Monday, January 16, 2006

Schweitzer on Iraq

Dec 15, 2005 4:35 PM

From the Rolling Stone:
I had the chance to interview Montana governor Brian Schweitzer -- a prairie populist Democrat who charged to victory in a blood red state -- and he laid out his own plan for Iraq. Keep in mind this is a man who also speaks Arabic and spent years building irrigation projects in Saudi Arabia and Libya:
We've got some people who say we oughta just pull out; we've got some people who say, well, you can't just pull out. Well how 'bout you put together that hybrid that makes the most amount of sense? How 'bout if you say somethin' like this:

Isn't the problem that we're concerned that if Iraq breaks into a civil war and someone seizes power there and now has the oil revenue to create a military that can threaten their neighbors and the rest of the world ... that's ultimately the problem, isn't it?

Ok, so why don't we say this: Let's put a timetable down for Iraq to have it's domestic security in place: Is that 6 months or 12 months? And we'll keep a certain amount of troops in Iraq but we'll keep them on bases. We'll have one on the Iranian border, we'll have one on the Kuwaiti border, we'll have one up on the Syrian border, we'll have one up there with the Kurds in the north.

And, frankly, if they don't get their domestic security right, and they break into a civil war, honestly, I don't know how you avoid that. This is not a single country. It was created by the British. The only way it was kept together was with a king and a series of dictators.

What we're really concerned about is the Iranians moving across the border into Iraq and seizing power there. Or the Iraqis making another run on Kuwait, or the Syrians making a run on that border. But if we still had 40,000 troops, had them scattered 10,000 here, 10,000 here -- not so dissimilar with what we've had in Korea. It's been that tripwire of our troops in Korea that's managed to hold that detente.

Schweitzer expressed his frustration with the rest of the Democratic party: "I'm just the governor of Montana for god's sake. But I haven't even heard that level of sophistication in Iraq proposals, have you?"

Schweitzer also claims the administration has refused to let him visit the region:

I've lived there. I've been asking for the opportunity to visit my troops. I am the commander-in-chief of my national guard. We have a large number of them over there and they never allowed me to go. Now they have congressmen and senators coming and going. And other governors coming and going. The Hooters Girls and Jimmy Kimmel and championship wrestlers and everyone you can imagine. But they told me that we're concerned about your security, governor.

Well, it could be that I lived in the Middle East for six and a half years. Maybe they know that I understand Arabic. Maybe they have a fair understanding that I might know as much about that area as any other public policy makers.

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