In their June 20 op-ed piece, "The Allies Must Step Up," Ivo Daalder and Robert Kagan call on our NATO allies, in particular France and Germany, to live up to their "international responsibility" by sending troops to Iraq. This is "their end of the bargain" now that the Bush administration has "finally acquiesced to their requests" for a "significant U.N. role" and a "rapid turnover of sovereignty" to the Iraqis.

The Bush administration has not "acquiesced" to French and German requests; it has been forced by the unhappy turn of events to back away from its initial fantasy of a long-term, and essentially unilateral, U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Fifteen months ago the Bush administration demanded that our allies participate in this misadventure, and when much of the world, in particular France and Germany, declined, Washington insulted them. For France and Germany to become militarily involved now would be to help the Bush administration bail itself out from a disaster of its own making.

Were such a request to come next year from a Kerry administration and from whatever government emerges in Iraq in the course of 2005, it might be different coming from an administration committed to the older American tradition of responsible multilateralism.


Cambridge, Mass.


Ivo Daalder and Robert Kagan say, "Iraq will enjoy full sovereignty after June 30, not limited sovereignty."

Sovereignty, like pregnancy, is not a partial condition. And it is beyond me how anybody can claim sovereignty for a country that will continue to have 138,000 U.S. troops occupying it after June 30, along with thousands of other foreigners, military and civilian, over whom it has no authority.

The transitional Iraqi government will be led by members of the former U.S.-appointed Governing Council named at the behest of U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer -- "the dictator of Iraq," according to U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. The new government cannot force the foreigners to leave, cannot punish them for their actions, cannot make or change laws, cannot make critical decisions without U.S. support, and certainly cannot provide for its own security.

To call that sovereignty is to defile the English language.




Ivo Daalder and Robert Kagan insist that "The Allies Must Step Up" to help rebuild Iraq. But nowhere do they refer to the economic component of rebuilding.

Are France and Germany supposed to send troops into harm's way while American firms reap billions from the rebuilding effort? That factor cannot be ignored if the United States truly wants allies.