Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Saturday, March 29, in the Times, continued, page B10: "Powell Sees Major Role for U.N. in Postwar Iraq." Steven R. Weisman reports from Washington: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell "said that to counter global antiwar sentiments, the United States would seek a major role for the United Nations in a democratic postwar Iraq, move more 'aggressively' to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and reach out to 'friends with whom we may have been having some difficulty.' "

Further: " 'The United Nations has made it clear, through the secretary general, they do not want to become the new governing authority of Iraq,' Mr. Powell said. 'But they have a role to play in many different ways.' He said the United Nations was needed to provide 'international legitimacy' to the occupation.

"With a mischievous grin and a linguistic bow to France — the major foe of the war — the secretary then offered two metaphors for what he said Washington wanted.

"First, he said, the United Nations would serve as a chapeau — the French word for hat — conferring broad legitimacy and endorsement of Iraq's postwar operations, including some of its reconstruction. Second, it would serve as a vessel, receiving funds from aid groups and those financing Iraq's reconstruction.

"As a practical matter, Mr. Powell said, without some kind of international legitimacy Iraq under an American- and British-led occupation would not be able to produce currency that would be recognized by other countries or sell oil on the international market.

"On the other hand, he made clear that the military would have to be in charge, at least at first, so long as the situation in Iraq remained unstable.

" 'We're the ones who are doing the fighting and the liberating with our friends in the coalition,' he said. 'We believe we have an important role to play and to some extent drive this process until such time as there is an Iraqi government that is functioning and running.' "