Gingrich Says Historic Challenges Face Americans

By Kevin Mooney | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

( - Over the next 20 years the American people can expect to experience the most severe challenges any generation has faced since the time of the Civil War, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday.

Rising economies in China and India will compete vigorously against the U.S. while terrorist threats gather momentum throughout the globe, Gingrich said during a GOPAC meeting in Washington, D.C.

Since citizens do "not have the luxury of ordering history," the challenges must be confronted simultaneously, Gingrich said.

He also pointed to trends in various parts of the world which he said were suggestive of an "emerging third world war."

Although the nation's political structure and government agencies are currently ill-equipped to confront the challenges of the 21st Century, Gingrich said, he believed strongly in the ability of the American people and policymakers to "win the future" -- if they acknowledge failure where it exists, while embracing dramatic reforms in domestic and foreign affairs.

Former Congressman J.C. Watts, an Oklahoma Republican, described Gingrich as a visionary and the "architect" of the 1994 Republican revolution that ended 40 years of Democratic control of the House of Representatives.

Watts credited Gingrich with moving power and influence out of Washington, D.C. and into the hands of average Americans.

'Failed to deliver'

Assessing the midterm election results Gingrich said it would be a mistake for GOP officials to simply attribute the loss of the House and Senate to cyclical trends.

Instead, he said, Republican leaders in Congress had "failed to deliver" on key promises and lost sight of the revolutionary fervor that translated into a balanced budget in the mid-1990s.

The excessive spending of the past few years and "toleration for corruption" directly contributed to the losses in Gingrich's view.

He made a distinction between earmarks that were configured to direct policy initiatives, and those that he said misused taxpayer money to boost lawmaker's reelection chances.

With Republicans returning to minority status in January, Gingrich warned against the temptation to criticize the party in power without offering an alternative vision along with compelling policy proposals that create a clear choice for Americans.

"We cannot solve problems of a great nation by focusing on the weakness of the opposition," he said.

On international issues, Gingrich rejected a "stay the course" approach to Iraq but said it was vital for policymakers to chart a new path for victory that would inevitably be arduous.

The creation of a national police force is also necessary in Iraq, Gingrich said, because there is widespread corruption among local officials.

While he praised the 2003 military campaign that ousted Saddam Hussein, Gingrich said the current phase of operations has thus far been a defeat for the American side.

Other trends of concern to the former House Speaker included reports of terrorist activity in Europe.

In Britain, Gingrich said, security officials were investigating over 200 organizations with about 1,200 members that are considered hostile. The head of British intelligence, in a statement not widely reported in the U.S., had recently said warned that he "fully expects the use of a nuclear weapon in Britain," Gingrich said.

He concluded his remarks by calling on the Department of Homeland Security to organize two nuclear and one biological exercise each year in American cities.

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