This is a partial transcript from "HANNITY & COLMES", June 28, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
MIKE GALLAGHER, GUEST-HOST: Would the future be brighter for the Iraqis if they were divided into three sovereign nations?
Colonel Turner, nice to have you with us tonight. How are you?
COL. MIKE TURNER, FORMER AIDE TO SCHWARZKOPF, CLARK: It's a pleasure to be here, Mike.
GALLAGHER: Thank you very much.
You called this idea of forming these three nations ... one for the Kurds (search), one for the Sunnis (search), one for the Shiites (search). You admitted in a piece you wrote for Newsweek, it's radical to be sure.
In a nutshell, why would this radical idea ever be plausible?
TURNER: Well, I think we have to consider plan B at the very best right now. It's clear everybody wants what the current plan to work. That's our principle focus.
But I think we've got an opportunity right now to begin to pursue and be sensitive to the cultural history of the region. The ... Iraq, as we know it right now was essentially a British mandate from 1918, and it was held together by Saddam Hussein for the last three-and-a-half decades.
We have a real opportunity, I think, right now to actually achieve, at least in microcosm with the Kurds, what the president actually wants to achieve, which is a functioning capitalist democracy. So, it can be a good plan B fallback if the current plan begins to unravel.
GALLAGHER: But isn't it true that historically a majority of Iraqis ... and this is something I think that is a misnomer for the American people to understand ... but they've not been religious or even ethnically based. They have been more secular.
That's, for example, why they've had a history of nationalist type leaders. So, why would this sort of division among ethnic lines work if they're typically such a secular people?
TURNER: Because I think what's happened is they're historically a secular people because historically the Shiite ... the 60 percent now under the current Iraqi boundaries, the 60 percent Shiite majority has been essentially repressed.
Well, they're not now, by our own rules and by our own guidelines. They're no longer repressed. And so, now you begin to have some very, very difficult and intractable forces in play that have never been in play before.
GALLAGHER: Now, you ... you worked for Wesley Clark. I've written ... read your work. You're not a big fan. You've not really been a big cheerleader of the way this war has unfolded, the way it's been implemented.
TURNER: That's true.
GALLAGHER: Could there be ... is there an agenda maybe going on here, where you're ... because the Bush administration is never going to embrace the idea of a three nation Iraq.
TURNER: Well, never is a long time. Bush was never going to embrace U.N. involvement, and here we are. So...
GALLAGHER: Well, but he's always embraced U.N. involvement.
TURNER: I don't think so...
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: You know, President Kerry in a few months can, you know, change things, if necessary...
GALLAGHER: Wishful thinking.
COLMES: ... when that happens. I don't get the feeling this presidency is going to be that open. This administration ... this is a radical idea.
TURNER: There's no question about it. And I think what the administration has shown in the last six months is that when reality begins to manifest itself fairly painfully, the administration will make the necessary judgment ... adjustment to accommodate that.
COLMES: I think it's a great idea. I mean, I think it's really worth pursuing. But I'm concerned about the Shiites in the south forming an alliance with Iran.
TURNER: But they're probably going to do that anyway. That's the aspect of this that we need to understand. I think the Shiites in the south will begin to align themselves either de facto or du jour with Iran or not.
COLMES: No matter what we do.
TURNER: Exactly right. So, we can kill a bunch of troops in the field, trying to push this ever-increasingly large square peg in a hole.
COLMES: Are you saying Iraq is never going to become the democracy that we're intending it to be?
TURNER: I think we are overlaying an overly simplistic western solution with no sensitivity to the cultural history in the area.
COLMES: Is this ... by the way, this is the Powell doctrine at work, is it not?
TURNER: The way ... this was not my idea. I'm amazed of the number of e-mails I've received from people in the government and outside government that have said, "I said this a year ago."
It is the Powell doctrine's attempt to saying first define your political objective. If our political objective is a functioning capitalist democracy, we have a win right now with the Kurds.
COLMES: So, I mean, I've always wondered, how are we going to get the Sunnis and the Shiites and the Kurds all together under one political roof, you know? And I don't know how that's going to happen.
TURNER: I would characterize it as a loose confederacy. Allow them to pursue their own political and social objectives and tie them together in sort of something like a mini European Economic Community.
COLMES: Who gets the oil? What happens about the oil?
TURNER: Kirkuk in the north produces oil for the Kurds. Basra in the south produces oil for the Shiites. And we would have to develop an oil capacity in the center, around Baghdad for the...
COLMES: But it doesn't seem exactly fairly distributed. I mean, so you're going to have battling over that. You're going to have land issues. You're going to have oil issues, money issues.
TURNER: But if we can isolate the discussions and the issues strictly around the oil question, I think we have a much tighter confined issue that we can solve that ... rather than trying to reshape the society in our own image.
GALLAGHER: Colonel Turner, thanks very much for joining us.
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