WASHINGTON -- President Bush is considering plans for a postwar Iraq that could keep U.S. troops in the Middle Eastern country long after President Saddam Hussein's departure.
One model being reviewed is the post-World War II occupation of Japan by an American-led military government, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday. Another, he said in a National Public Radio interview, is the postwar occupation of Germany.
Powell said no single model has been selected, but American troops would be bound to remain in Iraq if the United States fights a war to depose Saddam "until you could put in place a better system."
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said "the administration is working to find ways to help achieve stability for Iraq and for the region," Fleischer said. "And we are considering a variety of ways to do so with our international partners, with the possibility of the United Nations" being involved as well.
Several administration officials said Bush's top aides, including national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, would oppose a military government. Among their concerns: Occupation might inflame Iraqis along with Muslims in other countries.
But as Bush moves closer to war if Iraq refuses to disarm, his bid for backing from the United Nations is encountering stiff resistance, especially from France.
In a move to placate France, U.S. diplomats offered to remove a threat to use all means necessary to force Iraq to disarm. France still objected because the resolution would threaten consequences if Iraq remained defiant.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "The member states want a two-stage approach: Send in the inspectors, and if they get into trouble, if it fails, come back and we will pass the second resolution."
Under France's strategy, that second resolution might include using force against Iraq.
Congress, on the other hand, gave the president authority to use force against Iraq, even without the United Nations if necessary, and Bush plans to sign the resolution next week.
Bush and Powell hope the votes in Congress will build momentum for a tough U.N. resolution.
Iraq, meanwhile, confirmed in a letter that it is ready to allow U.N. weapons inspections after a lapse of nearly four years.
The White House has said Bush has not decided whether to use military force. But defense officials said the Pentagon has ordered the Army's V Corps and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force to deploy headquarters staffs to Kuwait, The Washington Post reported in its Saturday editions. It is the first non-routine dispatch of ground troops to the Persian Gulf region, the newspaper said.
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