I’m not sure I get this NYT op-ed by Patricia Weitsman on the dangers of coalitions. I think her argument is that the current “coalition” fighting in Iraq is costing us money and not gaining us any of the global legitimacy that the word “coalition” is supposed to buy. And in that sense, she’s right. We’re basically paying these tiny countries who have no real armies to send soldiers for the veil of legitimacy (aside from the UK, of course):
At President Bush’s request, in May 2005 Congress created a $200 million Coalition Solidarity Fund that supports coalition partners in Afghanistan and Iraq. For example, Estonia received $2.5 million in Coalition Solidarity Fund money to support its troops — about 40 in Iraq and 80 in Afghanistan. Albania, with its 120 or so troops in Iraq and 35 or so in Afghanistan, received $6 million, as did the Czech Republic, which has roughly 100 troops in Iraq and 60 in Afghanistan.
And (surprise!) it hasn’t worked:
According to a recent Pew Global Attitudes survey, few people worldwide believe that the United States pays attention to the interests of others when making policy decisions. In the international community, the perception of America as unilateralist is pervasive.
But it should be pretty clear that what’s really at issue here is not the idea of coalitions in and of themselves, but rather how the Bush Administration has misappropriated the phrase. The 2003 Iraq War coalition has neither the diplomatic legitimacy of the 1991 Gulf War coalition or the diverse troop makeup of the 1999 Kosovo coalition. And so yes, it’s damn near useless in terms of winning the war.
I guess what’s odd about the column is how matter-of-factly she treats this idea. Like she’s genuinely surprised that the coalition in Iraq isn’t gaining us anything when it’s been clear for years that the “Coalition of the Willing” is an international joke. It’s a PR stunt, and always has been.