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Bush administration examining ways to change course in Iraq
Knight Ridder ^ | 08-28-03

Posted on 08/28/2003 6:03:56 PM PDT by Brian S

Bush administration examining ways to change course in Iraq

Knight Ridder Newspapers

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January 2003.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January 2003.

WASHINGTON - Alarmed by mounting casualties and staggering costs in Iraq, a growing number of top Bush administration officials have concluded that the current U.S. strategy is unsustainable and are looking for ways to increase United Nations involvement, American officials and foreign diplomats said.

The sharp course corrections under consideration, they said, include creating a multinational U.N. peacekeeping force with continued U.S. military command, giving the world body a larger role in rapidly transferring governance back to Iraqis, and seeking greater international financial contributions.

The proposals would mark a dramatic departure for President Bush and his top aides, who went to war in Iraq without explicit U.N. approval and have insisted on tight American control of virtually every aspect of the postwar occupation.

None of the proposals has been adopted yet. Officials in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney and some civilian officials who work for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld are resisting any broader international involvement in Iraq, which, in their view, would disrupt plans for an American-initiated remaking of the Middle East.

But senior uniformed military officers, along with Bush political director Karl Rove, are said to be aligning with State Department officials in arguing that the status quo in Iraq must be altered.

Bush himself is said to be uneasy about events in Iraq, but determined to see the mission through. American soldiers are being killed virtually every other day. The Pentagon's occupation costs are running at nearly $4 billion monthly.

"There's no way to pretend that the cost of this isn't rising, in human terms, in military terms and in economic terms," one senior official said. He and others spoke on condition of anonymity because the president has made no final decisions.

Within the administration "there's a deeper and wider debate than people might have expected (over) how to broaden the international engagement in Iraq," said a diplomat from a leading U.N. Security Council member.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage hinted at the U.S. willingness to share responsibility for the Iraq problem during an interview with regional newspapers earlier this week.

"There are several ideas that are being looked at," Armitage said, including "a multinational force under U.N. leadership," but with the U.N. commander an American general.

The idea, a senior official said, is for a command structure roughly similar to that in the 1950-53 Korean War, when the United Nations voted to assist South Korea in repelling North Korea's aggression. U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur led the multinational force.

Securing an agreement will take weeks of delicate negotiations between the United States and Britain on one hand and, on the other, permanent Security Council members such as France and Russia, who opposed the Iraq war and remain deeply suspicious of Washington's motives.

France, which has a Security Council veto and already has crossed swords with the United States over the Iraq war, has signaled that it will insist on more than cosmetic changes to the arrangement.

"A real change in approach is needed," Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Thursday. "The eventual arrangements cannot just be the enlargement or adjustment of the current occupation forces. We have to install a real international force under a mandate of the United Nations Security Council."

The issue is expected to come to a head in mid-September, when Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell meet world leaders at the annual U.N. General Assembly.

From Bush's perspective, ceding some control to the United Nations could help bring several key Muslim nations on board, including Pakistan and Turkey. Both have considered substantial troop contributions in Iraq but, largely for domestic political reasons, have insisted on a substantial U.N. role.

"There's no choice but to go through the U.N.," one U.S. official said. "The key is what the terms of a new U.N. mandate would be; how to give the Turks and others political cover without compromising our long-term objectives in Iraq and the region."

Talks are under way with potential troop contributors about what concessions they need, the foreign diplomat said.

"What sort of changes might bring those countries in fully?" the diplomat said. "They don't want to be part of an occupying power."

To secure more peacekeeping troops, the adjustments being discussed go beyond military issues to whether the United Nations should take over responsibility for putting a new Iraqi government in place. That role is now being played by the Pentagon-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority.

On the security front, former U.S. diplomat James Dobbins said, Bush has three options: Boost the U.S. presence, seek more international help through the United Nations or accelerate efforts to turn over security duty to the Iraqis.

Dobbins, who has experience in postwar Bosnia and Afghanistan, said he favored a combination of all three approaches.

He estimated that restoring stability in Iraq would take at least two years with a peacekeeping force of 300,000 to 500,000 troops. There are currently about 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, supplemented by about 22,000 from other countries.

"Security is an absolute prerequisite for progress in economic and political reform. Anything you do will ultimately be wasted or washed away if you don't have control of the security situation. It would be like sandcastles on a beach," said Dobbins, who's now at the policy research organization Rand Corp.

The impetus for considering changes in the Iraq occupation is in part political. Bush advisers, including Rove, are said to be concerned that the growing toll of dead and wounded American troops, coupled with any further terrorist attacks, could erode support for U.S. policy and the president's re-election.

A Gallup poll for USA Today and CNN this week found that while 63 percent of Americans said the war was worthwhile, 54 percent said the Bush administration didn't have a clear plan for postwar Iraq. The sentiment didn't appear to have damaged Bush's approval rating, which remained at 59 percent, unchanged for more than a month.

The poll, which interviewed 1,009 adults Monday and Tuesday, also found that Americans are divided over how many U.S. troops should be in Iraq: Thirty-six percent think the current deployment is adequate, 32 percent say some troops should be withdrawn, 15 percent say Bush should send more troops and 14 percent say all troops should come home. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., a leading member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the Bush administration's willingness to consider greater U.N. involvement.

"The work being done by the Bush administration and the U.N. to continue exploring ideas and options for getting the U.N. more fully and completely engaged in Iraq should be encouraged," Hagel said Thursday. "The United States need not carry the enormous burden of rebuilding Iraq alone."

---

(Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondents Ron Hutcheson and James Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.)


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: armitage; bush43; hagel; iraq; mediabias; rebuildingiraq; richardarmitage; rino; rove; staythecourse

1 posted on 08/28/2003 6:03:56 PM PDT by Brian S

To: Brian S
Replace the mosques with churches? Just an idea...
2 posted on 08/28/2003 6:07:27 PM PDT by SpaceBar

To: Brian S
I've been hoping to see more progress on and a more public role for an Iraqi government.
3 posted on 08/28/2003 6:10:48 PM PDT by Scenic Sounds

To: Brian S
Not another U.N. Police action failure.......

............pouring MORE MONEY DOWN ANOTHER U.N. SEWER.

Sad!!!

Evil 'is' still.....evil!

4 posted on 08/28/2003 6:13:24 PM PDT by maestro

To: Brian S
They've said this over and over. France wants a cut of "authority," the "reconstruction" money and guarantee of their contracts with Saddam.

It's BS. Rearm the Iraqi army. Insert a government. Pump the oil.

5 posted on 08/28/2003 6:13:59 PM PDT by Shermy

To: Brian S
The realization has dawned that we are going to get sucked in and mauled there. It's an eternal no win situation.
6 posted on 08/28/2003 6:24:09 PM PDT by RLK

Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: RLK
They chose the wrong Evil Axis country in which to start Regime Change, IMHO.
8 posted on 08/28/2003 6:55:12 PM PDT by AmericanInTokyo (Saddam Had No Taepodong-II nuke ICBMs capable of hitting the World's Largest & 2nd Largest Economies)

To: RLK
This is bullsh*t...Alarmed by mounting casualties and staggering costs in Iraq, a growing number of top Bush administration officials have concluded that the current U.S. strategy is unsustainable and are looking for ways to increase United Nations involvement, American officials and foreign diplomats said.

And this is bullsh*t...we are going to get sucked in and mauled there. It's an eternal no win situation.

Elements of the 101st and Delta force ambushed a bus load of syrian Fedayeen near Mosul today. I think 'mauled' applies but not in the sense you used it.

9 posted on 08/28/2003 7:04:50 PM PDT by tbpiper

To: RLK
we are doing just fine. you have to keep an eye on what our goals are now. we don't need to be policing the Sunni triangle, but we need a military presence in the country and in the region so we can fight the jihadis there, rather then in NYC and Washington. we need security for the oil. I frankly could care less about the Iraqi people, not that I wish them any ill, we should give them a shot at building a good nation for themselves, and the degree to which they succeed is up to them, not us. Its their achievement to make, not ours.
10 posted on 08/28/2003 7:13:37 PM PDT by oceanview

To: AmericanInTokyo
no, in fact, we chose the easiest one first. and it can be an effective base of operations for Syria and Iran, if needed.
11 posted on 08/28/2003 7:14:46 PM PDT by oceanview

To: seamole
If the UN is given control, then Bush should resign.

I agree. Our soldiers - nor the British or Spanish or other coalition military personnel who have died there - didn't die for the UN to take over Iraq and turn it into something like the Palestinian "refugee camp."

If Bush thinks enthusiasm is failing, he's got to get out and drum it up again. Bush and the Republicans should contrast their creative, agressive attitude with that of the loser Dems, who don't care if anybody is free and don't care if our democracy is safer.

They're all like Hillary whining that the EPA should have prevented people from going down to lower Manhattan to rescue people from the WTC or try to recover for honor and posterity what they could recover.

In other words, the Dems are whining cowards with no vision of the future.

Bush has a vision of the future, and he's just got to stay with it and hire better PR people to get it out to the rest of America. He's not reaching out enough.

12 posted on 08/28/2003 7:24:20 PM PDT by livius

Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: seamole
that will never happen. but there very well could be UN contingents of troops in some parts of the country. Do you really care if a bunch of UN troops guard museums, banks, and hospitals? I don't, especially if it means our troops are not sitting ducks at those locations. We should use our forces to protect the strategic interests of our country. If the UN wants to send people to guard hospitals, its no problem.
14 posted on 08/28/2003 7:28:19 PM PDT by oceanview

To: AmericanInTokyo
"They chose the wrong Evil Axis country in which to start Regime Change, IMHO"

While I'm not thrilled with the progress at this point, I think this choice was the best. With our presence already felt in Afghanistan and our current occupation of Iraq, Iran is in a pincer postion to feel the squeeze without committing US troops to the ground in Iran. Iran is already shakey, as is, bcause of the student rebellions...and our presence on Iran's borders only adds to the instability. Iran would probably be a tougher nut to crack becasue they are a Muslim theocracy...and a direct attack on one the Mid-East's original Islamic Republics would certainly be seen as the second coming of the Crusades. Not only that but Iran hasn't suffered from an ongoing embargo and inspectors and therefore, their potential weapons and resources may be much greater than Saddam's.

As far as N. Korea goes...heck, NK is an example of why Saddam had to be stopped, now. Once someone reaches that nuclear capability, the policy of preemption becomes more difficult. We not only have SK threatened, we have something like 30,000 US troops at risk. From my perspective, Iraq was the perfect target to start making changes in the Mid-East...not only for the pressure put upon Iran, but also because of the leverage we can use by accessing Iraq's oil reserves to shake-up Saudi and OPEC. And with Saudi wanting us out of their country, we are going to need a base of operations if we are going to advance the war on terrorism and change the ME.
15 posted on 08/28/2003 7:28:34 PM PDT by cwb

To: seamole
what a nut job.
16 posted on 08/28/2003 7:28:50 PM PDT by jern

Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: AmericanInTokyo
If there is a lesson to be learned from history, it is that trying to occupy a Mohammedan country by military bravado is like trying to occupy a beehive. The initial military triumph of entering in tanks was exhillaraing, but we are being stung every day with increasing frequency.
18 posted on 08/28/2003 7:43:39 PM PDT by RLK

To: seamole
our forces will never be under UN command. at some point, the situation in the non strategic areas of the country will become moot with regards to our goals. a few low or mid level Baathists isn't anything to get excited about, they can be contained.
19 posted on 08/28/2003 7:44:55 PM PDT by oceanview

To: oceanview
it has all the potentialities and mission creep of being an ineffective base
20 posted on 08/28/2003 7:47:19 PM PDT by AmericanInTokyo (Saddam Had No Taepodong-II nuke ICBMs capable of hitting the World's Largest & 2nd Largest Economies)

To: oceanview
it has all the potentialities and mission creep of being an ineffective base
21 posted on 08/28/2003 7:47:23 PM PDT by AmericanInTokyo (Saddam Had No Taepodong-II nuke ICBMs capable of hitting the World's Largest & 2nd Largest Economies)

To: AmericanInTokyo
with those vast desert areas, perfect for aviation complexes and easy to defend. and a port on the Persian Gulf. Its perfect.
22 posted on 08/28/2003 7:49:39 PM PDT by oceanview

Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: RLK
If there is a lesson to be learned from history, it is that trying to occupy a Mohammedan country by military bravado is like trying to occupy a beehive. The initial military triumph of entering in tanks was exhillaraing, but we are being stung every day with increasing frequency.

Iraq is a tribal country with centuries of history of fighting either themselves or others. Makes no difference who has occupying troops there, they are going to get their respective a**es kicked. I can't believe how incredibly stupid this administration was not to see this coming.

Richard W.

25 posted on 08/28/2003 8:06:59 PM PDT by arete (Greenspan is a ruling class elitist and closet socialist who is destroying the economy)

To: seamole
We really don't need their very costly help.

You're right. I think that the UN should just say no regardless of how much money GW tries to give them to bail his administration out.

Richard W.

26 posted on 08/28/2003 8:11:38 PM PDT by arete (Greenspan is a ruling class elitist and closet socialist who is destroying the economy)

To: Brian S
The War in Iraq was unjustified and is unwinnable. If we can sucker the UN into taking this tarbaby off our hands we should jump at the chance - regardless of the terms.
27 posted on 08/28/2003 8:29:04 PM PDT by caltrop

To: caltrop
where did that anthrax come from?
28 posted on 08/28/2003 8:34:53 PM PDT by oceanview

To: oceanview
I've no idea, but if you find out let the government know. They don't know either.
29 posted on 08/28/2003 8:49:30 PM PDT by caltrop

To: caltrop
oh, they know, don't worry. they know everything, which is why we took iraq.
30 posted on 08/28/2003 9:07:13 PM PDT by oceanview

To: Brian S
I suggest we stick with the coalition of the willing. Perhaps press our allies for additional assistance and a greater share of the responsibility. But if we call in the UN now,consider: The next time we need to take 'unilateral' military action (ie. sans UN approval), you will be able to hear them call 'But you will need us to finish the job!'

One of the biggest benefits of the Iraq invasion could be (should be) to render the UN irrelevant, as our Prez hinted.

31 posted on 08/28/2003 11:32:38 PM PDT by ARepublicanForAllReasons (Oh, that was what they had in mind all along?)

To: seamole
In particular, it will be necessary to rework the language of the old Constitution to recognize the ultimate sovereignty of the United Nations and its Charter, and various inconsistencies between the Constitution and UN treaties will need to be reworked.

Nah.

They're just planning to ignore the old Constitution. They have no need to change it.

32 posted on 08/29/2003 3:49:37 AM PDT by Jim Noble

To: arete
Makes no difference who has occupying troops there, they are going to get their respective a**es kicked. I can't believe how incredibly stupid this administration was not to see this coming.

----------------------

I can believe it. What we have is basically a dumb kid trying to play warrior president. Now he needs mommy U. N. to step in and rescue him.

33 posted on 08/29/2003 4:06:49 AM PDT by RLK

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