WASHINGTON – The Bush administration, encountering U.N. Security Council (search) resistance, may not seek a resolution giving the U.N.'s blessing for the deployment of additional foreign forces in Iraq, U.S. officials say.
Four days after Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) made a pitch for council backing of his call for more forces, U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte (search) acknowledged on Monday, "We're nowhere near a resolution on Iraq."
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (search) said the administration had not yet determined whether to seek a resolution.
A State Department official, asking not to be identified, said it was a difficult sell for the administration, given that many council members believe Washington is to blame for continuing security problems in Iraq.
The official noted that the United States ignored council wishes last March by deciding to go into Iraq without council support.
Powell interrupted his vacation last Thursday to travel to New York to make the case for a new council resolution that would endorse a larger U.S.-led coalition force in Iraq. The coalition includes about 140,000 U.S. troops backed by some 24,000 troops from other countries.
Powell had hoped that outrage over the devastating bombing of the U.N. compound in Iraq last Tuesday would make the council amenable to a resolution explicitly welcoming such a step.
The administration's case may have been weakened by contradictory signals it has been sending about whether a larger force is needed in Iraq.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a Veteran of Foreign Wars convention in San Antonio on Monday that the United States "can afford whatever military force level is necessary and appropriate for our national security."
He said that if Gen. John Abizaid, who heads the U.S. Central Command, believes additional troops are needed, "he will have additional troops, let there be no doubt about it."
Negroponte said that, in addition to seeking a broadening of coalition forces in Iraq, the administration wants more countries to provide financial assistance and to help with police training.
But officials said that initial soundings among council members on Powell's proposal were not encouraging.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday the United Nations could not send a peacekeeping force to Iraq but added that he could not exclude a council decision "to transform the operation into a U.N.-mandated multinational force operating on the ground with other governments coming in."
He stressed that U.N. approval for such a force "would also imply not just burden-sharing but also sharing decision and responsibility with the others."
"If that doesn't happen, I think it's going to be very difficult to get a second resolution that will satisfy everybody," the secretary-general said.
Powell has made clear that Washington won't cede any of its decision-making powers in Iraq.