As the final month of the UN Mandate for Iraq begins, more and more nations are pulling their forces from the nation. The latest is Tonga, whose 55 soldiers are preparing to depart this week. When the month is over, the once 35-nation strong war effort will be down to only 6, mostly trivial commitments from nations still in the process of reducing their forces.
US Army Brigadier General Nicolas Matern sees the departures as a sign of “progress,” calling them a “benefit of Iraqi sovereignty.” He cited the improved security in the nation as at the center of the ability to “draw down” the international forces.
But while the number of nations committing to the international forces in Iraq may have fallen precipitously over the past few months, the overall number of troops is largely unchanged, as the United States has provided the vast majority of the forces and continues to do so. Despite loudly trumpeting the “progress” in Iraq, the US has approved only the most trivial of cuts in its own forces, which are still well above pre-surge levels and are expected to remain so at least well into 2009. The troops will remain long after the air of legitimacy provided by a UN mandate and dozens of co-occupiers fades.