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Friday, May 04, 2007

Republican Presidential Debate: Iraq won't be over soon

The format of the debate (rapid-fire question and answer) pretty much guaranteed that no candidate would have an opportunity to make more than a few pithy statements. So unfortunately, that's exactly what we got.

First, from Senator McCain:
Q: What would you need, as commander in chief, to win the war in Iraq?

A: I would need the support of the American people. I would need to be able to show them some success in Iraq, both on the battlefield as well as with the Maliki government. We have a new general, we have a new strategy. That strategy can succeed....[various criticism of Democrats as defeatists]... We must win in Iraq. If we withdraw, there will be chaos, there will be genocide, and they will follow us home.
Then, from former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, who had three major propositions to change the Iraq strategy:
Q: If you’re commander in chief and you want to win this war in Iraq, what do you need to do to win it?

A: First, you have to support the troops...Beyond that, there are three things that I’ve laid out. Number one, I believe the al-Maliki government should be required to vote as to whether or not they want America in their country. If they vote yes, it gives us a legitimacy for being there. If they vote no, we should get out. (emphasis mine)

Secondly, there are 18 territories in Iraq, just like we have 50 states in America. I would require those territories to elect governments, just like we do in our states. And if you do so, the Shi’ites will elect Shi’ites, Sunnis will elect Sunnis, Kurds will elect Kurds, and you won’t have this internecine civil war.

Third, I would split the oil reserves -- one-third to the federal government, one-third to the state government, and one-third to every man, woman and child. If every man, woman and child is getting part of the oil proceeds, they’re going to have a vested interest in their country.

Next, the same question to Representative Hunter:
A: The key to winning in Iraq is standing up the Iraqi military...[some explanation of how Iraqis should take over the military piece].
And now Gov. Mitt Romney gets to talk Iraq:

A: We don’t want to bring [the troops] out in such a precipitous way that we cause a circumstance that would require us to come back. Because if we leave in the wrong way, the Iranians could grab the Shi’a South, or al Qaeda could play a dominant role among the Sunnis. Or you could have the border with Turkey destabilized by the Kurds, and as a result you could have regional conflict develop.

But with that occurring, you could have our neighbors get involved, our friends get involved around Iraq, and we could have to come back again.
Governor Huckabee was asked about the firing of Rumsfeld, but he basically just pointed out that the problems in Iraq were due to too little attention being paid to qualified military personnel:
Those generals told us early on it would take 300,000 troops to successfully go in and stabilize Iraq. Instead, we gave them a limited number of troops and a budget and said you have to do it with this...But rather than simply walking away and leaving the Middle East in a complete disastrous chaos that will spread to the region and to the rest of the world, it’s important that we finish the job, that we do it right, rather than have to go back and someday do it over.
Next, they fired a question at Congressman Paul, who voted against the Iraq War and would like to re-establish Republicans as non-interventionists on the world stage.

Q: you voted against the war. Why are all your fellow Republicans up here wrong?

A: I would suggest that we should look at foreign policy...that we should have a foreign policy of non-intervention, the traditional American foreign policy and a Republican foreign policy...How did we win the election in the year 2000? We talked about a humble foreign policy. No nation-building. Don’t police the world. That is a conservative, it’s a Republican, it’s a pro-American, it follows the Founding Fathers.

Overall, it seems like most of the "mainstream" candidates are firmly for continuing the war, despite admissions of past mistakes. Governor Thompson's idea of a referendum on the American presence is probably the most democratic notion, while Representative Paul is most interested in getting out for philosophical reasons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As for the vote on whether we stay in Iraq or not... hmm. It's a referendum on our presence, being voted on people who (potentially) owe their positions of power to our occupation. I suspect a country-wide vote would be much more interesting.