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The “Broad” Coalition That Doesn’t Exist

One of the more questionable claims in Obama’s speech [1] last night was the claim that the U.S. was acting with a “broad coalition of partners.” Obama failed to identify who these “partners” are, which makes it more difficult to judge how many there are or whether these “partners” will be of any use. If the Libyan war is any guide to how this will work, the U.S. and a handful of other governments will do the bulk of the fighting, and others will be included on the official list to give an impression of substantial international support that doesn’t exist. The reference to the “broad coalition” seemed to be a matter of paying lip service to the idea that this is a multilateral effort rather than being the U.S.-led war that it mostly is.

Since Obama spoke last night, we have learned that the U.K. won’t [2] be engaging in airstrikes in Syria, and Turkey has reportedly refused [3] to allow the U.S. to use its bases to conduct its airstrikes against ISIS targets in either country. So one of the few major European allies that can contribute significantly to the air campaign is strictly limiting its involvement to part of the territory under ISIS’ control, and the main U.S. ally that borders on both Syria and Iraq won’t be cooperating at all. The lack of Turkish cooperation will presumably make the air campaign more difficult and therefore make it last even longer. The more striking thing about this is that the U.S. is going back to war in the region and still cannot count on support from its sole NATO ally in the region. That draws attention to one of this war’s basic flaws: the U.S. is taking the regional threat from ISIS more seriously and doing more to oppose it than many of the regional states that have far more to lose. The U.S. has allowed itself to be pulled into a new, open-ended war for the sake of “partners” that are contributing little or nothing to the war.

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9 Comments To "The “Broad” Coalition That Doesn’t Exist"

#1 Comment By Joshua Simeon Narins On September 11, 2014 @ 11:46 am

I also get the sense that the original coalition was a group of countries who were willing to gather around a table and talk about doing something, while none of them had signed off on any particular action, certainly not a military invasion.

#2 Comment By johnny On September 11, 2014 @ 11:52 am

Turkey is not even a fair whether ally. It’s a blatant taker. But for some unknown reason, probably McCain screaming about putting Turkey’s tourism economy at risk, the US continues to put up with this asymmetrical relationship.

Our “allies” as welfare queens:

US air defense unit takes up its post in Turkey

[4]

#3 Comment By scat On September 11, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

Sounds to me like we are once again collecting flags to put behind the podium. I notice a number of European countries. I wonder what nod-and-wink promises we have made to further NATO’s and EU’s push to the east.

#4 Comment By JJM On September 11, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

Turkey has reportedly refused to allow the U.S. to use its bases to conduct its airstrikes against ISIS targets in either country.

If true, this is outrageous. For years the US and other governments have looked the other way when Turkey has let foreign fighters cross its border, when they have let those fighters use Turkish territory for recovery and as a forward base, and as Turkey has unambiguously provided material support to groups associated with ISIS. That many of those governments chose to do this, even when they were feeling the brunt of the refugee crisis that Turkey was helping to exacerbate, was a tremendous task. Those NATO allies of Turkey who have given shelter to huge numbers of refugees (Greece, Italy, Spain) are going to have to do so for longer and for more refugees, all because Turkey doesn’t want to disturb domestic sectarian feelings.

If this turns out to be true, there’s needs to be a very public debate about what role such duplicitous “allies” are really playing, much like the debate that erupted about Pakistan after the bin Laden assassination.

#5 Comment By Blast Off! On September 11, 2014 @ 12:04 pm

“Obama failed to identify who these “partners” are, which makes it more difficult to judge how many there are or whether these “partners” will be of any use.”

Raytheon, AIPAC, Northrup, Xe Services, various “American think tanks” owned by foreign interests. Oh, and this just in: our NATO allies wish us well in all future endeavors! I understand that China is also warmly supportive, but of course unable to say anything on the record.

#6 Comment By Ron Beasley On September 11, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

@ Blast Off!
You nailed it – war is profitable!

#7 Comment By Loic On September 11, 2014 @ 1:43 pm

The U.K. won’t be ‘engaging’ because the country is literally falling apart (vide: Scotland) as a result of the enduringly toxic political fallout from what are now decades of Middle East ‘interventionism’. Such a prolongation of western imperialism is diametrical to the U.K population’s sense of civilizational progress or futurity (outside of an extremely self-circumscribed U.S.-oriented Anglo-elite), ergo a seeming majority is, in the case of Scotland, more than envisaging but actually turning towards a future outside ‘rUK’ — as empire redivivus is quite literally no future for them.

#8 Comment By mightypeon On September 11, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

One should add that 3,5 factions not in the “broad coalition” are actually doing something. Iran is directly kinetically active, Assads SAA is focusing on IS now and Russia is handing out fighter Jets to Iraq like Candy.
Those CAS craft are officially Iraqi army, but are propably flown by Russians.

Hezbollah for their part is trying to politically reduce the power of the pro IS factions in Lebanon, while kinetically reducing IS in Syria.

#9 Comment By Ottomania On September 12, 2014 @ 12:08 am

“If this turns out to be true, there’s needs to be a very public debate about what role such duplicitous “allies” are really playing”

The source is the Times of Israel, so the chances that it’s true are pretty low. Israel is resentful of Turkey’s special standing as the only treaty ally of the United States in the region, particularly after Israel turned out to be a worthless burden to us when real fighting got under way.

It’s more likely that the Turks are low-keying it because ISIS is holding 45 Turkish diplomats captured in Mosul. (ISIS explicitly says that it kills foreign hostages in retaliation for foreign air strikes and combat operations.)

One way or another, Turkey will play a crucial role, as it often has. Geography has given it no alternative.