Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Carrot of Compromise

June 10, 2004

"Humble" is not a word that characterizes the Bush administration's past dealings with foreign powers. It should become a new watchword. The administration showed a rare willingness to compromise in negotiations leading to the Security Council's unanimous endorsement of the interim Iraqi government. And diplomats say the U.S. was quick to incorporate suggestions from Arab leaders into its proposal for democratic reforms in the Middle East, being discussed at the Group of 8 summit in Sea Island, Ga.

This new multilateralism, following the Iraq war's fearsome cost in lives, dollars and respect, will have to be permanent if the U.S. hopes to get the assistance it desperately needs from its old but snubbed allies.

At least the administration has some able practitioners of diplomacy. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John D. Negroponte and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell were deft in negotiating with Russia, France and Germany to earn Security Council support for stabilizing Iraq. They astutely compromised on the presence of coalition troops, putting in a clause that allows an Iraqi government to call for their withdrawal. This may help give Muslim countries like Pakistan enough political cover with their own populations to send peacekeeping troops that can help relieve the burden on U.S. forces.

The United States still must provide some kind of guarantee of Kurdish rights, which was not included in the Security Council resolution after protests from Iraqi Shiites. If the Kurds attempt to carve out an autonomous sphere, Iraq could erupt into civil war. Kurdish fears that a new Shiite-dominated government would not respect their rights are legitimate, and the U.S., which has repeatedly betrayed the Kurds, should not repeat the mistake.

Numerous conflicts between the U.S. and its European allies remain. During the G-8 summit Wednesday, President Bush, elated by his U.N. resolution success, called upon NATO to enter Iraq. French President Jacques Chirac responded, "I do not think that it is NATO's job to intervene in Iraq." Russia, Germany and Canada have indicated that despite the new U.N. resolution they have no intention of committing troops.

The U.S. will also have to keep pushing France, Russia and Canada to cancel as much of Iraq's $120-billion debt to them as possible. Leaving Iraq with a substantial debt would be replicating the mistake the Allies made at Versailles after World War I, when they demanded onerous reparations from Germany, a move that inadvertently helped bring the Nazis to power.

If Bush continues to rely on the State Department, he will have a good chance of reaching more agreements with the allies. The U.N. resolution is not the end, but the beginning, of the creation of stability in Iraq.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|