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Sen. Tom Davis, R-Va., at the podium, and Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., in August completed a three-day tour of Iraq in which they visited Baghdad, Tikrit, Kirkuk and Mosul. Seeing the mass graves, or "killing fields," as Davis called them, was the most startling part of the trip for Davis.

Sen. Tom Davis, R-Va., at the podium, and Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., in August completed a three-day tour of Iraq in which they visited Baghdad, Tikrit, Kirkuk and Mosul. Seeing the mass graves, or "killing fields," as Davis called them, was the most startling part of the trip for Davis. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

ARLINGTON, Va. — While the United States should appeal for and accept any military help offered by the United Nations to share force and a presence in Iraq, the U.S. military should not give up its operational lead in the rebuilding and security of the nation, said two congressmen following meetings Thursday with defense officials.

“We need to bring the U.N. into this,” Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., said Thursday during a Pentagon press briefing.

The topic of a resolution seeking U.N.-sanctioned military force is hot now for the Bush administration.

“I met with [Iraqi] leaders who want the United States to lead, though the U.N. is welcomed,” Davis said. “The anxiety on their part is that we would lose control.”

Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., echoed the opinion, saying the United Nations should not have operational control.

The pair was part of a four-person, bipartisan congressional delegation which spent three days in Iraq in mid-August, visiting the cities of Baghdad, Tikrit, Kirkuk and Mosul.

The responsibility to rebuild Iraq is a worldwide one to be shared by all nations, Davis said.

“I think it’s an international responsibility,” Davis said. “The world looked away for 30 years … from the shootings, murder, tortures, gassings. It’s not our sole responsibility.”

And, if the Pentagon were to ask Congress for an extra $60 billion to $70 billion, an anticipated amount reported Thursday by news agencies, in a supplemental bill to fund the mounting costs surrounding operations in Iraq, Davis said he foresees fellow lawmakers passing such a bill.

“I think it would pass, as long as it was clean and they don’t [mess] it up with a lot of add-ons,” Davis said.

“We are committed to what we are doing,” Davis said. “We have to be. To pull out would have lasting consequences that would be felt by the planet for generations.”

On the House side, Hoekstra said a Defense Department request for more money likely would be approved, after careful review by lawmakers, in order to let the U.S. military and government continue with efforts to rebuild the nation.

“A pullout is not an option. Doing it cheap is not an option,” Hoekstra said. “And now is not the time to do it half-hearted.”


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