Several have noted Gingrich’s “evolving” position on intervention in Libya over the last few days. In a bit of policy gymnastics labeled “an epic flip-flop” by Taegan Goddard, Gingrich first said on March 7:
“Exercise a no-fly zone this evening, communicate to the Libyan military that Gadhafi was gone and that the sooner they switch sides, the more like they were to survive, provided help to the rebels to replace him. I mean, the idea that we’re confused about a man who has been an anti-American dictator since 1969 just tells you how inept this administration is.”
Then on March 23 he said:
“Let me draw the distinction. I would not have intervened. I think there were a lot of other ways to affect Qaddafi. I think there are a lot of other allies in the region we could have worked with. I would not have used American and European forces.”
Dave Weigel then caught Gingrich out again. On February 22, Gingrich said:
There’s almost a conspiracy of silence, if it’s an anti-American government. If you’re the Iranians, if you are the Libyans, for that matter, if you’re the Chinese, you are able to suppress your people and the American government stays quiet.
While on March 24, he said:
Prior to March 3, I would have strongly recommended an Eisenhower-Reagan model… you should have said nothing. Be very quiet. Condemn the violence. Do everything you can covertly.
At the risk of piling on, I’ll add the following to the mix. As I mentioned in Feb. 28 post titled, “Does Gingrich Support Intervention”, Gingrich literally wrote the book (well, the task force report) on the U.N.’s new policy on when to intervene to save lives. As co-chair of the Congressionally-mandated U.S. Task Force on U.N. Reform (with Obama’s current middle east envoy, former Senator George Mitchell) Gingrich applauded the new, more aggressive U.N. approach of acting against mass atrocities, called “Responsibility to Protect”:
Our task force called on the U.S. government and the UN to ”affirm that every sovereign government has a ‘responsibility to protect’ its citizens and those within its jurisdiction from genocide, mass killing, and massive and sustained human rights violations.” World leaders endorsed this general principle, which is a very significant step in light of past international resistance to any provision that would seem to endorse interference in a state’s ”sovereign internal affairs.”
Gingrich further argued that when a government fails to protect its citizens, intervention by other countries should come even if the violence didn’t rise to the level of genocide and even if the U.N. didn’t grant approval:
It is critical that this principle be understood broadly to encompass mass killings and massive and sustained human rights violations, whether or not they meet technical legal standards for genocide. The outcome document’s conclusion is also consistent with the task force’s view that in certain circumstances, a government’s abnegation of its responsibilities to protect its own people is so severe that the failure of the Security Council to act must not be used as an excuse for the world to stand by as atrocities continue.