Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, criticized the Obama administration's handling of the crisis in Egypt, warned against the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood there and called for broader promotion of democracy around the world in an interview with "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour.
Gingrich criticized the mixed messages that appeared to becoming from the White House throughout the crisis.
"You appoint a very senior diplomat to be your special ambassador, he makes a statement in Munich about what we're doing, and three hours later, the White House is directly contradicting him," Gingrich said referring to Frank Wisner, Obama's special envoy to Egypt, who called Mubarak key to Egypt's move to democracy. The White House later took a substantively different position.
But "[o]ur focus shouldn't be on Obama," Gingrich said, pivoting to a discussion of democracy. "Our focus ought to be: what can America do now to make sure the military doesn't impose a new dictatorship for another thirty or forty years. And how do we, on the other hand, make sure that you don't end up with a Muslim Brotherhood staging a coup at some point over a three or four or five year period."
"Every society has to come to grips with the facts that there are some elements that would create a dictatorship," Gingrich said. "It wouldn't be democracy; it would be one last vote. And whether it is Lenin replacing Kerensky, whether it is Hitler taking over in Germany, whether it is the Ayatollah running Iran, you have to be very cautious about the idea that you can automatically accept a group, if, in fact, you have pretty good reason to believe that their goal is a dictatorship."
Democracy in Egypt -- and Around the World
Amanpour asked Gingrich what the U.S. should do right now to encourage the Egyptian military to move towards Democracy.
"One of the great virtues of our military training program is that we have a lot of senior officers who were in school with a lot of Egyptian officers. I think they need to be, collectively, calling their friends and saying: 'look, you don't want to own the country because then you own every problem and you can't solve them. ... You don't want to become Burma,'" Gingrich said.
He said that if the military was not moving in the right direction the U.S. ought to carefully use its foreign aid to Egypt as leverage.
Speaking more generally about foreign aid, Gingrich said he would "look at rethinking the current foreign aid program and shifting a great deal more out of government bureaucracies [and] into NGOs."
Gingrich said democracy promotion should not be limited to Egypt. "I think we should be pressuring everywhere," he said, "including Russia, including China, including Cuba. We should be pushing steadily and saying, 'America stands for freedom.'"