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Gingrich: We Need a New Strategy for This Long War

The Honorable Newt Gingrich

(U.S. News) – No matter what it’s called, says Newt Gingrich, America is already engaged in a long war against its enemies for which it is almost entirely unprepared.

In a speech to the National Defense University, the former U.S. House speaker tried to demonstrate the ways in which America’s leaders are not prepared and do not understand how to wage war along the lines demanded by those who are currently at war with us.

“We are living in a world rapidly evolving away from the mental constructs and language of the last 375 years,” he said in an advance draft of the remarks he shared with me (who at one time was the political director of a group he headed).

“This intellectual framework was applied and reapplied through two world wars and the Cold War. It is the framework within which academic and bureaucratic careers were made and are still being made,” he said, even though it now “distorts reality, hides from uncomfortable facts and cripples our ability to develop an effective national security and foreign policy.”

“The gap between the old world in our heads and the new world we now find ourselves in is so large that the very language of the past blocks us from coming to grips with an emerging future that will be radically different.”

How we get around these problems requires a whole new level of thinking and analysis to produce strategies that will see us safely though a conflict equal to or even double the length of the Cold War. As Gingrich puts it, the generation that fought in World War I and led in World War II took fully four years to come up with the framework for winning the Cold War. “We shouldn’t be surprised if it takes us a lot of argument, thinking and innovation to develop a grand strategy for the 21st century,” he says, adding, “It has to be done but it won’t be done easily.”

Barack Obama and his friends, for example, want the rest of us to accept that 2 percent annual growth in U.S. gross domestic product with total federal spending equal to about 22 percent of GDP as the new normal. In a safe, static world with polarized alliances, that might work. In a world where the threats are coming from all dimensions, from cyberspace as well as outer space and where America is one nuclear event away from a societal meltdown, growth in the economy will have to be much more robust if we are to be able to afford the changes needed on the scale contemplated.

Likewise, government and the private sector must be more flexible, meaning the hidebound rulebook developed for a industrial labor force just being unionized in the 1930s has to give way to the same kind of rapid “re-adaptability” that has become the hallmark of the independence economy made possible by the Internet and other the technological breakthroughs like the smartphone. An agenda for the deregulation of the U.S. economy is crucial to bringing this about.

Change is unavoidable. Its certainty is, Gingrich says, “the first key to understanding the scale of the national security challenge we face.”

“Whether we want to fight Islamic supremacists or not is irrelevant. They intend to fight us. Whether we would like to live in a world of extreme nuclear danger or not is irrelevant. Every year countries like North Korea, Pakistan and Iran get more nuclear capability. Whether we want to deal with domestic subversion and domestic enemies or not is irrelevant. As Paris just proved once again, ignoring your enemies doesn’t mean they will ignore you. In fact it may create space for them to become more dangerous and more lethal.”

The imagery is scary but true. It’s time we, as a nation, put partisan concerns aside to focus on the real threats ahead of us. It’s time to call terror what it is, to stop pretending it is something else and to understand that it is the product of an effort organized by people who are at war with America and its values. They attack us not because of what we do, someone said recently, but because of who we are and what we stand for. We are in the way of them getting what they want. The sooner policymakers realize that the safer we will all be.

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