Friday, September 14, 2007

Six or Seven Nato countries The Pleiades revisted

I think I may have solved a mystery. Spencer Ackerman wrote

Seriously, the State Department report (pdf, page 31) lists the 25, and then ticks the number up to 33 by adding the U.S., Fiji, and "seven Nato countries" that aren't -- aren't -- a part of Multinational Forces-Iraq: Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey and Slovenia. Yes, you read that right: State says seven but only lists six.

This reminds me of a constellation the Pleiades or seven sisters which consists of 6 visible stars.

What gives ?

Now Josh Marshall knows more, but doesn't connect the non dots.

One way the president comes up with this number is to rope in something called the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-1).

As Spencer Ackerman notes here, most of the countries involved in this initiative have agreed to let Iraqis come to their countries for training, not the other way around. So for instance, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report, Spain "plans to train groups of 25 Iraqis in mine clearance at a center outside Madrid."

And who has boots on the ground in country? One example from the president's list of 36 is Iceland which has sent a single public information officer to serve as in the NATO mission in Baghdad. More robustly, Italy has 8 officers on the NTM-I mission in Baghdad, Portugal is considering sending "up to 10."

I think the 7th sister is Spain. Note they are in NTM-I with exactly zero personel in Iraq. I think someone at State decided to include NTM-I as part of the expanded coalition of the willing related program activities, then discovered that saying Spain had troops in Iraq was misleading and technically false.

They didn't work on it enough, since the claim that Iceland has troops in Iraq is also false. Another day and they would have came up with the correct wording as Marshall did"boots on the ground" which is fine so long as the bold Icelander, son of the Vikings, isn't currently hopping around after stubbing his toe.

update: I was wrong wrong wrong. The 7th NATO country is Hungary (the land of my paternal ancestors).

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