ANYONE who follows the news has been aware for along time of immense criticism regarding Iraq. Tony Blair was constantly castigated as Bush’s ‘poodle’. Iraq has been designated as a monumental failure and the defining event of his premiership.

From the reporting you would think that the war was a wholly American disaster with just us, very stupidly, helping them out. Occasionally there is mention in the media of some other country losing soldiers but I wonder how many countries your readers could name?

When Spain pulled out because of the train bombs it was news to me that they were in there in the first place. I knew that France was having none of it but I had lost sight of the fact it is a UN operation. A brief search on the web reveals the following.

All these countries all had fighting troops in Iraq in August 2006: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, South Korea, Japan, Portugal, Singapore and the Ukraine.

The following countries sent fighting troops but withdrew them in 2004: Nicaragua, Spain, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, Tonga, and Portugal

Subsequently (2005 onwards) these countries pulled out their troops: The Netherlands, Hungary, Singapore, Norway, Ukraine, Japan, Italy, Slovakia.

Currently in the process of pulling out are South Korea, Poland, Denmark and the UK.

Some other countries have personnel in Iraq but no combat capable troops so are not included among the 34 countries counted as UN allies. Of course some countries contributed small numbers but their presence has significance, a fact generally overlooked by the British media.

The whole world was fooled by Saddam Hussein into believing he had weapons of mass destruction. The first troops, you may recall, went in with gas masks and hermetically sealed overalls. Yet we continually get people on the BBC blandly assuming we all believe the war was illegal, a crime perpetrated by Bush and Blair and nobody else. Never mind that the British Parliament as a whole voted for the action in the light of what was then known, or believed, at the time.

I wonder if all the other countries of the UN think of it as a solely American war? Do they all lampoon their leaders as poodles? Does their media create the impression they are the only ones involved besides the USA? Do they all assume their leaders are liars, misleading their governments and starting wars without any reason, other than a desire to be pally with the President of the USA?

Do their troops return home to apathy and disrespect because their press has given them a sense of vicarious guilt for what has been done in their name? These questions are not rhetorical. I do not know any of the answers but I am truly fed up of the British media promoting the idea that Tony Blair was almost solely responsible and, now he has gone, finding the cruel mass butchery of civilians by holy warriors of opposing sects to be of no more than passing interest.

Mark Mercer