Thompson talks about what he would do in Iraq and whether or not the U.S. should get out.
Question: What is the way forward in Iraq?
Tommy Thompson: And I would require the ________ government to vote. You know, they’re duly elected. Vote as to whether you “want the United States in our country”. We’ve been there for four years. We’re called invaders, and people that are there just, you know, to corrupt the system, and take over that system, and protect our interest in oil. But the truth of the matter is that is not why we’re there. I mean we’re not getting any of the oil out of Iraq whatsoever. And it’s cost us $8.5 billion dollars. So Iraq, you tell us whether or not you want us there, and tell us how we’re gonna win. And if you don’t want us there, vote that way and we’ll re-deploy our forces out of there over a period of time. And secondly elect state governments over the 18 territories that are there. And if you do that, the Shiites are gonna elect Shiites. Sunnis will elect Sunnis. Kurds will elect Kurds. You get rid of the civil war that’s been going on for 1,400 years and force the Shiites and Sunnis to live together that don’t like each other, you’re not gonna solve the civil war or bring peace! But if you have separate territories in which the Shiites elect a Shiite theocracy, Sunnis elect a Sunni theocracy, Kurds elect a Kurd theocracy, you’re gonna have an attraction for people of that religious . . . religious theocracy to move to those territories and get rid of the civil war.
And third, like we do in Alaska, split the oil revenues one-third to the federal government, one-third to the state governments, and one-third to every man, woman and child! And if you’re receiving a check from the government from those oil wells, you’re gonna make darn sure that they keep producing! Whether you’re Shiite, Sunni, or Kurd, that’s money in your pocket. And too, you’re gonna take that money and you’re gonna build businesses. You’re gonna build something with it, you know, for yourself and your family. Build a better tea house, a better gasoline station. You know, a shop that you’re gonna do it! And I’ve been there. I’ve seen the Iraqi people. They’re great entrepreneurs. They’re gonna use that money to better themselves, but in the same process build their country. And that’s how you win that peace over there and make Iraq a stable, Democratic country. It’s gonna be . . . It’s gonna be Shiite dominated, because the Shiites control most of . . . most of the territories. But Sunnis are gonna have their territories that they’re gonna feel comfortable with. And that’s how you win the peace. And I laid this out as an idea to solve the problems, and all you hear back is, you know, “Do you support the surge, or don’t you support the surge?” Either there or withdraw. Nobody’s laid out a plan like I have to win the peace. And that’s what differs . . . that’s what differentiates me from the other candidates. And I offer that as just one solution to the many that you’re talking about. And these are the big ideas that we have to do.
Question: Should the U.S. get out of Iraq?
I would say number one, I would ask the ________ government to vote right now whether or not they want us there, and how they’re gonna . . . if they want us there, how they’re gonna help. If not, let’s redeploy. You know, over the next six months so you don’t do it dramatically so that everything goes wrong. Do it in a systematic, stable fashion.Two, I would make sure, like I’ve said, have the governments elect state governments and get rid of the civil war. There is a better way. I mean if the Shiites are in Shiite territories, they’re not gonna be so willing to blow up. And Sunnis . . . let’s be smart about it. I mean these territories have been set up since 1921. Let’s have elected officials and allow the Shiites and the Sunnis to have their own territories along with the Kurds. And you’re gonna stabilize that area much better. You’re never gonna be completely stable, but it’s gonna be much better than it is right now. And that’s what this . . . And then I would tell the American people, “This is what we need to do.” And you gotta trust. And this is my plan. We have no plan out there. You know, people are war-weary. People get very war weary in America. They did in Vietnam, and they did in the Second World War. And this has gone on longer now than the Second World War. So you gotta understand the fatigue of the people in this country. And you’ve gotta do something different than what has happened. And that’s what’s really frustrating people. They don’t see any change. They just see American men and women getting blown up, and shot, and wounded and killed. They want a . . . they want an end game. And as Collin Powell said . . . I adhere to what Collin Powell always said talking about going to war. Number one, have a reason to go to war. Number two, go with overwhelming might and superiority and win the war. And then three, have an exit strategy. I don’t think we did two and three.
Recorded on: 7/6/07