President George W. Bush’s speech Sunday night intended not only to rally support at home, but also to extend the proverbial olive branch to the United Nations. Too bad that the Bush administration’s lack of diplomatic tact in recent months alienated many former allies so much, they are disinclined to sign on to a campaign without clearly establishing rules first.
Great Britain has already committed another 1,200 troops to Iraq, but Bush’s stipulation that the United States retain sole control in Iraq makes it doubtful other nations will sign on as quickly.
France and Germany indicated last week that under Bush’s sole command they would not send any troops or supplies. One can hardly blame them for being hesitant to put their country’s troops under command of a man who in early-July told terrorists to “bring ’em on.”
The outcry following this rather unsuitable comment was big enough in our own ranks, so it is only understandable that other countries are wary of our Commander in Chief commanding their troops.
The promise that Bush “will spend what is necessary” also makes it dubious that the $87-billion price tag is the final word on the matter.
The sum allotted for next year to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan is already twice as much as the administration claimed would be needed only months before. Back then, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld chastised critics at home and abroad who claimed costs might be much higher saying they did not know what they were talking about. Sadly, recent history has shown costs can explode as easily as car bombs planted by militants.
There is also the small problem that Bush has not even secured the money yet, but only asked Congress for it so far.
Other countries might have more problems finding funds for the U.N. sanctioned actions. Modern military operations do not come cheap. Participating countries will be forced to dig deep to find the necessary funds.
In the long term, the U.N. will probably support the United States because, as Bush correctly stated in his speech Sunday night, it “represents compassion.” The Administration’s insistence on sole control of everything in Iraq, however, will hardly expedite the matter.
A joint command seems to be the best option, but it would require the Bush administration to realize that pride is not a virtue when it could leave many more of our own troops dead before an agreement can be reached.