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Debunking Taranto Again

I feel as if I'm spending more and more of my time defending the eminently reasonable Thomas Friedman (Pulitzer-winning New York Times columnist) from the ever-nastier James Taranto (Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web Today editor).

Today, Taranto had this to say:

Alone in the Crowd
The New York Times' Thomas Friedman is feeling lonely:
We're riding into Baghdad pretty much alone. . . . Here we are, going to war, basically alone, in the face of opposition, not so much from "the Arab Street," but from "the World Street."
So we are "pretty much alone." As Reuters notes, quoting Colin Powell, it's just us and Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.

That's 30 countries, and Powell says there are 15 more that do not want to be identified publicly. The Heritage Foundation enumerates 16 countries that aren't on Powell's list but "have publicly offered either political or military support for the war": Bahrain, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Jordan, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Taiwan, Ukraine and United Arab Emirates. Well, it's a stretch to count Canada, Germany and especially France as allies (Reuters reports today that "Paris had to clarify remarks by its ambassador in Washington that gave the false impression that France would join the fight in Iraq if Baghdad used chemical or biological weapons"), and it's true that American troops will do most of the work (with a lot of help from the British and a significant contribution from the Australians) -- but even so, and contrary to Friedman, isn't it getting a bit crowded in here?

Taranto gives the lie to his own comment. It's easy to say "we support the Americans." (It should be noted that only 30 out of 190 countries around the world have issued such a public statement of support. I suppose this puts our poll numbers at 15.8 percent.) It's another thing entirely to say "we support the Americans and will put our troops in harm's way to do so." Only two other nations in the world have made such a commitment: the UK and Australia. In that light, Friedman's statement, "We're riding into Baghdad pretty much alone," seems completely reasonable.


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