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Analysis: Resolution is symbolic victory
( 2003-10-17 10:53) (Agencies)

The United States finally got what it wanted from the United Nations ! a second resolution on Iraq that shows unilateralist America can work well with others.

But the victory could end up as largely symbolic. Secretary of State Colin Powell  admitted Thursday he does not expect it to generate significant military help from other nations. At best, he said, the resolution might spur other countries to join in shouldering the estimated $55 billion needed for postwar reconstruction in Iraq.

"Don't see this resolution as opening the door to troops," Powell told reporters after the vote. He said there had been no change in the number of countries thinking of contributing forces. "Some of them said they needed the addition of a U.N. resolution to assist them in their internal deliberations," he said.

The resolution approved Thursday authorizes ! but does not provide ! a multinational military force under U.S. command and makes clear that the U.S.-led occupation will end once Iraqis can govern on their own. To get to this point, the Bush administration spent six months resisting the call to broaden the mission in Iraq. The United States also dished out and received a diplomatic bruising in pursuit of dollars and troops from allies.

Still, Washington has an uphill struggle in building the international partnership it needs in Iraq.

On the table now are just a few offers of help: a promise of troops from Turkey, whose presence is unwelcomed by many Iraqis, and reconstruction aid pledges of $439 million from Great Britain and $1.5 billion from Japan. Organizers of a donors' conference to be held in Spain next week have said they expect to get about $5 billion in contributions overall.

Russia and France ! which, along with Germany and Syria, gave last-minute assent to the resolution ! shot down the idea of immediate military or financial commitments. "We think that conditions today are not there for material or military aid," French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said.

There is fence-sitting outside Europe too.

South Korea and Bangladesh have yet to offer soldiers. India, which had expressed a desire for a stronger U.N. mandate, said it might not send troops to Iraq now because of violence by Islamic militants in Kashmir.

Pakistan, where public sentiment against the Iraq war runs high, said it was not inclined to provide forces unless they are invited by the Iraqi people and are part of a multinational force with its own separate identity.

Instead of signaling actual offers of help, then, the turnaround in positions ! especially that of the French ! reflected a strong desire in Europe to avoid the acrimonious finger-pointing that broke out this year over the U.S. push for war.

Carlos Yordan, a foreign policy professor at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., said the resolution was a symbolic victory for Europeans as well because it "forces the United States to explain itself" not only to its allies, but to China and Russia, too.

"They're still going to criticize the United States," Yordan said. "If this goes really well, the United States is going to win a lot of acclaim from the Iraqi people and the world. But if it goes wrong, we're going to be a target anyhow. They're not going to forget too quickly that we went to war without their consent."

At the same time, European opposition to the invasion was extremely popular domestically. With other political problems ! particularly the stagnant economies in both France and Germany ! their leaders may be unwilling to risk a backlash at home by putting their troops into a highly volatile situation.

De Villepin suggested it would take additional resolutions in the Security Council to win full French support. "This is a stage, a first step, one that we'd like to believe will be followed by others," he said in Belgium.

President Bush remained optimistic despite the hurdles, delighting in the unanimous vote. He had been convinced that there would only be nine votes for it. Bush indicated that the United States is now willing to operate more like a team player in putting Iraq back together.

"This resolution will help marshal even more international support for the development of a new, democratic Iraq," Bush said. "I look forward to continuing to work with the United Nations."

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