Fred Thompson on War & Peace
Former Republican Senator (TN)
A: Yeah. I think so. It seems to me like, at the end of last year, we were losing the war. It seems to me now, in the last five months, that there’ve been a lot of good things happen there.
Q: But staying the course, the status quo, can that be our strategy?
A: Well, it’s not a stay-the-course strategy, in terms of what’s been going on there. It’s giving us an opportunity to succeed. You know, we’ve got take yes for an answer. We got to take success as a reality when we find it.
Q: Should we plan on being there several years?
A: Well, I don’t know what several years means. I mean, we just don’t know. I would hope that it would not be indefinite.
Q: But you oppose withdrawing any troops right now.
A: Well, I think we ought to stay on the course that we’re on. We’ve got people on the ground who apparently now know what they’re doing.
A: I’ve never been accused of being soft on Osama bin Laden. What I think sometimes happens in this country is that we fixate on a personality. And even someone as evil as this man, we need to understand, if he’s killed, someone will take his place. It’s almost like the focus is so much on him that we think our problem will pretty much go away if we get him. Getting him is important. It’s important because he’s the head of this operation right now. It’s important because of symbolism and lots of other reasons. No question about that. But the notion that our problems are pretty much going to be solved when he goes away-- we can’t be fixated-- it minimizes the nature of the problem.
A: That would be my intent. I would make a pledge to do everything that I could to keep it from happening.
Q: How far are they away from having one?
A: Nobody knows. It’s not an easy job. But they’re not easy to find, either, in a place like Iran.
Q: You said an attack may backfire. What, in fact, would be the fallout from a US attack on Iran?
A: Well, sometimes you’re faced with two very bad decisions, and those are two very bad decisions. What would happen if they sent a missile with a nuclear warhead and hit Israel? What would happen if they did the same to our people in the field with some kind of attacks by a nuclear weapon? What would happen if they held that whole region hostage in terms of oil?
Q: So where do you come down?
A: You can’t answer that in advance. I mean, we’re talking about a little ways down the road.
A: I think the policy that we’re engaged in now is the right one. Clearly, to me, we didn’t go in with enough troops and we didn’t know what to expect when we got there. But now we’re showing signs of progress. I think we got to take advantage of the opportunities that we have there, to turn around and us to stabilize that place and not to have to leave with our tail between our legs. If we did that, it would make for a more dangerous USA.
A: No, no.
Q: What do you believe?
A: No, I didn’t say that. I was just stating what was obvious, and that is that Saddam had had them prior. They used them against his own people, against the Kurds.
A: And of course, he had a nuclear reactor back in ‘81 when the Israelis bombed that. And the Iraqi Study Group reported that he had designs on reviving his nuclear program, which he had started once upon a time. So there’s not question that he had had them in times past. And in my own estimation, there’s no question that if left to his own devices, he and his son would still be running that place, attacking their neighbors and murdering their own people and developing a nuclear capability, especially in looking at what Iran is doing. And the whole place would be nuclearized.
A: Yes, [at a minimum, I’d consult Congress]. Under the War Powers Act there’s always a conflict as to the exact applicability of when an engagement lasts for a particular period of time and when the president must come before Congress. I would say that in any close call, you should go to Congress, whether it’s legally required or not, because you’re going to need the American people, and Congress will help you. If they are voting for it or they support it, or leaders, especially in the opposite party, are convinced in looking at the evidence that this is the right thing to do, that will help you with the American people. In any conflict, we’ve got to have the strong support of the American people over a protracted period of time.
Q: You believed that there were WMDs in Iraq. Do you believe they were there right before we got in--they were moved out somewhere?Thompson was correct. Matthews referred to remarks the senator made in Iowa. The Des Moines Register quoted him as saying, “We can’t forget the fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there, he clearly had had WMD. He clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program.” Thompson didn’t say in the speech when Saddam “had had WMD.” The Register updated its article with a follow-up interview in which he made clear he was referring to a period long before the war.
A: No, I didn’t say that. I was just stating what was obvious, that Saddam had had them prior. They used them against his own people--against the Kurds.
In this broader war with this different kind of enemy, our success cannot always be measured by battlefield victories. Success will depend upon the determination of the American people and that’s why we’ll win. There is a courage that comes in unity. Now is the time to show that America united can overcome any danger, and America united can complete any missio
My own feeling is that under the worst circumstances there that we’re going to leave a new haven for terrorists and we’re going to leave an area of the world that becomes more and more nuclear. That those civilian nations surrounding Iraq will respond to what Iran is doing to their nuclear program and that the whole place will be nuclearized and that will be bad for us in many respects.
Q: You said, “We went too light later, and the rules of engagement were wrong, and the strategy was wrong.” Where do we go from here?
A: I think we’ve got to take the next step, and that is wait and see what General Petraeus says in September. I listen to him. I think he may be one of the best people we’ve got in the entire military, and I think he’ll tell us the truth.
A: Yes, yes.
Q: It would be?
A: It has to do with the need for all of the civilized countries--that is, most all of them that are not terrorist countries or terrorist havens--to realize we have to come together. That’s one of the big failures that we have right now, because a lot of people in other parts of the world just don’t see it yet. They see us as the #1 threat and really, in some cases, the only threat, when we’re going to have to bond together and face this thing together against these forces, because it’s going to pick us off one by one.
We’ve seen our country attacked time and time again over the last decades. They’re methodically going around trying to undermine our allies and attack people in conventional ways, while they try to develop non-conventional ways, and get their hands on a nuclear capability, and ultimately to see a mushroom cloud over an American city.
A: Yes. What people don’t think enough about is what if we had not gone into Iraq. You know, after defying the UN 17 times, after corrupting the oil-for-food program and the UN itself, and defying the US, Saddam would have been there, the new king of the hill in that part of the world, with his murderous sons still putting people in human shredders, still a threat to his neighbors, still developing his plans for a nuclear capability.
I mean, he had those plans. He had the technical expertise. Whether he had them on one particular day or not is almost irrelevant. Especially today, looking at what Iran is doing, he certainly would have had his hands or been working assiduously toward getting the capability of nuclear weapons. And that’s what we would have been faced with had we not done that. Going in there and deposing him was a good thing.
If Saddam Hussein was still around today with his sons looking at Iran developing a nuclear capability, he undoubtedly would have reconstituted his nuclear capability. Things would be worse than what they are today.
Wars are full of mistakes. You rectify things. I think we’re doing that now.
Why would we not take any chance, even though there are certainly no guarantees, to not be run out of that place? I mean, we’ve got to take that opportunity & give it a chance to work.
We should not confuse symbolic gestures for genuine strategy. Our enemies can tell the difference, and so should we.
It’s absurd. Presidents in the future, as always, have to make a determination based on a lot of things, and intelligence is one of them. And the president not only has the right to evaluate the intelligence that he’s receiving, he has a duty to do that. He listens to the British. I mean, if history was any judge, if the Brits tell me that there’s an [Iraqi] deal with Niger and our guys don’t know whether there was or not, I tend to rely on the Brits.
Let’s not minimize the challenges. Our nation faces a formidable enemy, in Iraq & elsewhere. Angry Baathists, fanatical Islamists and opportunistic terrorists from across the Mideast have perpetrated attacks against US soldiers, US allies, & against the Iraqi people themselves. Our resolve as a nation is being tested.
It’s obvious we can’t afford to cut and run. Even the most partisan critics admit as much. However, by invoking Vietnam, they are in effect predicting a US defeat & pullout. Even as they give lip service to winning, they foment a sense of despair, instead of offering a strategy for victory.
Let’s be blunt here: For many of President’s critics there is a domestic constituency to be won from failure abroad. They are campaigning on defeat
Past failures of will are among the main reasons we are under siege today. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 because he believed that Americans couldn’t take casualties. He looked at Vietnam & Lebanon and concluded that the Americans didn’t have the guts for a really tough fight. America’s failure to confront Saddam during the 1990s, as he thwarted weapons inspectors and economic sanctions and corrupted the oil for food program, only spurred him further.
We need to use every means at our disposal, starting with serious and painful international sanctions, to prevent Iran’s rulers from becoming the nuclear-armed blackmailers they want to be. Unfortunately, we are hearing demands that we abandon the people of the Middle East who have stood up to Islamo-fascism because they believed us when we said we would support them.
If we retreat precipitously, the price for that betrayal will be paid in blood & freedom by the Iranian people [and then others]. And America’s word may never be trusted again. Right now, the pirate Ahmadinejad is clearly more confident about the outcome of the Global War on Terror than we are. That ought to give us pause.
A: I would do essentially what the president’s doing. I know it’s not popular right now, but I think we have to look down the road and consider the consequences of where we are. We’re the leader of the free world whether we like it or not. People are looking to us to test our resolve and see what we’re willing to do in resolving the situation that we have there. People think that if we hadn’t gone down there, things would have been lovely. If Saddam Hussein was still around today with his sons looking at Iran developing a nuclear capability, he undoubtedly would have reconstituted his nuclear capability. Things would be worse than what they are today. We’ve got to rectify the mistakes that we’ve made. We went in there too light, wrong rules of engagement, wrong strategy, placed too much emphasis on just holding things in place while we built up the Iraqi army, took longer than we figured.
A: Well, of course. I mean, which way did she vote when the time came?
Q: She voted for it, and then she just voted to cut off funds.
A: Yes. It’s a public opinion poll deal for most of them.
Q: What does that mean to you?
A: That means you want to be president worse than anything in the world. And they know how to read public opinion polls.
Title: Condemning bigotry and violence against Sikh Americans in the wake of terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.
Summary: Declares that, in the quest to identify, locate, and bring to justice the perpetrators and sponsors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, including Sikh-Americans, should be protected.
|Other candidates on War & Peace:||Fred Thompson on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader