Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich rejects allegations that he changed his mind on a no-fly zone over Libyan skies, and told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday he would have stuck to his opposition to military intervention if the Obama administration had a consistent message on the mission in Libya.
“If we had a choice, if President Obama had not come out and said ‘Gadhafi has to go,’ I would have preferred the Reagan-Eisenhower model of using the CIA, using our allies, having Moroccan, Egyptian, Jordanian, Iraqi forces helping the people who are going to overthrow [Moammar] Gadhafi,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich acknowledged he did tell Van Susteren at first that he thought the United States should not intervene militarily, but as she pointed out, he altered his position once Obama called for Gadhafi’s ouster.
“As you point out, the second reference was with you, I believe, once again, after the president on March 3rd said he wanted to get rid of Gadhafi. And I said, as a first step to getting rid of Gadhafi that I would support a no-fly zone,” he said. “But that's not where we are. We're in chaos right now.
“The Germans are pulling out of the coalition; the French are arguing with us about what the coalition's duties are; the Arab League is turning out to be totally undependable,” Gingrich continued. “The American government itself is confused. There’s a difference between the State Department, the Defense Department, and the White House.”
Gingrich, who is considering a run for president in 2012, reiterated his previous statements that the mission is “doomed to failure” if Gadhafi is not removed.
“It will be an American defeat, and it’s wrong,” he said. “And so I was responding in each case to changes in Obama’s position. And obviously, my analysis is going to change as the facts on the ground change. Today we’re in a situation where the president of the United States has pitted the prestige of the United States to getting rid of Gadhafi.”
Gingrich also wondered why the Obama administration picked Gadhafi, when other world dictators also are oppressing their people.
“I think that's sort of question number one: Why did they pick this particular disastrous dictator that is oppressing his people when there are so many opportunities in other places?” he said. “But part two of that is, if they're serious — and I frankly can’t tell how much of this is just amateurism and how much of it is serious professionalism — if they're serious about protecting civilians, you can't do that from the air.
“Gadhafi is going to use light infantry. He’s going to use his secret police. He’s going to be in the cities. He’s going to be inside buildings,” Gingrich continued. “You’re not going to stop that with air power. This is a fundamental mistake and I think is a typical politician’s overreliance on air power.”