Governor Thompson believes the United States must look at challenges in Iraq from a new, common-sense perspective if we are to achieve stability and bring our troops home sooner than later.
In many ways, core elements of our current Iraq approach are akin to fitting a square peg into a round hole. What divides the Iraqi people has existed for centuries. It is deeply rooted in their religious beliefs and has bred generations of violence, which continues to flourish today, undermining any opportunity for a stable Iraq. It is unrealistic for us to believe we're going to end these divisions and force peace upon people who do not share our goals.
Rebuild the Military
Iraq is just one front in the War on Terror, and our enemies will never rest until we win the war. That is why we must recommit ourselves to rebuilding the American military. Our armed forces must have the capacity to dominate any war or any conflict we must enter - all while having the capability to fight a multi-front war. Our military is simply stretched too thin to protect American interests overseas and at home in these dangerous times.
At the same time, our foreign policy cannot be based solely on military might. We must reach out to the rest of the world, and a good place to start is with medical diplomacy. My initiative would take America's great doctors and health professionals, along with our medicines and technology, to some of the most distraught places in the world, helping to comfort and nurse the poor to better health. By doing so, we can begin to heal some of the wounds with our global neighbors.
Healing those wounds must begin in Iraq. First and foremost, we must work with the Iraqi government to give the Iraqi people a stake in their nation and stability in their future and give them incentives to live peacefully together within their newly free nation.
Governor Thompson proposes a three-step plan to create stability in Iraq:
- The Iraqi parliament should vote on whether they want us there. If they do, we have greater world standing to be there. If not, that sends a strong message to the United States on what it should do next in Iraq.
- The United States should work with Iraqis to support elections of leaders in each of the nation's 18 provinces to operate under a national government. A model much like states in the United States, this will give Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds their own pieces of Iraq. The creation of distinct states or regions will form a confederation that allows each group to operate their local affairs in a manner that best suits its people, religious beliefs and culture, and goals for the future. These states would provide representation to a national government that would provide a defense for all of Iraq and an economic infrastructure.
- We should encourage the Iraqi government to give every Iraqi a stake in the nation's rich oil reserves. Oil revenues should be divided in thirds among the national government, the provincial governments and individual Iraq citizens. This will create great incentive for all Iraqis to protect their oil reserves, while ensuring that their federal and provincial governments govern fairly. This strategy gives the Iraqi people a place and a stake in their country. And it creates the incentives and motivation for the Iraqi people to rise up and determine their personal and national destiny. This is a proven model currently used in Alaska, where the citizens of that state receive annual royalties from oil production there.
Taken together, these three steps will give Iraqis - both the government and its citizens - an ownership stake in their newly free nation.