During his speech announcing  the launch of his 2008 GOP presidential campaign, Tommy Thompson laid out what he called his three part plan for getting the U.S. troops out of Iraq sooner rather than later. Two parts of his plan are very interesting. The first part is that, “The Iraqi government should vote on whether they want us there. If they do, we have greater world standing to be there. If not, that certainly sends a strong message upon which we can base our next move.” The second part is focuses on the development of local governments. “As do here in America, we should work with Iraqi leaders to form governments in 18 self-governing provinces that would operate under a national government. What this will do is give Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds their own pieces of Iraq – their own land and their own say in how it is run.”

Part three of his plan is the most unoriginal. “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. And it will create wealth amongst all the people, inspiring entrepreneurship and economic growth.” Here is a neat little idea; I think that we should encourage Iraq to develop a diverse economy that is not dependant solely on oil. But if the United States took this approach, then we might lose out on our opportunity to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves. Only a fool would deny the importance of oil to Iraq’s economy, but some GOP candidates, like Thompson, seem to be looking to justify the Iraq war by getting a supply of cheap oil.

It is the first two parts of Thompson’s plan that are interesting. Although, I do think that it would be a bit of sham to let the Iraqis vote if they want the troops to remain in their nation. The Iraqi people know that the U.S. soldiers are the main security force in the country. As much as they may not want the Americans around, many Iraqis know that they still need them there. Part two of his plan is good. It is about time that somebody talked about developing a real government structure. Iraq needs more than the skeleton national government that the Bush administration superimposed on the country. A provincial and local government structure would give the Iraqi government the power to carry out more of their responsibilities.

To me, Thompson is just another weak Republican candidate in a field full of them. Thompson’s claim to fame is a welfare reform while he was governor in Wisconsin that worked well in the short term but when economic hard times hit, its weaknesses were revealed. Thompson will get some support, but it says a great deal about the relative lack of strength of this Republican field that the possible entry of former Senator Fred D. Thompson into the GOP ’08 race is creating such a buzz. I saw a couple of neat ideas in Thompson’s Iraq plan, but I didn’t see anything of substance or depth in this speech that would leads me to believe that Thompson could do any better with the problems in Iraq, than George W. Bush has.

Full Text of the Thompson Speech

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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