Among the many inflamatory things John Kerry continues to bellow from the stump is his favorite "George Bush decided to go it alone" rhetoric. This one really bothers me most because, obviously, we didn't "go it alone." I've always said this minimizes the sacrafice other nations have made to help fight alongside US troops in Iraq. <br><br>This article speaks to Kerry's mocking accusation:<br><br><br><br><blockquote>A Not-So-Phony Coalition <br>From the September 20, 2004 issue: Does Kerry think insults will win allies? <br>by Gerard Baker <br>09/20/2004, Volume 010, Issue 02<br><br>LAST NOVEMBER, suicide bombers killed 19 Italians stationed at a military police barracks in Nasiriyah, southern Iraq. It was the largest single-incident loss of life for the Italian military since the Second World War, and the shock and pain that reverberated through the country was palpable. Hundreds of thousands of mourners paid tribute at a memorial service in Rome. President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi cut short a visit to the United States to return home.<br><br>Inevitably, the tragedy led some Italian politicians to call for the withdrawal of the country's forces from Iraq. The war was never popular with Italians, and such a setback might have resulted in an early exit.<br><br>But the defiant mood of the country was better captured by Cardinal Camillo Ruini at the massive and moving memorial service. He said terrorists would not defeat Italy's spirit: "We will not flee from them. Rather we will confront them with all the courage, energy, and determination that we are capable of." Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government stood firm. Acknowledging the gravity of the loss and articulating the nation's pain, Berlusconi also gave a ringing defense of Italy's commitment to the struggle in Iraq.<br><br>"We feel pride for the courage and humanity with which our troops . . . have worked, and still work, to make the situation tolerable for children, women, the elderly, and the weak who live in that martyred region," he said.<br><br>Today, almost a year after the tragedy, more than 2,700 Italian military personnel are still in Iraq, still gallantly striving to make that country's life more tolerable.<br><br>But John Kerry doesn't share the Italians' pride in the gallantry of their soldiers, it would seem.<br><br>Instead he prefers to mock the role played by the Italians and all the foreign military in Iraq, and to insult the governments who support the United States.<br><br>Last year, during the early stages of the Democratic primary, Senator Kerry told supporters that the more than 30 nations in the international operation to remove Saddam Hussein represented a "trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought, and the extorted."<br><br>Evidently pleased with this formulation, Kerry revisited it last week. Promising again to build a real coalition to replace the current one in Iraq, he heaped contempt on the efforts of those countries already there.<br><br>"When they talk about a coalition--that's the phoniest thing I ever heard," Kerry said at a rally in Pennsylvania. "You've got 500 troops here, 500 troops there, and it's American troops that are 90 percent of the combat casualties, and it's American taxpayers that are paying 90 percent of the cost of the war."<br><br>Not for the first time, Kerry's facts were a bit wayward. In addition to Italy, Britain still has 8,000 troops in Iraq, Poland has 2,400, Ukraine 1,500, the Netherlands 1,400, Romania 700, and South Korea 600.<br><br>It is true that these are small numbers compared with the vast U.S. force. But most of these nations are already supporting U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan and, given in many cases their exiguous defense budgets, their contributions are not insignificant to the countries themselves. And, strikingly, despite Kerry's scorn, they have borne a sizable, roughly proportionate burden of total casualties. The United States has lost 1,000 servicemen and women; but the allies have between them lost more than 150, including, in addition to the Italians, 64 British, 10 Poles, 12 Spanish (whose government has since departed the coalition), and seven Ukrainians.<br><br>Meaningless to Kerry, of course. All just "window-dressing," in another of the senator's memorable recent phrases, designed to prettify President Bush's "unilateral" war.<br><br>It is odd to hear a candidate who has made rebuilding relations with America's allies a central part of his campaign platform so casually dismiss the efforts of so many of those allies.<br><br>It has become a trope of the Bush-loathing left to note scornfully the inclusion of such counties as the Marshall Islands and Micronesia in President Bush's coalition of the willing.<br><br>But far from being small nations supposedly coerced or bribed, many of the countries represented in Iraq are in fact America's longest-standing and most reliable friends, countries that stood shoulder to shoulder with U.S. forces in two world wars, in Korea, and in the first Gulf War. Troops have been sent from a clear majority of NATO members, including the recently liberated countries of Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and from America's trusty ally in the wars of the Pacific for the last half century, Australia.<br><br>Kerry has unfortunately declined to enumerate which members of this coalition he thinks have been coerced, which bribed, which bought, and which extorted. Since these are countries that have demonstrated repeatedly over the years their willingness to bear burdens to support the United States, he should surely elaborate. Or perhaps he should simply echo President Bush when he said in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention: "I respect every soldier, from every country, who serves beside us in the hard work of history. America is grateful, and America will not forget."<br><br>In fact, in dissing so comprehensively the role played by America's allies in Iraq, Kerry is placing himself firmly in the minority camp in the transatlantic alliance, that led by France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, who have not been, shall we say, always in the forefront of nations lining up to assist the United States. In this, he also sides with Germany, whose chancellor secured his reelection two years ago by denigrating American leadership.<br><br>Yet, somehow, Senator Kerry tells us he is going to be successful in getting more foreign troops into Iraq. His entire strategy, if it can be dignified with that name, for dealing with the war in Iraq is to get foreign troops in and U.S. troops out. Who does he think will agree to replace Americans, Brits, Poles, and Italians?<br><br>Does he really think there are tens of thousands of battle-ready French, German, and Belgian troops willing to go storming into Falluja at the first request from President Kerry? Maybe he's got bigger plans to bribe and coerce those countries.<br><br>What's more, Kerry's grand promises to create a bigger and better coalition than the one created by President Bush rings a bit hollow when one remembers that his past is not exactly the picture of a master coalition-builder.<br><br>In 1991, even as British, French (yes, French), Italian, Syrian, Saudi, and other troops were moving to battle positions in the Gulf in Operation Desert Storm, Senator Kerry was voting against authorizing the first President Bush to assemble and lead that coalition.<br><br>In the 1980s, when America's allies in Europe, Britain's Margaret Thatcher, Germany's Helmut Kohl, and even France's François Mitterrand were urging Ronald Reagan to press ahead with the deployment of intermediate nuclear forces in Europe, Senator Kerry was calling for a nuclear freeze, aligning himself with the one-sided disarmers in Europe and around the world who would have tilted the balance on the old continent decisively the way of the Warsaw Pact.<br><br>But there's one more reason why it is so galling to hear Kerry besmirch the honor of those governments and their servicemen who are fighting in Iraq.<br><br>Kerry himself, last time I looked--and I'll admit this is a moving target--supported the war resolution in October 2002. He praised the conduct of the war as it unfolded in 2003, and just a few weeks ago he insisted that, even if he had known two years ago that no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq, he would still have supported the use of force there.<br><br>In other words, he came to the very same conclusion that Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi, Australia's John Howard, and 40 other leaders came to--that Saddam had to be confronted and disarmed.<br><br>But there was one big difference--and it was not that those leaders were coerced or bribed.<br><br>Kerry supported the war when it was politically expedient for him to do so.<br><br>Opinion polls in late 2002 showed a large majority of the American public supported the use of force against Iraq. And because his consistent antiwar stance over 30 years made Kerry a highly vulnerable presidential contender, he needed to support the president in order to preserve his political viability.<br><br>Blair, Berlusconi, Howard, José María Aznar of Spain, and the others had no such luxury. They all had to confront strongly hostile public opinion. Several laid their jobs on the line in order to support President Bush--and in Aznar's case, doing so cost him his job.<br><br>Such leadership in the teeth of powerful opposition is something Kerry might want to emulate rather than deride.<br><br>Gerard Baker is the U.S. editor of The Times of London and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.</blockquote><br><br>link<br><br>****************<br><br>[color:blue]VOTE</font color=blue>[color:red] for President George W. Bush on November 2, 2004</font color=red>
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