Gingrich Reverses Position, Advocates Afghan Withdrawal

Afghans are “going to have to figure out how to live their own miserable life.”

Former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC, February 10
Former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC, February 10 (Gage Skidmore)

Newt Gingrich on Monday said it was impossible to “fix Afghanistan” in the wake of more than a week of riots over the accidental burning of Qurans at a NATO base in Bagram which has left at least six United States armed forces personnel dead.

The former House speaker, who is a candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, said Afghans the were “going to have to figure out how to live [their] own miserable life” because they clearly didn’t want to learn “how to be unmiserable” from him.

Gingrich now advocates withdrawal from the country after he pushed for a more aggressive counterinsurgency strategy in July 2010. At the time, he argued that General David Petraeus’ effort didn’t “go deep enough.”

The American public is increasingly weary of the war but Gingrich believes that the fight must be expanded to combat all of radical Islamism.

Last summer, he criticized President Barack Obama for failing to explain how his vision for Afghanistan “connects with a larger strategy for winning the war against radical Islamists.” At his campaign website, Gingrich writes that the United States are “engaged in a long war against radical Islamism.” He has said that framing the war as one against terror, as the Bush Administration did, was a terrible mistake. America is at war with an ideology, he insists.

Yet fighting that ideology doesn’t require boots on the ground anymore in the land from which emanated the most deadly form of religious extremism?

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