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Brownback Discusses Stance on Iraq, Family Values

In the first in a series of presidential candidate interviews, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., talks about his stance on the Iraq war and the importance of rebuilding family values in America.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Senator Brownback, welcome to the program.

    SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), Kansas: Thank you, pleasure to join you.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Well, you've been traveling the country at a time when the country's been talking a lot about the Iraq war. What are you telling voters along the way about how you would deal with America's involvement in Iraq?

  • SEN. SAM BROWNBACK:

    I'd tell them that I think we've had a very good military working, doing extraordinary things, and I think we've got a terrible political solution on the ground in Iraq. And we shouldn't criticize our — you can be against the war, and you can be against it on a policy basis, but the military, General Petraeus, they're doing everything they're asked to do.

    But we're not getting a political solution on the ground. So I'm pushing a three-state soft partition, and I think that's where we've really had a failure taking place. It's not been on the military side, but it's been on the political side.

    We're holding a resolution, I hope to get it to the floor this week, pushing for a soft partition, still one country, but leaving the Kurds in control of the north, giving the Sunnis control of the west, Shia the south, and Baghdad still a federal city. I think that's the political solution that can allow us to pull back from the front lines and get our troop losses down, which is what people care so deeply about.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Do you think there's more support, not only in the national legislature, but in the country for something that shortens the timeline and creates a durable solution?

  • SEN. SAM BROWNBACK:

    Absolutely. That's what people want. I'm convinced the way they look at it, the American people, and the way I look at it, is that they don't want to lose in Iraq, but they don't see us on a track to win. So there's this — I don't want to lose this, I don't think we should lose it, but it doesn't seem like we're going on a route to win.

    And the military can only create space for the political to act, and now they've created some space. But the political isn't acting, because the structure is such that you're almost guaranteed to have a weak Shia government in control in Iraq that can't really deal with problems. That's why I keep pushing this soft partition.

    And I fundamentally believe, at the end of the day, that's what's going to take place in Iraq. Iraq is much less a country than it is three groups held together by exterior forces, held together by the Turks, the Saudis, and to some degree by the Iranians. And I think we have to recognize those realities.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    That puts you at odds with the White House and the Defense and State Departments.

  • SEN. SAM BROWNBACK:

    Not really. They're not opposed to it; they just don't support it. I was talking with the Kurdish ambassador to the United States last night, Mr. Barzani, who's a relative of the leader of the Kurds. He just says the administration just needs to not oppose it, because this structure is allowed in the Iraqi constitution. The administration just doesn't believe we can force the Iraqis on a certain political answer.

    My response to that is, we're putting blood on the line everyday, we're putting billions of dollars into this. We can knock some political heads, particularly because you've got these old ancient rivalries between the Sunnis and Shia that we're not going to solve, but we've got to get in some political durability before the American people's timeframe runs out, which I think is coming pretty quick.