Sunday, December 11, 2011

That's Just Newt

This is how Newt Gingrich does business. Whether through a dramatic buildup of its military, threats to Taiwan, manipulation of currency, intellectual property theft, or brutal suppression of its populace, the government in Beijing is a menace to the world. But no American president would be so irresponsible as so thoroughly to call the regime out in public.

But Newt Gingrich plays by different rules. Tough guy. That's why in 1996 he introduced a bill providing for the death penalty for drug smugglers- and recently reiterated his support for the concept, though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled three years ago against the death penalty in cases in which no victim was killed.

That's why in an earlier debate Gingrich contended

There are a number ofways to be smart about Iran and relatively few ways to be dumb. And the administration has skipped all the ways to be smart. [...]

First of all, maximum covert operations to block and disrupt the Iranian program, including taking out their scientists, including breaking up their systems, all of it covertly, all of it deniable.

Second, maximum coordination with the Israelis in a way which allows them to maximize their impact in Iran.

But as Ali Gharib of Think Progress pointed out, publicly suggesting covert action "could possibly hamper ongoing efforts and, more to the point, would destroy any of the deniability that Gingrich calls for. Announcing covert operations means that they, by definition, can never be carried out."

And that's why at last night's GOP presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Gingrich went on a rant against Palestinians in defense of remarks he had made earlier in the week. This time it included a suggestion that there is no difference between Fatah and Hamas, a charge which can have the effect of drawing the two organizations closer to each other. Mitt Romney, by contrast, argued that the U.S. government "should not get ahead" of the Israelis and "make it more difficult for them to sit down with the Palestinians."

The enemies of peace in the Middle East recognize that Newt Gingrich is not president and, hopefully, that his bluff and bluster were intended in advance of the Iowa caucus primarily to enhance his standing among avid supporters of Israel. While a discussion about the historical underpinnings of the Arab-Israeli conflict might be informative, Gingrich is interested only in demonstrating that he's the smartest and toughest guy in the room. And if U.S. interests abroad are jeopardized thereby, that's really none of his affair.

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