Yesterday during a speech in Fort Myers, Florida, a protester interrupted Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign stump speech to press the now-GOP frontrunner on whether he would start a war with Iran as president:
Q: Are you going to send our children to Iran? … Are you going to send us to war in Iran?
GINGRICH: I hope not. That’s a legitimate question. My goal would be to apply the same strategy that Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II used to undermine and defeat the Soviet empire without a general war. But my goal would be to do everything we could to replace the Ahmadinejad dictatorship in a peaceful way using all the different tools that we have, tools that were used very effectively against the Soviet empire, which was a lot bigger and a lot more difficult challenge.
On the other hand, I will tell all of you, I think we have a very great reason to not want the Iranians to get nuclear weapons and I think they are a direct threat to our cities if they end up getting nuclear weapons.
While Gingrich says he hopes he doesn’t have to start a war with Iran, he has an odd way of showing it. Back in 2003, the former House speaker argued that the United States should develop and use nuclear bunker busters against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “This would be a weapon designed to be used,” he wrote in a 2003 USA Today op-ed. “It would not simply be a weapon of deterrence, as current nuclear weapons are.”
IAEA director general Yukiya Amano recently issued a warning about Iran’s nuclear program. “What we know suggests the development of nuclear weapons,” he said. And the U.N. nuclear watchdog is heading to Iran at the end of the month to seek answers on its nuclear program’s military dimension.
While Iran’s nuclear program is a serious concern, Republicans on the campaign trail, including Gingrich, focus on war, rather than diplomacy, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. “I agree entirely with Governor Romney,” Gingrich said in a recent debate referring to Romney’s assertion that he’d use military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program. “If in the end, despite all of those things, the dictatorship persists, you have to take whatever steps are necessary to break its capacity to have a nuclear weapon,” he said.