2003-07-12 06:22:16 UTC
WASHINGTON, July 11 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - U.S. Senate
Thursday, July10 , unanimously approves measure seeking NATO and U.N.
support in Iraq, as U.S. Secretary of States Colin Powell admitted there was
no certainty how many foreign troops were going to Iraq to help U.S. and
British forces, in an indication that U.S. efforts to enlist international
assistance in pacifying the country may have hit a snag.
"I cant give you the exact number of nations or how many troops are going to
be committed," Powell said, appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" program
The statement starkly contrasted with recent upbeat assessments by top
Defense Department officials, who have insisted that foreign aid to
battle-weary American soldiers was well on the way, Agence France-Presse
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith told a think tank here
Monday, July7 , that more than 45 nations have made offers of military
support "for security and stability operations" in Iraq.
He said 18 countries currently have military capabilities on the ground in
the occupied nation, ranging from full combat divisions to field hospitals.
Britain and Poland have formally agreed to lead multinational divisions that
will help the United States establish security in Iraq, and according to
Feith, other countries are considering joining them.
"And still other countries have indicated their willingness to participate
in peacekeeping, in some cases by contributing units from their national
police forces, such as Italy's 'carabinieri,'" the defense under secretary
boasted in a speech before the Center for Strategic and International
Powell said he was sure that "a number of other nations" will be joining the
United States and Britain in Iraq, but would not confirm any of the figures.
And, he cautioned against illusions about the amount of help the
administration of President George W. Bush and its allies could count on.
"The guts of the work will still have to be done by the United States, Great
Britain and the original members of the coalition," conceded the secretary
The discordant notes came as the number of U.S. soldiers killed in hostile
action in Iraq since May1 , when Bush declared an end to major combat
operations, reached31 , and calls for foreign help in the U.S. Congress were
brought to a fever pitch.
Seeking NATO, U.N. Support in Iraq
Earlier Thursday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed an amendment to a
foreign aid bill containing an appeal to the White House to "formally and
expeditiously" consider requesting a NATO peacekeeping force for Iraq.
In a97 - 0vote, the senators said President George W. Bush "should consider
requesting formally and expeditiously that NATO raise a force for deployment
in post-war Iraq similar to what it has done in Afghanistan, Bosnia and
The amendment was authored by Senators Joe Biden of Delaware, Carl Levin of
Michigan, Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts --
all Democrats -- and came during deliberations to fund U.S. overseas
operations for the coming fiscal year.
Shortly after the vote, senior Democrats in the U.S. Senate held a press
conference denouncing U.S. policy in Iraq, calling on the U.S.
administration to end its quarrel with France and Germany and to ask foreign
reinforcements to back up U.S. troops currently in Iraq.
'Dead Flat Wrong'
The White House policy in Iraq is "just dead flat wrong," said Senator
Joseph Biden, top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The measure also called for U.N. troops and expertise in the operation.
Biden said it was time U.S. officials made up with Paris and Berlin -- prime
opponents of the U.S. led war in Iraq -- in order to demonstrate "a measure
"It's childish," Biden said, at a press briefing.
"There's a need to internationalize this and to bring in NATO in
particular," he said adding that he supports the addition of U.N. forces in
Iraq as well.
Getting extra forces in Iraq is in Washington's best interest, Biden said.
"We need more forces ... and we have to make it clear that we're not a force
of occupation," he said.
Internationalization is increasingly seen as a way of not only defraying the
mounting cost of U.S. military occupation of Iraq, but stemming the daily
attacks U.S. soldiers there have encountered.
But the Bush administration has so far allowed very limited foreign
involvement, while Democrats are pushing for a much more robust foreign
presence in Iraq.
Senator Carl Levin, top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said
it was "a mystery" why the Bush administration had not made a formal request
to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for a sizeable troop deployment in
Asking for NATO help is long overdue, Levin said.
"This is not weakness, it's wisdom," he said.
"It's important, it's critically important, that we reach out to the
international community, that we internationalize this effort," Levin said
in a television interview.
He expressed the hope that German soldiers with NATO insignia would not be
targeted in Iraq with the same ferocity as their American counterparts.
But a report published Thursday in the newspaper USA Today poured cold water
on expectations of quick foreign help, saying many nations were "balking" at
jumping into the Iraqi cauldron with both feet.
It said India, Pakistan and Portugal, which the Pentagon had hoped would
deliver between25 , 000and30 , 000soldiers, were now insisting that the
United Nations approve a U.N. mandate for the force first.
In the meantime, Portugal was ready to send just 120 paramilitary police
rather than regular soldiers, according to the report.
Asked to comment on the account, Powell issued no denial, saying instead,
"Well, we are working with a number of allies who have made commitments."
A number of countries approached by the United States have also expressed
reservations about their troops serving under U.S. command, according to
Iraq Problems Stack Up For Bush
Meanwhile, the near daily deaths of Americans soldiers, the lack of weapons
of mass destruction and the cost of the Iraq conflict are taking a toll on
the administration of President George W. Bush.
With problems mounting on the ground in Iraq after what once seemed a
clear-cut victory, and opposition Democrats back home slamming lack of
evidence on weapons of mass destruction, a poll also showed Thursday that
Americans' disenchantment with their government's war on Iraq is growing.
Less than half U.S. citizens now believe the United States is in control in
Iraq, according to a CBS News poll. And just over half think removing Saddam
Hussein from power was worth the cost.
Only 45 percent of those asked said they thought the U.S. was in command on
the ground, compared with 71 percent in April.
In early May, shortly after Saddam's ouster, 65 percent of Americans said
they thought the war was worth the cost. Today, the figure is54 percent.
Some 55 percent said they thought weapons of mass destruction (WDM) would
eventually be found in Iraq -- down from 44 percent last month.
And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday the cost of operations
in Iraq had soared to some3 . 9billion dollars a month, double April's
Opposition Democrats meanwhile stepped up criticism of the president and
calls for an inquiry into the intelligence used to justify the war.
"It's time for the president to step up and tell the truth, that the war is
continuing and so are the casualties," Senator John Kerry, a leading
contender for the Democratic nomination for next year's presidential
election, said Thursday.
Kerry said Bush should admit that there are not enough troops in Iraq.
"I'm now concerned that we have the world's best-trained soldiers serving as
policemen in what seems to be a shooting gallery," added Senator Edward
Kennedy, another Democrat.