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Wednesday, September 03, 2003

US Position on Iraq 'Not Sustainable'?

Juan informed comment Cole provides this link , and suggests that the numbers of US soldiers wounded in Iraq since the war officially ended is growing alarmingly, and may now be nearing the 1,200 mark. Meanwhile it seems that changes may be in the offing. May the voice of reason prevail.

President Bush agreed today to begin negotiations in the United Nations Security Council to authorize a multinational force for Iraq but insisted that the troops be placed under American command, according to senior administration officials.

Mr. Bush's decision came in a meeting this afternoon with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. While not unexpected, it was a tacit admission that the current American-dominated force is stretched too thin. It also amounts to one of the most significant changes in strategy since the end of major combat in Iraq. The White House acted just as a new Congressional study showed that the Army lacked the active-duty troops to keep the current occupation force in Iraq past March, without getting extra help from either other services and reserves or from other nations, or without spending tens of billions to vastly expand its size. One senior official said that Mr. Bush's national security team envisions withdrawing the majority of American forces now in Iraq within 18 months to two years, and "making this peacekeeping operation look like the kind that are familiar to us," in Kosovo, Bosnia and other places where the United Nations has taken the major role..............

The study, released today by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, was requested by Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, a critic of the Iraq war and the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, who was frustrated by the Bush administration's reluctance to discuss its personnel options in Iraq or the long-term cost of a sustained occupation force. The report said that if the Pentagon stuck to its plan of rotating active-duty Army troops out of Iraq after a year, it would be able to sustain a force of only 67,000 to 106,000 active duty and reserve Army and Marine forces. A larger force would put at risk the military's operations elsewhere around the globe, the study said. With Mr. Bush concerned about the ramifications of continued daily casualties in Iraq and the possibility that he may need forces elsewhere, perhaps including the Korean Peninsula if the nuclear crisis there worsens, the need to draw more international forces became "very clear in the past few weeks," a senior State Department official said today.
Source: New York Times

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