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Newt Gingrich on War & Peace

Former Republican Representative (GA-6) and Speaker of the House


We have mismanaged region-wide crisis in Middle East

Q: When should our 90,000 troops in Afghanistan should be brought home?

GINGRICH: I think we're asking the wrong questions. Afghanistan is a tiny piece of a gigantic mess that is very dangerous. Pakistan is unstable and they probably have between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons. Iran is actively trying to get nuclear weapons. They go out and practice closing the Strait of Hormuz, where one out of every six barrels of oil goes through every day. You have the Muslim Brotherhood winning the elections in Egypt. The truth is, we don't know who's in charge in Libya. You have a region-wide crisis, which we have been mismanaging and underestimating, which is not primarily a military problem. We're not going to go in and solve Pakistan militarily. We're not going to go in and solve all these other things. We need a fundamentally new strategy for the region comparable to what we developed to fight the cold war. And I think it's a very big, hard, long-term problem, but it's not primarily a military problem.

Source: WMUR 2012 GOP New Hampshire debate , Jan 7, 2012

Sabotage Iran's oil refinery

PERRY: [to Gingrich]: We need to sanction the Iranian Central Bank. That will shut down that economy.

GINGRICH: We ought to have a massive all-sources energy program , designed to literally replace the Iranian oil. Now that's how we won World War II. We all get sucked into these tactical discussions. We need a strategy of defeating and replacing the current Iranian regime with minimum use of force. But if we were serious, we could break the Iranian regime, I think, within a year, starting candidly with cutting off the gasoline supply to Iran, and then, frankly, sabotaging the only refinery they have.

Q: But sanctions on the Iranian Central Bank now, is that a good idea or a bad idea?

GINGRICH: I think it's a good idea if you're serious about stopping them. I think replacing the regime before they get a nuclear weapon without a war beats replacing the regime with war, which beats allowing them to have a nuclear weapon. Those are your three choices.

Source: 2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate , Nov 22, 2011

Covert operations & military, if needed, to stop Iran nukes

Q: How do you prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon?

Gingrich: There are a number of ways to be smart about Iran and relatively few ways to be dumb. And the Obama administration skipped all the ways to be smart.

Q: Could you tell us the smart ways?

Gingrich: Sure. First of all, as maximum covert operations, to block and disrupt the Iranian program, including taking out their scientists, including breaking up their systems. All of it covertly, all of it deniable. Second, maximum coordination with the Israelis, in a way which allows them to maximize their impact in Iran. Third, absolute strategic program comparable to what President Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher did in the Soviet Union, of every possible aspect short of war of breaking the regime and bringing it down. And if in the end, despite all of those things, the dictatorship persists, you have to take whatever steps are necessary to break its capacity to have a nuclear weapon.

Source: 2011 debate in South Carolina on Foreign Policy , Nov 12, 2011

Wrong to intervene in Libya; covert action more effective

Q: As Pres. Obama was deciding what to do in Libya, you recommended, "exercise a no-fly zone this evening, communicate to the Libyan military that Gadhafi was gone, and that sooner they switched sides the more likely they were to survive." After Obama launched military action a few days later you said, "I would not have intervened. I think there were other ways to affect Gadhafi." Which is it?

A: Let me suggest this is a good example of a "gotcha" question. Two weeks earlier, I said we should go in covertly, use Egyptian and other allies not use American forces.

Q: But Mr. Speaker, you said these two things.

A: That's right. I said [the first] after the president announced gloriously that Gadhafi has to go. And I said if the president is seriou about Gadhafi going, this is what we should do. The [second] came after the same president said, well, I really meant maybe we should have a humanitarian intervention. I was commenting about a president who changes his opinion every other day.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa , Aug 11, 2011

No US conventional forces in Libya

Q: Would any of you have gone into Libya?

Cain: I've said many times before that US intervention in Libya is inappropriate and wrong. The US does not belong in this war.

Gingrich: Not with conventional forces.

Cain: Pres. Obama did not make it clear what our mission was in Libya, what the American interests were or what victory looks like. We cannot risk our treasury or national treasures (brave men & women in uniform) without knowing those answers.

Source: 2011 Republican primary debate on Twitter.com , Jul 21, 2011

Get out of Arab region rapidly; make new strategy

Q: Should the president have supported the NATO operation in Libya? Should the price tag be a factor when you're the commander in chief?

GINGRICH: Sure. The price tag is always a factor, because that's part of the decision. But ten years after 9/11, our intelligence is so inadequate that we have no idea what percent of the Libyan rebels are, in fact, al Qaeda. Libya was the second largest producer of people who wanted to kill Americans in Iraq. I think that we need to think fundamentally about reassessing our entire strategy in the region. I think that we should say to the generals we would like to figure out to get out as rapid as possible with the safety of the troops involved. And we had better find new and very different strategies because this is too big a problem for us to deal with the American ground forces in direct combat. We have got to have a totally new strategy for the region, because we don't today have the kind of intelligence we need to know even what we're doing.

Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in Manchester NH , Jun 13, 2011

Goal was to liberate Iraq from Saddam, not to occupy

No one in the initial war planning expected the US would try to run Iraq after defeating Saddam. There was a general belief that portions of the Iraqi army could be converted in to a policing force.

It was vital from day one that the US be seen as a liberator and not as an occupier. For some reason the lesson learned in Afghanistan--of liberating and not occupying--did not get across. Like most bureaucracies, this one looked after itself. It created a green zone of protection and comfort to shield the bureaucrats. By creating a green zone, it acknowledged that the entire rest of the country was a red zone, a danger zone. Worst of all, the decision to have an explicitly American administrator of Iraq guaranteed that America's role would change from liberator to occupier.

By Dec. 2003, things were so bad that I went public and declared that we had "gone off a cliff" in the June decisions, and that until they were reversed things were just going to get worse.

Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p.110-111 , Dec 18, 2007

The "Irreconcilable Wing of Islam" threatens our way of life

Beyond the Petraeus Report, we need a report on the larger war with the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam. This enemy is irreconcilable with the modern civilized world because its values would block any woman from being in this room, having a job, voting, being education. It is irreconcilable because it cannot tolerate other religions or other lifestyles. It represents what some have called an Islamofascist approach to imposing its views on others and as such it is a moral threat to our way of life, to freedom, and to the rule of law.

The Irreconcilable Wing of Islam has emerged as an extremist movement against not only non-Muslims but also against moderate Muslims who wish both to preserve their faith and to be a part of the modern world.

Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p.292 , Dec 18, 2007

Deadline for Iraqi withdrawal is legislating defeat

Q [to Dodd]: Should the US set a firm deadline for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq?

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , May 20, 2007

Even if Iraq IS a civil war, people have won civil wars

Q [to Dodd]: If you withdrew American troops by a date certain, what happened if total civil war erupted?

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , May 20, 2007

Pressure Iran to cut off Iraq, including blockading Iran

[We should] say to the Iranians, “If you don’t cut off everything you’re doing, we’ll begin to bring enormous pressure to bear with you,” if necessary, blockading the flow of gasoline into Iran, which has to import 40% of its gasoline because it only has one refinery in the entire country.
Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , May 20, 2007

Iraq & Syria are enemies--ok to talk if we understand that

GINGRICH [to Dodd]: The Baker-Hamilton Commission suggested that we engage Iran & Syria, who are our enemies in the region. The fact is the Iranians want us defeated. The Iranians are providing weapons, training and money to defeat us. This would be like saying, “Why don’t we turn to Nazi Germany to help us manage fascist Italy?”

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , May 20, 2007

French didn’t abandon colonies in 1776; even when losing

GINGRICH: Prime Minister Maliki is doing the best he can in a chaotic environment. Imagine we were the French in the 1700s, saying, “Well, should we really send aid to these guys? I mean, they’ve lost New York. George Washington’s lost all these campaign & had no major victories. I mean, why are we sending money over there? This is just bad money after good.”

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , May 20, 2007

Iraqi Army risk their lives & take more casualties than US

Q: Why are the Iraqis apparently unwilling to step up and shed blood?

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?”

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , May 20, 2007

Date for withdrawal means terrorists exalt & follow us home

Q: If we set a firm date for withdrawal of US troops in Iraq, what happens?

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , May 20, 2007

War on terror is transformational, and will take many years

Pres. Bush told us the truth: It will be a hard campaign, a long war, and we will suffer setbacks on occasion. Transformational wars always take time, and always mean overcoming setbacks: It took Washington from 1776 to 1783 to win the Revolutionary War. It took Lincoln four years to finally hit on a winning strategy to win the Civil War. And the Cold War lasted more than 40 years until the Soviet Empire collapsed. We have risen to the challenge before and we can do so again. So too can we win this war.
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org , Dec 1, 2006

Defend America & allies from those who would destroy us

We must implement policies that will ensure America’s leadership, safety, and prosperity. To achieve this future we will defend America and our allies from those who would destroy us. To achieve security, we will develop the intelligence, diplomatic, information, defense, and homeland security systems and resources for success.
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org , Dec 1, 2006

Critical of how Iraq war has been fought

The former House speaker has been critical of the war and the way it has been fought. He has said the United States should withdraw most of its troops from Iraq, leaving a small force behind similar to the postwar forces in Korea and Germany.
Source: People’s Daily (China), “Contenders views on the war” , Nov 23, 2006

Iraq policy is a mess

Newt Gingrich said yesterday that the Bush administration has gone “off a cliff” in postwar Iraq and that “the White House has to get a grip on this.” In a blunt critique by a leading Republican, Gingrich said the administration has failed “to put the Iraqis at the center of this equation. The key to defeating the bad guys is having enough good guys who are Iraqis,” he said. The administration did not send enough Iraqi Americans there after the war, Gingrich said. On the main online site of the US occupying authority, he added, “up until last week you didn’t see a single Iraqi on that Web page, ”and now there is only one.“

The White House Chief of Staff defended the administration’s policy. ”I think things are going very well in a very tough situation in Iraq. Newt Gingrich is not all-knowing,“ he said.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D,NY), who recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, said she agreed with Gingrich. She blamed the administration for ”miscalculation“ and ”inept planning“ in Iraq.

Source: Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, Page A07 , Dec 8, 2003

Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Gingrich introduced the Jerusalem Embassy Act

Corresponding House bill is H.R.1595. Became Public Law No: 104-45.
Source: Bill sponsored by 77 Senators and 78 Reps 95-S1322 on Oct 13, 1995

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Page last updated: May 31, 2012