By Ivan G. Goldman
By Ivan G. Goldman
As the lame-duck Great Leader and his toadies smile and wave fondly at departing British troops, they pretend not to see the inherent paradox as our own deployment into the swamp pus of Iraq -- to borrow an expression from our astute White House -- surges. You almost feel sorry for the Great Decider and his little helpers. They're like some nitwit who walks into a door and declares, "It's okay, I planned it all along."
Denmark, with hardly enough troops there to put together a game of Texas Hold’m, will be out by August, and South Korea by the end of this year. Lithuania, whose contribution to the Coalition of the Willing is down to 53 troops and perhaps a pet goat or two, is also thinking aloud about getting out entirely. Italy and Spain are gone, along with their prime ministers that said yes to the invasion that quickly morphed into an attempt to occupy hell.
The globally reviled Bush still smirks, but his deer eyes show new traces of fear and puzzlement. Yes, he sees the oncoming truck, but now what? The bullying belligerence of old has been tamed at least a little by his suspicion that there may be more to this governing stuff than Karl Rove explained back in Texas when he first pulled Junior out of the idiot box. Lately his handlers' lies are less spirited. Maybe their minds are on book contracts.
Blair’s retrenchment was of little consequence because it was clearly in the cards whether he went along or not. Unless he breaks yet another promise, he will step down by the end of summer. Heir-apparent Gordon Brown’s statements on Iraq have been mixed, vague, and elusive. But he will probably withdraw even more troops, maintaining a microscopic token force that will keep the alliance with the U.S. intact and minimize domestic damage. He’s unlikely to embrace a conflict so heartily detested by an overwhelming majority of the British public.
So unable to do anything about British retrenchment, Condoleeza Rice proclaimed that it adheres to “what is really the plan for the country as a whole.” And Shotgun Cheney sees the drawdown of approximately 25 percent of remaining British forces as “actually an affirmation.” But imagine if Blair, instead of bowing to the pressure of reason, had scrounged up another 50,000 troops for their "surge." Would Rice and Cheney complain? You decide.
Estonia has 35 troops in Iraq; Kazakhstan, 27 military engineers; Netherlands, 15 soldiers as part of a NATO training mission, and Slovenia, four military instructors. Good thing, too. If you want to win a war, don’t make a move without Slovenian military instructors. No one around the White House has mentioned the Coalition of the Willing in ages. But as far as I know, they’ve still got Eritrea.
Oh, you're probably wondering what this column has to do with the death of Anna Nicole Smith, depicted in the photo. Nothing.