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Coalition of the willing

"Coalition of the willing" is a phrase which has been used since the 1980s to refer to groups of nations acting collectively and often militarily outside of United Nations auspices. Its most prominent use today is by the George W. Bush administration to refer to those nations whose governments supported the United States position in the Iraq disarmament crisis and later the March 2003 invasion of Iraq (see U.S.-led coalition against Iraq).

Origins of the phrase

The precise origins of the phrase are unknown, but it has been used since at least the late 1980s to refer to groups of nations acting collectively without regard to United Nations opinion. Specific uses of the phrase in the context of disarming Iraq began appearing in mid 2001.

The first American President known to have publicly mentioned acting with a "coalition of the willing" in place of a UN mandate was Bill Clinton. The phrase was later used by George W. Bush to refer both to actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, although usage primarily focused on the latter.

Criticism of the phrase

U.S. senator Robert Byrd, ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee[?], has referred to the coalition formed for the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the acronym COW, expressing his concern that the United States was being "milked" as a "cash cow".

Many of the nations in the "coalition" formed for the 2003 invasion of Iraq stand to receive substantial aid packages from the United States in return for their support. It is for this reason that some editorial cartoons and political commentators have mockingly referred to them as the "coalition of the billing."


External links and references

  • Bush: Join 'coalition of willing' (http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/europe/11/20/prague.bush.nato/) -- CNN online article
  • Coalition Members (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030327-10), White House list of 49 coalition countries
  • A Coalition of the Willing? (http://misnomer.dru.ca/2003/02/11/a_coalition_of_the_willing) Misnomer, February 11, 2003 - summary of public opinion on Iraq invasion

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