Cheney’s fuzzy coalition math

No, the Gulf War coalition was not “far stronger” than the Iraq War coalition, unless 800,000 is a far bigger number than 24,000.

Remember Dick Cheney’s bland denial that the Gulf War coalition was stronger than the coalition for the current war in Iraq?

No, you probably don’t, since neither Sen. Edwards nor anyone else bothered to call him on it at the time.

Well, here’s what he said:

You made the comment that the Gulf War coalition in ’91 was far stronger than this. No. We had 34 countries then; we’ve got 30 today. We’ve got troops beside us.

Fred Kaplan supplies the actual numbers, from official U.S. government sources:

Gulf war: 800,000 non-U.S. troops.

Iraq war: 24,000 non-U.S. troops.

So, according to the Vice President, a military force of 800,000 is not “far stronger” than a military force of 24,000.

And he got away with it. That’s the scary thing.

Update and correction: Kaplan updates and corrects: The actual number of non-US troops in Desert Storm was 270,000, not 800,000. Kaplan made a mistake, and I was wrong to cite him without checking.

Thus the Vice President was not, in fact, claiming that 24,000 = 800,000. He was claiming only that 24,000 = 270,000.

Whew. For a moment, I was worried that the Veep had told a bald-faced lie. But what’s a factor of 10 among friends?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: