He forgot Poland!

The president feels the love in Mongolia.

Published November 22, 2005 1:24PM (EST)

From the "There's Got to Be a Pony in There Somewhere" Department, here's the Wall Street Journal on George W. Bush's rousing welcome in Mongolia yesterday:

"After a desultory appearance the day before in China, the travel-weary president appeared to enjoy himself on a quick stopover that he declared 'really special.' In the 'Coalition of the Willing' backing the Iraq war, Mongolia has come to stand out. Over the past two years, the coalition has lost 10 members while others such as Poland and Ukraine are preparing to withdraw troops. But Mongolia, which contributed about 130 soldiers, has maintained its number through five troop rotations, managing to avoid the sort of explosive local debate that has echoed through other foreign capitals. If that number sounds small, consider this: As a proportion of population, the infantry company and engineering platoon Mongolia sent from a population of 2.5 million people makes it the third-largest U.S. partner per capita.

"'The Mongolian Armed Forces are serving the cause of freedom,' Bush said, 'and U.S. forces are proud to serve beside such fearless warriors.'"

What Bush didn't say: Before arriving in Mongolia, the president grew so concerned that his hosts would honor him with a gift of a horse he couldn't take home on Air Force One and didn't want to care for from afar that the question of the gift "occupied not one but several meetings at the National Security Council." While one might question the NSC's scheduling priorities -- is it possible that a meeting or two on Iraq might have been helpful? -- there's no arguing with success: No horse was given.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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George W. Bush Iraq Iraq War Middle East War Room