- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2011

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Sunday blasted the Obama administration’s decision to send 100 American troops to serve as advisers in Central Africa and the White House’s handling of other national security issues.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Gingrich said when it comes to national security, the administration doesn’t “have any kind of larger strategy.”

Asked about charges that Iran supported an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Mr. Gingrich said the U.S. goal in Iran “should be the replacement of the Iranian dictatorship.”

Mr. Gingrich said President Obama’s Iran policy has been misguided.

The Republican former congressman from Georgia, who is rising in recent polls after a strong performance at last week’s GOP presidential debate, also said the White House has mishandled the deployment of about 100 elite American troops to Central Africa. They are intended to serve as advisers in the fight against the “Lord’s Resistance Army,” a rebel group accused of a two-decade spree of murder and rape across several countries.

Mr. Gingrich said the deployment “doesn’t make any sense.”

“I don’t think you send special ops troops with instructions not to kill anybody,” Mr. Gingrich said. “The United States should intervene in a way that works, if it should a [secret] operation, don’t say anything about it. Our guys show up, our technology shows up, the other side loses, we quietly go off again. If it is going to be overt operation, say we will now do what it takes to make sure we achieve our objectives. Period. That should be the rule of engagement.

“Some kind of nonsensical ‘we really don’t want to shoot you but we’re sending armed troops’ and we know it’s a dangerous area, but really I would like not to do anything. It is just stupid. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, appearing later on the same program, also questioned the decision to deploy troops without consulting Congress.

“I’m very disappointed, again, that the administration has not consulted with members of Congress before taking such action. I’ve been under four presidents, and this is the least communicative with Congress of any administration that I’ve ever seen,” Mr. McCain said.

Mr. Gingrich, as has been his custom throughout his pursuit of the GOP nomination, was complimentary of his rivals in the still-crowded Republican field.

Of his fellow Georgian, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, he said: “He is a great, wonderful human story. He is a very enthusiastic and very competent person. And I think there’s a certain attractiveness to Herman that a lot of people find very genuine. He’s a good friend of mine, and I’m delighted for him that he’s having this kind of run. I wouldn’t want it to go to the nomination, but I’m delighted that he’s having this kind of run.”

And Texas Gov. Rick Perry may be down, Mr. Gingrich said, but he’s not out.

“No, nobody’s done. At this stage last time, [2008 GOP nominee John] McCain was in third place. At this stage in 1991, Bill Clinton was an asterisk. This is a wide open process,” he said.

Mr. Gingrich said Republicans are still looking for an alternative to GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.

“Mitt Romney has a huge problem. He’s a very likable person. He works very hard. He’s very smart. And he is a Massachusetts moderate Republican. It is the Nelson Rockefeller problem. I mean, there is a natural ceiling. And if you go back and look at the race last time, he ran into a natural ceiling,” Mr. Gingrich said.

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