The coalition of the willing is starting to look even more like the coalition of one, with a few friends offering only grudging support. The Daily Telegraph reports that even as President Bush is planning an escalation in Iraq, the United Kingdom is on the way out:
The deployment will bring the total number of US military personnel in Iraq to 154,000. But as Mr Bush’s forces are “surging in”, Britain’s are trickling out.
Britain has barely 7,200 troops in Iraq — already a reduction of 1,500 from the force level of 18 months ago. Britain’s latest plans provide for the departure of more troops, with the total contingent probably being reduced to only 4,500 by the end of May.
It seems that President Bush’s unilateral approach to resolving the war is not limited to only listening to hardcore Republican supporters and toadies like Joe Lieberman; he isn’t even coordinating with our allies in the conflict. As a result, it appears the the U.S. will soon be going it alone in Iraq:
The influence of the partners in any coalition is determined by what they bring to the table. By a wide margin, Britain will remain the second biggest contributor among the 27 countries forming the “multi-national force” in Iraq. But British troops now account for only 4.4 per cent of the total foreign forces, with the US providing 86 per cent.
After Mr Bush’s new deployment and Britain’s reduction – which would entail handing over control of Basra to Iraqi authorities – America will contribute 90 per cent, while Britain will form only 2.5 per cent.