Ukraine became the latest dropout when President Leonid Kuchma ordered his generals on Monday to start pulling his country’s roughly 1,600 troops out of Iraq. That was not a surprise because Ukraine has been heading for the door for some time. It’s the end of a cynical marriage of convenience. From the outset, there was an assumption that Kuchma joined the coalition largely to buy slack from Washington over his corrupt rule. Then the West-leaning Yushc-henko made pulling out of Iraq one of his election issues.

Ukraine’s withdrawal pun-ches a fatal hole in the much-ballyhooed multinational division that Poland volunteered to lead in Iraq. Spain was the first to drop out, and Ukraine had the second-largest contingent after Poland itself. Although most of these countries provided token forces of a few dozen or less, the US expended considerable political capital to beg or bully governments into joining the campaign. The US was keen to underscore the support of young democracies, which were supposed to be better capable of appreciating the blessings that Iraq was about to reap. But in Ukraine, neither old dictators nor new democrats ever really backed the Iraq war. It was all about weighing the potential benefits, and hoped it would all be over so-on. Now that this doesn’t look likely, the exodus is on. When you go for facade, facade is what you get. — The New York Times