Will Tested of Coalition of the Willing
Between 20,000 and 75,000 protesters came out in London to march against US presence in Iraq.
The Bush Administration appears to have asked the British to deploy some 650 troops up from relatively quiet Basra to the hot spot of Baghdad, where they would serve under a US command. This request has put the British government of Tony Blair in difficulty. It is controversial to have the British troops be under direct US command. It is also controversial for British troops to be moved up into the Sunni Arab danger zone. And it is controversial for the request to come 3 weeks before the US elections, so that it looks as though Karl Rove, Bush’s campaign manager, crafted the request in hopes of reducing news stories about American troop casualties (US papers do not, sadly, put British casualties on the front page). An AFP report insists that the British defense ministry has ruled out British troops going to Baghdad or Fallujah. But I am suspicious of this report, which seems to contradict what British Defence Secretary Geoffrey Hoon said on Sunday. Besides, would the issue be any different if the troops were being sent to Mahmudiyah just south of Baghdad?
Meanwhile, Poland plans to reduce its troop presence in Iraq in early 2005, as it faces increasing costs for the enterprise. The Poles have also been disappointed that their companies have not won any significant contracts in Iraq.
At the same time, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has described the Iraq War as “illegal” because it lacked Security Council sanction, said that the world is no safer in the aftermath of that war.