Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is using bold language to describe the recent escalation of violence in the Middle East, calling it the beginning of the Third World War.

“This is World War III,” the Georgia Republican told the Seattle Times.

He repeated his assertion on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

“We’re in the early stages of what I would describe as the Third World War and, frankly, our bureaucracy’s not responding fast enough and we don’t have the right attitude. And this is the 58th year of the war to destroy Israel and, frankly, the Israelis have every right to insist that every single missile leave south Lebanon, and the United States ought to be helping the Lebanese government have the strength to eliminate Hezbollah as a military force – not as a political force in the parliament – but as a military force in south Lebanon.”

Asked NBC host Tim Russert, “This is World War III?”

“I believe if you take all the countries I just listed that you’ve been covering, put them on a map, look at all the different connectivity, you have to say to yourself: this is, in fact, World War III,” Gingrich responded.

The potential candidate for president in 2008 said today’s deaths of eight Israelis from Hezbollah missile attacks is the equivalent of losing 500 Americans, based on population.

“Imagine we woke up this morning, and 500 Americans were dead in Miami from missiles fired from Cuba. Do you think any American would say, ‘No, we should have proportionate response. We shouldn’t overreact.’? No we would say, ‘Get rid of the missiles.’ And John F. Kennedy, a Democrat who understood the importance of power in the world, was prepared to go to nuclear war to stop missiles from being in Cuba.”

In the interview with the Seattle Times, Gingrich said once the World War III terminology is accepted, calls for restraint would fall away:

“Israel wouldn’t leave southern Lebanon as long as there was a single missile there. I would go in and clean them all out and I would announce that any Iranian airplane trying to bring missiles to resupply them would be shot down. This idea that we have this one-sided war where the other team gets to plan how to kill us and we get to talk, is nuts.”

He noted there would be a public-relations value as well, with the message being, “‘OK, if we’re in the Third World War, which side do you think should win?”


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