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Bush will call on U.N. for help in Iraq
( 2003-09-21 14:42) (Agencies)

Unbowed by arguments with allies, U.S. President Bush will challenge the United Nations with a call to action for money and troops in Iraq and Afghanistan despite lingering differences and a reluctance by many countries to make major contributions.

Bush, addressing the General Assembly on Tuesday, will argue just as he did last year that the United Nations needs to meet its global responsibilities or risk being irrelevant.

With rising U.S. casualties and high costs already causing problems for Bush, American taxpayers could face a bill, if other countries refuse to help, that is even larger than the US$87 billion the White House has requested.

Bush will make the case that an institution such as the United Nations has to show it is "actually capable of acting, and really willing to act, and not just debating," said Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser.

But Bush should not expect U.N. members to bend easily, analysts said.

After a year of acrimony over Iraq and opposition to the U.S.-led war, the mood in the United Nations and among allies "is about as foul and bad as it's ever been," said Ivo Daalder, a Brookings Institution analyst and co-author of a book on Bush's foreign policy.

He said Bush's tone toward the rest of the world has been "we're right, and it is your duty and your responsibility to join us on our journey."

"If that's the attitude, he's going to get the door slammed in his face," Daalder said. "Because no one regards it to be their duty or responsibility to clean up the mess that many people think has been created by the way we have handled the postwar period."

Most nations are not eager to put money and troops into Iraq, especially if the United States is not willing to give them a bigger postwar role.

"He's walking into some resistance there, if we're talking about Iraq getting help," said Richard Murphy, assistant secretary of state for the Near East during the Reagan administration. "He's got a selling job to do. It's not going to be an easy one."

It is act two of a debate for Bush at the United Nations.

He lost the first round early this year when France, Germany and Russia forced the United States to abandon hopes of winning U.N. authorization to remove Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq. The episode caused an unprecedented split in the Atlantic Alliance and brought distrust and bitterness that still lingers.

Bush will not soften his tone in the General Assembly speech, officials say. "He's not been willing to take half a loaf," said a senior administration official.

"He does believe that since the entire world will benefit from a stable Iraq and a better Middle East that it is the responsibility of everyone to contribute to that. It's a call to action," the official said, previewing Bush's speech on condition of anonymity.

The official said Bush believes "in not allowing problems to be swept under the rug, in going ahead in confronting problems when they come. He believes he has important partners in doing that. This is a call to those partners."

In meetings over two days in New York, Bush will meet with some of his sharpest critics German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Prime Minister Jacques Chirac of France.

Bush also will see Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India and Pakistan's leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai.

Bush's U.N. speech is expected to call for action in three areas: help for rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan, a halt to the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and banning slavery around the world, particularly trafficking in women.

Some allies have bristled at Bush's demands in the war against terror and his with-us-or-against-us posture that he outlined in a speech to Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, nine days after the terror attacks.

France and others have insisted on a quick end to the U.S. postwar occupation and restoration of Iraqi sovereignty. Those objections have held up negotiations on a Security Council resolution to give the United Nations broader authority over Iraq. Facing resistance, Bush gave up hopes of getting a resolution before he speaks Tuesday.

The administration also is playing down expectations of global help, even if a resolution is adopted.

The United States had been hoping for at least one additional division-sized force of international troops, roughly about 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers, under U.S. military command. But Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld cautioned recently that they do not expect a large number of troops.

Similarly, Secretary of State Colin Powell told senators the rich nations are suffering donor fatigue after requests for help in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia. The only foreign contributions considered solid are US$300 million from Canada and several hundred million dollars from European countries.

"If we get US$1 billion, it will be a lot," said Daalder, who said that would amount to about 10 percent of what the administration wants.

"Reconstruction funds are never easy to come by, even in cases where everybody is completely united the Balkans, Afghanistan," Rice said. "It's not easy. People have a lot of competing priorities."

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