Meet the Press Debate, Part IV
|This is it, I promise. This one is worth reading for the Hugo Chavez connection.|
RUSSERT: Mr. Webb, should we increase American troop levels in Iraq?
MR. WEBB: We don't have the troops. I think that you, you, you heard from-you've heard from other military observers on that. We, you know, we've got people now in the Army and the Marine Corps pulling their, their third and sometimes their fourth tours into Iraq. We're burning out our people. It's one of the things I was warning about early on when I said that this was a, a double strategic mouse trap. First of all, a mouse trap with-that was going to burn out our conventional forces, and second of all, a mouse trap in the sense that we have gotten so engaged in fighting the Sunni insurgency that we have allowed the Shia to get more power inside Iraq.
Now, we need, we need to make a couple of clarifications here. Saddam Hussein was not aligned with al-Qaeda, they were natural enemies. And this came out in, in the Senate Intelligence report Committee report of last week, where we, we were being told that by our, our intelligence advisers, whether it filtered through this administration to get to the Senate or not.
And I agree on one thing, let's be clear: We made a strategic error in going into Iraq, but we have a responsibility to, to reduce our presence in Iraq in a way that will stabilize the region. What I've been saying for two years is we need a commitment from this administration that we, the United States, do not want to be in Iraq as a permanent presence and a long-term presence. But secondly, that we have to get these other countries involved, the other countries tangential to Iraq, the countries that have cultural and historical interests in Iraq, involved in an overt way to move toward a diplomatic process.
I know what it's like to be on the ground. I know what it's like to fight a war like this. And there's-there are limits to what the military can do. Eventually, this is going to have to move into a diplomatic environment. Now, that's where this administration seems to have blinders. They're not talking to Syria, they're not talking to Iran. And there are ways that we can do this, move this forward.
If you look at what we did after Afghanistan, in the invasion of Afghanistan, we actually brought the countries around Afghanistan to the table-including Iran, by the way. Iran was cooperating at that time, before President Bush made his "axis of evil" speech and they stopped cooperating. The eventual way out of thisÂand it can be done soon, with the right leadership-is for us to get something similar to what we had with the, the Madrid conference in 1991 after Gulf War I, get these countries to the table, and have them work out a formula. Sooner or later, we're going to leave. And when we leave, the countries that are tangential to Iraq are going to be players. We should overtly push that now. [No comment, I just really liked this assessment.]
SEN. ALLEN: The other aspect of this that I've, I've asked Maliki, I've said it to Jafari and all the ministers, is the key for that country, for their economy is oil. And I think that their oil ought to be a national asset, and they ought to create something like the Alaska Permanent Fund where everybody in Iraq, regardless of where they live, regardless of their ethnicity, has a share in that oil. They'll care about building up the oil capacity, upgrading it-and theyÂll certainly care about anybody whoÂs blowing up the pipelines, because that would be money out of their pockets. Alaska they get a dividend. Every citizen ought to get a dividend in Iraq as well. [I think this has been glossed over because no one that I've seen has mentioned it. The good conservative George Allen seemingly is calling for nationalization of Iraq's oil industry coupled with payouts to molify the citizenry. Perhaps he could get a better ideaon how to implement this from an expert in this field, Hugo Chavez.]
That's it - did I leave stuff out? Sure. Did I get more half-@$$ed toward the end. Absolutely. But the upshot is this: Allen can't touch Webb on National security which is the issue the Republicans want to make this campaign about. I say we oblige "Senator" Allen on this.
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