GINGRICH: I partially agree with Sen. Dodd. I am not comfortable either with the current situation in Iraq, nor am I comfortable around the world with our extraordinarily limited use of statecraft. The North Koreans are cheating on their agreement on nuclear weapons. We still do no have control of Waziristan in northwest Pakistan, where Bin Laden's probably hiding. We have been told by the UN that the Iranians are now producing at least 1300 centrifuges, producing nuclear material, and that they almost certainly will have a nuclear weapon within a year. You look around the world, the forces of freedom are on retreat, the forces that are anti-freedom, pro-dictatorship, and, in some cases, purely evil are on offense. We need a dramatically expanded ability to use statecraft.
A: 1) You would empower General Petraeus. You'd pass the supplemental immediately. You'd give him the money. 2) You would encourage the Iraqis to triple the size of their regular army. 3) You would encourage the development of a military tribunal system to lock people up the way Abraham Lincoln would've done it. 4) You would establish a nationwide ID card with biometrics so you can actually track everybody in the country. 5) You would make sure that the State Department actually staffed the embassy with people in favor of winning the war and you actually had your fully equipped intelligence and economic development teams. 6) Bring enormous pressure to bear on Iran to cut off everything [assisting with the Iraqi insurgency]. So, we ought to do what it takes to win, not tolerate legislating defeat.
A: I promise, if after the September 27th American Solutions workshop, I do decide to run, I will come back and be on "Meet the Press."
Q: So you're thinking about running?
A: Well, I'm thinking about thinking about running. But I won't do anything at all about the possibility of running until after September 29th when we have our second workshop.
Q: So by October you should have a decision?
A: By October I'm confident that we'll be chatting.
DODD: I believe we should. My view is there's a greater likelihood that the Iraqis, if they understand that this is not an open-ended process here, and that we're willing to help train troops and help on counter-terrorism, but that come the first of April next year, our military participation is over with.
GINGRICH: I disagree deeply. There are young men and women risking their lives in uniform who are dramatically going to be demoralized by the idea of who's the last person to die trying to win in Iraq. If we have to set a deadline, then let's set it for next Tuesday. Let's get out of there. Because I think the idea that we're going to set a magic moment a year from now or 11 months from now or 10 months from now basically says we are prepared to accept defeat if the deadline's real and we can't find a way to get to victory, then we will have legislated defeat.
DODD: I don't think you have to ask the question hypothetically, that's what's going on today. We're in the middle of a civil war.
GINGRICH: Even if you accept that this is a civil war, people have won civil wars. And the fact is, civil wars are hard. The Second World War was hard. Guadalcanal was hard. If we'd had today's Congress during Guadalcanal, the number of people who had said beating the Japanese is too hard, let's find a negotiated peace, would have been amazing.
DODD: I disagree with that.
GINGRICH: We are in a worldwide war, and, and I'm going to use a word that seems to be unfashionable in Washington. We need to think about winning this worldwide war. We need to understand that every week that goes by there are more young people recruited into al-Qaeda and into the various Iranian terrorist organizations.
DODD: The idea we don't talk to the Syrians & Iranians in a moment like this, I think, is terribly naive and dangerous for the country, in my view.
GINGRICH: I'm perfectly happy to talk to Syrians and the Iranians. We've had a number of secretaries of state who've gone to Damascus, several of whom have been snubbed. Our secretary of state was snubbed the other day by the Iranians. I just want us to understand who we're talking about. Reagan had no doubt that the Soviet Union was an evil empire. He had a clear vision of the Cold War. He said, "We win, they lose." And he did what you're calling for. They unraveled the Soviet empire, largely without firing a shot.
DODD: Equating the American Revolution with a civil war in Iraq today, please....
GINGRICH: No, it's exactly the same point. We went from 1775 with the first Continental Congress to 1789 when we adopted the Constitution. We had 14 years of confusion. Now, if you were advising the French in late 1776, what would you have said then?
DODD: We had people who knew what they wanted in the end. The Iraqis don't, apparently. A survey said over 50% of Iraqis thinks it's all right to kill Americans. If we go back to the American Revolution I doubt you would have had 51% of the Americans saying it's all right to kill the French coming here.
A: We have these stunningly self-destructive reporting systems. The fact is there are about 139,000 Iraqi troops who are out on patrol with Americans who are risking their lives. The fact is the Iraqis are taking a lot more casualties than we are. And there's something wrong [when] people who are standing next to us getting killed are dishonored. We say, "Oh, that's not really good enough." Look at all the Iraqis who walked to vote risking death. Look at all the Iraqis who have now twice voted, including Iraqi women who were engaged. The same thing in Afghanistan where women knew the Taliban was going to target to kill them. Imagine in the Second World War, you say, "Well what have the British done recently? Why are we helping Great Britain, or what, what have the Greeks done or the Poles done or the Belgians done?"
GINGRICH: I believe we send a signal to enemies to wait patiently and destroy the country as soon as we leave. A signal to our own troops to cease patrolling and do everything you can not to be the last person killed on behalf of something that Congress has decried will be a defeat. A signal to our allies around the world that we're unreliable. And we will have dramatically expanded the incentives of the terrorists. And I think you'll see a dramatic upsurge. If this Congress passes a definitive end of American involvement, every enemy we have on the planet will exalt & claim it's an enormous victory, and they will increase their recruiting. They don't plan to stop in Baghdad. They are coming here as soon as they can get here.
DODD: We're bogged down in a situation here where we're losing credibility, we're losing our moral value. The great moral reputation of the US has suffered terribly as a result of this.
The above quotations are from Meet the Press: Meet the Candidates 2008 series, individual interviews with Tim Russert, throughout 2007.
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