- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2003

You don't have to be big or powerful to be a good ally of the United States. It is, of course, important for the United States to have allies like the British, who can pull their weight in military terms, but smaller allies can have an impact as well. You can be loyal, trustworthy and resourceful, outspoken in your support and generous with your limited resources.
The Danes are not known to toot their horn loudly, a more low-key approach being consistent with the national character. It is, nevertheless, the case that the Danish center-right government of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen can be proud of its reputation as one of the Bush administration's most dependable allies in Europe. Denmark is a small country that pulls far above its weight in international affairs. The reasons are both principled and pragmatic.
In the words of Danish Ambassador Ulrik Federspiel, "The smaller European countries as well as the Eastern and Central European countries know from history that their security is dependent on the United States. We cannot fight and protect ourselves against terror, if we are standing alone. As in the past, we need the U.S. So when the U.S. asks us for help, it is only natural that we try to do whatever we can."
It is, therefore, the intention of this column to do a bit of publicity for the Danish contribution, which is valued in the White House, but not widely known. Denmark is the country of my birth, where, after more than 20 years in the United States, I still have lots of family, friends and happy memories. It has been gratifying to watch the Danish government's determined support of the American effort in Iraq.
Soon after he took office in November of 2001, Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen visited Washington. He was very clear about the kind of ally he intended to be for the United States. "Our relationship with the United States is excellent. I cannot imagine a single issue where we differ," he stated over breakfast at the Danish Embassy. (This was at the height of the U.S.-EU dispute over American steel tariffs. Then again, the Danes are known to be Euroskeptics anyway.)
That staunch support has continued during the war with Iraq. It has not come without a cost, though. Public opinion has been greatly divided over the intervention in Iraq, and doubts about U.S. actions have been loudly expressed in the media. Anti-war demonstrations have crowded the streets of Copenhagen, and opponents have charged that Danish participation is against Danish law, in fact a war crime in itself.
Both the prime minister and the foreign minister experienced this opposition first hand when in early March, when they were attacked by protesters in the Danish parliament with buckets of red paint. (There was an unfortunate precedent for this: One of the protesters had previously been arrested for squirting tomato ketchup on a local mayor.)
While 50 countries worldwide registered their support for military action in Iraq, including 18 European nations, only four actually contributed militarily: Britain, Australia, Poland and Denmark. The Danish contribution consisted of one submarine, one corvette and a team of doctors and nurses as well as logistics personnel.
Today, Denmark is one of the few countries that have already promised to be part of the stabilization force in Iraq. The U.S. government is considering a stabilization force of as many as 300,000. So far, tentative agreements have come from Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands.
As the debate has moved on to reconstruction, bipartisan support has developed in the Danish parliament for Danish participation with or even without a U.N. mandate, as is being demanded by the Germans, French and Russians. The United States has asked the Danish government to staff a regional headquarters in southern Iraq, asking for a commitment of 700-800 soldiers.
On April 10, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller laid down the Danish government's position: The United Nations should coordinate the humanitarian assistance, and preferably legitimize the Iraqi interim government if agreement can be reached within the U.N. Security Council, a position close to that articulated by Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Denmark will contribute $50 million to Iraqi reconstruction and has so far agreed to a force of 380 Danish soldiers, nurses and civil-military personnel for the stabilization force. Danish companies are to have a share of the rebuilding contracts. And Denmark asks that the U.S. policy in the Middle East focus on a three-year peace process, the goal of which will be a Palestinian state combined with security for the state of Israel.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen at last week's EU summit in Athens set about the task of soliciting support from other European nations for the stabilization force; among those who have expressed interest are Poland and the Baltic states.
Some apparently haven't been asked. Interestingly, when French President Jacques Chirac was asked at the meeting what he thought of the stabilization force, he expressed surprise and ignorance of the plan, according to a report in the London Daily Telegraph
He could have asked the Danes. They were in the loop.


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