Bush's Plan Unlikely to Relieve U.S. Troops
By Jefferson Morley
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, May 27, 2004; 8:30 AM
President Bush's latest plan for Iraq will not bring much military or political relief to overstretched U.S. occupation forces, according to the international online media.
The Jordan Times says the U.S.-British resolution submitted Monday to the United Nations Security Council, "appears to confirm the suspicion that the US is not about to let go of Iraq. Certainly not of its security or its oil reserves. Instead, the proposed resolution is seeking new camouflage to perpetuate the current occupation."
China and France have already offered counterproposals that would give Iraqis greater authority over the country's political future. And the widely shared view of the draft resolution endangers Washington's hopes of help.
It's not the first time the Bush administration has looked overseas for support. In the run-up to the war in early 2003, the United States approached India, Turkey, Bangladesh and other countries whose armed forces have peacekeeping experience about sending troops to Iraq. In most cases, these countries turned down the U.S. request citing the lack of U.N. approval for the invasion.
Now, a year later, the U.S. military has suffered more than 500 combat deaths, boosted its troop levels in Iraq from 115,000 to 138,000 and still needs more help. But pundits in the reluctant countries say their governments remain unlikely to sign up.
"U.S. silent on Indian concerns," says a report in the Times of India.
"To get countries like India on board, Washington floated the proposal two months ago of a force exclusively devoted to protecting UN activities in Iraq," the Times reports. "But the new draft says that this special force will only be a 'distinct entity' within the existing [Multinational Force] and will operate 'under its unified command'."
In other words, Indian soldiers would serve under U.S., not U.N. commanders. Apparently, that is unacceptable to the Indian government. "Indian troops have never served in an international peacekeeping mission not directly controlled by the United Nations," the story says.
In Turkey, the country's foreign minister responded to Bush's speech Monday at the Army War College by saying the U.N. "should undertake a more effective role" in Iraq, according to the Turkish Daily News.
"During next month's NATO summit in Istanbul, certain circles are expected to try to persuade the alliance to put together" a multinational force to serve in Iraq, writes columnist Cengiz Candar in a translation provided by Turkishpress.com. "However, due to France's firm opposition, the chances of this happening are slim."
A French regional newspaper, L'Indépendant du Midi, translated and summarized by the German broadcast network Deutsch Welle, suggested that Bush has not heeded warnings to change course.
The daily said Bush "has done quite the opposite by reaffirming his confidence in the two architects of the Iraq war: U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Only fools do not change, wrote the paper and concluded that at the moment it is Bush who is not changing."
Another Deutsche Welle survey of German newspapers found only one of five publications inclined to entertain Bush's proposals.
Die Welt, a centrist daily in Munich, said Bush's speech had "a measure of clarity that has been lacking in recent weeks." The editors urged Europeans to take Bush's proposal as a starting point for negotiations.
"Europeans should reflect on how they can help Iraq -- not because they want to come to the aid of the Americans, but because they wish to look after their own interests. The daily argued that an Iraq permanently engulfed in war and crises will sooner or later turn into a threat to Europe."
In Iraq, reservations about the draft U.N. resolution focused on two points: Who will command security forces and who will control oil revenues? Even members of Iraq's interim Governing Council -- appointed by the United States less than a year ago -- are objecting, according to news summaries in the Iraqi Press Monitor (IPM).
One-time U.S. ally Ahmed Chalabi said in al-Mutamar, a daily published by his Iraqi National Congress, that the U.N. resolution will fall short of providing sovereignty as Iraqi forces and national resources will be under the control of international officials, according to IPM.
In Asharq al-Awsat, a London-based Arab nationalist daily, the new president of the country's interim Governing Council, voiced similar criticisms. Ghazi Yawar, a civil engineer from northern Iraq who succeeded the assassinated Izzedin Salim, said that the new provisional government that comes into being on June 30 should have the right to ask foreign forces to leave the country and that the Iraq development fund should be handled by Iraqis.
The consensus view was expressed by the editors of the Pakistani daily, Dawn, when they wrote Wednesday that, "unless the resolution is modified to commit to the withdrawal of the occupation forces and to vest real powers in the UN itself, the world body should not endorse it."
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