The Words of Dictators Preparing for War

You may be wondering what the vicious, anti-American rhetoric in the United Nations last week really means — not to mention the troubling silence that followed from our leaders. Let me give you my analysis of what it could mean if we allow our enemies to occupy the moral high ground:

One day Americans may watch North Korean-designed, Iranian-built missiles being installed in Venezuela. We would be left wondering if these missiles are carrying Iranian or North Korean nuclear warheads. We will then better understand the meaning of last week’s speeches.

For those of you who are unconvinced, here are three statements that every American should know and think about. They are from the three men — three very dangerous men — who spoke to us last week.

“The devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today.”

— Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, referring to President Bush,
on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly

“To those who doubt, to those who ask is it possible, or those who do not believe, I say accomplishment of a world without America and Israel is both possible and feasible.”

— Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

“No army in the world is strong enough to disarm us.”

— Hezbollah terrorist leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, last week to
a “victory rally” of thousands of Hezbollah supporters.

So my question to you is this: If these aren’t the words of dictators preparing for war, how can you explain them?

Loud Applause at the UN — Silence in America

Here is how the New York Times described the response in the UN General Assembly to Hugo Chavez’s venomous speech: “The gasps. The horrified giggles. The loud applause that lasted so long that the organization’s officials had to tell the cheering group to cut it out.”

But at least as troubling as the response of the so-called diplomats at the UN (most of whom are recipients of U.S. aid, by the way) was the lack of response by American leaders.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal about Chavez’s speech, Peggy Noonan hit the nail on the head: “His remarks were startling. No one wants to dignify them with a response. But that’s a mistake. Because the world heard them.”

America’s lack of response to the vitriolic anti-American speech at the United Nations and elsewhere this week was a fundamental mistake. It projects a message of weakness to the world, and our politics and attitudes of weakness only feed our enemies’ sense of confidence.

In fact, in the Washington Post, columnist David Ignatius wrote that the “overriding theme” of Iranian dictator Ahmadinejad’s visit to America was “confidence.” We’ve seen this confidence before. It reminded Ignatius of Ahmadinejad’s predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, when he led Iran’s decent into tyranny in the late 1970s fed by an anti-American ideology. The message of both Iranian dictators, writes Ignatius, was this: “America cannot do a damn thing.”

Three Strategies to Change the United Nations

The spectacle of hate and anti-Americanism being vigorously applauded by those sustained by our aid and contributions to international organizations does more than just discredit the participants — it calls the whole UN process into question. The recent, modest efforts at reform there have clearly failed. The United States needs to immediately undertake three strategies to transform the UN from the anti-American, anti-freedom forum it now is into an effective champion for the spread of democracy and human rights.

  1. Hold Dictators and Demagogues Accountable: Following Chavez’s tirade of lies and personal insults to our President, the United States should have taken him on, not ignored him. We should have demanded that he personally apologize and that the General Assembly censure him. We owe it to ourselves and to an effective UN to confront head-on every lie about America and freedom uttered there.
  2. Demand Our Money’s Worth: America contributes 22 percent of the United Nation’s budget, but what do we get for our money? We need to begin to use all our resources — our diplomacy and our economic muscle — to organize the votes worldwide to profoundly reform the UN. All of our ambassadors must be tasked with using whatever carrots and sticks are available in our relations with other countries to see that the UN is reorganized. Because if the United Nations isn’t organized in support of democracies and against dictatorships, what are we and our money doing there?
  3. Put the Burden of Proof on Them: America should begin to seek out and create alternative forums for dealing with other nations until the United Nations has proved to us it is reformed. The burden of proof should be on the United Nations to show us that it can be something more than a soapbox for tyrants and a megaphone for hate.

Are Things Looking Up for November?

Despite the bad news coming from the United Nations this week, there was good news on the home front.

First, an update on the American Eleven: On Wednesday, by a vote of 228 to 196, the House passed legislation to require every individual who wants to vote in the 2008 federal elections to have a photo ID (American Eleven Action Item #4).

Also on Wednesday, following a Winning the Future Special Alert urging you to call your senators, the Senate voted to prevent a Democratic filibuster on the Secure Fence Act (American Eleven Action Item #2). Once again, your phone calls, letters and emails are proving that real change starts with the American people, not the Washington elite.

And not coincidentally, the polls are showing brighter prospects for Republicans in the November elections. In the USA Today/Gallup poll, when American are asked whether they will vote for Republicans or Democrats in the fall, the Democrats’ advantage has dropped from 11 points in late July to dead even with Republicans. The Fox News poll shows the Democrats’ lead shrinking from 16 points in late August to three points today.

Will We Win the Future?

Could we be seeing a reversal of electoral fortune? Only time will tell.

And what about that imagined future scenario of North Korean-designed, Iranian-built missiles being installed in Venezuela? Here, again, only time — and American will — will tell. But there is one thing we can know now, and it’s not so different from what we’re seeing with the November elections: When we do what’s right, and when we listen to the American people, we come closer to winning the future. So let’s keep winning.

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich

P.S. — I noticed some other polling data that may also mean better news for Republicans in the fall. When Iowa voters are asked who they prefer in hypothetical 2008 presidential match-ups, they show a continued drift away from liberal Democrats and toward independent Republicans. For example, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani beats Sen. Hillary Clinton by 19 points – Sen. John McCain beats Clinton by 17 points. They both also beat Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry by double digits. This doesn’t really sound like the stuff of an anti-Republican tide about to sweep the nation, now does it?

Ask Newt

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

I like some of your ideas on stopping illegal immigration into this country. I would like to know your opinion on the only real way to stop it and to deal with the 12 million already here, and that is to penalize the companies that hire them.

— Phillip B
Princeton, W.Va.

Thank you for the question, Phillip. I couldn’t agree more. Your question gets to the fundamental dishonesty of our current immigration system. I wrote about this dishonesty in a white paper and in an oped for National Review Online earlier this year, and I spoke about it in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute (links can be found below). My view is that the enforcement of our immigration laws must be focused on holding American employers accountable.

After all, the root cause of our country’s illegal immigration challenge is not the willingness of non-citizens to break our immigration laws — it is the willingness of U.S. citizens who own businesses to break the law because of the unwillingness of the U.S. government to enforce them. Our government’s failure to enforce sanctions on employers who break the law sends a signal to everyone in the world that we are simply not serious about our immigration laws. We are actually encouraging them to be broken. So why shouldn’t a Guatemalan earning 30 cents an hour come to the United States to make 20 or 30 times more?

A simple first step our government can take to create an honest immigration system would be to verify Social Security numbers to determine who is employing people illegally. In 2004, the U.S government collected more than $6 billion from employers for workers who are using non-existing Social Security numbers. But the government did not take the next logical step of contacting those companies. Moreover, in that same year, not a single employer was fined for employing workers illegally. Canada has a much smaller illegal immigration problem because they are able to quickly crack down on employers who do not follow the law.

There is always the temptation to not file payroll taxes in order to avoid detection. To deal with that, the government should make so severe the fines on any company that is caught knowingly employing people illegally or failing to pay taxes on employees that being caught would not be worth the risk.

People keep coming to the United States illegally because they are finding companies willing to hire them illegally. If we put an end to illegal jobs, then only people who come legally will find jobs.

For more on my views on immigration, please read the materials linked below.

Related Op-eds:

Honesty in Immigration: We need a firm foundation of law.
Border Issues are a Test of Will
Honesty in Immigration
A Continent of Hope
White Paper: Ending the Dishonesty
Speech: Ending the Dishonesty
Video clip from that speech