Warner on Iraq and Iran


And while we’re on the subject of Iraq…

Virginia’s former governor, Mark Warner, has been on the faux-campaign trail for ’08 for some time now, and talked a couple of nights ago at a DL21C event — part of the group’s ‘Eye on 2008’ Speaker Series — about about what he’d like the country to be doing about Iraq and Iran.

He told a receptive audience that the new Iraqi government has a period of “six to nine months” to reach a level of stability, but also said that “this is never going to happen to a level of stability so we can exit until Iraq’s neighbor’s are brought to the table as well.”

He didn’t talk as much about what happens if the Iraqi government falls apart and if Iraq’s regional neighbors want no part of cleaning up the mess.

On Iran, Warner advocated a sort of aggressive multilateralism, saying, “we absolutely must rally the world in a concerted effort to stop Iranian expansionism.” And he praised the Bush administration’s recent decision to negotiate with Iran.

Fuller comments, for anyone interested, after the jump.

—Nicole Brydson

CLARIFICATION: As noted in the comments section, but which we may not have made clear enough in the original post, this was a DL21C event and not a Warner fundraiser.

“Iraq has been one mistake after another. Hear me out on this because, you know, whether it was selective leaks; manipulated intelligence; no ability to have a plan on what we do after we take out Saddam Hussein; no real ability to build an international coalition. What makes me the angriest is not all that but the fact was Iraq originally wasn’t about a haven for al Qaeda, but now it is. Iraq originally wasn’t about Iranian expansionism, but now it is. So here’s my sense, and I know we may not all agree, I believe this new government has got a period of months, and I’m thinking six to nine months, not years, to see if we can get to some level of stability; some level of ability that shows that the fortitude in that country, to change for example the interior and defense ministries.

“We got to make sure that going out without a plan isn’t as bad as going in without a plan. We got to see if this government can reach some level of stability and the only way I think it’s going to happen is if we at the same time bring together some level of regional contact group–all of Iraq’s neighbors–this is never going to happen to a level of stability so we can exit, until Iraq’s neighbors are brought to the table as well. As long as this is an American owned problem we’re never going to get there.

“At the same we have to recognize that absolutely what happens in Iraq affects the rest of the region right now. I just came back from Israel and Jordan a couple of weeks ago, and what makes me particularly so frustrated right now is we have used up American military and our world credibility on Iraq when the real deal is happening right next door in Iran. Whether it is a jihadist leader, the potential for weapons of mass destruction, state sponsored terror, we absolutely must rally the world in a concerted effort to stop Iranian expansionism. I think it is a treat to the whole region, not only our troops in Iraq, but Israel, to the west and to the world, as well as to states all across the region.

“At the same time, I think in the next six to nine months you will see what happens in Iran, whether the world can come together. I do think–and I’ll give the administration credit on this–I’m glad they’ve engaged with Iran.”

Warner on Iraq and Iran