America Isn't Alone In The War On Terror
It used to be said that American politics stopped at the water's
edge. Not this year.
During his presidential campaign, Sen. John Kerry has insisted upon
the need to "rebuild our alliances", and restore America's
"credibility." He also called our allies a "coalition of the
bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted."
Sen. Kerry ought to apologize to the 32-nation U.S.-British led
coalition in Iraq and the 35-country security force in Afghanistan.
These coalitions disprove the myth that America is isolated and
hated on the world stage.
In fact, the United .States,. having assembled one of the largest
international coalitions ever seen, enjoys the political support of
many key allies, from Tokyo to Warsaw to London. Managing such a
huge coalition is, of course, an extremely difficult task, and its
strength is limited by a lack of military capability, technology
and manpower on the part of many members. Still, by any historical
measure, the coalition is extraordinarily successful.
The coalition is strong because there's broad political support
internationally for U.S. aims in Iraq, as displayed by the
unanimously passed U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546 that
endorsed the interim Iraqi government. The United .States. has
spearheaded a huge effort to reconstruct Iraq, and negotiate
forgiveness of the country's massive debts. The decision to go to
war against Iraq was undertaken only after years of tortuous
negotiation at the Security Council, involving no fewer than 17
The American effort to build a democratic Iraq is supported
strongly by its closest ally, Britain. The U.S.-British alliance
continues to operate as a strikingly successful partnership of two
great nations built on the solid foundations of a common heritage,
culture and vision. The fact that Britain, the world's second most
powerful military and diplomatic power and the fourth biggest
economy, is standingstands shoulder to shoulder with America in the
war on terror, proves that the U.S. is hardly a lonely, friendless
Britain played a major role in the war to remove Saddam Hussein,
deploying 45,000 combat troops to the Gulf. It was its Britain's
largest military deployment since World War II, representing more
than a third of the nation's armed forces. Some 8,000 British
troops remain in Iraq, and the British currently administer the
southern region of the country, including the city of Basra. More
than s60 ixty British servicemen have been killed in Iraq.
There are more than 145,000 coalition forces personnel from four
continents serving in Iraq, including 23,000 non-U.S. military
personnel. Some 2,800 troops have just arrived from South Korea
(another 800 will deploy in November). In addition, there are now
229,000 Iraqis in the Iraqi country's new security forces in
The notion that Europe is united in opposition to U.S. policy in
Iraq is a myth. Twenty-one European countries have sent troops to
Iraq, as have 16 of the 26 NATO member states. The opposition of
French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder to the liberation of Iraq shouldn't be perceived as
representative of Europe as a whole. - Indeed, a majority of
European governments backed the U.S. decision to liberate Iraq.
NATO, despite initial opposition from France, will assist in
training Iraqi security forces.
In Afghanistan, NATO has been responsible for commanding and
co-ordinating the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Currently 6,400 NATO forces from all256 NATO members, nine NATO
partner nations and one non-NATO-aligned country (New Zealand)
serve in ISAF. In addition, there are 18,000 U.S. troops and 2,000
ccoalition forces in Afghanistan serving in Operation Enduring
Clearly, the United States isn't alone as it fights the war on
terror on several fronts. In Iraq it retains the support of many
traditional allies, including Britain, Italy, Australia and Japan,
and it has generated almost universal backing in from the nations
of "New Europe,", including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic,
helping shift the balance of power in Europe away from Paris and
It will be the goal however of al Qaeda as well asand the terrorist
groups operating in Iraq to weaken this coalition. The U.S. and its
allies must prevent the terrorists from intimidating coalition
partners into withdrawing their forces from Iraq, as the terrorists
have done with Spain and the Philippines.
The White House should make the consolidation and strengthening of
the existing international alliance a top priority,. Yet the United
States can and must do more to improve its efforts at public
diplomacy in Europe, Asia and the Arab world. Nothing should
distract policy-makers from this urgent task: maintaining and
expanding what is already a strong and powerful coalition.
Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., is Fellow in Anglo-American Security
Policy at the Heritage Foundation.
Distributed nationally on the Knight-Ridder Tribune wire