Gingrich's 'Apocalyptic...Fierceness' Over the Iran Threat Seen as 'Simplistic'

After trashing his warnings of a potential nuclear-based EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's policy prescriptions are once again in the sights of the Times. Campaign reporter Trip Gabriel suggested Gingrich had a simplistic vision of the Iran threat in Thursday's 'Gingrich's Foreign Policy Words Summon the Cold War, but Enemy Is Iran.'

Should Newt Gingrich become president, his foreign policy vision might remind many people of the cold war. But this time the threat would be from a nuclear-armed Iran rather than the Soviet Union.

Mr. Gingrich, who is fond of big overarching ideas, has yet to give a major foreign policy speech, but he has staked out positions while campaigning that suggest a nascent Gingrich Doctrine, one that looks to decades of struggle against radical Islam.


And just as during the cold war, Mr. Gingrich frames the challenges in stark terms that can have an apocalyptic ring, as when he described Palestinians as an 'invented' people whose leadership seeks the destruction of Israel.

The fierceness of Mr. Gingrich's language, which has struck a chord with the Republican rank and file and fueled his rise to the top of the polls, also raises questions about the temperament he would bring to the White House when dealing with allies and adversaries.


Earlier in the nominating race it seemed that the Tea Party, with its call to eliminate foreign aid, might nudge Republicans in a more isolationist direction. But the emergence of Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich as the top candidates suggests the resurgence of neoconservative thinking, with its staunch support of Israel and unilateralist impulses abroad.

'It's very clear the speaker thinks of this as a long ideological struggle, a defining battle,' said Ilan I. Berman, a vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, whom Mr. Gingrich recently named one of 11 national security advisers.

But critics said the cold war analogy was simplistic. Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, said that in the last Republican debate, Mr. Gingrich hyperbolically overstated the threat from Iran, which has yet to acquire a nuclear weapon, by using the phrase 'if we do survive' in discussing Iran's intentions.

Gabriel did some mind-reading in favor of Obama's re-election:

One reason Republican candidates are devoting so much attention to Iran and Israel is that Mr. Obama is not perceived as vulnerable in other parts of his foreign policy record. Osama bin Laden and the Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi have been killed, and the president recently returned from an Asian trip that expanded trade and the American military footprint in the region.

Gabriel concluded with criticism from a Romney adviser who accused Gingrich of "calling people names."