In his address to the nation tonight, President Bush said, “To the international community: The success of a free Iraq matters to every civilized nation. We thank the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq and the many others who are helping that young democracy.” In the MSNBC post-debate analysis with Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews slammed Bush’s allegations that so many countries were fighting:
The fact we have 36 countries fighting on our side in Iraq must be news to the soldiers over there. I don’t know who these people are or how many divisions they have. All we read about in the papers are American GIs getting killed by IEDs and terrible accidents and all kinds of enemy action over there. … The idea we’re one of 36 countries fighting the war I think is ludicrous and why the President would throw that out there, I think it only opens him up to ridicule.
CNN reported in February that there are now fewer than 25 countries who still have a presence in Iraq, down from the 49 that made up the original “coalition of the willing.”
UPDATE: The AP reports that with 168,000 troops, the United States has “the overwhelming majority of troops” in Iraq. Albania, for example, has just “120 soldiers there and Bulgaria has 150 non-combat troops in Iraq.”