Gingrich: U.S. is at a ‘deciding point’

Gingrich: U.S. is at a 'deciding point'
The United States faces one of the greatest challenges in its history as it deals with Iran's nuclear program, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday afternoon.

The United States, Europe and Israel face massive destruction by a nuclear attack, Gingrich told University of South Dakota students and faculty. "This is one of the great deciding points of history," Gingrich said, opening a question-and-answer session at Farber Hall. The situation is heightened, Gingrich said, by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's promise to "defeat the Anglo-Saxons and wipe Israel off the face of the earth."

"How is that deterred, where your religion tells you that dying in Armageddon is cool? Where you have suicide bombers with atomic wea-pons?" Gingrich asked. "You have to take them out. You have to change the regime. Just to take out the (nuclear) facilities is a loser game. When they develop atomic weapons, they will sell them to somebody, and that will be dangerous."

The United States can't risk inaction against Iran and other

Turn to Q&A on Page 16

threats, Gingrich said. "What if they destroyed Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and gave you the second Holocaust, and it took three seconds? What do you wish you would have done the day before?" he asked. "What if they wipe out Chicago or New York � and I don't mean just the World Trade Center? What is it you wish you did the day before?"

The United States can expect little cooperation from Russia and China in containing the Iranians, Gingrich said.

"China just completed a $100 billion trade deal with Iran. That's why sanctions won't work," he said.

By quickly sending forces to Afghanistan, the United States has shown it can be "ruthless" in its response to terrorist attacks, Gingrich said. The United States can deal with Iraq and Iran at the same time through technology and available military force, he added.

America needs to draw down its forces once Iraq shows its ability to take over its police and military, Gingrich said in a separate interview.

"The faster we get out of the way in Iraq, the better thing it will be," he said. While he wouldn't predict a timetable, Gingrich said National Guards and Reserves � including Yankton-based Charlie Battery serving in Iraq � should be removed as soon as possible. He doesn't look for prolonged use of Guards and Reserves in Iraq. "We may be there a long time with a small force," he said. While Iran poses a threat, the United States also needs to secure its borders as a matter of homeland security, Gingrich said.

Authorities have received reports of terrorists attempting to cross the Mexican border, he added. The immigration problem is fueled by American businesses which hire illegal aliens, Gingrich said.

"We need to tell (businesses) we're going to hit you hard if you hire illegal aliens." Gingrich said he supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which created 3,100 new factories in northern Mexico.

However, Mexico has economic problems with high taxes, heavy bureaucracy and corruption, he said. Gingrich said he supports sending illegal aliens back home, then having them apply for re-entry on a temporary worker permit and submit to a retinal check or other security measure.

"I am opposed to making illegal immigrants legal," he said. "If you create amnesty, then you can expect another wave of immigrants." The immigration controversy contains the humanitarian issue of dealing with up to 12 million illegal aliens and the cultural issue of Americans seeing immigrant demonstrators defacing the U.S. flag and waving Mexican flags, he said.

The current controversy has split the immigrant community, Gingrich said, noting a Korean friend whose family immigrated legally has been angered by the wave of illegal immigration. Most immigrants want a better life for their children and to assimilate into American culture, Gingrich said. "Eighty percent of the immigrants want their children to study English and know America more than the country they came from," he said. The assimilation effort has been hampered by the rising use of multi-lingualism, which could create a backlash starting with a return to English-only ballots, Gingrich said.

As part of national security, Gingrich said he supports the use of warrantless wiretaps on calls originating outside the United States. The practice has been used by six consecutive presidents, he said. He said he also supports dividing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into anti-terrorism and anti-crime divisions. "I don't want the anti-terrorism to be cautious — I want them to be aggressive. And I want the anti-crime to be very cautious. I don't want them trampling over your rights," he said.

Gingrich was asked how he would advise the two major political parties heading into the 2006 elections. "If I were the Democrats, I would say, ?Had enough?' They can't repeat (the GOP wins in) 1994 because the Republicans came off Reagan and the Democrats don't have that unifying example," he said.

"As for the Republicans, they should have governed so well that I want more (in the next election)." Washington must return to the fiscal discipline of the 1990s, which had four balanced budgets and paid $405 billion off the national debt under a Democratic White House, Gingrich said.

Congress must reform health care, which accounts for 26 percent of the federal budget; cut spending, maximize growth and privatize things which don't need government involvement, he said. Washington can do that even with the current war on terror and other demands, Gingrich said. He noted the U.S. spends 4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on national security, compared to 9 percent under John Kennedy in the early 1960s.

"We can do it. We have the largest economy in the world," he said.

After the forum, USD senior Jeff Gordon of Sioux Falls said Gingrich showed a directness in his answers and an ability to see the big picture. Gordon said he found Gingrich's remarks on the Middle East especially interesting, as Gordon was among USD students who toured Israel last January with Dr. Tim Schorn.

"We were at the West Bank. We saw the wall (constructed by Israel), and we met with the Palestinian group, the Red Crescent Society, which is their equivalent of the Red Cross," Gordon said. "I don't have a lot of sympathy for terrorists, but I also saw construction of the wall cut off people from jobs. And kids had to travel three hours a day for classes when it would normally take 15 minutes. I saw the human factor."

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