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Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006 04:40 am

Bush has a COW

The U.S., it turns out, paid off its coalition partners

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When George W. Bush talks publicly about his war in Iraq, he always points to his multinational partners, dubbing them the “coalition of the willing” — or COW.

But who are these partners, and how willing are they, really? Actually, of 192 nations in the world, only 48 — including such mighty military machines as Estonia, Latvia, Micronesia, and the Solomon Islands — signed up for the COW. Of these 48 nations, only 39 sent any troops at all, with 32 sending fewer than a thousand each, including many who sent only noncombat personnel. Of the 39 countries contributing troops, 17 have already withdrawn them and another seven are drawing down theirs this year.

If these nations seem to have a very shaky commitment to Bush’s COW, wait until you hear this: Bush has paid many of them to become our “partners in war.” It’s received little publicity, but the Pentagon runs a special Coalition Solidarity Fund that slips payments to many COW members, essentially buying their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2005, for example, we taxpayers paid to airlift 2,400 Polish troops to Iraq, then we built their camps for them and provided equipment. On top of this, we simply gave $57 million to Poland from that solidarity fund. Meanwhile, Poland is planning to withdraw all of its troops from Iraq next year.

The “coalition” was constructed by the Bushites at the start of their war to try giving it an image of international legitimacy, but, as international security expert Patricia Weitsman writes, “Few people worldwide believe that the U.S. pays attention to the interests of others when making policy decisions. . . . The perception of America as unilateralist is pervasive.”

Bush’s COW is a papier-mâché fraud constructed of our money, just another in his endless war of lies.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist, and author.

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