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Governor Tommy G. Thompson Statement on President Bush's Veto of Iraq Withdrawal Bill

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Governor Tommy G. Thompson Statement on President Bush's Veto of Iraq Withdrawal Bill

I commend President Bush for vetoing the bill passed by the Democratic Congress to set a withdrawal date of U.S. troops from Iraq. There is only one commander in chief, and he is better served listening to the commanders on the ground in Iraq.

As long as there is one U.S. soldier, sailor, airman or Marine overseas, all American leaders must be committed to ensuring that our troops have the resources they need to succeed on the battlefield as well as the support they need when they return home. Unfortunately, Democrats in Congress instead chose to play partisan politics by loading pork-barrel projects and demands to cut and run into what should have been a bipartisan bill to fund and support American troops in a war zone.

Long term, the United States must focus not on narrow military goals but on helping the Iraqi government build strong political and economic infrastructures. That is the only way we will be able to bring U.S. troops home while leaving behind a strong and prosperous Iraq.

Specifically, as the only candidate to offer a comprehensive plan, I believe the United States must take the following steps:

• First, the Iraqi government should vote on whether they want United States in their country. If they do, we have greater world standing to be there and it further legitimizes our efforts domestically. If not, the United States should leave. Iraq has a duly elected government and we should listen to its wishes.

• Second, we should work with Iraqi leaders to form democratically elected governments in the nation's 18 self-governing provinces that would operate under a national government. This will give Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds their own pieces of Iraq - their own land and their own say in how it is run.

• Third, 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 helping ensure that their federal and provincial governments govern fairly. And it will create wealth among all levels of society, inspiring entrepreneurship and economic growth - two major keys to bringing peace to Iraq.

Taken together, these three steps will give Iraqis - both the government and its citizens - an ownership stake in their newly free nation. With this ownership will come newfound hope and opportunity in a nation too long ruled and terrorized by dictators.

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