Thursday, August 14, 2003

So, the White House has scrapped the idea of putting the Iraq occupation force under UN mandate, which means turning aside troops and cash India, France, Germany and others who had promised assistance, conditioned on a mandate -- and leaving overstretched and overstressed American forces in theater for longer.

American military officials say they fear that involving the United Nations, even indirectly, will hamper the latitude the United States must have in overseeing Iraqi security and pursuing anti-American guerrilla forces or terrorist actions.

They might insist, for example, that the occupation force respect the dignity of the local inhabitants, and not engage in massive sweeps on the basis of flimsy evidence -- tactics which even the American military now admits have fired the resistance that they're supposedly trying to control.

In the meantime, Dubya's crew has set up a meeting of potential donors to help meet the "staggering costs" of the occupation -- just money, not troops. But the same issues of control are likely to arise:

The Bush administration has been reluctant to give the United Nations more than minimal authority in the reconstruction of Iraq. Many administration members say that France, Germany, Russia and other countries demanding such a role are actually doing so to try to get more contracts and economic benefits for themselves.

They aren't supposed to try to get plum contracts for themselves in Iraq, on everything from cell phones to oil field management -- those are reserved for us. Don't they understand that?

Besides, it would be bad diplomacy, as the usual anonymous sources explain:

In effect, administration officials now say, such a resolution would be more trouble than it is worth. Soundings among members of the Security Council indicated that Russia, France and other countries might try for concessions favorable to them in the running of Iraq, and such demands would only deepen divisions between them and the United States.

"The last thing we need is a loss of momentum over the efforts to get things under control in Iraq," said a Western diplomat involved in these discussions. "Besides, the violence in Iraq is not as bad as everyone thinks it is."

The Times' editorial today, headlined "White House Fantasies on Iraq", is surely the work of librul alarmists.


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