Coalition Forces In Iraq Tomdispatch

“Coalition” Forces in Iraq:

Gavan McCormick writes about the Japanese and other supporting troop contingents in Iraq. He says of them that they. . . “have added up to a strange imperial legion of occupation. Almost all of these forces, ranging from the symbolic to the microscopic, represented interests that had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq itself or even a commitment to any sort of new Middle East. Some of these forces were there based solely on imperial arm-twisting and bribery; some on the urge of lesser leaders of “lesser” states to please the American hyperpower, and some, of course, on pathetic hopes that, as moneys flooded back to the imperial yachts of Halliburton, Bechtel, and their ilk, in the distinctly trickle-down economy of Iraqi reconstruction (and future oil contracts), a few rowboats might be lifted off the sandbars as well.”

Tod McAvoy also writes informatively from Japan:

“Mr Cole,

In your blogpost “Role of the United Nations in dispute”

of 17 Mar 04, you write:


> some other Bush political allies are skating on thin

> ice. I am told by an expat in Japan that Koizumi’s

> majority in parliament depends in part on a Buddhist

> party that is strongly pacifist and could get cold feet

> about the Self Defense Forces being sent to Iraq.


Speaking as another American expat in Japan, let me

say that this is indeed relevant but misses two

important nuances.

The first is that especially since getting a taste of

power, the “Buddhist party” in question (Komeito,

sometimes aka “Clean Government Party”) has shown

itself to be more opportunist than pacifist. Komeito

is in fact the political expression of the lay Buddhist

group Soka Gakkai (active internationally as SGI),

which is in turn associated with the Nichiren sect of

Japanese Buddhism but which has also been in bitter

conflict with the priesthood of that sect, largely due

to the political, financial and Nobel-prize ambitions

of Soka Gakkai Honorary Chairman Ikeda Daisaku, who

has vilified the Nichiren priests more often than he

has encouraged members of his organization to pay

attention to them. Komeito publicly claims to be

independent of Soka Gakkai, but the fact remains

that every one of its MPs and its parliamentary

candidates is a member of that group.

The second is that Koizumi in fact had to reckon

with considerable resistance from within his own

Liberal Democratic Party (of which the old joke is

that it is neither liberal nor democratic nor a party)

militating against deployment to Iraq. Some LDP

members had pacifist motivations, others saw that

it had nothing to do with terrorism (with which the

Japanese, like many Europeans, have more experience

than Americans) and were loth to give Bush political

cover. Others just like an opportunity to poke America

in the eye.

My personal view is that the latter is more dangerous

to Koizumi than the former. While it is true that he

famously threatened to tear down the LDP if it would

not let him govern as he pleased, it is also important

to remember that this was in reference to structural

economic reforms and also that he has time and again

balked at doing so despite old-guard obstruction. He

is highly unlikely to force the issue over Iraq, which

is a relative sideshow . . .


Tod McAvoy “

Several readers suggested that the politician most likely to face voter backlash over Iraq is John Howard of Australia, who has admitted as much himself.

Andreas Strasser writes of the implications of a Spanish withdrawal:

“there was in interesting article in DER SPIEGEL online about the role of the Spanish troops. that article suggested that the entire Polish sector in Iraq depends on Spanish logistics and would be inoperative without them. the Polish have also complained loudly about Zapatero’s announcements. it is said, they cannot afford to send more troops themselves and their population is now very critical about the whole iraq affair, mostly because all those goodies they had envisioned (huge contracts, lots of cash, etc.) to show up have failed to do so. oh, and they are also afraid of terroristic attacks and claim to have arrested three individuals from ‘high risk’ countries at their border. in other words, the article suggests that without Spain there would be no coalition of the willing anymore.”

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