Former House Speaker and current GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was on Fox News Tuesday night attacking President Obama over “the magic of the dates” for his Afghanistan troop withdrawal plan. Gingrich argued that Obama should not be withdrawing troops faster than commanders there want:
GINGRICH: I think we are drifting to a very, very dangerous situation. None of the generals recommended the speed of the drawdown the president wants. We are beginning to lose in the region. […]
And if you watch what is happening there’s a steady drift from the United States at a time when the president is signaling his desire to get out as fast as he can and potentially faster than the generals think is safe. […]
You should go to the White House and ask the president why did he overrule all his generals? What is his rationale? What secret knowledge does he have that leads him to overrule his generals? He seems determined to have the drawdown finished by sometime next year. Why? What is the magic of the dates the president is picking? I don’t have an answer.
But this wasn’t what Gingrich was saying just a couple weeks ago. During the GOP primary debate on June 13, Gingrich took a different approach on the U.S. military presence in the region. Citing the dearth of intelligence the armed forces have in Libya and other conflicts in the region, he warned that the U.S. should realize “how much trouble we’re in” and pull U.S. troops out “as rapid as possible”:
I think that we need to think fundamentally about reassessing our entire strategy in the region. I think that we should say to the generals we would like to figure out how to get out as rapid as possible with the safety of the troops involved. And we had better find new and very different strategies because this is too big a problem for us to deal with the American ground forces in direct combat.
So what has changed for Gingrich between the debate on June 13 and his interview last night? Maybe the answer to that question isn’t based overseas, but instead related to the announcement Obama made on June 22 from the East Room of the White House. Indeed, the former Speaker made a similar flip-flop on Libya. Gingrich attacked Obama for not intervening in Libya before the U.N. authorization, saying he would “exercise a no-fly zone this evening,” then, after Obama ordered U.S. participation in the conflict, Gingrich said, “I would not have intervened.”