Postwar Iraq Occupation Possible

The White House is working on a plan to establish an American-led military government in Iraq should the United States overthrow Saddam Hussein, The New York Times reported.

The plan is based on the occupation of Japan following World War II and includes installing a U.S. military commander to fill the position that Gen. Douglas MacArthur took after Tokyo surrendered in 1945, the Times said in its Friday editions.

The Times said the MacArthur role could perhaps be filled by Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, or by one of his subordinates.

The plan also calls for war-crime trials for Iraqi leaders and the establishment of an elected civilian government, a process that could take months or years, unnamed senior administration officials told the Times.

Officials said the plan was ``coalescing around'' the ideas now that President Bush and his advisers have reviewed the options. They said the plan had not been formally approved.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said he had no comment on the story.

The officials told the Times that American military rule would help to prevent the type of infighting that has erupted in Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban and would allow the U.S. to conduct a thorough search for weapons of mass destruction.

But some have warned that an American military occupation of Iraq could exacerbate relations with other Muslim countries.

``I am viscerally opposed to a prolonged occupation of a Muslim country at the heart of the Muslim world by Western nations who proclaim the right to re-educate that country,'' former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said during Senate hearings last month.