Wonder If The SC Will Get THIS One Undone?

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Annie, May 31, 2004.

  1. Annie

    Annie Diamond Member

    Nov 22, 2003
    Thanks Received:
    Trophy Points:



    Doubtful UN council weighs U.S. proposals
    Members want promises in writing

    By Cam Simpson
    Washington Bureau

    May 31, 2004

    WASHINGTON -- To most of its allies, Bush administration officials are saying all the right things as they promise to fully consult a new Iraqi government about the actions of a U.S.-led force of more than 150,000 troops.

    But the administration's refusal thus far to commit those promises to writing, along with others regarding the military mandate, has emerged as a key source of anxiety in the United Nations Security Council, where distrust of U.S. motives and actions in Iraq runs deep.

    The tensions will be on display this week as the UN debate centers on how much say Iraqis will have in military operations on their own soil, how long foreign troops will remain and whether they will leave if the Iraqis request a withdrawal.

    The scheduled hand-over of limited power in Iraq is 30 days away.

    Some experts and even some foreign diplomats suggest it might be counterproductive to seek a UN resolution detailing every possible military situation that could emerge in Iraq.

    But China, Russia, France and Germany--all important members of the Security Council--are not expected to back down from their quest for more clarity on military command issues, according to UN diplomats.

    Anthony Cordesman, a senior analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said there is no doubt there will be new rules of engagement for U.S.-led forces after June 30. Nor is there any doubt Iraqis will play a key role, he said.

    Whether those rules are written in a Security Council resolution isn't important, Cordesman said. What does matter is whether the Iraqis see their leaders exercising real power.

    "The Iraqi debate is much less likely to be concerned with formalities and more concerned with function," Cordesman said.

    War of `perceptions'

    He said the war in Iraq is now "much more a war of politics and perceptions" than one of engagements.

    An agreement on the chain of command, including procedures for screening major military operations through Iraqi officials, will be formalized, Cordesman added.

    "But it doesn't have to be done all at once and not everything has to go down on paper," he said.

    After a closed-door session of the Security Council on Thursday, John Negroponte, who is slated to be the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq on June 30, would not say whether Iraqis would be given explicit veto power over military operations.

    But he said the views of the new government in Iraq "are going to have to be taken fully into account and respected" by U.S. commanders.

    Negroponte also said there was no question the United States would operate only "with the consent and approval of the authorities in Iraq. There's absolutely no doubt about that."

    A Security Council resolution proposed by the U.S. and Britain refers only to recognizing the importance of "the consent of the sovereign government of Iraq for the presence of the multination force" after June 30.

    It also recognizes the need for "close coordination" between the multinational force and the post-June 30 Iraqi government. But, the proposed resolution says the U.S.-led command will have the power to take "all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability" in Iraq.

    U.S. wants side deals

    The U.S. wants to deal with the question of coordination and other sticky issues outside the Security Council resolution. Bush administration officials want to see the relationship defined in side letters between the U.S. and the interim Iraqi government.

    That government has not yet been named, further complicating the Security Council debate.

    One Security Council diplomat last week expressed his frustration over engaging in the debate in New York without any Iraqi officials there.

    "Many things depend on the Iraqi government themselves," the diplomat said. "The problem has been we can't ask them."

    Richard Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said Friday that the new Iraqi leadership "would want to send somebody to New York and get involved in these discussions to make sure it coincides with their views."

    In written ideas floated at the UN last week and broadly supported by several Security Council members, Chinese diplomats seemed to reject the idea of side letters. The Chinese suggested the resolution itself must formally establish a "mechanism of consultation between [the multinational force] and the Iraqi interim government," according to a copy.

    That mechanism should cover everything except self-defense for foreign forces, the Chinese suggested.

    France, like China, has veto power in the Security Council and also has expressed a strong desire to make sure the Iraqi government has the power to reject "offensive operations of the Fallujah type," according a draft of French talking points.

    Under great pressure, the U.S. withdrew from Fallujah after launching a major offensive on the Sunni stronghold. The operation was widely seen as a political disaster, one the French and others seem keen to avoid after June 30.

    Beyond the question of coordination, key Security Council members also want the resolution to identify a specific date the military mission will end, unless it's explicitly renewed by the UN with the full consent of the Iraqi government.

    The Chinese suggested the military mission expire automatically after Iraqi elections in January 2005.

    The goal of those elections is to replace the interim Iraqi government with a more representative transitional government that will adopt a constitution.

    France has suggested the military mandate extend for a maximum of one year, unless the Security Council renews it. But it also has suggested that the transitional Iraqi government elected in January 2005 formally hold the power to decide "at any moment" to "put an end to the presence" of the U.S.-led forces.

    Ready to dig in

    While U.S. officials say they will most certainly pull out if the Iraqis ask, they are expected to strongly object to a formal, written trigger.

    The fear, even among some who disagree with the U.S. in the Security Council, is that formally pinning the question of a U.S. troop presence on the government elected in January would unleash a single-issue political campaign in Iraq.

    "I don't think anyone wants the topic of the troop presence to dominate the campaign, with candidates saying, `Vote for me and I will kick them out,'" said one European diplomat involved in the process.

    Nonetheless, the diplomat said, "We always have this discussion of how long a mandate should be."

    This official, however, also was optimistic some agreement will be reached in the end. "There is no Plan B," the diplomat said.

    Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune
  2. Annie

    Annie Diamond Member

    Nov 22, 2003
    Thanks Received:
    Trophy Points:
    This seems likely to resonate with many here. I guess because it's what we've been trying to say:


    History tells us that most conflicts end in chaos
    By John Keegan
    (Filed: 01/06/2004)

    History is useful. That, at any rate, is the theme of Alan Bennett's new play, The History Boys. History gets you into a good university. History gets you a good job. History is a key to cracking the secret of life.

    Or is it? I have been a dedicated history boy for 50 years but these past few months I have begun to wonder if history is any use at all. Britain and the United States have got into a difficult situation in Iraq and the entire Western media are reacting as if an unprecedented disaster is about to overwhelm their armed forces and governments.

    A popular American President is, according to the media, threatened with defeat at the polls. An exceptionally successful British Prime Minister has suddenly become a liability to his party. The American army is not only painted with war crime but is apparently unable to mount an effective minor operation against a small Iraqi city. The British Army has only with difficulty extricated itself from other charges. The British and American media retail with evident satisfaction every scrap of information that implicates its service people in wrongdoing, casts doubt on their operational efficiency and undermines any expectation by readers and viewers of a successful outcome to the Iraqi involvement.

    The media's message is clear: Iraq is a mess that should never have been allowed to happen. Yet media people are precisely the sort who know perfectly well that wars usually end in a mess.

    Many of them, by training, are history boys or history girls. Moreover, they have been trained to perceive reasons why some wars end neatly and others do not.

    The Second World War, which has largely formed Western attitudes to war termination, ended neatly for simple reasons: both the Germans and Japanese had had the stuffing knocked out of them. Their cities had been burnt out or bombed flat, millions of their young men had been killed in battle, so had hundreds of thousands of their women and children by strategic bombing. The Japanese were actually starving, while the Germans looked to their Western occupiers both to feed them and to save them from the spectre of Soviet rule. Two highly disciplined and law-abiding populations meekly submitted to defeat.

    Because we in the Atlantic region remember 1945 as the year of victory over our deadliest enemies, we usually forget that the Second World War did not end neatly in other parts of the world. In Greece, the guerrilla war against the Germans became a civil war which lasted until 1949 and killed 150,000 people. Peace never really came to Japanese-occupied Asia. In China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Burma, the Second World War became several wars of national liberation, lasting years and killing hundreds of thousands. In Burma, the civil war persists.

    The aftermath of the First World War was worse. On Armistice night, Lloyd George, leaving the House of Commons with Winston Churchill, remarked: "The war of the giants is over. The war of the pygmies is about to begin." The pygmies, in civil wars in Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Baltic states, Finland and above all Russia, went on fighting for years, killing or starving to death millions. A full-blown war of conquest by Greece against Turkey ended in a Greek humiliation but also 300,000 deaths.

    And there was, of course, a war in Iraq, caused by Britain's attempt to enforce the mandate to rule granted by the League of Nations. Britain eventually prevailed, but at the cost of 6,000 Iraqi deaths and 500 in its own forces. British casualties in this war scarcely exceed 100. Then, as now, the occupiers complained that "every Iraqi has a rifle".

    History boys can explain easily - and convincingly - why some wars, as that against Germany in 1945, end in unopposed occupation of enemy territory and why others, as in Iraq in 1920 and 2004, do not. In the first case, the defeated nation has exhausted itself in the struggle and is dependent on the victor both for necessities and for protection against further disaster - social revolution or aggression by another enemy. In the second case, the war has not done much harm but has broken the power of the state and encouraged the dispossessed and the irresponsible to grab what they can before order is fully restored.

    What monopolises the headlines and prime time television at the moment is news from Iraq on the activity of small, localised minorities struggling to entrench themselves before full peace is imposed and an effective state structure is restored. The news is, in fact, very repetitive: disorder in Najaf and Fallujah, misbehaviour by a tiny handful of US Army reservists - not properly trained regular soldiers - in one prison. There is nothing from Iraq's other 8,000 towns and villages, nothing from Kurdistan, where complete peace prevails, very little from Basra, where British forces are on good terms with the residents.

    I have been recovering from major surgery for the past few weeks and so have overdosed myself on daytime television - Richard and Judy, Crucible snooker, I Want that House, A Place in Greece. Most of it is entirely forgettable. There is, however, an undeniable fascination in watching Jon Snow, of Channel 4 News, energise himself for his early evening denunciation of Anglo-American activity in Iraq. About 5.30 he comes on to rehearse his sense of outrage. At 7pm we get the full display of apoplexy and hysteria - raised voice, flushed face, physical trembles.

    I do not know whether Jon Snow is a history boy who has decided to suppress what he knows in favour of his commitment to drama studies. I do know that he, and the serried ranks of self-appointed strategic commentators who currently dominate the written and visual media's treatment of the Iraq story, have a duty to stop indulging their emotions and start remembering a bit of post-war history. Iraq 2004 is not Greece 1945, not Indochina 1946-54, not Algeria 1953-62 and certainly not "Vietnam".

    It is a regrettable but not wholly to be unexpected outcome of a campaign to overthrow a dangerous Third World dictator. If those who show themselves so eager to denounce the American President and the British Prime Minister feel strongly enough on the issue, please will they explain their reasons for wishing that Saddam Hussein should still be in power in Baghdad.

    Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright

Share This Page