WASHINGTON – Forty-two House members, including 10 Republicans, are urging the Bush administration to include the United Nations in rebuilding postwar Iraq.
"The entire world has an interest in Iraq's future success and the participation of a wide and diverse group of countries can benefit Iraq's rebuilding efforts," the lawmakers, led by Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., said in a letter Thursday to President Bush.
"The last thing we want coming out of this," Kind said, "is that we're perceived as some malevolent occupying force in the Middle East. The sooner we can get the international community and the U.N. involved, the better our security will be in the future."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been pushing for a role for the United Nations. Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed such a role this week, although he said would oppose removing decision-making and control from the coalition forces now seeking to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Kind said a U.N. role would help the United States repair relations with European allies who oppose the war.
"What we're emphasizing here is a recognition that as strong and as capable as our military is, we still need friends and allies around the globe to enhance our security, to continue the war on international terrorism," Kind said. "We can't do this alone."
While U.S. officials say Bush has not decided how to administer postwar Iraq, they said many top advisers want to limit U.N. participation to primarily humanitarian relief.
The White House had not received the letter yet and declined to comment.
In addition to Bereuter, nine Republicans signed the letter: Reps. Michael Castle of Delaware, Vernon Ehlers of Michigan, Jim Leach of Iowa, Tom Osborne of Nebraska, Zach Wamp of Tennessee, Jim Kolbe of Arizona, Jim Greenwood of Pennsylvania, and Amo Houghton and Sherwood Boehlert, both of New York.
Thirty-two Democrats signed the letter, including Democratic whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland.