The Missiles Are Flying. Hallelujah!

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Glenn Greenwald twists the knobs on the Wayback Machine and finds this interview of Newt Gingrich by Hugh Hewitt, where the radio host asks the Speaker how he'd handle the Iranian hostage kerfuffle.

HH: Now let's get to the first major issue of the day, which is Iran. Mr. Speaker, if the United Kingdom feels obliged to use force, if diplomacy fails to get their people back, will you applaud?

NG: I think there are two very simple steps that should be taken. The first is to use a covert operation, or a special forces operation to knock out the only gasoline producing refinery in Iran. There's only one. And the second is to simply intercede by Naval force, and block any tankers from bringing gasoline to Iran —

HH: Would you do, would you urge them —

NG: And say to the Iranians, you know, you can keep the sailors as long as you want, but in about 30 days, everybody in your country will be walking.

HH: So how long would you give them, to give them that ultimatum, the Iranians?

NG: I would literally do that. I would say to them, I would right now say to them privately, within the next week, your refinery will no longer work. And within the following week, there will be no tankers arriving. Now if you would like to avoid being humiliated publicly, we recommend you calmly and quietly give them back now. But frankly, if you'd prefer to show the planet that you're tiny and we're not, we're prepared to simply cut off your economy, and allow you to go back to walking and using oxen to pull carts, because you will have no gasoline left.

It's not wholly clear whether Gingrich is saying "I would use force right now" or "If I had to use force, here's what I'd do." He really dives headfirst into the wargaming, though. And that bit about "you're tiny and we not" is seriously bellicose. The whole conversation is here, so I don't think the context is getting lost. It's a big problem with Gingrich: When he talks foreign policy, he has a way of sounding like Greg Stillson.

My Newt skepticism is collected right here.

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  1. While I wouldn’t want him at the helm of a country, the man does give good interview. Unlike some other politicians I can think of.

  2. I think his plan might backfire if the gasoline shortage gives the Iranian leaders a chance to rally the people against America.

  3. See, the reason I wouldn’t have a problem with this is because it would be done behind the scenes, which is how I assume (maybe wrongly) we used to handle sensitive situations. So I’m cool going all Clint Eastwood in the back room. But doing it publicly has the opposite effect and that’s one of the problems we’ve had for the last six years.

    The point is to get what you want without publicly humiliating our adversary in front of the world, it’s not quite a win, win, but it’s close enough. When you bust balls in public, it has the opposite effect because there’s little incentive for your adversary to play along since they’ve already lost face.

  4. It’s real easy when you’re not the president and have a snowball’s chance of ever being president to sound like something out of a Tom Clancy novel. But I’m not sure Newt would have done that if he were actually in the driver’s seat. There’s too many real world factors that could screw up a plan like that. It sure does sound nice on paper though.

  5. I don’t think the threat would stick. At least some of OPEC (if not all of it) would probably be willing to retaliate in kind. There’d be just as many people in the states getting around on foot as in Iran. It would be 1973 all over again (probably worse).

  6. Wow, Dave, I wouldn’t think you’d want to sink your presidential chances like that.

  7. He just wanted to make a newted response to the Iranians.

  8. I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar to this strategy was used to procure the recent promised resolution to this crisis.

    After all, from a wargaming dweeb perspective, the two losing strategies for the US/UK are to do nothing or to invade. A potential winning strategy is to play strategic-Clintonian and merely threaten to fuck up the country’s very vulnerable infrastructure. It plays to the US/UK strengths, the ability to wage a live war, and away from their weaknesses, the ability to wage a prolonged policing action.

  9. Ryo,

    In further defense of this potential insanity, destroying their ability to make gasoline wouldn’t threaten the oil supply, only Iran’s domestic refined fuel supply. They’d then have to buy gasoline from elsewhere, which would seriously impair their economy and make them look very weak all around. They would probably then expend ridiculous amounts of resources to prevent such a threat from ever being viable again. A double win from a wargaming dweeb standpoint.

    The implication of a trade embargo is a much more dangerous threat and probably one that is more likely to cause negative impacts for the US/UK in that they would be back in the vulnerable role of policing agent.

  10. That would make it matter a lot more what side of the line those sailors were taken on.

    Presumably Newt doesn’t know the answer to that question any better than we here at home do.

    Ergo: this is puff and blow for the Guy Montag crowd.

  11. The critiques of Clinton’s missile diplomacy revolved around him going after non-state entities and going after very soft targets. Iran is a state and has some very vulnerable hard targets. Missile (or bomber) diplomacy has a great deal of potential in this instance.

    I just find it funny that the viable part of Newt’s strategy has more basis in Carter and Clinton doctrine (and a smattering of Reagan’s Libya policy) than in either Bushs’ bags of tricks.

  12. Under the Libertate administration, I would use the vast digital and entertainment resources at the United States’ disposal. A faked gay porn film starring the mullahs and President Ahmadinejad would be just the beginning. We’d also fake a manned Mars’ landing and a ceremony showing the Vulcans granting the U.S. dominion over the world. With starships and phasers and stuff.

    Tremble before us, worms.

  13. Dave,

    Since you apparentley read these posts, don’t get discouraged by the weak showings on the South Park threads in the last couple weeks. I want one tonight.

    As for war and peace, nukes solve all problems.

  14. A potential winning strategy is to play strategic-Clintonian and merely threaten to fuck up the country’s very vulnerable infrastructure.

    That would have been my preference.

    Now that we have rewarded the Iranians for their behavior, we can expect to get more of the same.

  15. . . .and Fox might run a documentary showing that Muhammad faked all of his miracles. In a warehouse in New Mexico.

    Don’t screw with the U.S., or we will shock and awe your ass. Who needs nukes when we have Photoshop?

  16. More BS machismo act from GOP’s who are all about the tough act for the base. What’s your service record Newt? All talk no balls.

  17. Kennedy probably made some serious private threats to Mr. Kruschev re Cuban missile crisis. Brits would have to be prepared for execution of the hostages, of course.
    Why did Brits allow Iran to take their sailors in “international waters” in the first place?
    Wasn’t there a British naval vessel protecting the motorized rafts? The sailors should have made for such vessel and such vessel should have fired a warning shot at pursuing Iranians.

  18. We got the sailors back. Why not just fuck them up anyway for being dicks? if they’re going to play stunts like this, there should be a cost.

  19. I might agree with the “sound tough for the base” statement, but I’m totally bored with the issue of whether a candidate has killed anyone in combat. What the heck does that have to do with anything? He probably hasn’t printed currency, built ships, issued stamps, arrested anyone, tried a defendant, drafted a trade agreement, or done any variety of things that happen under a president’s watch. Bush, for instance, isn’t bad because he didn’t serve. He’s bad because he’s bad at the job.

  20. Say, you know what would be cool? To have Pelosi go over there, under the pretext of a fact-finding mission, and slap Ahmadinejad in the face. I mean, full bitch slap, on camera. That would just totally humiliate him–she being a woman and all–and there’s not a damned thing he could do about it.

    Now THAT would be true bipartisanship. Bush and Pelosi both would go up in my estimation a little bit if they’d cook up that sort of scheme.

  21. I mean, full bitch slap, on camera. That would just totally humiliate him–she being a woman and all–and there’s not a damned thing he could do about it.

    I’m feeling you. Although kicking him in the balls would be better.

    But he could certainly have her publically stoned, then blow up tel aviv.

    For many, this might seem like a win/win/win.

    I just think we need to deal with them, but get that smirking kidnapping monkey out of office and help someone like Khameni back…

  22. PL,

    Pelosi kneeing him in the balls would be a sight to see as well.

    Regarding your make-an-Ahmadinejad-gay-porn-film suggestion, Russia did something similar following the Rose and Orange revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine with a video depicting Yulia Tymoshenko and Grigori Shakashvili getting in on prior to some meeting GS had w/ Bush. There’s even a midget involved!

  23. I usually just brush through the coverage of candidates crap, but sometimes the coverage itself is so much crap, sometimes when the shit piles up so high you’re wadin’ though it. …I get to a point where I can’t just ignore the stink anymore.

    “It’s not wholly clear whether Gingrich is saying “I would use force right now” or “If I had to use force, here’s what I’d do.” He really dives headfirst into the wargaming, though. And that bit about “you’re tiny and we not” is seriously bellicose. The whole conversation is here, so I don’t think the context is getting lost.”

    I call bullshit.

    “Mr. Speaker, if the United Kingdom feels obliged to use force, if diplomacy fails to get their people back, will you applaud?”

    That’s the question to which he responded.

    …so yeah, to anyone who actually went and read it, the context isn’t getting lost–the only people who are aren’t getting the context are the people who took your word for it.

    I mean, you couldn’t have missed the question. It’s the very freakin’ question he answered.

    I’d say you should be ashamed of yourself, but the people who should really be ashamed are the Republican leaning commenters in this thread who didn’t bother to check your take. Maybe you intended to make some of the commenters around here look like morons–if so, congratulations.

    …and then again, maybe you think that just ’cause people don’t call your bullshit they don’t notice that it’s brown, stinks and came out of a cow’s ass.

  24. Not that I’m defending Newt, but John Edwards seems more like Greg Stillson to me for some reason.

  25. GILMORE,

    Even with all of the hyper-partisanship these days, I daresay that the Iranians know that we’d be perfectly happy to invade a country that did anything to our Speaker of the House. That’s why I opted for the slap over harsher means.

    Some James,

    Ha! No way, no how the Russians can match our video and digital capabilities. Why, we could convince the people faked in the films that they might’ve done what was being portrayed: “My, that does look like me. Maybe it was that night when I illicitly had those tequila shots with the Russian ambassador? Dear Ahura Mazda!”

  26. Holy Christ. If I have to deal with another cocksucking, draft-dodging, chickenshit warmonger in the White House, I’m going to kill a puppy or seven.

  27. I think his plan might backfire if the gasoline shortage gives the Iranian leaders a chance to rally the people against America.

    But it wouldn’t give them a chance to rally against America if it was done secretly. The idea would be, you would say “if you don’t want to have some sort of accident, you had better do what we say”… and you would do it privatly.

    Even if the government tries to blame the Americans for the bombing, it would be very difficult for them to blame the following economic collapse on the U.S… Is the government of Iran going to say “We screwed up, and only built one easily destroyable piece of infrastructure that allows the U.S. to cripple our economy with one secret attack! Death to the infidel!”? Especially when all they have to do is make some excuse for releasing the troops, and avoid the problem all together?

    I think what people are saying is right – *IF* the U.S. is going to use force, this is the way to do it.

  28. Obviously this interview was done before “the Honorable Mr. Ahmadinijad” presented the mighty Brit’s a good friend’s gift. Also obvious is that no one seems to ever get it through their tolerant heads, this guy could care less if his country walks to work. There is only one way to deal with a man of his caliber. You see, he’s the kid on your street that call’s you names, and then runs into his house. You have to lie in wait for him to come out so you can pummel him. He’s not that tough. The problem is, we don’t have the heart to turn him into a bloody stump like we should. Nobody in their right mind want’s to cut off his gasoline. Ooooo! That’ll fix him. How long will this world show themselves to be a bunch of limp wristed sissies, including Newt. Have we really lost confidence in our ability to annihilate someone who truly needs to be taken out and get back to minding our own country’s problems,i.e. illegal immigration? Hello, is there anybody leading this country? Nothing could be more hillarious than what just happened to the Brit’s. Ha,Ha. What a buncha suckers. You make me laugh. You got your butts kicked by the name calling kid. Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha!!!!!! Wanna buy a bridge? Ha,Ha,Ha!!!!!!!!! You sis! Be nice to your freinds now and they’ll be nice to you. Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Where’s Christopher Walken and a convenient baby when we need them?

  30. Akira,
    Please forgive me, but I don’t keep up with the make-up and pretend people that much. Does your comment translate into appeasement? Because really deep down inside I do feel sorry for people like Ahmadinijad. I wish he were my bestest friend. Golly.

  31. Oh for Christ’s sake!

    “If diplomacy fails”, the way to deal with a hostage crisis isn’t diplomacy–by definition.

    …by the way, he’s not even talking about what we’d do specifically–“in context”, he’s talking about supporting our allies. Can we assume that he’d want to do the same thing if he was the President and we were talking about American hostages?

    I sure freakin’ hope so.

    Were any of you more than a gleam in daddy’s eye by the end of the Carter Administration?

    To think that we would let an Iran, which, by the way, is a state sponsor of terror, one that’s on the freakin’ nuclear doorstep no less, to think that our President would let them do to us now what they did to us way back when is nauseating.

    I shudder to think what would happen if we had a pansy President that wouldn’t put all the economic pressure he could on the Iranians and after diplomacy had failed, refused to use the threat of force–behind closed doors.

    Gimmie a freakin’ break.

  32. Newt go to the back of the bus, I mean airplane…

  33. Ken,
    I joined the U.S Marine Corp. in 1982, hoping to finish the threat of terrorism then. Unfortunately, we came to a diplomatic solution for which we are still being held hostage by terrorist organizations. When will people understand that there is no such thing as diplomacy with these cowards, who, ironically, make fools of the west and make us look like cowards for not killing them all, once and for all. Good morning…. Good morning, it’s time to say good morning. Let’s everybody put down the bong, take a nice deep breath and let’s go kill us some camel jockeys. Yippee. Come on, it’ll be a hoot!

  34. Ironic that a supposedly libertarian website would pick up on the “war-mongering” and not so much on the individual freedom part of that same interview. He goes on to talk tough about clamping down on hiring the illegal immigrants. (Ironic because libertarianism isn’t against war per se, but efforts at imperialism and such.)

    Anyone whose immigration views focus on the employer, and not the government who have allowed the illegal situation to be where it is at, is simply not a real conservative, as Newt’s overall speech is meant to convey.

    In short, it boils down to where one thinks the responsibility lies. A business owner has no responsibilities past running a good, sound business, harming no one, defrauding no one, etc. The governmnet owns the responsibility for providing border security, upholding laws that give citizenship value, etc.

  35. the english probably said — ‘we’ll let Sri Lanka win by 3 runs in the final over if you let those limeys go home for an easter holiday we celebrate by getting pissed in Costa del Sol, deal?’

  36. Maybe Weigel has a suggestion and he just hasn’t shared it yet?

    As a hypothetical, if Iran was holding fifteen American hostages, after all diplomatic efforts failed to get them back… If threatening, behind closed doors, to target a strategic refinery and block the importation of gasoline is too scary and “bellicose”…

    Pray tell, Weigel, if diplomacy failed, what would be the appropriate, non-bellicose response?

  37. >Weigel, if diplomacy failed, what would be the appropriate, non-bellicose response?

    Well, I’d use the same trick Reagan did: Send a cake shaped like a key and promise military weapons.

    And yes, I remember the Carter era well, though still too young to vote. I’ll keep you posted on my own trip to Iran in a few months…now back to my Farsi lesson…

  38. Sounds reasonable to me. Or would you prefer the UN pass one of their Resolutions that makes countries tremble in fear? Park a few aircraft carriers off the coast and everyday take out a different facility that looks like nuclear preparations till they get the point.

    We have nothing but time on this one so why wait and wait. We are back to Iran taking hostages not that far fetched considering their president was in on their last hostage go round.

    Sometimes the only way to beat a fanatic is to be fanatic about beating them.

  39. a video depicting Yulia Tymoshenko and Grigori Shakashvili getting in on prior to some meeting GS had w/ Bush. There’s even a midget involved!

    C’mon. You can’t throw something like that out there without a link!

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