Background: Changing Course in Iraq
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JIM LEHRER: The U.S. Decision to go to the U.N. For help in Iraq. We start with some background from Spencer Michels.
SPENCER MICHELS: Amid continuing attacks against both Iraqis and Americans, the Bush administration today went public with an idea it’s floated for weeks: Giving the United Nations a more prominent role in Iraqi security and rebuilding. Secretary of State Colin Powell:
COLIN POWELL: Authorization of a multinational force, under unified command. The unified command, of course, is there already in the presence of the central command representatives who are in Iraq. And we would invite additional nations to participate in such multinational efforts.
SPENCER MICHELS: Though Washington has been sharply at odds with other prominent members of the Security Council over the Iraq War, today’s draft resolution would give U.N. authority to international peacekeepers in Iraq, modeled after stabilization forces now in the Balkans. Sir Emyr Jones Parry is the British ambassador to the U.N.
SIR EMYR JONES PARRY: It is intended– a number of people have addressed this in the last week– that we will have a multinational force, not blue-helmeted, but authorized by the Security Council, and which would operate within the unified command. It’s quite normal for such a force– for example, KFOR in Kosovo and SFOR in Bosnia, but there are reports to the Security Council.
SPENCER MICHELS: Powell said the proposal is part of a broader document that requests more international funding for postwar Iraq and that accelerates the hand-over of political power to the Iraqi governing council.
COLIN POWELL: The U.S. will remain the commander of the unified command, and there will be an element in the resolution that calls upon the United States, as the leader of the military coalition, to report on a regular basis to the United Nations, since it is a United Nations-authorized multinational force, if the resolution passes. Certainly the United States will continue to play a dominant role– a dominant political role through the work of Ambassador Bremer and his coalition colleagues, and a dominant role because of the size of the U.S. force presence that is there and the leadership we are providing to the effort.
SPENCER MICHELS: Americans now make up the vast majority of 170,000 foreign troops in Iraq, though the multinational command that took control today in central and southern Iraq is mostly Polish, Spanish, and British. The notion of Washington giving authority to the U.N. has come up at the Security Council in the past. In July, the French ambassador insisted the U.N. Play the central role in postwar Iraq.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE, U.N. Ambassador, France (Translated): It is only the United Nations, we believe, that has the legitimacy, impartiality, and expertise to ensure an effective restoration of the state. The United Nations can also help to ensure demobilization and reintegration of former soldiers.
SPENCER MICHELS: There’s also been a growing call from some Iraqis to take security into their own hands, particularly after Friday’s car bomb in Najaf took more than 100 lives. Yesterday the brother of Ayatollah Mohammed Bakir al-Hakim, who died in the bombing, demanded that the American occupiers, must leave. (Chanting) A similar message has come out of recent Iraqi protests in major cities like Baghdad and Basra.
SAEED TAKI AL-MOUSSAOUI, Sadr Brigade, Shiite Militia ( Translated ): We received an order and direction from the sacred local council to enforce control and peace because we saw that British and American troops are unable to enforce peace and security for the Iraqi people.
SPENCER MICHELS: Powell said he expects feedback on the U.S. draft by week’s end. The administration reportedly plans to submit the formal version to the U.N. before President Bush speaks there in three weeks.