Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has taken over as the latest in a line of non-Mitt Romney GOP frontrunners. His brash, nearly abrasive style of politicking that won the Republicans the legislature for a decade in the 90s has been toned down, and he has proven to be at least on par with Romney for presidential chops. Intellectually capable and increasingly popular, Gingrich, long ago written off as a hopeless has-been, might actually pip Romney to the GOP nomination and – gasp! – win against President Barack Obama.
Except, of course, he’s borderline delusional and just about the last person you would want hovering a finger over the nuclear trigger.
When interviewing with the press, presidential hopefuls must display their prowess with two questions: “How will I fix the economy?” and “What will my foreign policy be?” For the former, Gingrich has, like the rest of the Republican field, satisfied his party’s base with the typical pro-business, tax-reducing talk and has since made some concessions to the GOP’s new economic gospel of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget reducing plan.
But in terms of foreign policy, Gingrich has shown that he runs a very dangerous game.
Gingrich, while not part of the “club” in President George W. Bush’s administration, is a foreign policy neoconservative. Gingrich rose to national political prominence at America’s “end of history” moment after the Cold War, believing – like the later foreign policy trio of Rice, Wolfowitz, and Bolton – that America had a moral duty to the world, as the shining city on the hill, to fight “evil.”
Gingrich believes that he has to do all he can to prepare America for this fight which would be an existential battle between the forces of justice, liberty, and democracy against darkness and tyranny. It would be “us-vs-them” and America had to strike first and strike hard. His lauded rallying of the conservative base was an attempt to safeguard America’s civilizational future.
Of course, Gingrich at his most influential was never able to formulate an aggressive foreign policy and he, in fact, initially opposed American intervention in the Balkans. While his congressional record might indicate a rather dovish outlook, that has since changed.
Gingrich has since called for a more aggressive stance on North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and just about any other state that does not neatly fall into America’s sphere. Now, this wouldn’t be all that alarming in of itself. After all, it seems that to be a part of the GOP club nowadays, as one has to be at least willing to publically denounce those state sponsors of terrorism and rattle the mighty saber. But Newt’s paranoia extends ever further.
Through his works, his books, and his public appearances, it seems that Gingrich believes that the world will end or, at best, that American civilization is threatened by nefarious foreign powers. This is not a recent trend either. He once suggested that he was all that stood between our present period of peace and stability and another Auschwitz.
Gingrich sees threats everywhere and evil lurking in every corner. America, it seems to Gingrich, is dangling over a precipice and is threatened at every turn. If it isn’t the North Koreans – who, according to Gingrich, should be attacked with lasers – then it’s “stealth jihadists” or nuclear extremists in Pakistan. Or perhaps it would be Iran, a state without the remotest possibility of striking at this country, and yet one that Newt has doubts over whether America could survive a conflict with it.
But the weapon that Gingrich fears the most is the electromagnetic pulse, so much so that he wrote a foreword for a science-fiction novel based on that premise. He went on to claim that millions and the whole of American civilization were vulnerable to it right now.
As president, one will have to analyze dozens of intelligence reports and state department cables, all full of threat assessments and suspicions. A president must be able to coolly and rationally prioritize foreign policy, by coordinating with advisors before rushing off on a course of action.
To seasoned Newt-watchers, with Gingrich’s history of paranoia and eschatological sentiments, one really has to fear a Newt Planet.
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