WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is getting the same advice on Iraq from some Democratic and Republican senators: Sign on anybody who wants to help police and rebuild the country, including NATO allies who opposed the U.S.-led invasion.
"The more casualties we take, the more difficulties we have in rebuilding Iraq, the more sabotage we see, then I think this reality is going to be the jarring gong that, in fact, is going to open this up to the French, the Germans and others," Sen. Chuck Hagel (search), R-Neb.
"We need to bring some legitimacy to the American effort here," Hagel said." "That's more United Nations involvement and more Arab involvement."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (search), R-Tenn., agreed on a need "to involve the world, the globe, because we're talking about freedom not just for the United States, not just for Iraq, but indeed freedoms for people around the world."
Asked whether NATO, most of whose members opposed the invasion, should be included, Frist said: "I would say that anybody who really appreciates the freedoms and democracy that we in this nation, and that I think people around the world are at least moving toward ... will and can participate."
Most of the other 18 NATO countries, particularly in the heart of Western Europe, which Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld characterized as "old Europe," worked hard to keep the United Nations from specifically endorsing the war.
Sen. Joseph Biden (search) of Delaware, senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Fox News Sunday that it is important the United States deal with the NATO problem.
Principal exceptions were Britain, Spain and Poland. Rancorous disputes with Germany, France and Turkey, the alliance's only Muslim country, caused rifts in bilateral relations that continue.
"I want to see French, German, I want to see Turkish patches on people's arms sitting on the street corners, standing there in Iraq," Biden said. "That's one way to communicate to the Iraqi people we (Americans) are not there as occupiers. The international community is there as liberators."
Biden said Lord Robertson, NATO's secretary general, had told him the alliance is "ready to come in in large numbers" once given the go-ahead by Washington.
Sen. John McCain (search), R-Ariz., said he has seen an increasing sense of disquiet among people in his state because of a lack of candor by the administration in explaining U.S. plans for Iraq.
"There is, amongst my constituents, tremendous support for the president and what our men and women in the military did, but there's a growing sense of unease," McCain said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "I think that if they are told exactly what lies ahead that they will continue to support it."
He said the Senate had gotten too little information even to determine whether more American or other troops are needed in Iraq. Like Frist, McCain said the administration should not go it alone in the reconstruction process but should seek help from friends in Europe and elsewhere.
So far, NATO's only participation has been to help Poland assemble the 2,300-member force it is sending to Iraq this summer.
In the buildup to the war, the question of postwar troops was a matter of dispute. There are now an estimated 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
In February, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki (search), then the Army chief of staff, told a congressional panel that hundreds of thousands of troops would be required to maintain order and preside over the reconstruction of Iraq. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said later the estimate was "wildly off the mark."
"Shinseki was right," Biden said.