Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Coalition Cohesion

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Coalition Cohesion

Article excerpt

SINCE Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, the White House ace has been the international coalition. Building on his sense of a "new world order," President Bush was able to gain global support for repelling Saddam's aggression and a quick UN vote for sanctions.

Getting the UN to support use of military force was tougher, but the administration pulled it off, after a November flurry of diplomacy by Secretary of State Baker.

Initially, the coalition was described as "the world" against Saddam. Yet if the air war against the Iraqi military fails to dampen the Iraqis' will to fight, and other nations begin to pursue their own agendas, as a practical matter Americans may have to reassess the depth of support for the US-led effort. Some coalition members may find it expedient to support the US, the world's major superpower, today. But their long-term commitment isn't sure.

Some $35 billion in war costs has been promised the US by coalition members. But it is not clear how many other nations will fight with the US on the ground.

A quick US-led victory would end speculation. One hopes and prays the war ends quickly.

However, short of a quick victory, the developing attitude of coalition nations - both their governments and populations - must be considered. Not all nations feel as strongly as US leaders that the war is "moral." Many won't care about what Mr. Bush terms "the hard work of freedom," nor will most rally around the US flag. Some countries may disagree with the "early war" option taken by the US. Others may see the US as diplomatically vulnerable. Still others may try to exploit anti-US or anti-Western sentiment, and thus attempt to cover over their own ugly track records.

- Consider the Soviet Union. Hard-line statements from the Kremlin two weeks ago caused shock waves in Washington. Soviet backing is necessary to the coalition, and Moscow knows it. …

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