Dr. Gingrich, meet Dr. Strangelove

Newt Gingrich is a fan of “counterfactual history,” the what-if stories that try to imagine what might have happened had events taken a slightly different course or leaders made a slightly different decision.

He has written books that ask “what if” the Confederates had won at Gettysburg? “What if” the Japanese had followed up the attack on Pearl Harbor more aggressively?

So where might we be today if Newt Gingrich had run for president in 2008, won the GOP nomination and defeated Barack Obama?

Well, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans and thousands of U.S. soldiers would probably be dead, much of Seoul would be a smoldering ruin, and an already overstretched U.S. military would be scrambling trying to respond to a desperate situation on the Korean Peninsula, with a million-man North Korean military on the move.

In an interview late last week, Gingrich told Greta Van Susteren that the test launch of a missile by North Korea posed a potentially disastrous risk to the United States and that if he were president, he would intervene to stop it.

“I would use whatever methods that were necessary for the missile never to be launched,” he said.

The most telling moment comes at 2:43, when Van Susteren presses Gingrich on the question of whether that includes military action. Gingrich gives a little so-what shrug, as if it’s a minor point. Maybe he would send in a small team to take out the missile, he says, or maybe find “a way to use a laser or other kind of device.”

All in all, it could be done with “very very minimal risk to anybody,” Gingrich says.

The series of grand delusions in that series of statements is remarkable. Lasers? A small tactical team surgically taking out what is surely a well-guarded missile launching site?

“Very very minimal risk to anybody?”

An LA Times piece back in 2003 laid out the strategic situation in Korea pretty clearly:

“Estimates of the damage that could be inflicted by a North Korean attack range from bad to apocalyptic. Lee Yang Ho, defense minister during a similar nuclear crisis in 1994, said one computer simulation conducted during his term projected 1 million dead, including thousands of Americans.

“It is assumed that if the United States were to strike North Korea that the North Koreans would fight back,” Lee said. “All industry would be destroyed, gas stations, power plants. This is such a densely populated area that even if North Korean artillery were not very accurate, anyplace you would hit there would be huge numbers of casualties.”

U.S. military experts who have contemplated strikes on North Korea agree….

… most of the (NK) regime’s weaponry is deployed within easy striking distance of Seoul, and the troops have continued to mass closer to the frontier even during the last few years of outwardly cozy relations with South Korea.

The arsenal includes 13,000 artillery pieces, along with rockets, multiple-rocket launchers and more than 650 ballistic missiles. Warheads on the missiles can be armed with nerve gas and blistering and choking agents. The North Koreans continue to develop biological weapons such as anthrax, plague, cholera and even smallpox, according to U.S. intelligence.”

Very very minimal risk to anybody. I think I’ve seen that statement before.

58 comments Add your comment

Truth

April 6th, 2009
3:02 pm

Yeah Jay… Let’s “talk” them into never doing it again… Maybe even shake our finger in their face! Newt would run circles around you in a debate.

Red Sox are garbage!

demwit

April 6th, 2009
3:07 pm

No no…, let’s not even think about that…

demwit

April 6th, 2009
3:15 pm

Yosemite John’ Bolton, Dr. Strangelove Gingrich

I do love the indepth political anaylsis found on the AJC opinion pages…., and makes me wonder about those poor fools the AJC laidoff.

Paul

April 6th, 2009
3:15 pm

[[“I would use whatever methods that were necessary for the missile never to be launched,” he said.]]

Sounds almost the same as what Candidate Obama and Candidate Clinton said they’d do to keep Iran from developing nukes. Almost the same.

But somehow I’d expect a Pres Obama to distance himself from the remark more than I would a Pres Gingrich.

[[“Estimates of the damage that could be inflicted by a North Korean attack range from bad to apocalyptic. ]]

Same as scenarios gamed for Iran.

And Pakistan.

Tell me again why anybody wants this job?

Paul

April 6th, 2009
3:21 pm

Oh, the laser comment? Sounds like he’s been reading Dale Brown’s fiction stories involving not-yet-ready for prime time hardware.

AmVet

April 6th, 2009
3:24 pm

Just another emasculated chickenhawk who has never demonstrated the first iota of courage or honor talking real loud from the back of the crowd.

The fraud is only relevant to the stump broke Georgia trash that were duped into thinking BushCo was competent and conservative…

RW-(the original)

April 6th, 2009
3:26 pm

Don’t we have a President that also had something to say about this missile launch? You wouldn’t know it by reading this blog since we only get the statements from people that have no power, but Obama made quite the little tough guy speech the other day and he said what needed to be done doesn’t stop with the UN. (Of course we know that under him it DOES stop with the UN and they didn’t even bother to write a nastygram, but I digress)

Redneck Convert

April 6th, 2009
3:30 pm

Well, if we had a real war and not a puny one like in Iraq we would be out of this recession in a minute. Everybody would be working to make more bombs and planes and stuff like that. And with about 5 million U.S. soldiers in action there sure would be a powerful thirst for beer.

This librul AJC is just shameless. Trying to make old Newt out to be a warmonger. The only time he’s a danger is around women. He sure does know how to use that weapon. I’m just sorry to hear he’s turned into a godless Catholic.

Have a good day everybody.

Mr. Snarky

April 6th, 2009
3:32 pm

Newt engages in just the kind of overly optimistic “cakewalk” thinking that got us into Iraq. Easy to say when you have no prospects of any actual power.

What can you say…Obama inherited a bad situation. Nuts with nukes…what ya gonna do, invade? I don’t think so.

RW-(the original)

April 6th, 2009
3:36 pm

Billy Horton

April 6th, 2009
3:40 pm

AmVet, I think that emasculated chickensquat who speaks from the back of the crowd sounds like you. Gingrich, on the other hand, was talking front and center stage – where the grown-ups speak.

Jay, it can be thousands of American deaths now, or millions later on after Kim Jong-ill completes the development of North Diarrhea’s long range missles. Your views seem particularly self-preserving, a liberal trait. After all, why take action now when so many more can die later?

caz1158

April 6th, 2009
3:44 pm

Jay-I guess this begs the question,what should be done about N.Korea-nothing?? Sit back and watch? I know,lets offer them aid. Oh, thats already been tried. Soon or later some sort of military action will need to taken. You can’t negotiate with crazy as is the case with Iran. Should the U.S. be the one to handle the action is another question. Now that world likes us again (thanks Barry),we should’nt have any problem finding a partner or partners. Yeah,Good luck with that.

DB, Gwinnettian

April 6th, 2009
3:52 pm

RW @ 3.26, if there was a news account of this statement that you found useful, why not link us to it?

As for your YouTube clip, well, Austrian is recognized as a fairly distinct dialect. If that’s a “gaffe” it’s a pretty scrapey-bottom-of-barrel-y.

Mrs. Godzilla

April 6th, 2009
3:53 pm

newt?

sorry, i just can’t take him seriously.

Joe Matarotz

April 6th, 2009
3:53 pm

What if Gingrich had been born with a brain?

What if Hillary Clinton actually knew how to run for president?

What if Jay Bookman grew up to be a journalist?

These are all questions we’ll never know the answer to.

DB, Gwinnettian

April 6th, 2009
3:53 pm

Oh, I forgot to comment about the Newtster…

Refresh my memory again–aside from his GA congressional district and a relative handful of fellow Congressmen, who’s ever actually voted for this guy, for anything?

Brad Steel

April 6th, 2009
3:55 pm

Joey

April 6th, 2009
3:56 pm

Jay: This “I Will Defend and Honor Our President” mode that you have adopted is entertaining. Much more so than the previous 8 years of “I Will Attack and Condemn Our President”.

Copyleft

April 6th, 2009
3:57 pm

Right-wingers love hypothetical situations… It’s the only place where they can ever hope to succeed any more.

RW-(the original)

April 6th, 2009
3:59 pm

DB,

I’m not being paid to do your research today. If you find the words of a few ubiquitous pundits to be more worthy of paying attention to than the words of our current President then so be it.

And frankly I might agree with you since the words of Obama are utterly meaningless at the rate they CHANGE.

The Republican Revolution

April 6th, 2009
4:01 pm

No wonder the revolution was so short and so unsuccessful.

“Lasers… and regime change”… yeah. That Reagan era Star Wars programs was sooo incredibly successful. And that “regime change” thing in Iraq was a real peach. I alway s though Newt was a little delusional, but this shows that this big-headed goon has really gone off the deep end. Hopefully, he will take the rest of the tired ol’ party with him.

Good Riddance.

Peter

April 6th, 2009
4:03 pm

Republican’s = Faulty Intelligence !

Bosch

April 6th, 2009
4:03 pm

What if, what if, what if. It seems that’s all you hear from the wingnutty buddies these days.

Yeah, like Copyleft wrote, it’s all they’ve got.

At least most of us base our opinions on the wingnutties on things they’ve done.

Hillbilly Deluxe

April 6th, 2009
4:04 pm

DB

“Refresh my memory again–aside from his GA congressional district and a relative handful of fellow Congressmen, who’s ever actually voted for this guy, for anything?”

A valid statement but isn’t that true of any Congressional leader? Of course if I were Newt I think I’d just try to fade away gracefully.

caz1158

April 6th, 2009
4:06 pm

Pretty amazing that after 8 years of sitting on collective thumbs.And without as much as a peep in alternative thinking or idea’s, the left has the gonads to say as much to right after 90 days!!!

@@

April 6th, 2009
4:07 pm

(2003) — The arsenal includes 13,000 artillery pieces, along with rockets, multiple-rocket launchers and more than 650 ballistic missiles. Warheads on the missiles can be armed with nerve gas and blistering and choking agents. The North Koreans continue to develop biological weapons such as anthrax, plague, cholera and even smallpox, according to U.S. intelligence.”

?!?!?!?!?!?

Dang! How’d that happen?

United Nations Security Council — Resolution 1540 (2004)

The Security Council,

Affirming that proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

Reaffirming, in this context, the Statement of its President adopted at the Council’s meeting at the level of Heads of State and Government on 31 January 1992 (S/23500), including the need for all Member States to fulfill their obligations in relation to arms control and disarmament and to prevent proliferation in all its aspects of all weapons of mass destruction,…

Affirming its resolve to take appropriate and effective actions against any threat to international peace and securityy caused by the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery, in conformity with its primary responsibilities, as provided for in the United Nations Charter…

N.J,

April 6th, 2009
4:08 pm

Most REAL historians give little credence to this “counterfactual” style of historical writing, and they call it by its correct name. Rewriting History. The main purpose of “counterfactual history” is largely used to suit political purposes. That is, an example of the past is used to justify political positions when it comes to event going on in the present that the author takes a particular stance on.

One might as well ask the question, “What would the present look like had Jimmy Carter, and not Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election?”

Given Carters very visionary statements about America’s future with regard to America’s addiction to foreign oil, this nation might be a much better place had Carters energy policies been left in place, rather than dismantled. While Carters energy policies with regard to alternative energy left much to be desired, much of the suffering of having to live through a period of change with regard to energy sources would most certainly have been solved sometime in the last 30 years, and so America’s entire middle eastern policy may have been very different if America no longer needed to import so much foreign oil in order to maintain the American way of life.

Attempts to do this with Pearl Harbor are absurd, because if you have ever looked at a historical map of the Pacific along with the many, many islands that were American territories with American bases located at them, deciding which islands the Japanese would have attacked even if you knew they were going to attack would have been impossible. Which explains why the Japanese sent a dummy fleet towards the Aleutians at the same time they were also approaching the Hawaiian Islands. The Aleutians, at the time, were seen as a viable target for the Japanese, because access to the American territory of Alaska would have made for a good staging ground for a land based assault on the Western United States mainland. There was also Midway Island, and any number of U.S. possessions in the Pacific for the Japanese to chose.

Yet a rewrite of history says that Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor to be attacked. Historical fact says that though Roosevelt knew that the Japanese were close to attacking something, a look at the millions of square miles of the Pacific Ocean did not allow him to know where this attack would take place or which American bases were most likely to be attacked. There were many possible choices, some more logical than Pearl Harbor, a place little known to 99.99999 percent of all Americans in 1941. It has only become a well known place due to a historical event.

But this is something most conservative “counterfactual historians” like Gingrich would disagree with, because it simply would not suit the political positions they have taken in the past.

But no one can deny that Carter was not correct when he said that sooner or later America would pay dearly for its reliance on Middle Eastern oil and the political alliances that this reliance made necessary. Perhaps the events of 9/11 would never have occured had we gone down Carters path of self reliance when it comes to energy than adhering to an energy policy based on petroleum consumption alone.

When one looks at the techological history of the last century, the combustion engine is the only 19th century techology that we are still using in a relatively unchanged form.

All other technologies that were developed in the second half of the 19th Century that we still use, have seen huge changes in their form and function. The Burroughs Adding Machine, a mechanical contraption, was basically a very primitive computer that ran on mechanical parts. Now the same devices are simply small computers that run on motionless electronic parts. The telephone would be recognizable to someone who owned a very early telephone, but almost every internal part is very different. Telephone signals are now carried by fiber optics, satellites and even systems of cellular radio transmitters. Radio has gone from morse codes and dots and dashes to HD digital signal, which are simply the same as internet streams transitted over radio waves.

The X Ray, and fluoroscopic examination have been replaced with CAT and MRI scanners.

Even the way we get electricity has changed from coal fired electrical plants to nuclear and hydroelectric powered electrical systems.

The automobile that we drive today, at least its power plant, the combustion engine, is little changed from the one that powered the first Model T and Model A vehicles offered to the public by Henry Ford.

There is not really much doubt that had we followed Carter’s vision, at least with regard to energy, the automobile, so central to the American way of life, would have seen changes that mirrored those in every other 19th century invention have seen.

Certainly the electric powered vehicle or the hydrogen powered fuel cell, touted as a miracle answer for petroleum by the Bush Administration would have been a reality in America had we taken the road suggested by Carter. Its not hard to imagine, at all, because in Europe you can already buy hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles, and passenger ferries that ply the seas in near Germany are already powered by hydrogen fuel cells. There are many hydrogen fueling stations in Europe that already exist to service the vehicles that are already traveling the Autobahns and Autostrades of that continent.

I have just given a more progressive form of “counterfactual history”. One I am very certain that most conservatives would take exception to and provide much argument against.

Counterfactual history tends, rather, to be a method of attempting to control events in the present, than any method by which one can predict an alternative future out of an alternative past.

A true historian tends to keep the words “woulda, shoulda, coulda” out of their vocabulary. At best, historians look at the errors of the past in order to avoid repeating them in the future.

Zoomie

April 6th, 2009
4:13 pm

Newt needs to exit stage right. He came up with “The Contract with America,” formed the Republican Party into a mob-like entity that required unquestioned loyalty to the party line and kept its members in line through intimidation, then promptly broke that contract as soon as the republicans got their trunks in the trough. He comes across well as a talking head, but we’ve seen that movie once before and it ain’t worth the price of admission. A newt is a particularly slimy amphibian life-form, most often found hiding underneath rocks in a cold creek bed. The irony is not lost on me. Newt, you’re just another failed politician. You were sent home once; please stay there.

Corporal

April 6th, 2009
4:18 pm

Time for my old favorite ! You libs should have this memorized by now ………. :o )

All together now:

“When civilized man can no longer stand the horror of war and refuses to fight, then he will surely be killed or enslaved by the uncivilized who can.”

Author Unknown

Mrs. Godzilla

April 6th, 2009
4:19 pm

Maybe ……What if…..Newt helps Michelle Bachmann locate the
“democrat” re-education camps……

and they stay there!

Corporal

April 6th, 2009
4:19 pm

P.S.

Does anyone know where I can get a “WWND” bracelet ?

Mrs. Godzilla

April 6th, 2009
4:20 pm

There’s probably a reason that dude’s unknown……

@@

April 6th, 2009
4:20 pm

DB @ 3:52:

It’s cold outside. I’ve got nothing better to do right now.

President Obama is urging North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program.

He says its rocket launch poses a global threat that warrants a United Nations Security Council response.

“North Korea broke the rules, once again, by testing a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles,” said Mr. Obama.

When was the last time someone told you you’re a condescending prick?

Like I said, I had a free moment so…..don’t mind doing that either.

Truth

April 6th, 2009
4:26 pm

The only reason you libs don’t like Newt is because his intellect far exceeds your comprehension. The man is a Genius!

Midori

April 6th, 2009
4:30 pm

another “what if”:

what if Newt stayed faithful to his first family, and stayed by his first wife’s side while she battled cancer?

Midori

April 6th, 2009
4:32 pm

yeah, Truth — I’m just gunning for my 3 wishes from Newt.

oh wait!!

i thought you said, “genie”….

Truth

April 6th, 2009
4:37 pm

Like I said… far exceeds your comprehension!

RW-(the original)

April 6th, 2009
4:44 pm

@@,

I was thinking more of the words just as they came off the TelePrompter in Prague.

Just this morning, we were reminded again of why we need a new and more rigorous approach to address this threat. North Korea broke the rules once again by testing a rocket that could be used for long range missiles. This provocation underscores the need for action — not just this afternoon at the U.N. Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons.

Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response — (applause) — now is the time for a strong international response, and North Korea must know that the path to security and respect will never come through threats and illegal weapons. All nations must come together to build a stronger, global regime. And that’s why we must stand shoulder to shoulder to pressure the North Koreans to change course.

Now since the UN security council decided to do nothing what’s HopeandChange’s fall back?

I guess it is easier to just toss out pundit quotes from out of power Republicans.

AmVet

April 6th, 2009
4:56 pm

Lasers???

Is Nutty Newt doing his Dr. Evil imitation from the Austin Powers movies?

The putz is just another reality challenged buffoon from the Old White Guy Party of Dixie whose only fans watch Faux News and keep up with christo-fascists like Falwell.

Billy Hears a Who,

Lemme guess. You voted for that other chickenhawk conserva-fraud and lamebrain, George W Bush-league, a couple of times…

Midori

April 6th, 2009
4:59 pm

I have a theory: the reason the wingnuts are trying to make an issue of Obama’s teleprompter use is that they’re pissed that Obama can actually read.

Paul

April 6th, 2009
4:59 pm

@@ 4:07

[[Dang! How’d that happen?]]

Probably brought to you by the same people who will monitor a nuke-free world (I think Pres Obama may have overstepped the rhetorical hope thing on this one).

But, that list doesn’t scratch the surface. Check a map, note the location of the S Korean capital, Seoul. Check the scale of the map and convert to miles (not trying to sound pedantic).

So why do we have forces in S Korea? To defend S Korea. We have just over 20,000 military in S Korea. And a whole bunch of family members (Pres Bush withdrew thousands of our military from S Korea, a move widely denounced by Democrats. How’s that for a switch?).

Anyway, on to the question. Are 20,000 US troops enough to stop a N Korean attack? Now that you’ve stopped laughing, I heard the answer. Why are they there? I think the term is ‘tripwire.’ So the question is, if we want a tripwire, do we need 20,000? Would a couple thousand sacrificial lambs, their wives, husbands and kids be enough for the job? Regardless of the number, our options for response remain the same. So the question is, regardless of number, do the N Koreans believe we’d be a reliable protector of the South?

Paul

April 6th, 2009
5:05 pm

NJ

Ever met a guy named Chad?

Midori 4:32

Whenever I hear ‘genie’ and ‘three wishes’ I think of Barbara Eden…

RW-(the original) 4:44

Now’s the time for a strong and united response? And when the World doesn’t? Following NATO’s lead in Afghanistan? What do we do?

Well, we do not go it alone. Without allies.

Well, maybe we do. This could just be our lot in life.

Wyld Byll Hyltnyr

April 6th, 2009
5:11 pm

It is an absolute shame that Newt has the sexual morals of an alley cat. His intellect is to President Ob-amateurs as Harvard is to Morris Brown. It truly is sad that in our nation’s time of need what is perhaps its best mind must sit on the sidelines.

booger

April 6th, 2009
5:14 pm

What if Jay woke up one day and realized the conseratives were no longer in power.

Do you think he might take an honest look at the current admin. policies. I know taking a critical look is too much to ask, but an honest look would be refreshing.

Perhaps we could review Obama’s primary objectives for the G-20 conference. 1] convince the other leaders to put forth stimulus programs similar to ours. 2]Get NATO countries to commit additional troops for Afg. and Pak.

Not even a trip to first base on his objectives, but my gosh didn’t Michele look pretty. And did you hear the crowds roar when he critized the US. All in all it looks like a successful trip.

Something like that would be nice.

AmVet

April 6th, 2009
5:18 pm

Wyld Byll Hytlyr does hate those darkies.

I guess the Uppity One sent him over the edge…

Wyld Byll Hyltnyr

April 6th, 2009
5:34 pm

AmVet 5:18 pm

I am repulsed by your scurrilous and, might I add, wholly unfounded accusation.

I have never spoken against the negro race and, while they are clearly troubled, when taken as a whole, I do not believe that they are inferior.

In fact, not only my own nanny, but my children’s nannies were all negro. We have also had many negros on staff until recently when we have migrated to Salvadorans because of their superior work ethic.

It is truly despicable that you would try to stir the pot where the slightest hint of racism does not exist.

@@

April 6th, 2009
5:52 pm

RW @ 4:44:

Whenever possible, I like to keep Obama’s responses —->short and to the point,<—- in the HOPE that he can learn from his mistakes by observing. Lucky for us he had a teleprompter.

Paul:

Let me guess! The answer you’re looking for is NO?

My husband was on the DMZ at Camp Casey. He’s always said he’d bet on The ROK against North Korea’s military on any given day. The U.S. was/is there just to slow down a surge across the border.

Wyld Byll Hyltnyr

April 6th, 2009
5:53 pm

Jay, why has my response to Amvet’s racially charged, inaccurate, scurriluos charge not been posted. Don’t I have the right to defend myself from such a baseless accusation?

Jay

April 6th, 2009
6:02 pm

It was caught in our spam filter, Byll, and has now been posted.

Not sure it make your case very well, however.

SuperDave

April 6th, 2009
6:07 pm

Wyld Byll 5:34
That about says it all, I guess.

Wyld Byll Hyltnyr

April 6th, 2009
6:17 pm

Will somebody give me a clue.

Why is a post that uses a racially denigrating term perfectly ok, while my post, which uses the proper racial term, bothers people. My family and I have enjoyed and long and friendly relationship with persons of that race. What exactly did I do wrong and why does Amvet’s post go right by the filter?

Paul

April 6th, 2009
6:25 pm

@@

My point was that numbers don’t matter much – what matters is the North’s perception of the US’s resolve.

I agree with your husband’s perception. But numbers, nasty weapons and the will to use them counter ability and valor.

I’m usually not ‘looking’ for an answer. I sometimes think what might come, but usually I’m just waiting to hear the response and maybe hear a different point of view.

No one’s ever called you ‘different’ have they?

:-)

DB, Gwinnettian

April 6th, 2009
6:41 pm

A valid statement but isn’t that true of any Congressional leader?

sure. And I am aware that plenty of Congressmen have made stabs at securing a Presidential nomination, without having held a statewide office (or higher). But when was the last time someone actually succeeded in doing so? Put another way–what was the likelihood we were going to have a President Ron Paul or a President Dennis Kucinich?

DB, Gwinnettian

April 6th, 2009
7:00 pm

When was the last time someone told you you’re a condescending prick?

We counting family?

Corporal

April 6th, 2009
7:48 pm

pat

April 7th, 2009
9:03 am

Or we could just roll over and pee on ourselves….O wait, that’s what we are doing.
Let’s look objectively at the behaviour of our enemies for a moment since the obamanation…
Iran, moving forward, NK, launches a missle over Japan, Taliban makes laughing stock of the U.S. after seeking to negotiate with “moderate elements”, i.e. disgruntled soldiers, etc.

Boy that strategy is working…They all seem to be buying obama’s windbag rhetoric. LOL!

john doe

April 8th, 2009
2:15 pm

hey ‘Redneck Convert’ since you want a war so bad are you going to enlist today? You could die for gw bush and dick cheney in their quest to improve haliburton profits!

really

April 8th, 2009
2:18 pm

newt is an ignorant neocon that does not deserve to be heard. what a dinosaur!! newt, go cheat on your wife again.