At U.N., Bush to Defend Decision to Launch War

From Times Wire Services

President Bush said Sunday that the United Nations could help write a constitution or run elections in Iraq but that he’s not sure the U.S. would have to yield a large role to the world body to win approval of a new resolution on Iraq.

He continued to reject the idea, urged by France, that sovereignty be quickly handed back to Iraqis.

In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Bush said he would declare in his speech Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly that despite his failure to obtain Security Council backing for the war, “I made the right decision and the others that joined us made the right decision” to invade Iraq.

Fox released excerpts Sunday. The full interview is scheduled to air tonight.


Bush is trying to obtain foreign donations to help offset the cost of the Iraqi occupation and is also seeking troops from more countries. In his address, he said, he will ask other nations to do more to help stabilize Iraq.

The president said he did not consider it essential to grant the U.N. a larger political role in Iraq -- as some nations have insisted -- to obtain a new resolution backing a multinational occupation force.

“I’m not so sure we have to, for starters,” he said in the Oval Office interview.

Bush said he did think it would be helpful to get U.N. assistance in writing a constitution for Iraq.

“I mean, they’re good at that,” he said. “Or, perhaps when an election starts, they’ll oversee the election. That would be deemed a larger role.”

France has said that the new resolution should outline a plan for a rapid handover of political power to Iraqis, but the United States calls any quick transfer unrealistic.

In an interview with the New York Times this weekend, French President Jacques Chirac outlined his vision for a two-stage plan for Iraqi self-rule with an initial symbolic transfer of sovereignty from the U.S. to the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council and a shift of real power over six to nine months.

France, along with the U.S., Britain, China and Russia, holds veto power on the Security Council. While Chirac said he was “not in that mind-set,” he indicated that France would abstain from any resolution unless it included a deadline for the transfer of sovereignty and a “key role” for the United Nations in Iraq.