THERE has been a flurry of activity on Iraq at the United Nations during the past few days. Spain submitted a draft resolution saying that the Security Council “endorses” the Iraqi Governing Council set up by Britain and the United States one month ago. The draft did not find favour among some members of the Council; a revised version was due to be tabled yesterday in which the word “welcomes” had been substituted for ”endorses”. Some people think that this kind of nit–picking is no more than a way of keeping highly–paid diplomats in employment. But, in fact, the difference between the two words at issue in this case is considerable and important and reflects the reality of the reservations that some members of the Security Council still have about the arbitrary and illegal invasion of Iraq by the UK and US. There is a second UN issue of greater concern. The UK/US coalition needs substantial reinforcement of its forces in Iraq; at the moment there are 139'000 US troops there, 11'000 from Britain, and a further 10'000 from 18 other countries, one of which is Spain. The Pentagon has said that it would like to have troops from a further 22 countries to help in the work of establishing security in Iraq. Several countries, including France and India, have said that they would co–operate if there were a UN resolution authorising their military presence in Iraq. Yesterday, however, Washington said it had decided against seeking any such UN resolution and would instead ask willing nations to provide troops without it. Once more, the UK/US Coalition prefers arbitrary action but there may come a point when they have to return to the UN for help.


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