Gingrich Calls for Complete Change in Middle East Policy

Friday, 21 Sep 2012 08:23 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is calling for an immediate change in U.S. policy toward the Middle East, including a stronger commitment to Israel's security, a complete cut off of aid to Egypt, a reassessment of strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a new energy policy "that decisively liberates us" from relying on the region.
 
"I think we should have a total reassessment of our entire strategy for the region," Gingrich said Thursday in response to the administration's late acknowledgement that the attacks on the Libyan consulate that left four Americans dead was an act of terrorism.
 
"I don't think we appreciate yet how much turmoil the region is going to be in," he told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren in an interview, noting that a number of radical Islamic groups are emerging in the wake of the Arab Spring.

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Gingrich described his call for the swift creation of an independent energy policy the most important part of a new Middle East strategy. He said much of the U.S. money now being paid to  Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries in the region ends up funding terrorism.
 
"I think the first thing you do is you create an American energy policy that creates, as [Mitt] Romney has said, a North American energy independence in this decade," Gingrich said.
 
"By the way, in this administration, we've actually increased the amount of oil we're buying from Saudi Arabia," he continued. "So we are asking the Saudis to increase their oil production so we can buy more of their oil, so we can send more money to them, so they can fund the very people who are attacking embassies and burning flags and killing Americans.
 
"That's a pretty irrational national strategy. I think we need a new American energy strategy that decisively liberates us from relying on the Middle East."
 
The former speaker and presidential candidate again accused President Barack Obama of being "an appeaser," as he put it, for initially blaming the attack on the consulate in Benghazi and the ant-American protests in the region on an American Internet video denigrating the Prophet Mohammed.  
 
"I think that President Obama, deep in his own belief system, cannot bring himself [to] accept the fact that there's a radical Islamist faction that is totally incompatible with American values," Gingrich said. "And so he keeps looking for any other excuse, any other explanation."
 
Gingrich said if it turns out to be true that some group with ties to al-Qaida "was strong enough and clever enough to kill the American ambassador in Benghazi, then all the victory dances they've been doing about having killed Osama bin Laden are, in fact, pretty phony."
 
"They're as wrong as President [George W.] Bush having had the 'Mission Accomplished' session on the aircraft carrier" in 2003, announcing an end to major combat operations in Iraq.
 
"The fact is, we are in a much deeper struggle," Gingrich told Van Susteren. "It has much greater implications. And nobody in our national establishment wants to have an honest conversation about how hard this is going to be and how long this is going to last.
 
"Not necessarily like Afghanistan or Iraq, but we're going to have people out there who hate us, and who want to kill us, and who want to defeat our civilization for a very long time," he added.
 
Gingrich also said the administration should move as quickly as possible to shore up its relationship with Israel, which he has a "a huge problem" in the region because of the new threats brought on by the Arab Spring.
 
"They have a decaying Egyptian government on one front. They have increased threats from Gaza and from the Sinai. They have a collapsing Syrian dictatorship [with] an enormous supply of chemical weapons," Gingrich said.

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"As these dictatorships collapse, you're seeing more and more weapons get in the hands of extremists. The Israelis have a real fear . . . they may suddenly see Syrian chemical weapons being fired at them by Hezbollah in very substantial quantities."
 
Gingrich described President Obama as "a brilliant man" who understands the new challenges in the Middle East. But he criticized the president for not reacting to the recent outbreaks of violence and attacks on U.S. embassies, which Gingrich called acts of war, the way a commander-in-chief should.
 
"This is almost like a Vaudeville act. This is the presidency as entertainment," Gingrich said. "It's not the presidency as leadership. It's not the presidency as commander-in-chief. And I'm not sure that entertainer-in- chief is a very comforting concept, given the level of danger we now see in the world."
 
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