arms for soldiers for Iraq
UNITED NATIONS - Faced with a rising death
toll among its soldiers in Iraq, the United States is
trying to "buy" foreign troops for a proposed
30,000-strong multinational force in Baghdad.
"When they were seeking UN support for a war on
Iraq, they were twisting arms," one Asian diplomat said.
"Now they are offering carrots in exchange for our
The inducements - including weapons and
increased military aid - have apparently been offered to
at least three countries whose troops Washington
desperately needs to bolster the fledgling multinational
force in Iraq and relieve the pressure on US forces in
the war-ravaged country.
The administration of
President George W Bush has intensified efforts to seek
troops from India, Pakistan and Turkey in order to
bolster a multinational force that now includes troops
mostly from former Soviet republics and Latin American
The Indian government, which withdrew
its offer of 17,000 troops under heavy domestic
political pressure, is being lobbied once again with an
offer of sophisticated military equipment. The quid pro
quo, according to diplomatic sources, is approval of the
proposed sale of the state-of-the-art Arrow-2 missile
defense system by Israel. Since the US$100 million
system includes US components and funding, Israel needs
US approval to close the deal.
Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, is now
in New Delhi to try to persuade the government of Prime
Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to change its stance on
troops for Iraq. The London Financial Times said on
Tuesday that the Bush administration has also pledged to
relax the sale of dual-use technology to India in return
for that country sending troops to Iraq.
Germany, India, Pakistan and several other nations have
declined to provide troops unless there is a new United
Nations resolution authorizing the proposed
multinational peacekeeping force in Iraq.
India could change its position, said Professor Stephen
Cohen, director of the South Asia program at the
Brookings Institution. "For all we know, they are still
talking about terms under which India might come," he
said in an interview. "That's part of the bargaining
game that's going on."
Since the war on Iraq
began on March 19, at least 247 US soldiers have died.
The rising death toll looms as a political liability for
Bush, who faces re-election next year.
150,000 US troops in Iraq are backed by 12,000 from
Britain. Among the key countries that have pledged
troops for the new multinational force are Spain,
Poland, Japan and Ukraine.
Washington is also
expecting smaller units from Hungary, Romania, Latvia,
Estonia, Slovakia, Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican
Republic, Mongolia, the Philippines and Nicaragua. It
has logistical support from Italy, the Netherlands,
Norway, Portugal and South Korea.
Post reported that some of the countries were providing
troops only at a cost to US taxpayers.
administration has agreed to pay $240 million in support
costs to the Polish contingent of about 9,000 troops.
The costs will cover airlift transportation, meals,
medical care and other expenses.
Indian contingent of 17,000 troops would have been the
largest single foreign force, exceeding the 12,000
troops from Britain, Washington's main coalition partner
in the war against Iraq. But the move to provide Indian
troops generated strong political and public opposition
in New Delhi, threatening a government that faces
elections next year.
India's neighbor and foe
Pakistan has been offered $3 billion in US aid over the
next five years, of which $1.5 billion will be in
And according to the Ankara-based
Hurriyet newspaper, the United States has been lobbying
the Turkish government for about 10,000 troops for Iraq.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that the
administration was discussing troop deployments both by
Pakistan and Turkey.
"The Bush administration is
doing the right thing in looking for additional help in
Iraq," said Natalie J Goldring, executive director of
the Program on Global Security and Disarmament at the
University of Maryland. "But the US government should be
seeking that help through the United Nations. Instead,
US political and military leaders are once again trying
to buy countries' cooperation with weapons transfers and
military aid," she said.
Goldring added that
there is no evidence that providing India with a missile
defense system will decrease the level of conflict in
the unstable South Asian region. "Quite the contrary.
Past attempts by India or Pakistan to gain military
advantage have inevitably been matched or countered by
the other country, continuing and often accelerating the
already dangerous arms race in that part of the world,"
At a press conference on Wednesday, UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan said he believes that the
international community is seeking to "internationalize"
the Iraqi operations under a UN umbrella. "It is
important for them - not just for Europe or India, but
also for the region. The Arab states will feel more
comfortable" providing troops under UN auspices, he
The United States has refused to seek
approval for a UN peacekeeping force because it might
have to concede some of its military authority to the
Wolfowitz told the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee that Washington would agree
to a UN resolution only if it did not curtail US