Tommy Thompson
Former Governor of Wisconsin; Former Secretary, Health and Human Services

What is the legacy of the war in Iraq?

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Winning the peace to prevent another Vietnam.

Tommy Thompson

From 1987 to 2001, Tommy Thompson served as the 42nd Governor of Wisconsin, having been elected to an unprecedented four terms. Thompson's initiatives during his 13 years as governor of Wisconsin included his Wisconsin Works welfare reform program and school choice program, which allowed low-income Milwaukee families to send children to the private or public school of their choice at taxpayer expense. He also created the BadgerCare program, designed to provide health coverage to those families whose employers don't provide health insurance but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Through the federal waiver program, Thompson helped replicate this program in several states when he was appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services by President George W. H. Bush in 2001, a position he would hold for four years. Thompson began his career in public service in 1966 as a representative in Wisconsin's state Assembly. He was elected assistant Assembly minority leader in 1973 and Assembly minority leader in 1981. Thompson has received numerous awards for his public service, including the Anti-Defamation League's Distinguished Public Service Award. In 1997, he received Governing Magazine's Public Official of the Year Award, and the Horatio Alger Award in 1998. Thompson has also served as chairman of the National Governors' Association, the Education Commission of the States and the Midwestern Governors' Conference. Thompson also served in the Wisconsin National Guard and the Army Reserve. Currently, he is an independent senior advisor of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and a partner at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Question: : What is the legacy of the Iraq war?

Tommy Thompson: I think if we don’t do the steps that I’m asking people to do and really try and win that peace, it’s gonna be another Vietnam. America went in there, got beat, and split the American population – those that more for it and those that are against it. And we will not stabilize the Middle East. The Middle East is a tender box right now. You know, you’ve got Jordan. You’ve got Syria. You’ve got Lebanon. You’ve got Israel. You’ve got . . . You’ve got Hamaas and Hezbollah. And you’ve got Gaza on the West Bank. And then you’ve got the 800 pound gorilla. It’s Iran. What’s Iran gonna do? They’re building a nuclear power. And so you need it stabilized as much as possible. And I think the Democrats are making a big mistake by just cutting and running. You’re gonna have to have a stabilization force for a long period of time. And I don’t think they’re willing to accept that, but you’re gonna have to. And I think you’re gonna have to. . . and Republicans are gonna have to say there’s gotta be some changes, because the republic does not want continuation of the same old things and expect a different result. I think that’s the definition of insanity, is keeping doing the same thing and expect different results. And you’re not gonna have different results. And so you’ve gotta do something different. Do something like I’m advocating.

Recorded on: 7/6/07