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Newt Gingrich on Iraq
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Much of the leftysphere is pointing at this and saying things like "Even Gingrich wants to cut and run", but I think that's not quite right...
Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, told students and faculty at the University of South Dakota Monday that the United States should pull out of Iraq and leave a small force there, just as it did post-war in Korea and Germany.

"It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003," Gingrich said during a question-and-answer session at the school. "We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it."
In fact, this is very precisely the kind of policy we ought to be pursuing, and it's consistent with the idea that we need to help Iraq see it through. I pointed to a similar Stratfor policy in May of 2004, and (last year) argued that "we need to retain a real footprint in Iraq, albeit in the southern and western areas" while negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement for the disposition of those reduced forces "while we still have leverage and influence".

More completely, I've recommended...
  • How will we redeploy our troops?
    We ought to be able to bring many Guard and combat units back home, while redeploying some to nearby areas. (e.g., Afghanistan, Kuwait) Meanwhile, our footprint in Iraq should be minimized, with as much support as possible done from positions of obscurity — i.e., the sparsely occupied southern and western deserts.

    The US should gradually shift our posture from combat to support, and, eventually, to a Status of Forces Agreement where we only act as a tripwire—a consequence multiplier—as we do in the Korean DMZ.

  • What will Iraqi troops do with responsibility?
    Iraqi troops will not devolve into brutal sectarian militias, bent on accumulating power for their group, sect or politician. I hope.

    Failing that, however, there's little left for us but to wish them well storming the castle and hope the civil war doesn't last too long.
In fact, I would argue leaving US troops for emergency tripwire/support would be a far more conservative — and realistic — policy at this stage. Not to be too self-referential (I've been banging on this for awhile), but as I wrote in June of 2005...
[L]et's recognize the merit of some timetable arguments ... there's a great deal of merit to the idea that the Iraqis aren't just going to be born great in the next year or so; the Iraqis also need to have greatness thrust upon them.
As Kevin Drum writes, "artificial deadlines don't mean much, and Iraqis know this... Real deadlines, on the other hand, the kind that lead to real consequences, produce action.

So, sure. Give them a timetable to take responsibility, an incentive to get their house in order. So long as the timetable doesn't create a life or death/win or fail moment in time—so long as we draw back, not out—we can continue to advance, perhaps faster, down the path of Iraqi democratization.
At this point, whether Iraq will stand or fall depends upon whether it's leaders can take responsibility. If they can keep falling back on us, there's plenty of incentive to delay. Pulling back and recognizing that reality is exactly right, but it's also perfectly consistent with the mission we're trying to accomplish.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Gingrich has since clarified his statement, its not quite the same as cut and run.
Written By: kyle N
Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, told students and faculty at the University of South Dakota Monday that the United States should pull out of Iraq and leave a small force there, just as it did post-war in Korea and Germany.
What is he talking about!?!?! A small force, at least in Germany, was the skeletal remains of an ARMY, 4 under-strength divisions, building to a force of 2 Corps and 7 divisions, with REFORGER growing to 10 divisions for war, all told 400,000 troops, plus several hundred thousand Air Force personnel. I liked Mr. Newt and all, but that first part of his statement is simply untrue. And you Jon, can PERSONALLY testify to it.

As for Korea it took a number of years for the troop levels to fall to the 2nd ID, IIRC. And even then the US planned on massively reinforcing Korea in the event of war. The US never/hasn’t come home from Korea nor deployed a small number of troops in Korea.

Newt is living in the basing his ideas on the world of TODAY, acting as if they were the world of yester-year and therefore hoary, tried and true ideas. He’s acting, here, akin to Buchanan, who dismisses the threat of Hitler, without examining the REAL historical record of the era.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I understand your argument but I think we’re past the point where such a strategy would be effective.

In the meantime, I can’t shake this feeling that the insurgency is fueled by unemployment more than anything else. Hopefully this week I’ll get a chance to compare Iraqi employment rates with insurgency activity to see if there is any correlation.

Written By: Peter Jackson
The term "cut and run" implies to me an attitude that Gingrich simply does not have with regard to Iraq. In fact, Gingrich said pretty much this same thing a decade ago, about Bosnia. It would be a far more conservative policy, but I am not sure it is more realistic — that depends on our objectives. The insurgency will not play out like Korea or Germany, because it does fall into a clearly defined geography. What would qualify as setting off the tripwire?

It is interesting that Gingrich is one who has argued loudest that Clinton never should have set the 12 month timetable in Bosnia. Setting a timetable doesn’t just tell the Iraqi government when they have to step up by; it also tells the opposition when to position themselves for a ramp-up in violence.
Written By: Wulf
September 2004: Gingrich Blasts Critics of Iraq War Who ‘Complain We’re Not Winning Fast Enough’

Think Progress | April 12 2006

Yesterday, former House speak Newt Gingrich declared that the occupation of Iraq has been a mistake for the last 34 months:

It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy [Iraq] after June of 2003.

For Gingrich, it’s a dramatic reversal. In December 2003 (six months after he claimed the occupation of Iraq became a mistake), Gingrich expressed his support for the continuing operations:

I think it’s easy to go back now and second-guess. But when I look back and I think about what we felt in February and March and April, I think it was the right war, it was the right decision. [Fox, Hannity & Colmes, 12/8/03]

In September 2004 (15 months after he says the occupation was a mistake) Gingrich blasted critics who complained “we’re not winning fast enough”:

And instead of applauding this deliberate effort to minimize American casualties and to strengthen the Iraqis, we have some of our friends here at home who want it both ways. They want to complain that we’re not winning fast enough, and they want to complain if we take any casualties. You can’t have it both ways. [Fox, Hannity & Colmes, 9/27/04]

Meet the new Newt. Nothing like the old Newt.

UPDATE: Salon’s War Room finds another good Gingrich quote from 1/19/06: “I think it’s quite clear…that bin Laden and his lieutenants are monitoring the American news media, they’re monitoring public opinion polling, and I suspect they take a great deal of comfort when they see people attacking United States policies.”

What a guy.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
You should check out Gingrich’s clarification:
Written By: Joe
Oh im sure he has one, you would kind of have to after that kind of doublespeak.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Chris, it looks to me like you are looking for doublespeak.

If you remove enough context from their comments, any public figure can be made to look like a doublespeaking jackass. What’s your point?
Written By: Wulf
Sorry Wulf, didnt know you were a big Gingrich guy.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
You’re getting colder, Chris.
Written By: Wulf
Newt’s another stand-up "family values" republican:
It’s true that Gingrich is no longer in Congress, where he orchestrated the impeachment of the president of the United States over charges rising from Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliances. But Gingrich, through his many public appearances, remains a self-appointed definer of the Republican Revolution, which counted family values at its core. These very values are called into question if the married speaker of the House was having an affair with a much-younger congressional employee who ultimately reported to him.

Critics of Gingrich have long made much of the insensitivity he demonstrated in serving his first wife with divorce papers while she was in the hospital being treated for cancer. Nor did news of his efforts to cut life insurance coverage for the mother of his children always endear Gingrich to his family values supporters, but it was generally assumed that his marital errors were in the past.

This time, his approach was less personal. Marianne Gingrich told the Washington Post that she was informed of the affair and the request for a divorce last May in a telephone call from Newt to her mother’s home, where she was visiting.

After first expressing best wishes to his mother-in-law on her 84th birthday, he asked to speak to his wife, who was soon reduced to tears by Newt’s news.

"I said, ’Marianne, what’s wrong?’ " Gingrich’s mother-in-law told the Washington Post, and she said her daughter replied, "He doesn’t want me as his wife anymore." According to the Post: "There was a second jolt soon afterward. Newt Gingrich, now 56, informed his wife that he was having an affair with a congressional aide, a woman 23 years his junior."

Marianne Gingrich told the Post she was "totally shocked" by the news, and her attorneys last week obtained court permission to interview Gingrich and Callista Bisek, a scheduler and assistant hearing clerk for the House Agriculture Committee since early 1995. The relationship allegedly began that year.

As House speaker, Gingrich had ultimate power over the woman’s career, raising questions of sexual harassment. Was he engaging in this behavior while he led the condemnation of the president? And doesn’t Gingrich’s alleged behavior suggest the sort of "sexual addiction," "compulsive risk taking" and "moral relativism" that Clinton’s critics have venomously denounced in him?
Written By: rkrider
URL: http://

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