership" was decided to be "different from mere participation," as the project was "multicultural, multinational, multiregional, multidisciplinary and multireligious." Although the Challenges Project was co-ordinated at the NDC, it consisted of a coalition of the willing: Organisations from the Middle East, Eurasia, Europe, Africa, North America and Asia which were "already engaged and actively involved in the project."

"The Secretary-General of the United Nations Briefs the Security Council on Visit to Southeast Asia"

Reporting to the U.N. Security Council in New York on February 29, 2000, the Secretary-General stated:

"The security emergency in East Timor has more or less ended, although of course there are still threats. Let me particularly commend the leadership provided by General Cosgrove, and congratulate both him and General de los Santos on completing the smooth and seamless transfer of responsibility from INTERFET to UNTAET.
"The deployment of these two forces -- first a coalition of the willing, and then a United Nations peacekeeping operation -- shows the difference rapid deployment can make. I would like again to thank all those Governments which have rallied to support this operation. Had they not demonstrated such impressive political will, East Timor's history and prospects would be quite different from what they are."

"Italian-led Eight-Country Intervention Force in 1997's Operation Albania"

The Summer 2001 edition of the NATO Review examined Italy's expanded role in the NATO-led Balkan peacekeeping operations.

While providing background information about Italy's Carabinieri, the Review stated that they

"were also key to the success of Operation Alba in 1997, when Italy put together an eight-country, 7,000-strong intervention force to restore law and order to Albania in the wake of the collapse of a series of pyramid investment schemes. This coalition of the willing was authorised by the UN Security Council and coordinated by an ad hoc political steering committee. Lasting from April to August, it was also the first crisis-management mission conducted in Europe by a multinational military force composed exclusively of Europeans."

"Ground War in Macedonia Sets NATO Precedent as a 'Coalition of the Willing'"

On August 23, 2001, in a Special Report on Macedonia, the Guardian Unlimited (UK) reported on an unprecedented NATO operation:

"A second reason for Nato's almost relaxed approach to its current intervention is that it is acting, for the first time in its history, as a coalition of the willing. Not all member countries are taking part, and those that have qualms are not required to contribute. This is an important precedent, symbolised most strikingly by the absence of American ground troops ... But the fact that a NATO operation has gone ahead without US frontline forces helps to loosen Europe's excessive dependence on its transatlantic links and paves the way for other missions which European states may have to undertake on their own. Arguments between Washington and the Europeans postponed action in Bosnia and Kosovo. This time, at last, the lessons of dissension and delay have been learnt."

Call for a "Coalition of Will" and "Willing"

"What We Need is "An Act of War" with a Coalition of Will"

On September 12, 2001, there was a televised discussion about "response and options" to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on PBS's Online NewsHour. The show's host Jim Lehrer and former William Jefferson Clinton Secretary of State Warren Christopher; Samuel Berger, National Security Adviser in the second Clinton term; and Warren Bruce Rudman, former Republican Senator of New Hampshire, openly shared their views.

Berger: "Because the objective here is not simply retaliation at this stage. The objective has to be a long-term effort by the international community to attack this terrorist network and if not take it down reduce it in substantial ways. If in fact, for example, if in fact, what was assembled around the Gulf War was a coalition of the willing that was organized for a single purpose, what we need now is a coalition of will that is organized for a long term purpose. And that long-term purpose is to attack this terrorist network not only in Afghanistan but in fifty or sixty countries where there are elements here."
Christopher: "And that will take a sustained period of time ... each action will have its own reaction. And we need to support the President in a long-term undertaking here joined by as many allies as will summon the will to deal with terrorism in their own country as well as to cooperate in dealing with the center of gravity of this particular threat, if it is in fact, in Afghanistan."

"'Persuader' Blair seeks coalition

CNN European Political Editor Robin Oakley reported on September 20, 2001, less than ten days after the terrorist attacks on the U.S., that Tony Blair was the first EU leader to insist that "his country stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States following the terror attacks on the World Trade Centerand Pentagon."

Oakley stated that "there is a growing expectation such action would be taken by a U.S.-led coalition of the willing, including some but not all NATO nations, as well as many others from outside -- whether they participate in a military, diplomatic or economic way."

"Colin L. Powell 'urges coalition of the willing"

In New York for the "six-plus-two" meeting on Afghanistan at the United Nations on November 13, 2001, that was called for a "speedy formation of a broad-based multi-ethnic interim government in Afghanistan," US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded an international coalition of the willing that would be "led by soldiers from Muslim nations, to secure the capital." Powell reported that Turkey, Bangladesh and Indonesia had "offered forces for an operation that would buttress a bridging political structure under the United Nations control."

Press Briefing with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder

At a December 10, 2001, White House press briefing with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell once again stated the need "for an international security force to go to Kabul to serve in Afghanistan." This, he said, would "require a strong and clear mandate from the United Nations and in a coalition of the willing. Powell was pleased, he said, that, "notwithstanding the many obligations that Germany has picked up in the Balkans, some 8000 troops are committed as the Chancellor has said, Germany is willing if asked to make a contribution to this international security force."

Fighting Terrorism

"Fighting Terrorism: the Role of the G-8"

At the June 2002 discussions held at the Canadian-hosted G-8 summit at Kananaskis, Alberta, it was projected that "the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the ensuing, U.S.-led war ensure that terrorism" would hold a "special place."

Writing for Canada's CBC News, Wesley Wark cited U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, who had "described the current war on terrorism as involving a coalition of the willing. Rumsfeld was reported as also being "quick to remark that the coalition must not determine the mission."

National Security Strategy

Also see: The National Security Strategy of the United States of America.

The preamble to President George W. Bush's National Security Strategy plan dated September 17, 2002, makes reference to coalitions of the willing who could "augment" "lasting institutions" like the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization of American States (OAS), and NATO, "as well as other long-standing alliances," to help build a "safer, better world."

The phrase is repeated further into the document in reference to African civil wars: "An ever more lethal environment exists in Africa as local civil wars spread beyond borders to create regional war zones. Forming coalitions of the willing and cooperative security arrangements are key to confronting these emerging transnational threats ... Africa's great size and diversity requires a security strategy that focuses on bilateral engagement and builds coalitions of the willing."

Nearly a year earlier, on October 3, 2001, Tony Blair addressed the situation in Africa. Blair said that, "though Britain has intervened alone in Sierra Leone, Rwanda presents, and the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to present, much greater problems and dangers." British defense sources, however, made it clear that "Britain would not act alone in a future major crisis in Africa, but nor would it simply await decisions by the UN." Rather, "Britain would form part of a coalition of the willing," sources said. However, the same sources "warned of the problems of being overstretched ... Another serious conflict in the Balkans or the Gulf involving British troops would leave few available to intervene elsewhere."

NATO: Transcript Of RFE/RL's Exclusive Interview With U.S. President Bush

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty conducted an exclusive interview on November 18, 2002, with President George W. Bush regarding Russia and the enlargement of NATO. The subject of the prospects of disarmament by Saddam Hussein brought this response from Bush: "If he doesn't disarm, you're right, I'll lead a coalition of the willing to disarm him, and there's all kinds of ways for that coalition to be formed. It could be formed with NATO, if they chose. I have said to the UN Security Council, we'll go back and discuss the matter with you. But Mr. Saddam Hussein must understand he will be disarmed, one way or the other. I hope it's done peacefully."

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