Rule of thumb: If the peacekeepers leave, you'd be giving yourself another finger by staying.
This week, the UK announced that it would be slashing it's troop presence in Iraq in half in the next few months. Other countries, if they haven't already pulled out most troops, have followed suit. The only stalwart war-hawks are the Poles and the South Koreans, and maybe the Australians. We don't really hear about other country's forces in Iraq around here, but lets look at some numbers:
Beginning of the war: over 50,000 international troops
By mid-2008: less than 7,000
Obviously, this shows the growing opposition to the war in Europe and around the world. Our only allies are dwindling, and we are left with right wing governments and Bush allies (like Australia's John Howard), or basically, little countries that owe us (i.e. South Korea), and not to mention threatened to help out.
It shouldn't matter how strong you are - when your friends pull out, it's never a good omen. And let's not forget, these troops were largely a population of "peacekeeping forces," that stayed out of heavily combative zones, and served a more humanitarian role in Iraq. That doesn't mean they didn't face danger, but it was to a lesser extent than the American combat forces continue to face.
The most ballsy aspect of this steady withdrawal of coalition partners is the American response, on the management level. One former Pentagon official went so far as to say: “A British withdrawal and that of other countries really does not matter very much. They’re playing a very limited role.” Imagine that. Yes, the countries leaving are not in combat for the most part - but perhaps that was also part of their strength. American troops bring fire and brimstone, and if this was a parenting situation, we would be the "bad cops." I'm not saying we're "bad," our soldiers are good people - but they have to be tough, to enforce the rules and stay alive. But the international troops, as peacekeepers, were the good cops. Well, the good cop-bad cop approach is only effective when you have both bad and good cops. When you tip the scales so much, and are left with tough parents, the children get offensive, aggressive, and extremely non-cooperative. We've already witnessed this, and unfortunately it looks as though it's only going to get worse.
Words can't execute the utter ridiculousness of Pentagon and Administration officials claiming that the PEACEKEEPERS role and importance in a unsettled and harried country is completely void and superfluous. Yes, because these soldiers aren't going home in body bags, or with psychological trauma and livelong injuries, they must be completely useless. Perhaps if we concentrated on peace, instead of control, our outcomes would lead us to a quicker withdrawal as well. And this stance, one of petulant denial of our allie's helpfulness, and the refusal to acknowledge them with the thanks they deserve, will get us absolutely nowhere, except backwards.