how do you define 'coalition?'
President Bush may have famously declared that he doesn't rely on focus groups, but it seems that somebody's been paying attention to public opinion over at the White House: they studiously refer to the military force against Iraq as a "coalition" effort.
Apparently sensitive to criticism that the United States was acting largely on its own, Fleischer outlined in broad terms the contributions from other nations, saying there were 35 countries committed to what Bush had dubbed the "coalition of the willing." Most of those countries, however, are not providing direct military support for the Iraqi operation.
Their contributions include logistical and intelligence support, specialized chemical and biological response teams, overflight rights and humanitarian aid.
This reference is no doubt intended to assuage Americans who have considstently reported to pollsters that they don't favor the US acting without international support, not to mention invoking the spirit of the powerful--and genuine--coalition Bush the Elder assembled against Iraq the first time 'round. And it's a transparent attempt to mask the diplomatic blundering that the Bush administration engaged in on a truly mammoth scale prior that led, ultimately, to Bush's embarrasing failure to garner even a face-saving majority vote in the UNSC. And it leaves unanswered the question as to how much of this cooperation is bought, and how many billions it'll cost.
But it's also a glaring example of the continuing Administration mendacity on the subject of Iraq. While it's true that the United States is fighting alongside allies like Britain, most of those other names are on the list because of an awfully low bar to qualifiy as a member of the "coalition."
As Charles Dodgson points out, it mere overflight rights are enough to bring Turkey on board despite its previous rebuffs, that means France qualifies as well.
Update: The Road to Surfdom has more along these lines, including this juicy fact: In the first Persian Gulf War, the non-U.S. coalition forces equaled roughly 160,000, or 24 percent, of all forces. Somehow I doubt the proportion is quite the same this time...