Tvrdik's Offer: the coalition of the willing

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at attbi.com
Sat Jan 25 05:17:55 MST 2003


This week, Rumsfeld, in his own inimitable way, claimed that 'vast numbers'
of European countries were ready to support the U.S.-led war on Iraq.  How
many is that, would you say?  Six or seven hundred?  How many European
countries ARE there?  How could you possibly get up to "vast numbers" except
by counting each country ten or twenty times?  "Well, we have Galicia,
Swabia, Pomerania, Moravia, Wallachia ... and of course England, Scotland,
Wales, Ulster, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, and Cornwall!"

When it comes to troop commitments, though, the vastness of it all dwindles
down to, well, TWO so far, according to this article in today's Washington
Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40191-2003Jan24.html

'The Bush administration has asked 53 countries to join the United States in
a military campaign against Iraq, but so far the "coalition of the willing,"
in President Bush's phrase, consists of a handful of countries and even
fewer commitments of troops, officials and diplomats said yesterday. ...

'Britain, Australia and the Czech Republic have sent troops to the region,
while Kuwait and three other Persian Gulf states have either welcomed U.S.
forces or supported military action.'

So the vast numbers of European countries consist of the UK and the Czech
Republic, which I suppose could be inflated to a dozen if you list all their
constituent parts as I indicated above.  Bush has been listing Spain and
Italy as coalition partners, but this does not seem to be a "done deal" yet.
For example, 'Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi later said that only
the United Nations can decide whether there should be a military campaign
against Iraq. Responding to the opposition in parliament yesterday,
Berlusconi said, "Italy is not called to war."'  Certainly Berlusconi would
LIKE to go to war in the spirit of Mussolini, and maybe reclaim Albania,
Libya, and Somalia in the process, but then of course he starts thinking
about the million demonstrators in Pisa, and about Mussolini's sad end, and
then perhaps he becomes more cautious.

You might not have heard much about the Czech presence in the Gulf, but the
Post provides some interesting details:

'The Czech Republic also already has an anti-chemical unit deployed in
Kuwait. The Czech parliament agreed last week to let the unit stay in Kuwait
during any hostilities with Iraq, and Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik,
visiting the troops this week, declared that they could accompany invading
U.S. forces if needed.

'Yet, in an embarrassment for the Czech government, when Tvrdik made a
symbolic offer of sending anyone home who "did not feel ready" for a
possible U.S.-led war against Iraq, 27 of the 250-person unit signed up,
with seven being flown home immediately on Tvrdik's jet. '

You can just imagine Donald Rumsfeld's reaction when he heard about this
innovative action by his Czech counterpart.  Clearly the Czechs have a lot
to learn when it comes to managing imperialist troops!  Well, they're new at
it.  Unlike the Brits and Yanks, they don't have a whole tradition of
conquest (not on the conquering side anyway), and they have to recruit their
defense ministers somewhat haphazardly, I guess.  Here is a bio on Tvrdik:
http://www.vlada.cz/1250/eng/vlada/clenove/vlada27.eng.htm

Tvrdik is 35 years old, and received the equivalent of a B.A. in "army
economics" in 1990.  "In the year 1996, he was appointed Director of the
Chief Office of the CR Ministry of Defence Interior Administration and,
later in the year, Director of the CR Ministry of Defence Military
Balneological and Recreational Facilities. [Doesn't this mean that he
managed SWIMMING POOLS? - LPa]  By the year 2000, Mr. Tvrdík had attained
the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and been awarded a number of service
distinctions: UN Medal for Service in the UNPROFOR Peace Operation, the CR
Defence Minister´s Medal for Service Abroad, Honorary Memorial Badge For
Service to Peace, a CR Army Medal of the 3rd Degree, and a 50 Years of NATO
Honorary Memorial Badge."

So this guy is not exactly General Patton.  Or Powell.  Which is to his
credit.  In fact, I believe Tvrdik's innovation deserves more publicity than
it has gotten.  Why shouldn't the idea of the 'coalition of the willing' be
logically extended to the soldier on the ground?  Why shouldn't the US
troops and reservists be given THE SAME RIGHTS AS CZECHS?  Why should they
be forced to slaughter Iraqis, breathe depleted uranium, seize the oil
fields for Chevron, etc., if they don't believe in the cause?  What are
they, slaves?  (That was a rhetorical question, don't bother to reply.)  I
think the "New Europe" has a lot to teach us!!  Let's have Rumsfeld go over
there and make the same offer!  He had better go in a plane with a lot of
seats.

Lou Paulsen
Chicago









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