Mouth of Mass Destruction

Newton Leroy Gingrich has to have a good showing in Georgia. He’s admitted that’s important, if he’s to continue as a candidate for the presidency of the United States. Which, presumably, accounts for the message he delivered Friday in Brunswick, on the Georgia coast.

“Barack Obama clearly has a vision, but it’s the wrong vision,’’ Gingrich said.

Obama’s vision is of a socialist structure guided by politicians in Washington, Gingrich said.

“Like Barack Obama, I’m a visionary,” Gingrich told the crowd. “It’s just that my vision is directly opposite from his.”

He’s right. President Obama is looking forward and Gingrich is looking back to the jobs he claims to have created before he was forced to resign from Congress and to fixing a tax code the chief executive has no ability to legislate. So, he’s promising to repeat what he never did and fix something that’s not in the President’s bailiwick. The “why we couldn’t” he’s throwing around should be applied to himself.

Meanwhile, President Obama is being quoted all around the globe for his quip that when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons he’s not “bluffing.” And this prelude to the upcoming visit by the combative Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington next week is being interpreted in the predictable binary mode. Will he use force or won’t he? His statement to an interviewer for The Atlantic:

“You’re talking about the most volatile region in the world,” he said. “It will not be tolerable to a number of states in that region for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and them not to have a nuclear weapon.”

These statements are being almost universally interpreted as a reference to the possible use of military force, even as papers around the globe are reporting other options. Just as I mentioned here a little over a month ago, the proposal to set up a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone still hasn’t caught fire in U.S. media. It’s not because Iran isn’t trying to make the case that nuclear weapons are not on its agenda. As the Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi said in Geneva:

“We do not see any glory, pride or power in nuclear weapons, quite the opposite,” Salehi said in his speech in Geneva.

“Based on the religious decree issued by our supreme leader, the production, possession, use or threat of the use of nuclear weapons are illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin.”

Given that the recent election is seen as an affirmation of the supreme leader’s role, the assertion might merit more attention, especially since the Minister goes on to make reference to the MENWFZ.

Salehi also said that the majority of Middle East states, including Iran and Egypt, want to establish a nuclear weapon free zone, and that the was “only obstacle to the creation of such a zone,” in an apparent reference to Israel.

“It is a matter of concern that all efforts to establish a nuclear free zone in the Middle East have not yet succeeded, due to its persistent refusal to join the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and to place its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards system.”

The view from Turkey on the French perspective is tellingly pessimistic and one that Gingrich might appreciate:

The present momentum for the creation of the NWFZ in the Middle East was given by the so called Action Plan adopted in 2010 by the review conference of the NPT. In this plan, the member states agreed to mandate the United Nations, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States to consult with countries in the region and convene a meeting in 2012 “on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.”

Horovitz added that the present political schedule is bound to undermine the meeting, to take place in Finland. “Washington, concerned with this year’s domestic presidential election, wants a short meeting involving the participation of all countries of the Middle East, comprising a broad exchange of views, and requiring consensus decisions, especially in regard to any follow-up actions,” Horovitz cautioned.

Any success on the international stage is bound to throw all the Republican candidates out of the competition. Best not to even mention, for example, North Korea’s announced cessation of nuclear work, and stick to bumper sticker slogans. Failure (“why we couldn’t”) always gets more traction than the most realistic prospect for success, even when it gets featured in The New York Times.

If it’s true that a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for the Middle East was first proposed in 1974 by the former Shah — the year which coincidentally marks Gingrich’s first run for Congress, perhaps an issue that’s been hanging fire during his entire political career could serve as a catapult and bring Newt to the front of the pack. Newt, the man of vision, looking both forward and back, getting Netanyahu to the conference table might well be comparable to Nixon going to China. Now, that would be putting his money where his mouth is.

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Photo by Gage Skidmore and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license via Wikimedia.

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."