Newt Gingrich: Mideast interventions and “nation-building” efforts have backfired

by 1389 on August 5, 2013

in "Arab Spring", 1389 (blog admin), Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria

Washington Times: Newt Gingrich sees major Mideast mistakes, rethinks his neocon views on intervention

Welcomes libertarian debate on U.S. military involvement

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a leading neoconservative hawk and staunch supporter of Israel, says the U.S. military interventions he has long supported to promote democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere have backfired and need to be re-evaluated.

“I am a neoconservative. But at some point, even if you are a neoconservative, you need to take a deep breath to ask if our strategies in the Middle East have succeeded,” the 2012 Republican presidential hopeful said in an interview.

Mr. Gingrich supported the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, but he said he has increasingly doubted the strategy of attempting to export democracy by force to countries where the religion and culture are not hospitable to Western values.

“It may be that our capacity to export democracy is a lot more limited than we thought,” he said.

Mr. Gingrich at times has expressed doubts about the U.S. capacity for nation-building, but he said he now has formed his own conclusions about their failures in light of the experiences of the past decade.

“My worry about all this is not new,” Mr. Gingrich said. “But my willingness to reach a conclusion is new.”

Mr. Gingrich said it is time for Republicans to heed some of the anti-interventionist ideas offered by the libertarian-minded Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, and Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, tea party favorite and foreign policy skeptic.

“I think it would be healthy to go back and war-game what alternative strategies would have been better, and I like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul because they are talking about this,” Mr. Gingrich said.

Mr. Paul, a longtime critic of neoconservatives on foreign policy, argues that war must be a last resort and never should be used for nation-building.

In a June 24 column in The Washington Times, Mr. Paul wrote that Americans were told for many years that the radical Taliban would return to power quickly unless U.S. forces remained in Afghanistan.

“Well, guess what, after 12 years, trillions of dollars, more than 2,200 Americans killed, and perhaps more than 50,000 dead Afghan civilians and fighters, the Taliban is coming back anyway!” Mr. Paul wrote.

He noted a similar pattern of radical resurgence in Iraq after American forces withdrew.

As far back as December 2003, Mr. Gingrich was questioning the follow-up for the successful U.S. invasion.

“I am very proud of what [Operation Iraqi Freedom commander Gen.] Tommy Franks did — up to the moment of deciding how to transfer power to the Iraqis. Then we go off a cliff,” he told Newsweek magazine. He said the point should have been “not ‘How many enemy do I kill?’, [but] ‘How many allies do I grow?’”

He also noted his past wariness about U.S. military interventions, often telling audiences that “we could directly guarantee democracy in Iraq and not stay a day longer than needed in Korea.” “Korea has been a 63-year engagement,” he added with a laugh.

Mr. Gingrich argued less than two years ago that President Obama should have “quietly tried to push” Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak out of office.

But he now questions whether even U.S. indirect intervention in Egypt to back the overthrow of the longtime Egyptian leader and U.S. ally might have been a mistake. “Here’s a simple question: ‘Is Egypt really better off than going back to Mubarak since it’s hard to argue that the Muslim Brotherhood’s dictatorship is better than Mubarak?’” Mr. Gingrich said.

The former speaker added that U.S. military action in Syria would risk a repeat of interventionist foreign policy mistakes.

“I explicitly would not go into Syria,” he said. “I would look at the whole question of how we think of the governments in other countries,” he said.

He said the result may be another military dictatorship in Egypt and that would be better than rule by the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood.

“It’s hard to argue the chaos in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Lebanon make for a better future,” Mr. Gingrich said.

The fear of many in the United States and Israel is that the Arab Spring is bringing not Western-style democracy but simply replacing secular authoritarians with militantly Islamic religious governments that are hostile to Israel and the U.S., he said.

“I certainly would have allied myself in the 1970s and 1980s with the strategy of intervention and defeating the Soviet Union, but there is definitely a reflection point for conservatives and Republican Party leaders on how we have approached our major national security questions,” Mr. Gingrich said. “I am not alone in asking the question: ‘Are we making progress after the Arab Spring?’”

Continue reading…

I left the following comment:

Newt, I hope you’re seeing these comments. I voted for you and I would do so again.

But please stop calling yourself a “neoconservative.” The neocons were a bunch of misguided policy wonks who believed that the US could insure its future prosperity and superpower status by carving out a sphere of influence in the Muslim world.

That was frankly delusional. No Muslim power has anything to offer the US. We don’t need their oil and we don’t need their violence and their propaganda and their terrorism. We have all the energy resources we need, right here at home.

Islam is toxic and inherently subversive. Islamic doctrine is completely incompatible with any type of civil society, with a republic, or with the freedoms we once held dear.

It’s long past time to cut all ties to the Muslim world. Stop subsidizing them – keep our tax dollars at home. Stop selling our souls to form illusory “alliances” with Muslim powers.

Enough already!

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: