Newt Gingrich’s Libya Shift, Issue by Issue

One important factor in evaluating Newt Gingrich’s endlessly confusing explanation of his position on Libya is that it’s not just one issue that he’s apparently flipped on. While his direct demand for a no-fly zone and subsequent criticism of the move has gotten the most attention, there are several areas where he’s taken at least as significant a rhetorical leap. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a handy guide using quotes from his public statements over the last several weeks. Take a look.

On enacting a no-fly zone:

“Exercise a no-fly zone this evening.” -FOX News, March 7

“I would not have intervened.” -The Today Show, March 23

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On the wisdom of humanitarian intervention:

“We don’t need to have the United Nations. All we have to say is that we think that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening.”
-FOX News, March 7

“We are not in a position to go around the world every time there’s a local problem and intervene. I mean, if you looked at parts of West Africa, which have had horrible slaughters, if you look at Zimbabwe, where Mugabe’s one of the worst dictators in the world, if you look at Kim Jong Il… if there was an Obama principle, how many countries would it get us involved in? If you took his yardstick and you went around the world and measured pain around the world caused by governments, how many places would he get involved?” -FOX News, March 24

On the effectiveness of air power:

“We don’t have to send troops. All we have to do is suppress his air force, which we could do in minutes.” -FOX News, March 7

“If they’re serious about protecting civilians, you can’t do that from the air. Qaddafi 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. You’re not going to be able to do that with air power. This is a fundamental mistake. And I think is a typical politician’s over-reliance on air power.” -FOX News, March 24

On whether Obama should publicly become involved:

“‘There’s almost a conspiracy of silence if it’s an anti-American government. If you are the Iranians, if you are the Libyans, for that matter if you are the Chinese, you are able to suppress your people and the American government stays quiet. Look, I think it would be great to have the FOX correspondent at the White House ask the administration why are they so much more aggressive about countries that favor the United States than they are about countries that oppose the United States?” -FOX News, February 22

“Qaddafi’s been our enemy for years. This is an opportunity to replace that dictatorship, and I think the United States ought to be firmly on the side of the Libyan people in replacing this administration.” -FOX News, February 22

“On March 3rd, President Obama said publicly that ‘it’s time for Gaddafi to go.’ Prior to this statement, there were options to be indirect and subtle to achieve this result without United States military forces. I made this point on The Today Show this morning, saying ‘I would not have intervened…there were a lot of other ways to affect Gaddafi…I would not have used American and European forces.’ The president, however, took those options off the table with his public statement. From the moment of the president’s declaration, he put the prestige and authority of the United States on the line. After March 3, anything short of a successful, public campaign for regime change would have been seen as a defeat for the United States.”
Facebook Post, March 23

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