A Decisive Week for the Future of Freedom

Most weeks, I begin my message to you in Winning the Future by talking about the week that was. But this week, I want to begin by talking about the week that is to come, because it promises to be a decisive one for American national security. Two events will transpire this week that will go a long way toward determining whether we intend to move forward to decisively defeat the forces of radical Islam, or whether we will retreat from defending our nation and attempt to appease those threatening forces.

The first event is the primary election this Tuesday in Connecticut. Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, a strong supporter of America’s war against the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam, is facing a serious challenge from Ned Lamont, a leading representative of the appeasement wing of American politics.

The second event to watch is the possible passage of a resolution in the United Nations Security Council that forces a cease-fire on Israel.

As unrelated as these events may seem on the surface, they both contain warning signs that American determination to defeat terrorists could be flagging and American leadership might be in danger of retreating.

An Impending Victory for the Appeasement Wing of American Politics?

I will be blunt. In Connecticut, if Ned Lamont defeats Sen. Lieberman on Tuesday, it will be a major blow to those of us who believe that America must stand strong in the face of an emerging Third World War.

The defeat of this long-serving senator, who just four months ago seemed invulnerable, will be a signal that the appeasement wing of one of America’s two main political parties is gaining momentum.

As of this weekend, public polling showed Sen. Lieberman trailing Lamont by about 10 points. So you can be sure that if Lamont wins, a shock wave will run through the Democratic Party and the news media. Brace yourself. This may very well be the week of Ned Lamont and appeasement politics.

The National Debate That Is Coming

What’s more, if Lamont wins by a big margin, look for Lieberman to drop out of the race. If Sen. Lieberman loses narrowly, he can run as an Independent in the general election this fall. But if he is crushed in his own party’s primary, an independent bid in the general election begins to look like a spoiler — that is, unless Sen. Lieberman starts to fight back on the issue that Lamont has made the centerpiece of his challenge: how to best defend the United States in the fight against radical Islam.

A Lieberman defeat is likely to push us as a nation to a long overdue decision point. It may open up the most important national-security debate since the years following World War II, when Democrats such as Harry Truman and Republicans such as Michigan Sen. Arthur Vandenberg joined together in a bipartisan consensus about resisting the expansion of Soviet tyranny. Now, as then, the question before the nation is simple, but one of life and death: Do we seek victory against the forces arraying against us? Or are we willing to accept a negotiated defeat — in the naïve belief that appeasement now will spare us from more horrific threats later?

The Resolution in the United Nations

The second decisive event to keep your eye on this week is the outcome of a proposed United Nations Security Council resolution that calls for a cease-fire in Lebanon.

As I write this message to you there is every indication that the U.S. State Department has gotten together with the French to produce a resolution that could well be seen as a victory for the alliance of Islamic terrorists and dictatorships.

The draft resolution calls on both parties in the conflict to agree to an immediate cease-fire. That may sound like a good thing, but in reality, it treats Israel as the moral equivalent of the terrorist group Hezbollah. Hezbollah, remember, is the aggressor in this conflict.

And even this draft agreement might be weakened further by other members of the Security Council.

The pattern of negotiation has gone from proposing a strong NATO-led force that could disarm Hezbollah to a weak UN force that will have no effect on Hezbollah. This will only be a larger force for failure than the 2,000-man UN force that has done nothing for the last six years while Hezbollah has armed itself.

We Must Avoid Another Munich

Contrary to their assurances, it is clear that the Lebanese are more afraid of Syria and Iran then they are of the United States and France.

It is clear that Hezbollah has no intention of disarming.

It is clear that Syria and Iran have no intention of withdrawing their support from Hezbollah.

Acquiescing to these facts through diplomacy at the United Nations would be a defeat of the first order for the United States and for Israel. The forces of terrorism and dictatorship will only become stronger. Meanwhile, the forces of democracy, the rule of law, freedom and security will become weaker.

The belief that this kind of United Nations Security Council resolution will stop the Hezbollah-Syria-Iran alliance’s war against Israel is misguided and destructive. Its adoption would have to be seen as a failure of nerve and one that would undercut the efforts of the democracies to defend themselves. Recall that at the Munich conference with Nazi Germany in 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain allowed empty diplomacy to lull him into a false sense of security about the nature of Hitler. The result was a Second World War. Today, rationalizations like these are lulling us into a similar self-deception about the nature of the threat that all freedom-loving nations face today, with Israeli democracy itself on the front lines.

We Have Other Options

There are alternatives. We can allow Israel to do what it set out to do: defend itself and destroy Hezbollah as a threat to its security. We can push for a resolution at the UN that focuses on the roles of Syria and Iran in creating this conflict and insists on the implementation of the earlier UN resolution for disarming Hezbollah.

So call, write or email your elected representatives and tell them to insist that our State Department reject appeasement. The coming week will be a decisive one for the future of freedom as we know it. None of us can afford to sit on the sidelines. Let’s get to work.

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich

P.S. — In case you missed it, last week I called on the United Nations to force Syria and Iran to pay reparations to Lebanon and Israel for the damage caused by the conflict there. After all, the damage to Israeli and Lebanese lives and property would not have occurred without active Syrian and Iranian assistance to Hezbollah. What’s more, by sponsoring Hezbollah’s attacks, Syria and Iran are in direct violation of several UN resolutions and international treaties. Their liability is clear.

Here is a little of what I said on Fox News’s “Hannity and Colmes:”

“Why isn’t the world demanding that Iran and Syria pay for all the damages? Why isn’t the world insisting that Iran and Syria compensate all the dispossessed people? None of this would have happened if Iran and Syria were not in a terrorist alliance with Hezbollah.”

You can read the whole transcript here. I also mentioned it in my appearance on Fox News Sunday yesterday with Sen. Joe Biden, which you can find here.

Ask Newt    

Each week, this newsletter features questions from its readers. Have a question? Send an email to Newt at

Is there any chance to see real political debates on specific current events with impressive speakers representing each side?
—Bob S.
Naperville, IL.

Thanks for the question, Bob. In fact, this Saturday, August 12, I am making a joint appearance with the Democratic governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, at the Iowa State Fair. We will be sharing ideas about the promise of bio-renewable fuels to help satisfy America’s energy needs.

These are serious times for America, and we need to find solutions to the challenges confronting us. When I speak to audiences, I often compare today with the period leading up to the Civil War — not because we’re on the brink of another Civil War, but because not since 1861 has there been a time as challenging as now.

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 provide an instructive contrast to today’s shrill political battles which are often destructive or trivial. Political messages are increasingly consultant-driven, poll-tested, negative and sanitized, so much so that it actually shrinks our leaders. I think we can reverse this trend with three reforms:

NO RULES: We should get rid of the pages and pages of debate rules such as the ones that belittle our presidential debates. Over the years, campaign consultants who prefer more controlled communication such as campaign advertising have created rules designed to mask weaknesses and ultimately prevent the candidates from actually saying anything useful. Voters deserve to see their political leaders with the shackles off.

NO MODERATORS: We should get rid of the moderator or at least reduce the moderator to a simple time keeper. Instead of a member of the media steering the conversation, we should allow candidates to lead the discussion. After all, they’re going to be in charge, not a member of the news media. Instead, candidates should ask each other questions and have a conversation on stage about their ideas, solutions and vision for America.

BIPARTISAN PRIMARY EVENTS: Debates limited to candidates of only one party set a negative tone early on in the election cycle, one that never dissipates. After all, the easiest way for a candidate to get the party base excited is to bash the other side. But this level of negativity would be far less possible if candidates had to make their cases in front of the opposition party’s candidates and their supporters.

Many note how candidates, having won their party’s nomination, then “move to the center” to appeal to a broader swath of the American people. Much of that move is simply a softening of their rhetoric to appear “more presidential.” But shouldn’t candidates act presidential at the start of the election process rather than wandering into that mode halfway through?

Here is a February 2006 op-ed I wrote which explains these ideas further.

2008 will be the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Why not honor this legacy with similar constructive, informed, vibrant and civil political dialogue? I believe Americans want their leaders to engage them with that same level of seriousness once again. The times call for it.