The Bush administration is considering a plan to create a multinational military force in Iraq which would be backed by the United Nations but under American command.
There has been little public enthusiasm from members of the United Nations Security Council to a Bush administration push last week to get more nations to send troops to Iraq. Council members such as Russia, Germany and France, which all opposed the U.S.-led Iraq war, have refused to contribute peacekeeping troops without the United Nations first approving their deployment.
With the number of American soldiers killed in post war Iraq now surpassing the number who died in combat, the Bush administration is now exploring the idea of a multinational U.N. force, whose commander would be an American.
The goal would be to get around Pentagon concerns that introducing a United Nations chain of command could dilute American control over the 139,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
U.S. officials emphasize no final decisions have been made about whether to push this idea or other options aimed at bringing in significant numbers of forces from Security Council nations which had opposed the war.
"There are no determinations yet about any particular resolution or any specific language," said State Department spokesman Philip Reeker.
"I don't see how this administration can avoid working with the U.N.," commented Johanna Mendelson-Forman, who is with the U.N. Foundation, an independent group that supports the United Nations. "Our forces are stretched. They are tired, they are hot and we're going to need more soldiers from all over the world who can provide both the public safety requirement as well as the rebuilding requirements."
While the United States wants other countries to send more troops to Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he sees no reason to increase the level of American soldiers there, short of a request from his commanders in the region.