Operation Iraqi Freedom

Philately has a way of reflecting the turmoil and upheaval of the world. It is probably the only hobby that affords us such a barometer of socio-economic and political changes.

It is still too early to assess the impact of the Gulf War on the philately and postal history of Iraq itself, but already the first stamps have appeared to celebrate the outcome of that conflict.

White House spokesmen have asserted that more than 50 countries formed part of, or actively supported, the Coalition to oust Saddam Hussein and destroy his weapons of mass destruction. Two of them were obviously Micronesia and Palau, small, remote Pacific island groups perhaps, but they have the distinction of rushing out the first stamps to ‘salute the heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom’. Two sheetlets of six from Micronesia and a sheetlet from Palau concentrate on the hardware in the Coalition armoury. All but one of them depict George W. Bush’s weapons of mass destruction, from the Stealth bomber to the Abrams tank. Odd man out is a stamp from Micronesia featuring a Challenger Mk II tank, representing Britain’s own not inconsiderable contribution to the campaign.

The Palau sheet and one of the two Micronesian sheets, however, have portraits of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in the margins. The other sheet from Micronesia portrays General Tommy Franks alongside Colin Powell, reprising his role from Gulf Wars I, not as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff but now as Secretary of State. Both sets, released on 14 May, were designed by Ron Rundo of New York and lithographed by BDT of Ireland, a fine example of the Coalition in postwar action.

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