Via Steve Benen, a link to this interview with Newt Gingrich at political correction:
QUESTION: What would have been the steps you would have taken early on?
GINGRICH: I would have studied Eisenhower and Reagan and studied the things they did. I mean there are lots of — there are lots of ways to not necessarily use American troops and have an enormous impact on a country the size of Libya.
STAFFER: We have to go.
QUESTION: Can you list one or two?
GINGRICH: Take — take a look at Eisenhower and Reagan.
Let’s see, what did Ike and Reagan do during crises in the Middle East? Ike was pretty decisive during the Suez Crisis – he threatened Britain, France, and Israel. It should be noted that Ike had his plate full at this time. While acceding to Soviet wishes on the Suez, Ike was simultaneously busy doing absolutely nothing about the Soviet aggression against Hungary.
And then there’s Reagan. The signature middle eastern event on his watch was the bombing of the Marines’ barracks in Beirut. Two hundred and forty one American military personnel – serving as peacekeepers in a multinational force – lost their lives. So did fifty eight French paratroopers. Reagan’s reaction was a classic: he rapidly withdrew all American personnel. But that wasn’t the last time his administration needed to respond to Hezbollah, the folks who blew up the barracks. Some years later, reacting to Hezbollah’s campaign of kidnapping Americans in the region, the Reagan administration decided it could generate some goodwill with Iran by funneling advanced weaponry to them in contravention of U.S. law.
Now, Gingrich is a college history professor who has authored a few books on military affairs. Surely he knows what Ike and Reagan did in the Middle East. Unless he comes out denouncing their behavior (as if that’s likely), one has to conclude that when Gingrich says we should study Eisenhower and Reagan, he was endorsing their behavior.
Yes, I know this post is not about economic issues. But it is about the policy of presidents, and this blog is about that too.