Allies Expected To Stay On ‘Sidelines’

Washington Times: Allies Expected To Stay On ‘Sidelines’

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz yesterday told a Senate committee that he doesn’t expect more allies to put troops on the ground in Iraq as long as fighting continues, even if the United Nations is given a greater role.

“[T]hey may say it’s the lack of this or the lack of that or this U.N. resolution. The fact is, this is not peacekeeping, it’s combat. And until it becomes peacekeeping, a lot of countries are probably going to still stay on the sidelines,” Mr. Wolfowitz said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said commanders already have identified U.S. military units that could be sent to Iraq to bolster security in the weeks before the June 30 switch from the U.S.-led coalition to the new Iraqi government.

“In the end, we’re going to have to do what we have to do,” he told the committee. “And we’ll have the authority to do it.”

Gen. Myers said militia loyal to Iraqi Shi’ite Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr and to former elements of Saddam Hussein’s regime in the Sunni-dominated areas of central Iraq are trying to “disrupt progress” toward a new Iraqi government.

Some areas of the country are “still very, very hot,” he added.

The hot areas are what Mr. Wolfowitz, the Pentagon’s No. 2 official, said will prevent more allies from joining the fight and had Secretary of State Colin L. Powell calling leaders of 13 countries to ensure that they honor troop commitments in Iraq.

Spain’s upcoming pullout of 1,300 soldiers and an announcement late Monday that Honduras also plans to withdraw its 370 troops were blows to President Bush’s portrayal of a solid international coalition trying to pacify a chaotic Iraq.

A further blow came last night, when the Dominican Republic announced that it would pull out its 302 troops in Iraq in the coming weeks.

The notion that there was going to be a large number of troops coming from outside the US-UK-Commonwealth coalition was always a chimera. While it was helpful from a political standpoint to have Spain, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic participate with troops on the ground, they’re not exactly what one would call world class powers. Indeed, aside from the US, UK, and Australia, there are very few first rate militaries available, let alone those of sufficient size to engage in power projection.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.