Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Gingrich at the Gate

Although Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives who was forced to relinquish his post over a series of ethical...

Although Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives who was forced to relinquish his post over a series of ethical missteps, is still considering his options regarding a run for the 2008 presidency, there's little doubt that he wants to be president. Gingrich, who has never been camera shy and appears regularly on the Fox News Channel, does not hesitate to let audiences know where he stands on the critical issues of our time. (His upcoming schedule includes speaking engagements at the American College of Dermatology convention, the World Money Show in Orlando, Florida, an Ameritrade conference in Los Angeles, and the Texas Bankers Association.)

Late last year, at an annual dinner in New Hampshire held in memory of the late publisher of the conservative Manchester Union Leader and honoring individuals who stand up for free speech, Gingrich proposed that new strategies and tactics in the war on terror should be considered, including a reexamination of First Amendment rights. Gingrich said: "This is a serious, long-term war, and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear or biological weapons" (November 27, 2006).

In recent days, Gingrich has called on Congress to enact legislation to make English the official U.S. language; spelled out his ideas about transforming America's healthcare system using information technology; and prepared a new "Contract With America for the 21st Century," which "proposes private savings accounts for Social Security, 'patriotic education' in public schools, and the appointment of judges who understand the 'centrality of God in American history,'" as the Washington Post recently reported.

To raise the money necessary to push his plans—and possibly his presidential ambitions— Gingrich recently formed a new "527" organization called American Solutions for Winning the Future. (Such 527 groups are often called "soft-money" PACs because they are not subject to the Federal Election Commission's PAC regulations.)

The former Speaker has also been poking around religious frames, dabbling in the Armageddon business. During a July 2006 fundraising trip to Washington State, Gingrich used the term "World War III" in describing the war on terror, the Seattle Times reported. He maintained that using the phrase might reenergize the GOP's base, suggesting that public opinion could change "the minute you use the language" of World War III. The message, he said, was, "Okay, if we're in the third world war, which side do you think should win?"

In late January 2007, Gingrich was off on a similar track, warning that nuclear weapons constitute the threat of a second Holocaust. At the annual Herzliya Conference held by the Institute for Policy and Strategy, Gingrich, speaking via satellite from the United States, maintained that " Israel is facing the greatest danger for its survival since the 1967 victory … If two or three cities are destroyed because of terrorism both the United States' and Israel's democracy will be eroded and both will become greater dictatorial societies … Three nuclear weapons constitute a second Holocaust. Enemies are explicit in their desire to destroy us. We are sleepwalking through this as if diplomatic engagement will create a fiesta where we will all love one another " (January 24, 2007). Other conference speakers, including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, GOP presidential hopeful Republican Mitt Romney, and neoconservative stalwart Richard Perle, were also in agreement that the number one problem in the Middle East is Iran.

Since leaving Congress, Gingrich has enjoyed a host of posts at neoconservative and hardline think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Hoover Institution. In November 2001 he was appointed to the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board (DPB), an advisory board for the Department of Defense, where he served with such top-shelf neoconservatives as Perle, James Woolsey, Ken Adelman, and Eliot Cohen.

Although occasionally critical of the way the Iraq War has been conducted, in late December, the Sunday Times (London) reported that Gingrich and fellow DPB members called "for a cross between the New Deal and the post-Second World War Marshall Plan that would 'mop up every young Iraqi male who is unemployed.'" Gingrich said it would be "as big a strategic step toward victory as whether you have more troops or fewer troops" (Sunday Times, December 24, 2006).

On January 12, 2007, Gingrich penned with (fellow presidential hopeful) former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that supported the new neoconservative position on Iraq that "victory" there must be had: " The American mission in Iraq must succeed." However, unlike the recent plans from Bush (and an even more militaristic proposal from AEI scholars) to "surge" troop levels, Gingrich and Giuliani focused on the need to rebuild Iraq's civil infrastructure: "Our goal—promoting a stable, accountable democracy in the heart of the Middle East—cannot be achieved by purely military means."

On the Election 2008 front, many GOPers are disappointed with the current crop of declared candidates for the presidential nomination. "They all suck," Erick Erickson, CEO of the Republican blog RedState.com recently wrote. "From the lecherous adulterer [Rudy Giuliani] to the egomaniacal nut job [Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)] to the flip-flopping opportunist with the perfect hair [former Massachusetts Governor Romney] to the guy who hates brown people [Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO)] to the guy we've never heard of [Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)] to the guy who has a better chance of getting hit by a meteor while being consumed by a blue whale being struck by lightning [Rep. Sam Brownback (R-KS)]."

Gingrich's 527 group American Solutions for Winning the Future "received its first significant early contribution of $1 million from" Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon G. Adelson shortly after the November elections, according to Gingrich's longtime friend and colleague Matt Towery. The Washington Post reported that, "Adelson was listed by Forbes magazine in 2006 as America's third-richest man, with assets of more than $20 billion. His long list of political donations, primarily to Republicans, includes $100,000 to the Republican National Committee in 1997 and 1998, when Gingrich was speaker" (Washington Post, January 23, 2007).

Back in the day, this huge contribution from a gambling honcho might have tickled the former Republican Party über-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. However, it is a donation that is not likely to sit well with the so-called traditional values crowd.

"The problem is the income comes from what we call a vice, and that is an issue," the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the GOP's Traditional Values Coalition, told the Washington Post.

Towery, a former national Republican legislator of the year and the author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America, views Gingrich "as a likely, viable candidate for president in 2008." He was flabbergasted, however, that Gingrich would seek out funds from gambling interests, and is sternly advising him to give the money back immediately. "Newt's ability to raise funds is legendary," Towery pointed out in a January 25 column. "His concept of researching new ideas for America and sharing them with any and all takers—including presidential contenders—is laudable. But these strong points of Gingrich's will be a secondary consideration by potential supporters of his potential candidacy if he continues to operate with a Vegas high-roller image," Towery added (TownHall.com, January 25, 2007).

By accepting the gambling money, Gingrich's 527 looks "like a front for gaming interests," Towery said. "Or worse, a loud echo to the Abramoff scandal."

Some on the right, like RedState's Erick Erickson, also seem to have an innate discomfort with the idea of imagining Gingrich as president. While arguing that he would like to see Gingrich in the contest—so that he could move the debate further to the right—Erickson opined: "I don't know that I'd trust him with that much power."

Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering right-wing groups and movements and a contributor to Right Web (rightweb.irc-online.org).

 
 

Citations

Bill Berkowitz, "Gingrich at the Gate," Right Web Analysis (Somerville, MA: International Relations Center, February 8, 2007).

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Bernard Lewis was a renowned historian of Islam and the Middle East who stirred controversy with his often chauvinistic attitude towards the Muslim world and his associations with high-profile neoconservatives and foreign policy hawks.


John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, is President Trump’s National Security Adviser McMaster, reflecting a sharp move to the hawkish extreme by the administration.


Michael Joyce, who passed away in 2006, was once described by neoconservative guru Irving Kristol as the “godfather of modern philanthropy.”


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Michael Flynn is a former Trump administration National Security Advisor who was forced to step down only weeks on the job because of his controversial contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.


Since taking office Donald Trump has revealed an erratic and extremely hawkish approach to U.S. foreign affairs, which has been marked by controversial actions like dropping out of the Iran nuclear agreement that have raised tensions across much of the world and threatened relations with key allies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Soon after a Saudi-led coalition strike on a bus killed 40 children on August 9, a CENTCOM spokesperson stated to Vox, “We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the U.S. sold to them.”


The West has dominated the post-war narrative with its doctrine of liberal values, arguing that not only were they right in themselves but that economic success itself depended on their application. Two developments have challenged those claims. The first was the West’s own betrayal of its principles: on too many occasions the self interest of the powerful, and disdain for the victims of collateral damage, has showed through. The second dates from more recently: the growth of Chinese capitalism owes nothing to a democratic system of government, let alone liberal values.


Falsely demonizing all Muslims, their beliefs, and their institutions is exactly the wrong way to make Americans safer, because the more we scare ourselves with imaginary enemies, the harder it will be to find and protect ourselves from real ones.


Division in the ranks of the conservative movement is a critical sign that a war with Iran isn’t inevitable.


Donald Trump stole the headlines, but the declaration from the recent NATO summit suggests the odds of an unnecessary conflict are rising. Instead of inviting a dialogue, the document boasts that the Alliance has “suspended all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia.” The fact is, NATO was a child of the Cold War, when the West believed that the Soviets were a threat. But Russia today is not the Soviet Union, and there’s no way Moscow would be stupid enough to attack a superior military force.


War with Iran may not be imminent, but neither was war with Iraq in late 2001.


Donald Trump was one of the many bets the Russians routinely place, recognizing that while most such bets will never pay off a few will, often in unpredictable ways. Trump’s actions since taking office provide the strongest evidence that this one bet is paying off handsomely for the Russians. Putin could hardly have made the script for Trump’s conduct at the recent NATO meeting any more to his liking—and any better designed to foment division and distrust within the Western alliance—than the way Trump actually behaved.


RightWeb
share