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Foreign Policy: Newt Gingrich On Foreign Policy

Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich speaks to a gathering of conservative Christians at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Presidential Forum on Oct. 22, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Scott Olson
Getty Images
Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich speaks to a gathering of conservative Christians at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Presidential Forum on Oct. 22, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa.

This story is from a series of candidate profiles fromForeign Policy's Election 2012 Channel, a new page devoted solely to how the world is factoring into the U.S. political conversation.

Foreign-policy credentials: As House speaker, Gingrich weighed in on the U.S. interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti and was a key supporter of North American Free Trade Agreement and other major Clinton-era trade deals. Since leaving politics, he has researched, as an independent scholar, the roles of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II in the closing days of the Cold War. He holds a Ph.D. in modern European history.

Overview:Gingrich is often referred to in the media as the intellectual of the GOP field, owing to his post-speakership years as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and his numerous works of historical fiction. Gingrich is probably somewhat closer to the neoconservative, "national greatness conservative" end of the spectrum than the more isolationist strain favored by some members of the Tea Party. Gingrich takes his foreign-policy cues from the 1980s, particularly the "Reagan-John Paul II-Thatcher strategy" of aggressive, rhetorical democracy promotion.

Gingrich consistently uses Cold War rhetoric to describe current threats, for instance, comparing the influence of radical Islam within the United States to the domestic threat once posed by communism.

Advisors:Unclear as of yet.

On the issues:

Afghanistan/Pakistan:Gingrich has been downbeat on the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, predicting that it "is not going to end well." He believes that "we consistently underestimate how hard" it is to deal with an "Afghan culture that is fundamentally different" than America's and that counterinsurgency doctrine is ill-suited to a situation as complex as Afghanistan. Nonetheless, he opposes the withdrawal timetable proposed by Barack Obama's administration because it's "signaling to the world we are getting out."

Gingrich favors cutting aid to Pakistan and accuses the country's government of having "hid [Osama] bin Laden for at least six years in a military city within a mile of their national defense university."

Military spending:Gingrich characterizes the current budget debate as "historically illiterate politicians who have no sophistication about national security trying to make a numerical decision about the size of the defense budget." He has also, somewhat inaccurately, described current military spending as being at historically low levels. Nonetheless, Gingrich is open to cuts if waste and unnecessary spending can be found. "I'm a hawk, but I'm a cheap hawk," he said at the Oct. 18 debate in Las Vegas.

Immigration/borders:Unlike many of his opponents, Gingrich has suggested that some illegal immigrants "may have earned the right to become legal" and has suggested a modified draft system as a process of granting citizenship. He has also proposed relocating "one-half of the 23,000 Washington-area Department of Homeland Security bureaucrats to the Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona borders" in order to secure the U.S. southern border and supports a law mandating English as the national language.

Israel/Palestine:Gingrich supports moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively recognizing a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He has described Obama's suggestion that a peace process should begin with Israel's moving back to the 1967 borders as "suicidal" and believes that negotiating a peace deal with Hamas would be impossible.

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