Wednesday, September 03, 2003
The 'Internationalisation' of the Iraqi Conflict - 3rd September 2003, 22.12

The United States has found that its ability to construct 'coalitions of the willing' outside of the legitimating structure of the United Nations has been found wanting. This presents a real constraint on the United States' ability to act outside of the UN Security Council in military actions that demand a long-term commitment to reform and nation building following an invasion and occupation. Since the two cases involved are Iraq and Afghanistan, those who would crow over a perceived reversal of US power should view this as a particular, rather than a general, example.

The United States has tried to enforce security within Iraq using the same number of soldiers that prosecuted the war. Yet, it is clear in debate and action that the US military is seriously overstretched. Powell and Bush have no compunction about 'internationalising' the Iraqi occupation under US command, if it reduces the number of US soldiers killed and allows a graceful withdrawal of some forces. However, if France holds out for complete UN control and threatens a veto, the Bush administration can then blame a former ally for jeopardising improvement in Iraqi security to its domestic audience.

Colin Powell will be introducing a UN resolution on this matter in the next few days. Of course, if US overstretch is so clear, one wonders how we are coping, although we are not having a debate on how few soldiers we have.


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