Gingrich: I’ve been consistent on Libya all along

posted at 8:48 am on March 30, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Newt Gingrich has taken a bit of a beating over the last couple of weeks over alleged changes in his position on using military force in Libya. Critics accused the potential presidential candidate of simply gainsaying whatever Barack Obama did and not holding a consistent position on how the US should handle the crisis in Libya. Today, his team released to Hot Air a video compilation of Gingrich’s comments from late February, interspersed with Obama’s comments, to argue that Gingrich has been consistent all along. Obama’s actions made moot his earlier recommendations, and his delay ruined what chances for success a no-fly zone had when Gingrich reluctantly backed it — and only did so after Obama made regime change the public position of the US:

Here’s there accompanying statement:

Before March 3rd, US military force was not necessary to help remove Qadaffi who was clearly in a weak position. The United States could have worked with our allies and particularly our Arab allies to use quiet, covert, and indirect action to get rid of Qadaffi. But on March 3rd the president took those options off the table when he unambiguously declared that the Qadaffi must step down from power and leave. Obama repeated this objective again on March 11. But from his initial statement of March 3rd, when he put the authority and prestige of the United States against a dictator, the president committed the United States to that objective. Anything less than the removal of Qadaffi will be seen as a defeat for the United States.

Given the new reality, Gingrich commented on March 7th that we should declare a no-fly zone in support of the president’s mission to oust the dictator. But on March 19th the president dropped his objective of getting rid of Qadaffi and adopted the UN’s objective of enforcing a no-fly zone for humanitarian reasons and explicitly rejected the goal of defeating Qadaffi.

Gingrich said at that time that he could not support using the U.S military for a strictly humanitarian intervention. His message has been clear and consistent. Prior to March 3rd, he would not have intervened but used other means to defeat the dictator, but after the president’s March 3rd statement, he said that only reason to use our military force was to get rid of Qadaffi. He has maintained that position.

To be fair, it’s possible that the US did attempt to apply covert action to get Gaddafi out of power, or at least to convince the military to revolt. If we did, it didn’t succeed, obviously, but we won’t know what happened (if anything) for a while, probably for years. Gingrich is right that a NFZ would have been more effective three weeks earlier, when Gaddafi was isolated to Tripoli and an air campaign could have kept his forces bottled up. By the time Libyan ground forces reached Benghazi, it was far too late for a bombing campaign to be effective as a game-ender; about the best it can accomplish now is a long, protracted, and bloody stalemate.

So yes, there is a subtle but important distinction in when one supported an NFZ, and when change could possibly have been necessary without overt American military action. Gingrich makes a good point when he says that his analysis will change as facts on the ground do — a piece of advice that Obama, NATO, and the UN would have done well to heed in this case.

Did Gingrich’s argument convince you? Take the poll:


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Just go away….please…

PatriotRider on March 30, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Is this the NEWT DOCTRINE?

joe btfsplk on March 30, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Sometimes you just have to shake your head.

So many of our freaking politicians are just wind vanes.

jake-the-goose on March 30, 2011 at 8:54 AM

I can’t watch the video, so I won’t cast a vote. But if the biggest reason for his “flip-flop” was that Obama’s indecisiveness caused the NFZ to be rendered ineffective, then Newt deserves some slack for changing his position. If I recall, Palin also supported a NFZ early on, and she’s not getting too much heat from the base for her views “evolving”(as Obama would put it).

Doughboy on March 30, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Sometimes you just have to shake your head.

jake-the-goose on March 30, 2011 at 8:54 AM

With Newt, you’ll end up unscrewing your cap.

Ugly on March 30, 2011 at 8:57 AM

My Lord.

Rome is burning, our Fiscal house of cards is just one incident away from collapsing and this flip flop by a former failed Politician from the 1990′s?

These politicians just don’t care, NONE OF THEM.

Is there anyone that looks like they are running that is really really willing to do what it takes to clean up our fiscal house?

Libya/Iraq/Afghanistan……..wars we’re borrowing to pay for………what next?

And Barone wonders where the Tea Party enthusiasm is?

When we hear Newt and TPaw and Daniels and Romney and….and….we don’t hear CONVICTION, we don’t sense SERIOUSNESS, we realize we are finished as a nation if someone doesn’t step up.

PappyD61 on March 30, 2011 at 8:57 AM

Old establishment politician who is part of the problem and not a part of the solution… Talks out of both sides of his mouth.

Keemo on March 30, 2011 at 8:58 AM

He’s just going thru the motions of running for President so he can stay relevant in DC circles and cocktail parties…

PatriotRider on March 30, 2011 at 8:58 AM

“Gingrich: I’ve been consistent on Libya all along”

“I voted for it, before I voted against it.”

Compare, and contrast.

juanito on March 30, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Newt’s problem is that his ego is always out of control. You would have to be Obama, a man with the same ego problem, to have the MSM let you get away with that stuff. What Newt needs is some humility but he just can’t get himself to do it. It he did, he could be president. As it stands now, it would never happen

georgealbert on March 30, 2011 at 8:59 AM

OT but check out this parody of “Faces Of Meth” called “Faces Of Liberalism”

trapeze on March 30, 2011 at 9:00 AM

I’m getting a little down…no posts about Chris Christie lately…

PatriotRider on March 30, 2011 at 9:01 AM

With Newt, you’ll end up unscrewing your cap.

Ugly on March 30, 2011 at 8:57 AM

Right you are.

Ever noticed that when Newt is in an awkward interview, his eyes dart up and down? Clear indication of “I’m screwed”.

Smart man – lousy leader.

jake-the-goose on March 30, 2011 at 9:02 AM

I’m consistent about Newt. I do not trust him.

Fallon on March 30, 2011 at 9:03 AM

I was for it before I was against it. Or I will take the exact opposite position from Obama. And if Obama is going back and forth then I will go back and forth. I have no core view of the problem and I will simply be the anti-obama no matter how stupid it makes me appear. My name is Newt by the way.

unseen on March 30, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Newt should just go home and hug his inner Callista.

onlineanalyst on March 30, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Stay home and write another book, Newt. You have reached the peak of the Peter Principle. State a position early on and stick with it as what should have been done in the first place. You should get the desired outcome if the position was correct. All he’s doing now is following Zero down the rabbit hole.

Kissmygrits on March 30, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Not electable, but will be fun to watch in the debates he will participate in…

Khun Joe on March 30, 2011 at 9:13 AM

I understand what he is saying, and he just very well may be correct, but that was not what he was conveying when he was giving his opinion at the time.

WoosterOh on March 30, 2011 at 9:14 AM

His “NewtExplore2012″ YouTube channel hasn’t exactly set YouTube on fire, with 13 “friends” and a slew of videos that most haven’t reached the 500 views mark.
Hasn’t he “found” what he’s been “exploring” for? We don’t want you and the mistress.

Marcus on March 30, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Newt deserves his due but I can’t vote for him for President. Of course, if he runs and wins the primary, sure I will. I just wish he had run for Gov somewhere.

JellyToast on March 30, 2011 at 9:21 AM

He’s been doing this flip and flop since TARP.

I used to respect Newt. Not anymore.

myrenovations on March 30, 2011 at 9:21 AM

To be fair, it’s possible that the US did attempt to apply covert action to get Gaddafi out of power, or at least to convince the military to revolt.

It would be also fair to say both Gingrich and Obama are playing political armchair quarterbacks, while one is the leader of the free world. Drawing the distinction of which one has the country’s best interest in mind just makes this whole mess even more confusing. It is my opinion that Obama is loving this “dilemma” instead of the attention he would be receiving over his utterly failed domestic and economic policies.

Rovin on March 30, 2011 at 9:22 AM

Newt needs to buy a fast food franchise and just fade away . . . he’s a “has been” and a waste of time.

rplat on March 30, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Newt is not a newt, but a cameleon.

Naturally Curly on March 30, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Newt has been consistent alright…consistently inconsistent.

RedRobin145 on March 30, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Fair enough Newt but I’m still not voting for you.

ldbgcoleman on March 30, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Don’t go away mad, Newt. Just go away.

Laura in Maryland on March 30, 2011 at 9:34 AM

This would be more believable if it weren’t for Gingrich’s other recent statements that have turned him into one of the biggest attackers of Obama on all issues. Which is fine, except that for the previous two-plus years we were getting policy wonk Newt, who was critical of Obama but in a far more tepid fashion.

So when you look at that and his criticisms of Obama on Libya, shifting in response to Obama’s shiftlessness, you could easily think “I’m Mad As Hell and I’m Not Going To Take It Anymore,” Newt Gingrich has arrived just in time to try and co-opt the base support of some of the more conservative Republican presidential candidates, before they decide and/ or formally announce presidential runs. Way too nakedly cynical, as well as being disdainful of the voters by thinking you can make them forget the Scozzafava or Park Bench with Nancy fiascos.

jon1979 on March 30, 2011 at 9:34 AM

It still doesn’t help that the wanting to get Kadaffy was seen as primary and no one wanted to look at his opponents in the early days… or weeks. Who was it that actually asked for help on the ground? Do we have a name to that person? Who are they affiliated with? How about that supposed constitution the rebels were supposed to be working on, where is that?

Basic answers at the front should drive policy, and if we don’t have names, organizations and what they expect from us and what they are willing to do to legitimize themselves, then do we really, ever, have a dog in one of these fights? It is possible to get someone worse than Kadaffy, but no one wanted to look at that concept from 30,000′.

There are lots of ‘humanitarian’ atrocities going on in Nations weaker than Libya (Ivory Coast and Somalia come to mind), as critical to the world oil business (Bahrain would fit there), with more jihadis per square mile (Yemen), and those that are larger both in size (China and its ongoing repression) and smaller (Burma, I believe fits that if not Ivory Coast). There are more vicious regimes doing worse to their own people (The Magical Kingdom of Mr. Kim in NoKo). Venezuela, Cuba and a few other places like Zimbabwe also come to mind, as well as Darfur.

So the ‘humanitarian’ bit doesn’t wash.

Not knowing who was against Kadaffy and yet wanting him out via the rebels was either knee-jerk, opportunist or carefully planned as someone knew who the rebels were backed by and didn’t want that to come out.

A NFZ doesn’t make sense if you don’t know the players in the game and we didn’t, until recently. Now that we do, why are we still there doing a NFZ?

Newt is supposed to be the older and wiser head, and yet his knee-jerk response at the start was just as vexing as Obama’s. If Americans are in dire danger (and they were at the start which would have made a neutral USMC mission to evacuate them make some sense, yet that was never floated) then protection of them is justified. Instead we had the Keystone Kops boatlift…

Even if what Newt says make sense in the old, 20th century, twisted foreign policy of the past, it makes little sense outside of those hot house confines. We aren’t in the 20th century any more… yet most of our political class is still mentally stuck in the 1970′s with one or two almost in the early 1990′s. The Old Guard has got to be ushered out of office and the political scene, as they can’t get back their ‘golden days’ without ruining the Nation and the world with their misplaced dreams of government capability and competence that never seems to actually show up.

ajacksonian on March 30, 2011 at 9:39 AM

The right thing to do/position to take would have been to stay out of it altogether. Kaddafi had been mostly defanged since 9/11. Now, like in Bosnia and Kosovo, we are taking sides with the greater of two evils in a civil war where there is no vital national interest and playing God by deciding we will use our military to kill those on the side we have decided we are against but calling it compassionate humanitarian disaster avoidance. I won’t bother discussing the timing of this misadventure. The U.N. should have been called in to intervene or “keep the peace” or whatever if we were going to do anything at all. Also like Bosnia and Kosovo, Hillary Clinton is a prime player involved in the decision to get involved. She qualifies as a mass murderer in my book, but she manages to avoid direct responsibility, so far. Killing to prevent humanitarian disasters is like fornicating to promote virginity. Whether it was in Vietnam, Central America, the Balkans, Egypt or Libya. The lefties ALWAYS back the bad-greater evil/wrong guys, but for compassionate/democartic reasons-lol.

JimP on March 30, 2011 at 9:47 AM

The only thing worse than Newt on FNC, is Newt on Hannity.
Newt, your turn at the public trough is over. Leave.

bloviator on March 30, 2011 at 9:50 AM

I just know Newt’s people are reading these comments.

Give Nanzi a call, Newt. I think you need a hug.

Naturally Curly on March 30, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Gingrich clearly has no convictions except to make the President look as bad as possible no matter what the circumstances. This is typical of conservatives including the readers here at HA, and Ed, which is why he ends his post with a poll asking if Gingrich has been convincing in claiming consistency when it’s clear he hasn’t been and why.

underceij on March 30, 2011 at 9:52 AM

PappyD61 on March 30, 2011 at 8:57 AM

I think T-Paw is quite serious.

annoyinglittletwerp on March 30, 2011 at 9:55 AM

Gingrich’s explanation makes sense but I don’t think he gets it yet. He’s an intelligent man but that only helps him in the DC circles. I don’t think he gets us folks that do the voting.

He reminds me of Nixon. I just got out of the Army in 1972 and I voted for Nixon only because McGovern was running against him. I believed that Nixon was a liar and did not like his handling of the Vietnam war.

I think of Gingrich in the same way. Duplicitous and willing to throw anyone under the bus. Hey! He’s our Obama!

Vince on March 30, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Like a game of chess good moves are based on the moves that appear on the board. A good opening move makes no sense once the pieces change position. I have sympathy for Newt there and agree that in war timing is everything and every battle plan has an expiration date or changes when you meet the enemy. What I would take issue with is that he, like the WH has said we should take him out and we should leave him alone and he should have included the words “at this point…” when he changed positions to include that the time had past for that to be clear what he was saying now and before.

Conan on March 30, 2011 at 10:09 AM

EWTN: The World Over w/ Raymond Arroyo
Guests: Newt and Callista Gingrich and Austin Ruse
Date Produced: 4/30/2010
Description: Newt and Callista Gingrich on their new film Nine Days that Changed the World, about John Paul II’s 1979 visit to Poland….. (and Newt’s conversion to Catholicism)

http://ewtn.edgeboss.net/wmedia/ewtn/audiolibrary/wo_04302010.mp3

RBMN on March 30, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Yes, to be fair to Newt, the correct answer to ‘what do we do about Lybia’ is changing.

Initially, when little Bammie was ignoring Lybia, the right answers could have been no-fly or do nothing. Little Bammie dithered for three weeks and then sent in US forces. Now the rebels’ chances of success have been diminished, and Qhudafy is enraged.

The correct answer today is -all in. We must get rid of Qadaffi or he will exact revenge for our interference, and he has the money and CB weapons to do so.

slickwillie2001 on March 30, 2011 at 10:17 AM

This is all I needed to see to know that Newt is not who we need to lead the Conservative movement:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RQKNH_nwM4

….looking at the picture of the post though…
………when was the last time a blatant,hypocritical flip-flop by Obama….you know…the President of the United States….was considered “breaking news”???????

Baxter Greene on March 30, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Gingrich clearly has no convictions except to make the President look as bad as possible no matter what the circumstances. This is typical of conservatives including the readers here at HA, and Ed,
underceij on March 30, 2011 at 9:52 AM

Do we need to get you a tissue with all of that whining you are doing…

….WAAAAAA!!!!…leave Obama alone!!!!!!

How dare we hold the President responsible for his failed policies and hypocritical positions.

Sorry underceji….thinking people choose not to go around with their lips stuck firmly to your liberal Messiah’s butt.

If you and your hero Obama can’t handle critical analysis of his failed “Hope and Change” boondoggle he sold to the American people…then by all means go back to community organizing.At least his failures their didn’t hurt millions of Americans on a daily basis.

Baxter Greene on March 30, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Best news I heard yesterday… Dick Morris feels as though Gingrich has the best shot at the nomination… and we all know Dick Morris has a spotless track record.

That Condi vs. Hillary race was a barn burner! And he nailed the GOP pickups in the House with his “over 90, maybe 100 or more” prediction.

mankai on March 30, 2011 at 10:26 AM

RBMN on March 30, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Why should I care?

mankai on March 30, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Of course his position is consistent. It is consistently the opposite of whatever the sitting president’s position is. That is not a platform. That is the platform that Obama was elected on.

munseym on March 30, 2011 at 10:42 AM

To be objective, I should have added a word about Neo-cons to my earlier comment. Neo-cons are deserving of scorn for their jingoistic, invade the world to force them into democracy impulses. Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard being a good case in point. He reportedly thinks going to war in Libya is a ‘Hoorah!’ moment. We pulled the democratizing thing off in post war Germany and Japan and South Korea. But timing is everything as they say. That was then. We haven’t pulled it off since. See Vietnam etc. Iraq and Afghanistan you say? Call me a year after we are gone, then we’ll discuss it. We can’t get involved, for moral and practical reasons, in every Hatfield vs. McCoy clan inspired feud around the globe and stay there for 100 years while the locals learn to become civilized.

JimP on March 30, 2011 at 10:57 AM

RBMN on March 30, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Why should I care?

mankai on March 30, 2011 at 10:27 AM

You don’t have to care. It’s an opportunity to listen to Newt, and judge for yourself if he’s had the change of heart he says he’s had. He says all the right words, but there’s not a lot of passion in his voice. That’s what I took away.

RBMN on March 30, 2011 at 10:59 AM

RBMN on March 30, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Anybody who pursues a path that denies he was ever married to his other wives, after treating them with such contempt, is not worth listening to. There are no “right” words only “convenient” words.

If he had a true “change of heart” he’d reject his latest marriage, not deny he was ever married before.

mankai on March 30, 2011 at 11:12 AM

He must have taken “slick” lessons from ole Willie.

txmomof6 on March 30, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Newt is a bowl of mush.

Horrible candidate and a classic Republican who melts at the sight of a smiling Democrat bearing gifts.

rickyricardo on March 30, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Many of Newt’s flaws come down to the fact that he so much wants the liberals to love him.

slickwillie2001 on March 30, 2011 at 12:17 PM

I cannot stand the sight of Newt Gingrich.

Hilts on March 30, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Great screen-cap!

nukemhill on March 30, 2011 at 2:03 PM

It’s Newt in election mode. He does his best stuff outside the election cycle. During elections he panders too much and it shows.

lexhamfox on March 30, 2011 at 2:39 PM

I’m just going to say it once – no, Newt, you are not getting my support. You are a politician before all else, and we’ve already had too much of that in America.

YOU did not support the Tea Party (until you finally woke up and smelled the winds of change). Fageddaboudit.

disa on March 30, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Who knew that Newt wanted to grow up to be John “I was for it before I was against it” Kerry?

Gohawgs on March 30, 2011 at 10:04 PM