Gingrich: Libya Most Badly Executed War Since WWII

Newt Gingrich on Libya: "This is as badly executed, I think, as any policy we've seen since WWII, and it will become a case study for how not to engage in this type of activity."

I know Doug has already posted on Newt Gingrich’s reversal on the Libya no-fly zone but this merited its own post:

This is as badly executed, I think, as any policy we’ve seen since WWII, and it will become a case study for how not to engage in this type of activity.

Gingrich and I agree that there are many problems with the Libya operation conceptually. Unlike Gingrich, I thought it was a bad idea weeks ago and never wavered.

But, seriously, he can’t think of a single military intervention over the last 65 years more poorly executed?*

The man got his BA in 1965, his MA in 1968, and his PhD in 1971. In history. If memory serves me right, there was a war going on thenabouts that many consider to have been somewhat flawed.

Gingrich was in Congress from 1979 to 1999, culminating in the Speakership from 1995 to 1999. Does he not remember the Desert One debacle? Black Hawk Down?

And, granting that we’re only four days into this operation, some might argue that the Iraq War is in the running for being as poorly executed as the Libya no-fly zone.

via Taegan Goddard

*I’m resisting here parsing Gingrich’s spoken words literally, assuming instead the most generous interpretation of what he meant. I’m confident he didn’t mean to imply that WWII was poorly executed and that by “any policy” he meant only those of this sort.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Military Affairs, US Politics, World Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Chad S says:

    Newt’s chickened out of worse run wars.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    I’m gratified to see that Gingrich is finally earning the derision he has always deserved.

  3. ponce says:

    It’s sad that the only way second tier wingnuts like Gingrich can get attention is by becoming an embarrassment.

    Still, you have to admire his determination.

  4. Quagmire!

  5. TG Chicago says:

    The wording is also funny, because when you say “since WWII” that (to me, at least) implies that WWII was executed even more badly.

    For instance “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression” indicates that the Great Depression was worse.

    I don’t think that’s what Gingrich was actually intending to imply. Just another reason why it’s a silly statement.

  6. Tano says:

    Perhaps I am missing something here. The stated mission of this effort is to establish a no-fly zone over Libya. With in a few days, that seems to have been accomplished, with no casualties on our side.

    How is this mission “badly executed”, let alone the “most badly executed”?

  7. legion says:

    Vietnam aside, how does someone who supposedly has multiple advanced degrees in history (and who actually lived through the era) compare this operation unfavorably with the Bay of Pigs, fer chrissake?

    And bear in mind, it’s not just that Gingrich got his degrees during the Vietnam era – those student deferments kept him out of the draft.

    The man has no moral or intellectual standing whatsoever, and anyone who takes him seriously as an intellectual is in the same boat.

  8. ponce says:

    “How is this mission “badly executed”, let alone the “most badly executed”?”


    Look up the word “shibboleth.”

  9. PD Shaw says:

    Whatever it is, I think it has been very well executed. What “it” is, appears to be as disputed as if we were all blind men feeling different parts of an elephant.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    Two and a half weeks weeks from “He must go” to bombs hitting Libyan targets. And during those two weeks we picked up the UNSC resolution, approval of neighboring countries, moved forces into position, and pulled the trigger. It was beautifully executed. It was diplomatic art joined to military prowess.

    The fact that Republicans cannot acknowledge this demonstrates the deep dishonesty at the heart of the party.

  11. Jack says:

    Old joke (no, not Gingrich himself):

    How do you know a politician is lying?

    His lips are moving.

    New joke:

    How do you know a politician is a hypocrite?

    He’s breathing.

  12. Wiley Stoner says:

    James, being a vet of that unpopular war (Vietnam), it was not the war which was a bad idea, after all, the South Vietnamese were a member of SEATO and were by treaty owed our defense. However it was poorly executed. The Vietnam war should have been fought in the North not in the South. Had American troops marched into Hanoi the outcome would be different and the Vietnamese people would be free. Johnson was a fool and knew nothing about how to conduct a military campaign. U.S. Forces did not lose one battle yet the war was lost due to the cowardice of the Democrats in congress after Nixon removed U.S. forces from country. Democrats were responsible directly for the loss of many lives.

  13. Wiley Stoner says:

    Reynold, Gingrich has done more for American than you could ever do. He has forgetten more than you ever know. You should wash your mouth out with soap for even saying his name out of that filthy maw.

  14. mantis says:

    Someone’s got it bad for Newt.

  15. Tano says:

    “Had American troops marched into Hanoi the outcome would be different and the Vietnamese people would be free.”

    Dude, you give being a stoner a bad name.
    This is complete idiocy. The Vietnamese had been fighting foreign occupiers for decades – be they French or Japanese – both of whom had far more of a willingness to commit longterm to colonization than any of us would be. Even then, through innumerable battles, victories and defeats, the Vietnamese never gave up fighting. Just like, y’know, Americans wouldn’t do if we were fighting to rid our own country of foreigners who came here from the other side of the world.

    “U.S. Forces did not lose one battle yet the war was lost”

    This is hardly surprising given that we fought the war against a force using guerilla tactics. You should read up on the batting average of the American forces against the British during our own revolution.

    ” due to the cowardice of the Democrats in congress after Nixon removed U.S. forces from country. ”

    Hilarious. A Republican actually removes all the US forces from the war, but it is the Democrats who are blamed for abandoning the fight.

    The truth is that the American people turned against the war, starting back in 1968. That is why a Republican president elected that year won on a platform of ending the war with honor – i.e. getting our asses out of there without looking to big the fools. Its why that Republican president finally followed through with those promises just in time to win reelection.

    Go back to tokin’ and just chill on this brain-working stuff.

  16. Not to defend Newt, but “since WWII” doesn’t necessarily imply WWII was managed badly.

    But I would hate to see the press reaction today to something like Exercise Tiger or Peleliu. WWII was such a massive undertaking that in hindsight there would always be some bad decisions, but I doubt anyone would seriously claim that it was managed badly — unless they are talking about, say, Hitler or Stalin.

  17. Hey Norm says:

    I think Wiley is hoping Newt will leave his third wife.

  18. anjin-san says:

    > The Vietnamese had been fighting foreign occupiers for decades

    Much longer than that. Centuries. Vietnam has repelled a number of Chinese and Mongol invasions. They are very tough on the home filed. They also gave China a nasty surprise in the 1979 border war.

  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    Newt has ‘clarified’ his position. I’m not sure it’s really all that much clearer:

    On March 3rd, President Obama said publicly that “it’s time for Gaddafi to go.”

    Prior to this statement, there were options to be indirect and subtle to achieve this result without United States military forces. I made this point on The Today Show this morning, saying “I would not have intervened…there were a lot of other ways to affect Gaddafi…I would not have used American and European forces.”

    The president, however, took those options off the table with his public statement. From the moment of the president’s declaration, he put the prestige and authority of the United States on the line. After March 3, anything short of a successful, public campaign for regime change would have been seen as a defeat for the United States.

    That’s why during a March 7th Greta van Susteren interview, I asserted that the president should establish a no-fly zone “this evening.” After March 3rd, the President should have moved immediately to consult with Congress to implement a no-fly zone, while also making it clear the US would welcome involvement from other nations.


  20. hey norm says:

    The only idea the so-called republicans have is to be anti-Obama. They don’t like his budget proposal but don’t have a serious proposal of their own. They don’t like the ACA, but have no serious proposal of their own. They want to intervene in Libya, right up until Obama does, and then they don’t. Their total incapacity for the hard work of governing is comical really.
    Let’s review…The only thing the so-called republicans have done since the November election is raise the debt, and wage a culture/class war. That’s it. Nothing more.
    Now – Newt is not an elected official, but his statements promise nothing but more of the same.