An Enhanced European Role in Iraq?
CRS Report for Congress
An Enhanced European Role in Iraq?
Updated October 9, 2003
Specialist in European Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
An Enhanced European Role in Iraq?
Bush Administration officials have said that they wish to see NATO countries
contribute forces to bring stability to Iraq, possibly as part of a U.S.-led NATO or
U.N. force. Key European allies such as France and Germany would first like to see
a new U.N. mandate that would include objectives, such as a timetable for turnover
of authority to Iraqis and a transparent process for improving Iraq’s petroleum
industry, that the Administration now opposes. Some European allies do not wish
to serve under a U.S. command in Iraq; other European allies already have troops in
Administration officials are concerned that greater international involvement in
governing Iraq could deflect the United States from achieving some of its stated goals
for that country’s future. Such goals include establishing a democracy there that
would influence other Middle Eastern governments to follow a similar course, and
easing of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some Europeans argue that these goals are
unattainable in the framework established by the U.S.-led occupation. At the same
time, involvement of European forces, if a common outlook could be worked out,
could free some U.S. forces for other missions, dampen international criticism of
U.S. management of Iraq, and spread costs for reconstructing Iraq to other countries
and the private sector.
See also CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: U.S. Regime Change Efforts and Post-
War Governance, CRS Report RL31701, Iraq: U.S. Military Operations, and CRS
Report RL31843, Iraq: Foreign Contributions to Operation Iraqi Freedom,
Peacekeeping Operations, and Reconstruction.
This report will be periodically updated.
In troduction ......................................................1
A Role for European Forces?.........................................1
The NATO Debate over ‘Out-of-Area’ Operations....................1
Recent Issues Affecting the Debate in NATO over Iraq................2
Objectives and Necessary Force Levels.............................3
How Many European Forces Are available?.........................4
Forces, Stability, and Costs......................................5
A Range of European Views.........................................6
An Enhanced European Role in Iraq?
The United States now has approximately 130,000 troops in Iraq and another
30,000 support troops in Kuwait, a force that some senior U.S. military officials
believe stretches the country’s combat capabilities, especially in the event of a major
crisis in Korea or elsewhere. The Bush Administration wishes NATO countries to
send forces to Iraq to reduce the demands on U.S. forces, and to spread the costs of
stabilization and reconstruction. Key allies acknowledge the possibility of a NATO
role, but first wish to see a new U.N. mandate and greater sharing of decision-making
with both the U.N. and the allies. Some other allies appear to reject involvement in
a U.S.-led force, as a NATO force would be, and prefer a force with a substantial
In a broader context, unresolved issues from earlier disputes among the allies
also intrude in the debate over possible NATO involvement. These issues include
the causes of the war in Iraq, the role of the U.N. in NATO out-of-area operations,
the military capabilities of the allies, and the effects of Iraq’s evolution on the Middle
East as a whole. In addition, vestiges of a dispute over allied assistance to Turkey in
February 2003 before the war with Iraq remain a cause for friction between the
United States and several allies.
A Role for European Forces?
This section will first briefly review the debate in NATO over the last two years
about allied missions outside Europe. It will then discuss several related issues,
primarily those generated by allied disagreement over the reasons for war with Iraq,
that affect any possible decision by European governments to contribute forces to
stabilize Iraq. There follows a discussion of the evolution of the Administration’s
position on its objectives for post-war Iraq and the necessary force levels to achieve
those objectives. The section closes with an examination of how many European
forces might be available for Iraq, and the relation of force levels to costs.
The NATO Debate over ‘Out-of-Area’ Operations
NATO members agreed in principle in 2002 that allied forces might be sent
beyond Europe to combat threats to member states’ security. In May 2002, the allies
agreed that “to carry out the full range of its missions, NATO must be able to field
forces that can move quickly to wherever they are needed, sustain operations over
distance and time, and achieve their objectives.” Several months earlier, Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when asked what NATO’s area of operations should be,
responded, “The only way to deal with the terrorist network that’s global is to go
after it where it is.” On July 9, 2003, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
that the Administration would “certainly want assistance from NATO and from
NATO countries” in stabilizing Iraq.1 Those who favor a NATO role in Iraq cite the
recent precedent of the allied force in Afghanistan. The International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan has 4,800 troops, including a small U.S.
contingent, that came under NATO command on August 11, 2003. Its commander
on the ground is a German general. Its objective is to bring stability to Kabul. (An
additional 9,000 U.S. forces, not under NATO command, continue combat operations
outside Kabul.) In early October 2003, NATO agreed in principle to extend the
NATO force to the town of Kunduz.
Before the conflict in Iraq, some Administration officials made a case for NATO
involvement in post-war Iraq. They contended that only NATO had the capability
for force generation, intelligence, and planning for a peace operation. NATO has had
experience in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan in leading stabilization forces. The
bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on August 19 may signal a continuation
of violent resistance to any outside entity, whether military or civilian, be it NATO
or the U.N.2
Recent Issues Affecting the Debate in NATO over Iraq
NATO’s agreement in principle to send forces outside Europe and the precedent
of ISAF mask a range of issues that must be resolved before the European allies
might send troops to Iraq. Some allied governments believe that the Bush
Administration should have involved NATO more closely in the conflict in
Afghanistan in late 2001 to build an international political base for using military
force against terrorism. A more narrow range of allied governments believes that the
Administration overrode their preference for allowing U.N. WMD inspections to run
their course in Iraq in late 2002 and 2003, that the Administration pushed aside the
U.N. as a centerpiece for building an international coalition against the government
of Saddam Hussein, and that the Administration went to war precipitately, without
establishing firm evidence of WMD in or Al Qaeda links to Iraq.
In February 2003, several allies resisted a U.S. effort to send NATO forces to
defend Turkey in the event of an attack by Iraq. They opposed such a move because
they viewed it as an Administration maneuver to imply NATO endorsement of the
impending conflict with Iraq. These experiences have led the allies to demand a
greater share of decision-making and more authority for the U.N. in Iraq before
committing military forces to that country, issues that will be discussed in a later
section of this report.3
1NATO Communiqué, Paragraph 5, Reykjavik Ministerial meeting, May 14, 2002; Rumsfeld
press conference, Brussels, Dec. 18, 2001, Dept. of Defense transcript; Senate Foreign
Relations Committee hearing, July 9, 2003.
2Interviews, February-March 2003; “U.N. staff’s immunity from terror ends,” Washington
Post (henceforth WP), Aug. 20, 2003.
3See, for example, “Germany willing to send forces to Iraq, says Fischer,” Financial Times
Objectives and Necessary Force Levels
Both President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld have previously said
that U.S. forces in Iraq are adequate to stabilize the country and to accomplish
Administration objectives there. In June 2003, President Bush said that the United
States has in Iraq “the force necessary to deal with the security situation.” On August
20, Secretary Rumsfeld said, “At the moment, the conclusion of the responsible
military officials is that the force levels are where they should be.”4
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz testified to Congress that the
purpose of the U.S. occupation is to build “a free, democratic, peaceful Iraq” that will
not threaten friends of the United States with “illegal weapons. A free Iraq that will
not be a training ground for terrorists...[and] will not destabilize the Middle East. A
free Iraq can set a hopeful example to the entire region and lead other nations to
choose freedom.” He added that by bringing in military forces from other countries,
U.S. forces could be drawn down.5 On September 23, 2003, in a speech at the U.N.,
President Bush said that “Iraq as a democracy will have great power to inspire the
Middle East. The advance of democratic institutions in Iraq is setting an example
that others, including the Palestinian people, would be wise to follow.”6
There are views, some within the United States government, that contend that
the force levels in Iraq cannot be maintained without severe stress on U.S. forces.
The United States Army has 33 active-duty combat brigades, of which only three are
available today for new missions. Twenty-one are overseas, including 16 in Iraq. A
CBO study released September 3 found that the U.S. Army could not
maintain170,000-180,000 forces in Iraq and Kuwait past March 2004 without
activating more National Guard and Reserve units, or calling upon foreign forces.
General John Abizaid, CENTCOM commander, placed the figure at a lower level.
He said that the United States could not sustain the current level of 130,000 troops
without rotating active duty, reserve, and National Guard forces into Iraq by spring
Other estimates put the level of forces needed in Iraq at a higher figure than that
given by the Administration. A Rand Corporation official has given an estimate of
(henceforth FT), July 17,2003; William Pfaff, “Bush policy risks terminal strain in NATO,”
International Herald Tribune (henceforth IHT), July 21, 2003; “The Future of Transatlantic
Security: New Challenges,” American Council on Germany occasional paper, based on a
conference of U.S., UK, French, and German officials, Dec. 5-7, 2002.
4President Bush cited in “Attack shows the limits of U.S. control,” WP, Aug. 20, 2003; and
Rumsfeld in “U.S. renews bid to involve more nations in Iraq,” WP, Aug. 21, 2003.
5“Iraq Reconstruction,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, July 29, 2003.
6“Excerpts from the President’s U.N. address,” WP, Sept. 24, 2003.
7“Pentagon grapples with troop shortage,” New York Times (henceforth NYT), July 21, 2003;
An Analysis of the U.S. Military’s Ability to Sustain an Occupation of Iraq, CBO, Sept. 3,
several hundred thousand troops would be needed. Some of these estimates do not
cite democracy and influence on regional governments to develop representative
institutions as goals of the occupation; rather, they generally cite “stability” as the key
objective.8 One defense analyst provides a more sobering perspective, noting that the
U.S. political as well as military strategy is deficient to bring stability to Iraq. In his
view, the United States lacks properly trained forces, such as peacekeepers and
military police, for the job; the essence of Iraq’s need is for civilian training for
administrators and establishment of civil institutions, but Iraq is now being
administered by the Department of Defense, which is not prepared for such a
mission, according to this view.9
NATO is providing a measure of assistance in Iraq to Poland, which has formed
a multinational force that became operational in part of its originally assigned sector
September 3. NATO’s North Atlantic Council decided on May 21, 2003, to provide
Poland allied assets for force planning, communications, logistics, and establishment
of a headquarters. The operation is not technically a NATO operation. Poland leads
a contingent of 9,000 troops from a variety of countries, some of which are not
NATO members, from north of Basra into the central part of the country. The
bombing of a major mosque in Najaf, which took the life of an important Shi’ite
cleric, led the U.S. government to delay Poland’s takeover of that city, which is in the
Polish sector, for at least several weeks. Some observers, while crediting Warsaw
with a willingness to undertake a dangerous mission, believe that some of the forces
are not trained to NATO standards.10 The United States will pay Poland $250 million
to cover primarily logistics and communication costs for its force.
On August 26, 2003, NATO SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander Europe)
General James Jones floated the idea that the Polish-led force might eventually be
expanded and transformed into a NATO-led force, a step that would require the
approval of all allies.11
How Many European Forces Are available?
Several factors could limit the availability of forces from NATO countries.
Several allies — such as France, Italy, Britain, and Germany — are already
contributing to stability operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, the Ivory Coast, and
Afghanistan. NATO Secretary General George Robertson, who favors a NATO force
for Iraq, has said that a maximum of 80,000 troops from European NATO countries
might be available. A more realistic figure might be in the range of 40,000-50,000,
he said, given NATO governments’ obligations in current operations.
8“U.S. will ask U.N. for move to widen the force in Iraq,” NYT, Aug. 21, 2003.
9Anthony Cordesman, “Iraq and Conflict Termination: The Road to Guerrilla War?” Center
for Strategic and International Studies, July 28, 2003, p. 11-15.
10“New allies struggle to fill role,” Wall Street Journal (henceforth WSJ), July 28, 2003;
interviews with officials in allied governments. Non-NATO countries, such as Fiji,
Honduras, and Ukraine are supplying contingents to the force.
11“NATO could take Iraq role,” Reuters, Aug. 26, 2003. General Jones is a U.S. officer,
who also heads the U.S. European Command (EUCOM).
Another key factor that could affect contributions from NATO governments is
the limited deployability and sustainability of most of their forces. Only Britain and
France have a developed capability for deploying and sustaining forces. Some allies,
such as Germany, have large numbers of conscripts that serve short periods in the
armed forces. Such troops are not suitable for serving in a stabilization force.12
Forces, Stability, and Costs
Cost is also a major factor in the effort both to stabilize Iraq and to involve
allied governments there. If forces sent to Iraq could stabilize the country and allow
the Iraqis to rebuild their economy, then an Iraqi government could eventually
assume more of the expense of reconstruction over the long term. Current
operational costs for U.S. forces in Iraq are approximately $4 billion per month.
Reconstruction costs would be in addition to this figure. For FY2004, the
Administration has asked Congress for $20.3 billion for Iraq’s reconstruction, and
another for $51 billion for military operations there.13
Before the war, some Administration officials had predicted Iraq would stabilize
quickly after the conflict, and have sufficient revenues to pay for its own rebuilding.
On March 27, 2003, Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz told Congress that “we are
dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively
soon.”14 Such a situation might have produced an environment where a functioning
Iraqi government could have borne more costs, sold industrial assets to private
investors in and outside Iraq, and contracted to pay private companies to rebuild the
country over time. The World Bank estimated in early October 2003 that Iraq would
need $36 billion through 2007, in addition to the $20.3 billion requested by the
Administration, to rebuild. Iraqi oil revenues may reach an annual estimated figure
of $14 billion in that period.15 A donors’ conference will be held in Madrid on
October 23-24, where an estimated $2 billion will be pledged.
European companies appear reluctant to enter Iraq until stability returns, and
until a government viewed as “legitimate” is put into place. International oil
executives, for example, are openly doubtful of investing the $30-40 billion
estimated to be necessary to rebuild Iraq’s petroleum industry unless there is a
legitimate, popularly backed, government in Baghdad with which they can negotiate
contracts in a transparent process.16
12“Only 80,000 NATO troops available for Iraq,” FT, July 25, 2003; An Analysis of U.S.
Military’s Ability..., CBO, op.cit., p. 5.
13‘Pentagon’s request for Iraq,” NYT, October 5, 2003; and “Congress gets a hot potato...,”
NYT, Oct. 5, 2003.
14“Iraq,” hearing before the House Appropriations Committee, 108th Congress, 2nd sess.,
March 27, 2003, unpaginated transcript.
15“Report offered bleak outlook for Iraq oil,” NYT, Oct. 5, 2003.
16“Oil groups snub U.S. over Iraq investment,” FT, July 25, 2003; interviews with oil
company officials, July 2003.
A Range of European Views
There is a gulf between Administration views and those of most allied
governments on sending European forces to Iraq. There is also a range of views
among allied governments. Key European governments, such as France and
Germany, want a strong U.N. role in Iraq, and a new U.N. resolution to outline that
role. Several important allies, including France, Germany, and Turkey, opposed the
U.S. decision to use force against Iraq, and instead favored continuing the U.N.
WMD inspections there. Some NATO governments do not want their forces to serve
under U.S. command, especially under U.N. Security Council (UNSC) Resolution
Moreover, most European governments have objectives that differ from those of the
Administration. In general, they do not believe that, in the current context, building
democratic institutions in Iraq and making Iraq a model for peaceful, representative
government that will inspire peace in the region, including settlement of the Arab-
Israeli conflict, are attainable objectives. They also place strong emphasis on
multilateralism, and wish to see the general stature of the United Nations enhanced.
On the other hand, some allies, particularly countries that joined NATO recently,
support Administration policy, and wish to forge a long-term strategic partnership
with the United States.
Administration officials had previously said that UNSC 1483 was sufficient for
introducing a NATO or broader multinational force into Iraq. They continue to
oppose any resolution that would dilute the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA),
established by UNSC 1483 as the “occupying” power, or weaken U.S. military
authority. Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz has said that a new U.N.
resolution would be acceptable “provided it doesn’t put limitations on what
Ambassador Bremer [the U.S. official who heads the CPA] and our people can do in
Iraq that are crucial for speeding up transition to normalcy and allow us to hand over17
power to Iraqis....” The Administration has drafted a new resolution that is now
before the UNSC. The draft resolution reportedly calls for a U.S.-led U.N.
stabilization force, and for Iraq’s U.S.- appointed Governing Council, working with
Ambassador Bremer, to submit a timetable for writing a constitution and holding
elections. Secretary Powell said that under the draft resolution, Bremer would
continue to play “a dominant political role.”18 Secretary Powell has also said that the
Governing Council could oversee drafting of a constitution by spring 2004, with
elections by the end of 2004.
The U.N. Security Council, which includes France, Russia, and Britain as
permanent members with veto powers, has endorsed the current Iraqi Governing
Council as a step towards providing the Iraqi people real power. Germany is now on
the Security Council as a rotating member, having a vote but not a veto. The CPA
chose the members of the Governing Council. Three governments — France,
Germany, and Russia — issued a joint statement on May 21, 2003, in which they
praised UNSC 1483 because it gave the U.N. a measure of involvement; placed the
17“Iraq Reconstruction,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, July 29, 2003.
18“U.S. seeks UN backing for speedy handover of power to Iraqi people,” FT, Sept. 4, 2003.
action of the CPA under international law and limited the CPA’s actions; and
allowed the U.N. to monitor Iraqi oil revenues. At the same time, they described the
resolution as only a first step, asked that the U.N. be given an increased role, and that
a “calendar” be established for putting in place “a legitimate and internationally
recognized administration in Iraq.” In addition, they asked that contracts for the
reconstruction of Iraq be opened to competitive bidding.19
The British government’s perspective on governing Iraq is in evolution. British
forces were actively engaged in Iraq during the conflict. Britain commands a force
of approximately 11,000 troops in the southern part of the country, and is an
“occupying power” under UNSC 1483. At the same time, Britain has reportedly been
more open to a greater U.N. role in Iraq than the Administration, and a more rapid
turnover of power to the Iraqis. London has a keen interest in ending European
divisions over policy towards Iraq. Britain has reportedly proposed that some
members of the Governing Council should quickly form a provisional government,
then form a committee to draft a constitution, and prepare for national elections.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is under political pressure for his possible role in
creating a dossier that appears to have provided misleading information to the House
of Commons about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, although Blair insists that
this was not intentional. Public support for Blair and for Britain’s involvement in
Iraq has plunged since the end of the conflict.20
Among the allies, France has the most explicit requirements for supporting a
new U.N. resolution, although French officials say that they will not veto a new U.S.
resolution. Among France’s conditions for supporting a new resolution are:
!The U.N. should play the “primary role” in “supplying humanitarian aid,
supporting the reconstruction of Iraq, and assisting in the creation of an
interim Iraqi authority.” Secretary General Annan should replace Ambassador
Bremer as the principal outside political authority for Iraq.
!Iraq must have “a precise calendar” for a process of securing a legitimate
government, with no involvement of an outside government or entity in an
“arbitrary choice of leaders.” Such a government must be “legitimate” and
“pluralist,”with a new constitution written under U.N. auspices. The
Governing Council and the cabinet that it has chosen could represent
“sovereignty”; within a month, the Governing Council and the cabinet could
name a provisional government.
!A personal representative of Secretary General Annan would report regularly
to the Security Council on conditions in Iraq, and would advise the provisional
government on a phased transfer of authority to it. A constitution could be
19“French Foreign Minister’s Press Briefing with Ivanov and Fischer,” French Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, May 21, 2003; “U.S. cool to new U.N. vote,” WP, Aug. 2, 2003.
20“Blair testifies to accuracy of dossier on Iraq,” WP, Aug. 29, 2003; “After the Baghdad
bomb: Kofi Annan and member states seek to redefine the UN’s role in reconstructing Iraq,”
FT, Aug. 28, 2003; “Britain urges speedup in Iraq,” WP, Oct. 9, 2003.
drafted by the end of 2003, under U.N. auspices, and elections could be held
in spring 2004.
!The United States could continue to head an international military force, under
U.N. auspices, to bring stability to Iraq.
!There should be international supervision within international law of Iraqi oil
production, “with a transparent mechanism that assures the Iraqi people that
they will not be dispossessed of their riches.”21
While the French government has not explicitly opposed a NATO operation, it is
clear that France prefers a force mandated by the U.N. with a clear mission. French
President Chirac and German Chancellor Schroeder contend that the U.S. draft
resolution gives insufficient authority to the U.N. and to the Iraqi people. France has
offered to train the Iraqi military and police, but has indicated that it will not send
forces to Iraq, nor make a contribution to the donors’ conference until a transparent
international mechanism for accepting donors’ funds is established.
A range of views is evident in other countries. The German government has
said that it might send troops to Iraq, but that they would not serve under UNSC 1483
because the resolution embodies the idea of an “occupying power.” Some German
officials say, however, that Berlin is more likely to seek involvement in civilian
reconstruction rather than to supply forces; such projects as assisting in institution-
building, including a court system, or developing infrastructure such as water and oil
pipelines, might be attractive to Germany. Norway has a strong tradition of sending
peacekeeping forces, but its government does not want to be associated with the
occupying force outlined in UNSC 1483.22
On October 7, 2003, Turkey agreed in principle to send forces to Iraq. The Bush
Administration has reportedly asked Ankara for 10,000 troops. However, the
Governing Council opposes a Turkish contingent on the grounds that no neighboring
country should send forces, and because the Ottoman Empire’s control of Iraq until
1919 left a bitter legacy. U.S.-Turkish relations have been strained since March
2003, when the Turkish parliament refused to allow U.S. forces to deploy to Iraq
from Turkish territory. Some Bush Administration officials, including Deputy
Defense Secretary Wolfowitz, sharply criticized Turkey as a result.23
21Interviews; “Il faut une administration irakienne légitimée par l’ONU,” Le Monde
(henceforth LM), May 13, 2003, p. 2 [interview with foreign minister de Villepin]; “U.N.-
Iraq statement by France’s permanent representative to the UNSC,” French Foreign
Ministry, July 22, 2003; Irak-ONU: Paris et Berlin proposent leurs amendments au text
américain,” LM, (Sept. 12, 2003), p. 5; Dominique de Villepin, “Irak: les chemins de la
reconstruction,” LM, Sept. 13, 2003), p. 1. All quotations are either from the French foreign
minister or the French representative to the U.N.
22Interviews, July-October, 2003; “Germany willing to send troops to Iraq, says Fischer,”
FT, July 17, 2003.
23See CRS Report RL31794, Iraq: Turkey, the Deployment of U.S. Forces, and Related
Issues; “Turkey backs peacekeeping deployment; Iraqis object,” WP, Oct. 8, 2003.
Ankara already has 5,000 troops deployed in northern Iraq to act against Turkish
Kurdish elements that have committed acts of terrorism against Turkish interests.
These forces are under Turkish, and not U.S., command. There has been tension
between Turkish and U.S. forces in northern Iraq. Foreign Minister Gül has said that
there must be “a separate sector under Turkish command and a separate chain of
command” if more Turkish forces are sent to Iraq.24
The Spanish government strongly supported the Bush Administration’s decision
to go to war against Iraq and is now contributing peacekeeping forces. At the same
time, Spain has been implicitly critical of current Administration policy in Iraq,
particularly the Governing Council chosen by U.S. officials. Foreign Minister
Palacio has urged immediate efforts to begin a constitutional process in Iraq. “The
process cannot be sequestered by the local interests of a small number of Iraqis, nor
can it be imposed from without. Iraqis must be the main protagonists throughout....
An impartial third party, preferably with the intervention of the United Nations,
should identify these stakeholders.”25
A number of NATO members have already sent or will send forces to Iraq. The
Italian government will send 3,000 troops to create security zones, serve as military
police, and search for weapons of mass destruction.26
Several European allies, and virtually all the NATO candidate states, place
strategic relations with the United States above considerations for a stronger U.N.
role. While these governments may desire a new U.N. resolution that encourages a
broader role for multilateral institutions in Iraq, they believe that their own future
security lies with close relations with the United States. As already noted, Poland
may eventually lead a force of approximately 22 countries, some of which are
sending small contingents. Polish officials would welcome a general NATO force
in Iraq. Hungary and the Czech Republic, among current NATO members, also place
great importance on an enhanced strategic partnership with the United States, and
have committed to sending small numbers of troops.
On July 10, 2003, the Senate passed an amendment, offered by Sen. Biden, to
the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, S. 925, urging the President to request that
NATO “raise a force for deployment in post-war Iraq similar to what it has done in
24“Turkey may send troops to Iraq,” IHT, Aug. 23-24, 2003; “Turkish official ties Iraq aid
to economic pledges,” WP, Aug. 24, 2003.
25Ana Palacio, “Iraq needs a European convention,” FT, July 7, 2003. The Bush
Administration, in contrast, believes that the Governing Council has sufficient authority to
decide on steps to write a constitution.
26“Commando Operativo di vertice Interforze,” July 22, 2003; document supplied by Italian
Ministry of Defense. The Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway,
Spain, all NATO members, have sent or will soon send forces, but, for now at least, not as
part of a NATO operation.
Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo....” It also calls upon the U.N. to provide military
and police forces “to promote security and stability in Iraq and resources to help
rebuild and administer Iraq.” The bill is pending in the Senate. In the House, Mr.
Bereuter, Mr. Wexler, and Mr. Lantos proposed an amendment identical to the Biden
amendment to H.R. 1950. It was adopted, and the bill was passed on July 16.
Members in both houses and both parties have called upon the Administration to
send more U.S. troops to Iraq as well. Senator Lugar said on July 29 that “overall the
United States mission in Iraq continues to hang in the balance,” and added that
“coalition efforts in Iraq must undergo further internationalization to be successful
The debate between the United States and some of its European allies over an
enhanced European role in Iraq poses a range of problems with important
implications. The Administration desires international troop contributions, but on
terms that do not dilute U.S. political and military control over Iraq. Administration
officials wish to preserve pre-war political objectives: the democratization of Iraq;
elimination of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist operations; and a residual
moderating effect upon the rest of the Middle East, including possible settlement of
the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Key Europeans allies, to some extent including Britain, seek an international
force with a strong U.N. voice. Some of these allies doubt, and even disparage as
unrealistic, the Administration’s goals of a democratic Iraq and a consequent
moderation of Middle Eastern politics by these means. They have openly doubted the
existence of an active Iraqi WMD program and any significant connection between
the Hussein regime and terrorists. In a broader perspective, virtually all European
allies wish to see international problems solved in a multilateral framework, and
believe that the Administration damaged this goal when it cut short U.N. inspections
in Iraq and went to war. These governments wish to restore a measure of credibility
to the use of multilateral institutions in international affairs.28 For these reasons,
some NATO governments are hesitant to send their troops to operate under U.S.
leadership in Iraq. The conflicting positions of the Bush Administration and these
allies on these points raises the question whether the Administration would alter its
position as a compromise to obtain the 45,000-80,000 European troops that might be
Some allies, such as Poland and Norway, and most of the seven candidate states
for NATO membership, support key elements of Administration policy in Iraq in part
because they wish to forge an enduring strategic partnership with the United States.
They do not believe that either the European Union or the U.N. can provide for their
own security, although EU membership is a vital interest for them. Poland, for
27“Iraq Reconstruction,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, op. cit.
28Interviews, April - September 2003; François Heisbourg, “Irak: l’Europe dans l’après-
guerre,” LM, July 26, 2003.
example, had bad experiences with French (and British) security guarantees before
World War II, and the Warsaw Treaty Organization was an alliance imposed upon
central Europe that was solely for the benefit of its leader, the Soviet Union. With
such recent history fresh in their minds, many central European leaders wish to tie
themselves closely to the United States, although they still wish to see a measure of
U.N. involvement in Iraq that will supply international legitimacy to their tasks there.
France, most vocally, and Germany are in the forefront of countries calling for
a strong U.N. presence and guidance in Iraq. The current French government has
aspirations to lead an EU that eventually develops a military capability suitable at
least to provide a measure of defense for European countries. President Chirac
advocates a “multipolar” world, with the European Union acting as a pole to balance
U.S. power. Few, if any, European governments have expressed enthusiasm about
such French leadership and ideas, and many have sharply opposed them. Beyond
aspirations for such leadership, France, joined by Germany, has a strong belief that
tying themselves to U.S. leadership in Iraq augurs ill for their relations with a future
sovereign Iraqi government,29 and risks alienating a broad range of Arab states hostile
to the U.S. occupation. France’s call for a “pluralistic” government in Iraq is at least
a step removed from the U.S. objective of a “democratic” government. France’s
position on this point is shared in most European capitals, and is likely more
acceptable to Arab governments as well.
At the same time, in France, Germany, and other allied states, there are
influential voices that do not wish to see the United States fail to bring stability and
at least a measure of representative government to Iraq. Several possible gains for
European governments are apparent should a moderate Iraq, close to the United
States, emerge: a chastened Iran, more hesitant in the pursuit of weapons of mass
destruction and promotion of Islamic radicalism; an intimidated Syria, more cautious
in its interference in regional affairs and support for terrorism; and a peace process
free of an Iraqi government adamantly opposed to a settlement of Arab-Israeli
differences. Failure of the U.S. effort in Iraq has potentially great negative
consequences: further disaffection with U.S. leadership of NATO; a renewal of
radical Islam in the Middle East, with regimes hostile to western governments; and
exacerbation of tensions in the Arab-Israeli peace process. For these reasons, these
observers believe that European governments criticizing the United States should
seek an accommodation over Iraq with the Bush Administration.30
A wide range of European officials appears to be seeking a compromise.
Several options have been suggested. Such a compromise might provide the United
States with overall leadership of a U.N.-approved administration and military force
in Iraq, but with individual allies in command of different geographic sectors, as is
the case, for example, in Bosnia and Kosovo. It might contain elements of the
French position, particularly a timetable for elections and establishment of an Iraqi
government chosen by the Iraqi people or representatives of various groups in Iraq.
In addition, the compromise might include a transparent economic development
29Heisbourg, op. cit.
30Some of these points are evident in Heisbourg, op. cit.,; and Jean-Claude Casanova, “De
Charles de Gaulle à Jacques Chirac,” LM, July 25, 2003.
regime that provides companies from a range of countries access to contracts for
reconstruction. Such a compromise could free U.S. forces for availability elsewhere;
provide European (and other) governments with a voice in Iraq’s future, and
legitimacy through a U.N. imprimatur; and shift part of the financial burden for
reconstruction from the U.S. government to other governments and to the
international private sector. A key disadvantage for the Bush Administration might
be the surrender of some of its political objectives in Iraq, such as the quest for a
democratic government, that would be a model for the region.