U.S. May Be Forced to Go Back to U.N. for Iraq Mandate

  1. The following is an article for the 7/19/2003 New York Times.

    Honestly? This article took me by surprise which is why I'm posting it here. I thought that this current administration was way beyond asking the United Nations for help in keeping the peace in Iraq. Looks like that may not be the case.

    I hope that we do ask the U. N. to help rebuild Iraq.

    I just hope this administration didn't burn too many bridges. . . _________________________

    U.S. May Be Forced to Go Back to U.N. for Iraq Mandate


    WASHINGTON, July 18-The Bush administration, which spurned the United Nations in its drive to depose Saddam Hussein in Iraq, is finding itself forced back into the arms of the international body because other nations are refusing to contribute peacekeeping troops or reconstruction money without United Nations approval.

    With the costs of stabilizing Iraq hovering at $4 billion a month and with American troops being killed at a steady rate, administration officials acknowledge that they are rethinking their strategy and may seek a United Nations resolution for help that would placate other nations, like India, France and Germany.

    Administration officials contend that they are being practical, but within their ranks are policy makers sharply critical of the United Nations and those who would consider it humiliating to seek its mantle after risking American lives in the invasion that ousted Mr. Hussein.

    The administration's quandary deepened today, when Russia announced that it would consider sending peacekeeping troops but only with a United Nations mandate that set out a specific mission and timetable.

    President Bush's meeting this week with Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, was part of a flurry of consultations in recent days between administration and United Nations officials. Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, reached out to diplomats on the Security Council, and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell emerged from a meeting with the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, saying he was discussing ways to expand international support for the Iraq occupation, including seeking a new United Nations resolution.

    Mr. Powell said Security Council Resolution 1483, which was approved in May and calls on all members to assist in Iraq's reconstruction, should be enough "cover" for countries to claim an endorsement from the United Nations. But he acknowledged that the nations that matter most are not buying that.

    "There are some nations who have expressed the desire for more of a mandate from the United Nations, and I am in conversations with some ministers about this, as well as with the secretary general of the United Nations," Mr. Powell said.

    The discussions reflect a growing sense that the reconstruction of Iraq will require a new international alliance. For all their rapid success in the military phase, the American-led forces are struggling to establish stability and normalcy in Iraq. A Pentagon advisory panel that just returned from Iraq reported a pressing need for international assistance.

    Even supporters of the administration's policy say its efforts are in jeopardy, and minute military planning gave way to disarray once the major combat ended.

    "It's increasingly clear there was really some underestimation of the number of people who would be required after the regime fell, and the length of time required to stay there," said Paul Saunders, director of the Nixon Center, a nonpartisan research organization whose honorary chairman is Henry A. Kissinger.

    Mr. Saunders said there were two reasons for the United States to go back to the United Nations.

    "It would be helpful to diffuse responsibility for this massive undertaking, and share any dissatisfaction with others and not be the sole target ourselves," he said. "Externally, it's also helpful in rebuilding some of the relationships that were strained in the dispute over going in."

    Several nations have chafed at the idea of submitting their troops to American-British control. Others, which clashed with the United States and withheld support for a resolution authorizing war, want to tweak Washington for disregarding them.

    India dealt the administration a sharp blow this week, refusing to send peacekeeping troops unless they operated under the auspices of the United Nations. The administration, which had lobbied New Delhi strenuously, had been hoping for a full division of 17,000 peacekeepers, which would have made India the second largest military presence in Iraq after the United States.

    The administration had been particularly eager to enlist the Indians, because their presence is widely seen as a bellwether for numerous other developing countries.

    In Moscow, Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov said that Russia would consider sending troops but that a new United Nations resolution was "the most likely way of securing the participation of a large number of countries."

    One diplomat on the United Nations Security Council said virtually no additional nations-with the exception of some in pro-American Eastern Europe-were willing to place their troops under American or British control in Iraq. "It would create a lot of problems for them," said the diplomat, who has been courted by White House officials.

    Currently, 19 nations have a troop presence in Iraq, and Pentagon officials say 19 more have promised to send forces. About 13,000 non-American troops are now in the country, most of them British, compared with about 147,000 Americans.

    Some military experts say the United States should move quickly to reduce the overwhelmingly American cast to the occupation. More foreign peacekeepers could relieve American troops who are already taxed by combat and extended stays, and now must contend with tedious chores, like protecting buildings. Peacekeepers from other countries also might lessen Iraqi resentment toward the Americans.

    "Iraqis are extremely sensitive about being occupied," said Robert C. Orr, the Washington director of the Council on Foreign Relations, who took part in the Pentagon's advisory panel. "It just doesn't feel the same if an Indian or Pakistani soldier is on the corner than if it's an American in Kevlar."

    Administration officials have been reluctant to return to the United Nations on Iraq matters since the nasty breakdown of talks in the Security Council over whether to authorize war. The standoff was particularly damaging to relations with France and Germany, which sought to give United Nations inspectors more time to seek prohibited Iraqi weapons.

    Before the American-led attack, United States officials and lawmakers chided their longtime allies, and the House of Representatives banned the term "French fries" from the cafeteria. Mr. Bush warned that the United Nations risked fading "into history as an ineffective, irrelevant debating society."

    Apart from the bad blood, administration officials worry that United Nations participation might force them to cede operational control over Iraq, even as the United States continues to pay most of the cost.

    Polls show that the French and the Germans are not convinced that the war was necessary. But they are eager to normalize relations with Washington, European officials say.

    "We are certainly not pleased to see the Americans having problems, because winning the peace is in the interest of everyone," said Jean-Marc de la Sablière, France's United Nations ambassador.

    The administration would particularly like help in covering reconstruction costs. It has set up a donors' conference for October but risks falling far short without a diplomatic breakthrough.

    Mr. Fischer, the German foreign minister, and Christopher Patten, the European Union's commissioner for external affairs, discussed the possibility of financial support in meetings with Mr. Powell this week.

    The catch to Europe's offer is that donations must be administered by an international organization, the United Nations Development Program or the World Bank.

    At the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador, said it was unclear whether a new resolution might be offered to placate potential peacekeeping contributors. "It's a question of what potential contributors want, whether the Security Council could give them what they wanted and whether the authority on the ground could give them what they wanted," he said.

    A senior Indian diplomat in New York said today that some United Nations diplomats were arguing that the current resolution acknowledging the allies' control could be amended to meet the concerns expressed in New Delhi, Moscow and Paris. Others, he said, think a new resolution is required.

    Unless such a resolution could ensure that Indian troops were seen to be serving the needs of the Iraqi people-not those of the American and British occupiers-the diplomat said it would be difficult to get popular support for a decision to send troops.

    In private discussions, Ms. Rice has told diplomats that greater involvement by the United Nations may be on the horizon. Mr. Powell and his deputy, Richard L. Armitage, are said to favor a United Nations role, while Vice President Dick Cheney and his aides have argued against it.

    Richard A. Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said today that the administration was looking forward to a Security Council briefing next week by the United Nations representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and members of the new Iraqi Governing Council, to advance the discussions.

    Joseph S. Nye Jr., dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, said it would be philosophically hard for some administration officials to return to the United Nations.

    "They'll disguise it; they'll find ways to excuse it," Mr. Nye said. "For some of them-in particular those who celebrated that we didn't use the U.N.-it will be painful."
  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   fergus51
    They said it best in the article: We underestimated what it would take to rebuild the nation and now want help, or someone else to share the blame if it goes badly. I hope other nations do help, instead of taking the "nyaahh nyaahh told you so" position.
  4. by   roxannekkb
    Well other nations are not just taking the "nyaahh nyaahh told you so" position. The US humiliated the United Nations by ignoring the security council and virtually all of the nations on the planet. Bush made comments indicating that the UN is no longer relevant, and not needed, and that he can do whatever he wants in this world and doesn't need anyone's permission. He tried to force his will on many other countries, and he and his cohorts childishly called other countries names--like "Old Europe."

    And now he expects the world to pick up the tab for his war? And to risk the lives of their solidiers? And of course, to do it all under U.S. control.

    That's why they want a UN mandate. The mandate would set a specific criteria as to what is supposed to be done, and a timetable for doing it--and for getting out of Iraq. Most nations feel more comfortable with that.

    Right now it is just a mess. We have no post-war plan, except to get our hands on the oil. Kofi Annan has stated that control of Iraq needs to be turned over to the Iraqis as soon as possible.

    Needless to say, oilman Cheney is very opposed to going back to the UN, as are most of his Hawks. That would certainly shatter his dreams for Harken energy.
  5. by   fergus51
    Roxanne, believe me I know Bush has made the world angry. I don't know many of his fans here in Canada (including myself).

    That said: It would be incredibly petty and shortsighted for other countries to not help Iraq rebuild. Sure not helping would stick it to big bad Bush, but it would also leave the MILLIONS of innocent people in that country in a very bad situation. If the UN wants to be relevant, it ain't gonna get that way by not getting involved here. I certainly agree the troops sent in by other countries have no business being under US control (just as the US seldom wants to put its soldiers under foreign control).

    I agree that Bush and some of his cabinet members have been somewhat insulting at times. I just don't think that means the rest of the world needs to get them back and screw Iraq in the process.
  6. by   passing thru
    Our government didn't underestimate the rebuilding .

    EVERY European country, including Britain, warned our government that we did not have "an adequate plan for post-war rebuilding."

    It was gung ho!
    Full Steam Ahead !

    1.) to seek revenge and retribution for daddy.


    2.) to confiscate the oil fields while we are at it !
  7. by   passing thru
    Does anyone realize how PERSONALLY humiliating it was

    to George Bush Sr. , AFTER he bombed the crap out of Iraq in

    '92 , THEN........................................,




    richest oil country in the world.


    They HAD to pay !!


    Last edit by passing thru on Jul 19, '03
  8. by   roxannekkb
    That said: It would be incredibly petty and shortsighted for other countries to not help Iraq rebuild
    They're not being petty and shortsighted. As I said, they are willing to help but want to do it under a UN mandate. And with controls in place, like a set plan and set timeable. Otherwise, they will be sucked into a quagmire, just like we are, and spending a fortune of money without any real benefit.

    There needs to be a real plan, which is what I believe is troubling other nations. And there isn't one. Other nations are not just being spiteful. They want to see a plan for the installation of an Iraqi government that meets their needs and not the needs of the U.S., a timetable for withdrawal and for rebuilding, and understand that the US is not going to stick around in Iraq and put itself in charge of the oil, or try to install a puppet government there.

    Plus, you also have to realize that this war was extremely unpopular around the world, and governments realize the resistance they face from their populations if they get involved with this. That's why it is important to make this a united effort, not a US-in-control one, and they feel that their people will be more willing to help if it is under the auspices of the UN. A shared effort.

    So it is not just a simple thing, to send troops because Bush beckons, or even because you feel sorry for the Iraqis. Even the nations who were part of the "coalition of the willing" for the most part, did not have the support of their people. It is a complex situation, and the U.S. has to do its share if it wants an international effort. And right now, I don't see that happening, except for Bush trying to command and pressure countries--such as India--to send troops.

    Also, nearly everyone else was shut out of those nice fat contracts to rebuild Iraq. No open bidding, contracts were just awarded to companies with ties to the White House and Cheney.

    Personally, I think the best thing that could happen is if the Arab and other Muslim nations take charge, and give over as much of the reconstruction as possible to companies based in Muslim countries. I think that would go a long way in showing good will and stablizing Iraq. And rebuilding it and getting life back to normal. But I highly doubt that is going to happen, and from what I read recently, Cheney is adamantly opposed to involving the UN.
  9. by   Mkue
    No open bidding, contracts were just awarded to companies with ties to the White House and Cheney.
    If the Dems ever get back in office they will do the same.. it's politics and nit picky.
  10. by   fergus51
    Believe me, I know it's an unpopular war. Most Canadians supported our government's position not to support the US invasion and there were HUGE protests here. All I am saying is if and when Bush asks for UN help, I hope member nations decide to give it, because a lot of what I have been hearing in the media smacks of "nyaah nyaah told you so" whenever there is discussion of the US in Iraq. I agree completely that the US has to do its fir share in rebuilding this country and the business contracts will have to be divided among the other countries willing to help. But right now, it's pretty much just the US, and I don't think that's in anyone's best interest.
    Last edit by fergus51 on Jul 19, '03
  11. by   roxannekkb
    I did forget to also mention another important factor--that many nations already have troops tied up in other parts of the world. Germany has peacekeeping troops in Afganistan and the Balkans, France has troops in the Balkans and a large force in Africa, and so on. Our military expenditure is larger, basically, than that of the entire world combined. Other nations just don't have a gigantic military budget, and can't spread themselves too thin.

    An interesting note is that the UK has withdrawn about 2/3 of its forces. They had 45,000 soldiers, now its down to about 11,000. The were the second primary "attacker" so to speak, but now have minimized their presence considerably.

    A final thought--and this was voiced by relatives in Germany and Argentina, and a friend in Japan. And I've also seen it hinted about in the press...one of the reasons that countries may be hesitant about helping is that they want to keep the U.S. bogged down in the Iraq. If we are tied up in Iraq, then it would be near impossible to attack another country.

    Other nations are truly afraid of the US, even our allies. We keep talking about North Korea, Iran, Syria. Some of the hawks have said straight out we should go for "regime change" in Iran. This is scary stuff. But if our army and money is tied up in Iraq, then there's a much lesser chance that we will go after anyone else. Plus, we've also got about 9,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, and some in the Balkans.

    I don't think anyone wants to see Iraqis suffer anymore than they already have. But some may be looking towards keeping another war from happening, and making the Middle East even more unstable than it already is.
  12. by   passing thru
    aLL THOSE OTHER COUNTRIES THAT do not have our huge, largest in the world military budget,

    also, have all their citizens covered with affordable health insurance.

    None of their citizens are deciding tonite whether to buy food or buy their prescribed medicine.
  13. by   roxannekkb
    None of their citizens are deciding tonite whether to buy food or buy their prescribed medicine.

    Bombs or baby food? M-16s or medicine? Which is more important?

    Let's ask our president!
  14. by   fergus51
    I get that completely Roxanne. In fact Canada would be unable to send many troops to Iraq as we are taking over in Afghanistan with 2 1800 men batllions going for 6 month rotations each. I don't really understand why the UK presence has been so scaled back though, considering their role in the attack.