U.S. plans to administer Iraq by itself after war

Civilian team assembling

U.N. could have role later

War In Iraq


WASHINGTON - The United States is preparing to establish immediate sole control of post-war Iraq, initially without recourse to the United Nations, with a civilian administration under the direct command of the military, according to senior administration officials.

Even before U.S. troops reach Baghdad, administration officials are assembling a team of civilian officials, largely retired American diplomats, to run Iraq as soon as the fighting is over.

The administration has decided that helping the country and its people recover after the war will require a civilian corps in place working with the military as it tries to establish security throughout the country.

European and Asian diplomats, while offering to help rebuild Iraq, are questioning U.S. plans to administer postwar Iraq without a central role for the United Nations.

While the issue is debated at the United Nations and the European Union, the administration is going ahead with plans for a civil peacekeeping operation under the direction of Jay Garner, the retired general who directs the Pentagon's new Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.

Garner arrived in Kuwait last week. He is overseeing the intense recruitment of his staff and preparing to administer Iraq under plans drawn up over the past two months.

"People who got called on Monday or Tuesday last week got deployed on Sunday," said a retired diplomat who has been asked to serve in Iraq. "They want me to get out of here by Sunday."

Senior officials are quick to say this arrangement is only temporary - lasting, they hope, no more than a few months - until an interim Iraqi government is in place. They also said they were still debating how to work with the United Nations when the time comes for that.

"The model could be an interim Iraqi government working with the U.N. - we just don't know yet," said a senior administration official.

Bypassing the United Nations and setting up a U.S. civilian peacekeeping administration under the military, however temporary, is a huge break from recent tradition and a denial of one of a central U.N. role since the end of the Cold War.

But the United States might have no choice. Under international law, the United Nations may be unable to work under a military occupation force.

While the United Nations can offer emergency relief for refugees and children, food distribution and humanitarian coordination, international officials say that the Geneva Conventions would forbid long-term cooperation without approval from the Security Council.

"On the humanitarian side, we want to save lives no matter what," said Mark Malloch Brown, director of the U.N. Development Program. "When it comes to reconstruction, that's crossing a different Rubicon.

"We can't be authorized by a subcontract of the U.S. government. We have to be authorized by the Security Council."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.