Marc Ambinder points us to Tommy Thompson’s campaign radio ad running in Iowa.  He outlines his three-point plan for “winning the peace in Iraq.”   

He says that the “Al-Maliki government” should vote on whether we should remain there.  Of course, the Maliki government already certifies the U.N.-authorised presence of the “multinational” force; members of the Iraqi parliament are working to reject that presence later this year, but so long as Maliki gets the final say the outcome of this process has already been determined.  So Step 1, which sounds good, may change nothing at all, since Maliki has been “legitimising” our presence there for some time. 

Step 2 is to have 18 “state governments” in Iraq where “each major ethnic group can elect their own people.”  Minor ethnic groups in some provinces are evidently out of luck.  Rather incredibly, Thompson claims that “this would bring an end to much of the strife that currently divides Iraq.”  Why?  Because national elections also helped improve relations between sects and ethnic groups?  We might call this part of the plan federalising sectarianism.  Provincial elections are already on the Iraqi parliament’s agenda, but like everything else it has been stalled and seems unlilkely to move forward anytime soon.  So, in fact, step 2 is not new and may actually be a very bad idea. 

Step 3: “they must share their oil profits with every person in Iraq.”  Well, this would be ideal.  The hydrocarbon law remains stalled in the Iraqi parliament as well.  It is interesting to know what Thompson’s priorities for “winning the peace” are.  These points do demonstrate some minimal understanding of the problems of Iraq, which puts him way ahead of many of his rivals for the nomination (e.g., Giuliani, Romney), who think it shows expertise to be able to say the word Shia.  The problem is that Thompson’s proposals seem to mirror the current strategy, if so it can be called, and give no indication that the administration is already trying (and so far failing) to get these things done.  How would President Tommy Thompson do things differently?  We don’t know.  Will Iowa caucus-goers care that his plan is vague and insufficient?  Maybe not.  It might be a breath of fresh air for Iowans to hear someone besides Ron Paul talk about Iraq without once mentioning a caliphate or fascism.