WASHINGTON April 12 —
By insisting that the United Nations take the lead in postwar
Iraq, the three main opponents of the military campaign there risk
further damage to their relationship with the United States.
But there is an equal risk for the United States too: Thump too
hard on Russia, Germany and France, and their support in other areas
of U.S. foreign policy say, North Korea or Iran might disappear.
"They don't have to engage in open defiance of the United States
to hurt our interests," said Cato Institute scholar Ted Galen
Carpenter. "All they have to do is simply be less responsive."
Alienate France or Germany, which are leading European Union
nations, and "trade wars and other things could become real
possibilities," Carpenter said. And Russia, as a main source of
nuclear technology for Iran, would not be inclined to change its
policies if it is getting beaten up by Washington.
So far, U.S. officials have taken in stride the anti-U.S.
comments about the Iraq war coming out of a Russian-German-French
summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. But the Bush administration has
not been able to resist rubbing it in a little over the three
nations' anti-war posture.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz touched off a furor this
week when he suggested that the three countries do their part by
forgiving Iraq's debt; Russian lawmakers, eyeing the $7 billion in
Soviet-era debt owed to Moscow, rejected that indignantly and said
such negotiations should be left to the Iraqis, not the
One Russian leader accused the United States of bringing up debt
relief in order to be "boorish" and vengeful toward the countries
that did not back war in Iraq.
But on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would
consider writing off Baghdad's debts.
The Bush administration kept up the pressure.
"It's an issue that arises in all our discussions," State
Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday. "It's been a long
time since Iraq has been paying any of its debt. And there are
international mechanisms for dealing with those situations that we
would expect, at the appropriate time, the international community
More fractious than the debt issue was the anticipated insistence
from Russia, Germany and France that the United Nations take the
lead in postwar reconstruction in Iraq.
Celeste Wallender, a Russia expert at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies who traveled to St. Petersburg to observe
the summit, said such an approach would be foolhardy. However, she
said, the United States also should not reject outright their
"The U.S. needs to work with the U.N. The U.N. brings special
strengths to international situations," Wallender said. "But I think
France, Germany and Russia pressing for the U.N. to take over in
Iraq immediately are being quite irresponsible. What's going on in
Iraq today is not meant for peacekeeping. ... The United States
should focus on working with the three countries, and say, 'We want
the international community to do it in the right way, at the right
Nile Gardiner, visiting fellow in Anglo-American security policy
at the Heritage Foundation, said the United States should seize the
chance to put together a vision of a "new Europe" that includes
eastern and central European nations who supported President Bush's
position on Iraq. But it should not allow momentum in Iraq to spiral
into a round of endless U.N. negotiations and stalling tactics, he
"France would only agree to a U.N. mandate if France, Germany and
Russia are given a key role in administering Iraq. That is simply
unacceptable to Washington," Gardiner said. "So I believe the United
Nations is being used merely as a Trojan horse to serve the interest
of European nations that have shamefully appeased a brutal
|Blood runs on the sidewalk as an
Iraqi man yells for other civilians to back away shortly after
a bus was shot on a bridge by a tank crew from the U.S. Army
4th Battalion 64 Armor Regiment in Baghdad Friday, April 11,
2003. Tank commander Charles Wooten said that his tank fired
on the vehicle after it refused to stop when warning shots
were fired. The bus driver was killed and the Army said it
found Iraqi military uniforms inside the vehicle.(AP
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or