twisting and cheque book diplomacy over Iraq
NEW YORK-- As the American death toll keeps rising
in Iraq, the only viable exit strategy for the United States is
the arrival of a multinational peacekeeping force -- under a United
But US Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his neo-conservative right wing hawks,
who are contemptuous of the world body, are clearly opposed to a
proposed new Security Council resolution creating such a force.
The Bush administration
has failed to articulate a common position because it is split right
down the middle over the proposal. Any UN force would mean the US
would have to abdicate some of its military and administrative authority
to the very world body which it openly defied in the run-up to the
from the Pentagon is clear: it just does not want to lose face.
And as one critic asked: "How many lives is Defence Secretary
Donald Rumsefeld's face worth?"
Since the war
on Iraq began March 19, about 246 US soldiers have died 165
from hostile actions and 81 from accidents. The rising death toll
looms as a political liability for President Bush who faces re-election
Kofi Annan says the UN stands ready for the creation of its own
peacekeeping force and "internationalise" the Iraqi operation.
But there are no takers so far.
The UN is assuming
that the Iraqis would be more accommodating towards the world body
than towards the United States. But this could also be a false assumption.
The Iraqis may not want any foreign troops in their native soil.
for US troops in Iraq was best exemplified by a comment from an
American soldier in Baghdad, Higinio Nunez of Fresno, California,
who was quoted in the New York Times as saying: "All we want
is for people to see that we are here to protect them, but the Iraqis
call us Ali Babas" -- a derogatory term dismissing US soldiers
as common thieves who have stolen their country and their sovereignty.
The Bush administration's
foreign policy marked by the abandonment of multilateralism
is also characterised by aggressive arm-twisting and cheque
US proposal for a 30,000-strong multinational force in Iraq
with no UN involvement is struggling to get off the ground.
But in a desperate
attempt to raise troops for this force, the administration is offering
weapons and military aid.
have apparently been offered to at least three countries
India, Pakistan and Turkey whose troops Washington needs
to bolster the fledgling multinational force in Iraq and relieve
the pressure on US forces in the war-ravaged country. The Indian
government, which withdrew its offer of 17,000 troops under heavy
domestic political pressure in New Delhi, is being lobbied once
again with an offer of sophisticated military equipment.
The quid pro
quo, according to diplomatic sources, is approval of the proposed
sale of the state-of-the-art Arrow-2 missile defence system by Israel.
Since the $100-million system includes US components and funding,
Israel needs American approval to close the deal.
Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in New Delhi
last week trying to convince the government of Prime Minister Atal
Bihari Vajpayee to change its stance on troops for Iraq.
'Financial Times' said last week that the Bush administration has
also pledged to further relax the sale of dual-use, civilian-military
technology to India in return for troops.
India, Pakistan and several other nations have declined to provide
troops unless there is a new UN resolution authorising the proposed
multinational peacekeeping force in Iraq.
U.S. troops currently in Iraq are backed by 12,000 from Britain.
But among the key countries that have pledged troops for the new
multinational force are Spain, Poland, Japan and Ukraine.
is also expecting smaller units from Hungary, Romania, Latvia, Estonia,
Slovakia, Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Mongolia,
the Philippines and Nicaragua. It has logistical support from Italy,
Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and South Korea.
Post' reported last week that some of the countries were providing
troops only at a cost to US taxpayers. The Bush administration has
agreed to pay $240 million in support costs to the Polish contingent
of about 9,000 troops.
Indian contingent of 17,000 troops would have been the largest single
foreign force, exceeding the 12,000 troops from Britain, Washington's
coalition partner in the war against Iraq.
But the move
to provide Indian troops generated strong political and public opposition
in New Delhi. India's neighbour and foe Pakistan has been offered
$3 billion in US aid over the next five years, of which about $1.5
billion will be in military aid.
to the Ankara-based 'Hurriyet' newspaper, the United States has
been lobbying the Turkish government for about 10,000 troops for
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
that the administration was discussing troop deployments both by
Pakistan and Turkey.
The US would
agree to a UN resolution, he said, only if it did not curtail American
military authority in Iraq.