Cultural Revolutions

Coalition of the Unwilling?

Recently, I attended a conference in Washington, D.C., that focused on the dilemmas involved in the expansion of NATO.  One of the American speakers, referring to the membership of the small Baltic nation of Estonia in the U.S.-led security organization, expressed concern that the Estonians could force the Americans into a military confrontation with the Russians by igniting tensions between Tallinn and Moscow over some minor territorial dispute.  The statement provoked an angry response from an Estonian diplomat: “Estonia, as a close ally of the United States, has committed its military forces to fight on the side of the Americans in Iraq,” he argued.  “We are a trusted member of the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq.  We rushed to lend you a hand when you needed it, and we expect you to come to our help when we face a similar threat.”

Why does this Estonian expect the Americans to nuke the Russians (if needed)?  Well, the Estonians do have 35 troops in Iraq, which is more than what some other members of the “coalition” currently have in Mesopotamia—e.g., the Netherlands (15), Slovenia (4), and Iceland (2).  And, in fact, two Estonian soldiers were killed in Iraq.  I get it now.

There is something pathetic in the notion, promoted by the Bush administration, that the United States, with more than 140,000 troops in Iraq, is leading a “coalition”...

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