ABC's Z. Byron Wolf reports:
Days after American forces dropped bombs and fired missiles into Libya along with NATO partners, criticism emerged from Republicans that the mission is not coherent or well defined and that President Obama should be in Washington overseeing the new military mission instead of on a trade trip to Latin America.
“I think this administration, it strikes me that the more difficult it gets, the more the President golfs and the more the President hides,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Fox News Monday morning.
Gingrich did not suggest the U.S. shouldn’t be taking part in the no-fly zone in Libya, which is meant to protect rebels who oppose Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from his air force. But Gingrich said the President’s policy on Libya is incoherent and not well-enough communicated to the American people. He used the word “madness” once and “amateurish” several times.
The current House Speaker, John Boehner of Ohio, similarly said over the weekend that President Obama needs to do a better job telling Americans why the military is now engaged in a new conflict overseas.
Gingrich, who is mulling a Presidential bid, was much more pointed.
After accusing President Obama of ‘amateur opportunism’ for initially saying Gadhafi had to leave power, Gingrich pointed out that after the President called for Gadhafi’s ouster, nothing happened for a while. Then, said Gingrich, the French started taking the lead in pushing internationally for anti-Gadhafi measures. He said the Arab League has not lived up to the expectation after a U.N. Security Council vote authorizing the use of force against Gadhafi, that it would take part enforcing the no-fly zone.
“The whole thing is a mess,” said Gingrich. “What’s more, it’s a mess inside a bigger mess.”
Gingrich pointed to violence in Yemen and Syria and arrests in Iran. He referred to 20,000 prisoners released in Egypt – “many of whom are going to turn out to be jihadists who want to wage war against us.” It is unclear exactly what Gingrich was referring to with this last reference. While many political prisoners have been released in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak ceded power in February, the number is nowhere near 20,000, according to most reports. Read more about that here.
“Everywhere you turn in the region, there are problems and this administration has no strategy. It has no ability to tell people what it’s doing,” Gingrich said.
“Is our goal to get rid of Gadhafi or a cease fire? Is a cease fire okay if okay if Gadhafi survives?”
Yes, said one of the Fox News anchors.
“That’s madness,” said Gingrich.
“If Gadhafi survives, it is a clear defeat for the President of the United States,” he said.
The former lawmaker said he would decide within the next month whether he’ll go ahead with a possible Presidential run. But he sounded every bit the candidate when he criticized President Obama for continuing his trip in Latin America.
What would Gingrich do about the bigger mess? He’d ask Congress to form a blue-ribbon commission to follow up on the 9/11 commission.
“I think that the House and Senate should form joint working groups out of the Intelligence Committee, Homeland Security Committee, National Security Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee and we ought to have a serious overall public review of where we are ten years after 9-11,” he said.