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Senators: Get Help In Iraq

A U.S. soldier assures a family that no harm will be done to women and children as they raid a house at Khaldiyah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq, June 16, 2003. Hundreds of U.S. troops, backed by tanks and helicopters, raided several cities and villages on the second day of "Operation Desert Scorpion," arresting suspected militia leaders and seizing illegal weapons.
AP
As the U.S. tried to crush insurgents and capture senior figures from Saddam Hussein's ousted regime, leading lawmakers called on the Bush administration to accept help in Iraq from others -- even from NATO and its members that opposed the U.S. invasion.

In response to a steady trickle of deadly attacks on U.S. troops, the U.S. swept through large swaths of Iran in an operation dubbed "Sidewinder." There were no initial reports of U.S. casualties, nor was their any indication that any top fugitives had been captured or killed.

Also Sunday, the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq said American forces must kill or capture Saddam so he can no longer be a rallying point for the attackers.

"We'll get our hands on him, dead or alive," L. Paul Bremer said in a broadcast interview conducted last week and aired Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and other members of Congress said Sunday that as the American postwar casualty count rises, it has become clearer that fulfilling the mission undertaken in March will take longer than the administration had hoped.

"We 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," said Frist, R-Tenn.

Sen. John McCain, 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 in a broadcast interview. "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.

"It's going to take a long-term commitment, and I think that we in the United States would welcome the participation by many other nations around the world," Frist said in a broadcast interview.

Asked whether that included NATO, most of whose members opposed the U.S. operation, 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.

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.

So far, NATO's only participation has been to help Poland assemble the 2,300-member force it is sending to Iraq this summer.

Sen. Joseph Biden, senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a broadcast interview that it is important that the United States deal with the NATO problem.

"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."

He 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.

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, 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 later said the estimate was "wildly off the mark."

Biden, in discussing the what U.S. forces face now, said: "Shinseki was right."