Sleepwalking Into a Nightmare
Speech by Newt Gingrich
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich delivered the following remarks to a Jewish National Fund meeting Nov. 15 at the
I just want to talk to you from the heart for a few minutes and share with you where I think we are.
I think it is very stark. I don't think it is yet desperate, but it is very stark. And if I had a title for today's talk, it would be sleepwalking into a nightmare. 'Cause that's what I think we're doing.
I gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute Sept. 10th at which I gave an alternative history of the last six years, because the more I thought about how much we're failing, the more I concluded you couldn't just nitpick individual places and talk about individual changes because it didn't capture the scale of the disaster. And I had been particularly impressed by a new book that came out called “Troublesome Young Men,” which is a study of the younger Conservatives who opposed appeasement in the 1930s and who took on Chamberlain. It's a very revealing book and a very powerful book because we tend to look backwards and we tend to overstate Churchill's role in that period. And we tend to understate what a serious and conscientious and thoughtful effort appeasement was and that it was the direct and deliberate policy of very powerful and very willful people. We tend to think of it as a psychological weakness, as though Chamberlain was somehow craven. He wasn't craven. Chamberlain had a very clear vision of the world, and he was very ruthless domestically. And they believed so deeply in avoiding war with Germany that as late as the spring of 1940, when they are six months or seven months into they war, they are dropping leaflets instead of bombs on the Rohr, and they are urging the British news media not to publish anti-German stories because they don't want to offend the German people. And you read this book, and it makes you want to weep because, interestingly, the younger Tories who were most opposed to appeasement were the combat veterans of World War I, who had lost all of their friends in the war but who understood that the failure of appeasement would result in a worse war and that the longer you lied about reality, the greater the disaster.
And they were severely punished and isolated by Chamberlain and the Conservative machine, and as I read that, I realized that that's really where we are today. Our current problem is tragic. You have an administration whose policy is inadequate being opposed by a political Left whose policy is worse, and you have nobody prepared to talk about the policy we need. Because we are told if you are for a strong
Let me work back. I'm going to get to
Let me work back from
And our answer is to praise Musharraf because at least he's not as bad as the others. But the truth is Musharraf has not gotten control of terrorism in
Then you look at
Then you come to the direct threat to the
The complaint about
When asked whether or not al Qaeda is a threat, 89% of the country says yes. And they think you have to defeat it, you can't negotiate with it. So now let's look at al Qaeda and the rise of Islamist terrorism.
And let's be honest: What's the primary source of money for al Qaeda? It's you, re-circulated through
Now that's what a serious national strategy would look like, but that would require real change.
So then you look at
It's not complicated. We're inviting
So we accept this totally one-sided definition of the world in which our enemies can cheerfully lie on television every day, and we don't even have the nerve to insist on the truth. We pretend their lies are reasonable. This is a very fundamental problem. And if you look at who some of the largest owners of some of our largest banks are today, they're Saudis.
You keep pumping billions of dollars a year into countries like
And nobody says this is totally, utterly, absolutely unacceptable. Why is it that the number one threat in intelligence movies is the CIA?
I happened the other night to be watching an old movie, “To Live and Die in
Just look at the movies. Why is it that the bad person is either a Right-wing crazed billionaire, or the CIA as a government agency? Go look at “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Or a movie like the one that George Clooney made, which was an absolute lie, in which it implied that if you were a reformist Arab prince, that probably the CIA would kill you. It's a total lie. We actually have SEALs protecting people all over the world. We actually risk American lives protecting reformers all over the world, and yet Hollywood can't bring itself to tell the truth, (a) because it's ideologically so opposed to the American government and the American military, and (b), because it's terrified that if it said something really openly, honestly true about Muslim terrorists, they might show up in Hollywood. And you might have somebody killed as the Dutch producer was killed.
And so we're living a life of cowardice, and in that life of cowardice we're sleepwalking into a nightmare.
And then you come to
And so he goes to the hotel, where he is the only hard-currency guest, and says, "I've got to check out two weeks early because the warlord has told me that he no longer will protect me." And the hotel owner, who wants to keep his only hard-currency guest, says, "Well, why are you listening to him? He's not the government. There is no government." And Bowden says, "Well, what will I do?" And he says, "You hire a bigger warlord with more guns," which he did. But then he could only stay one week because he ran out of money.
But this is a guy with real courage. I mean, imagine trying to go out and be a journalist in that kind of world, OK? So Bowden came back and wrote “Guests of the Ayatollah,” which is the Iranian hostage of 1979, which he entitled, "The First Shots in
And so you have an Iranian regime which is cited annually as the leading supporter of state terrorism in the world. Every year the State Department says that. It's an extraordinary act of lucidity on the part of an institution which seeks to avoid it as often as possible.
And you have Gen. Petraeus come to the U.S. Congress and say publicly in an open session, "The Iranians are waging a proxy war against Americans in
I was so deeply offended by this, it's hard for me to express it without sounding irrational. I'm an Army brat. My dad served 27 years in the infantry. The idea that an American general would come to the American Congress, testify in public that our young men and women are being killed by
So I'm preparing to come and talk today. I got up this morning, and a friend had sent me yesterday's
What truly bothers me is the shallowness and the sophistry of the Western governments, starting with our own. When a person says to you, "I don't recognize that you exist," you don't start a negotiation. The person says, "I literally do not recognize" and then lies to you. I mean the first thing you say to this guy is "Terrific. Let's go visit
We tolerate this. We have created our own nightmare because we refuse to tell the truth. We refuse to tell the truth to our politicians. Our State Department refuses to tell the truth to the country. If the president of the United States, and again, we're now so bitterly partisan, we're so committed to red vs. blue hostility, that George W. Bush doesn't have the capacity to give an address from the Oval Office that has any meaning for half the country. And the anti-war Left is so strong in the Democratic primary that I think it's almost impossible for any Democratic presidential candidate to tell the truth about the situation.
And so the Republicans are isolated and trying to defend incompetence. The Democrats are isolated and trying to find a way to say, "I'm really for strength as long as I can have peace, but I'd really like to have peace, except I don't want to recognize these people who aren't very peaceful."
I just want to share with you, as a grandfather, as a citizen, as a historian, as somebody who was once speaker of the House, this is a serious national crisis. This is 1935 or 1936, and it's getting worse every year.
None of our enemies are confused. Our enemies don't get up each morning and go, "Oh, gosh, I think I'll have an existential crisis of identity in which I will try to think through whether or not we can be friends while you're killing me." Our enemies get up every morning and say, "We hate the West. We hate freedom." They would not allow a meeting with women in the room.
I was once interviewed by a BBC reporter, a nice young lady who was only about as anti-American as she had to be to keep her job. Since it was a live interview, I turned to her halfway through the interview and I said, "Do you like your job?" And it was summertime, and she's wearing a short-sleeve dress. And she said, "Well, yes." She was confused because I had just reversed roles. I said, "Well, then you should hope we win." She said, "What do you mean?" And I said, "Well, if the enemy wins, you won't be allowed to be on television."
I don't know how to explain it any simpler than that.
Now what do we need?
We need first of all to recognize this is a real war. Our enemies are peaceful when they're weak, are ruthless when they're strong, demand mercy when they're losing, show no mercy when they're winning. They understand exactly what this is, and anybody who reads Sun Tzu will understand exactly what we're living through. This is a total war. One side is going to win. One side is going to lose. You'll be able to tell who won and who lost by who's still standing. Most of Islam is not in this war, but most of Islam isn't going to stop this war. They're just going to sit to one side and tell you how sorry they are that this happened. We had better design grand strategies that are radically bigger and radically tougher and radically more honest than anything currently going on, and that includes winning the argument in
In 1981, Ronald Reagan decided to break the Soviet empire. He was asked, “What's your vision of the Cold War?” He said, "Four words: We win; they lose." He was clearly seen by The New York Times as an out-of-touch, reactionary, right-wing cowboy from
Part of the war we waged on the
In the 28 years since the Iranians declared war on us, in the six years since 9/11, in the months since Gen. Petraeus publicly said they are killing young Americans, we have not been able to figure out how to take down one refinery. Covertly, quietly, without overt war. And we have not been able to figure out how to use the most powerful navy in the world to simply stop the tankers and say, "Look, you want to kill young Americans, you're going to walk to the battlefield, but you're not going to ride in the car because you're not going to have any gasoline."
We don't have to be stupid. The choice is not cowardice or total war. Reagan unlocked
We had better take this seriously because we are not very many mistakes away from a second Holocaust. Three nuclear weapons is a second Holocaust. Our enemies would like to get those weapons as soon as they can, and they promise to use them as soon as they can.
I suggest we defeat our enemies and create a different situation long before they have that power.
Mr. Gingrich is the former speaker of the
Note -- The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of The Family Security Foundation, Inc.
Mr. Gingrich is the former speaker of the