OTR Interviews

Gingrich: I'm concerned we have a foreign policy that's on 'autopilot'

Former House speaker on US sending F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, a possible link between the Algeria hostage tragedy and Benghazi and Hillary Clinton's testimony


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 23, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: We're only days into the president's second term, and already the Obama administration facing some tough foreign policy challenges. There was Secretary of State Clinton's grilling on Benghazi, and also today a report that several militants who attacked an Algerian gas complex also took part in the Benghazi attack.

But that's not all. There is now growing controversy over the U.S. sending F-16s to Egypt.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: In -- I want to start with these F-16s to Egypt. There was a deal that hat was struck in 2010. They're just being delivered now. Why are we sending F-16s to Egypt?

GINGRICH: Well, we've had a very long military relationship with the Egyptians. But I think with the new president, who clearly is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, somebody who as recently as two or three years ago said children should be taught to hate Jews, that Jews were comparable to pigs and apes -- I think that we should be reassessing the whole relationship.

I really am doubtful that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are going to turn out to be reliable allies, and I am very concerned that we seem to have a policy that's on autopilot, so no matter what they do, we continue to give them weapons. And F-16s are primarily useful against Israel. I don't know of any other country that Egypt is going to use those aircraft against.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you talk about reassessing. It seems like that's almost not even being -- on the -- up for consideration. And just to quote further, what Morsi did say in 2010 is he refers to Jews as bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians, as well as describing them as descendants of apes and pigs.

He also in September, just a few months after becoming president of Egypt, had the president of Sudan, who's under indictment from the ICC -- he invited him to Egypt. He should have been arrested! Amnesty International wanted the president of Sudan arrested when he left the country. And yet he gets a special visit. And it's the Sudan that is helping -- that's helping Iran with their weapons program.

So why are we -- why are we up to our eyeballs, still helping Egypt help these other countries?

GINGRICH: Well, my view would be that it ought to be totally reevaluated and we should be considering cutting off the economic aid, which is about $1.5 billion a year. We should be considering cutting off both the aircraft and the tanks. Their primary use is going to be against Israel. I don't know of any other explanation of what you need them for. They're not going to go -- be effective anywhere else in the region. And so I'm very disturbed by that.

But it fits a general pattern. I mean, you heard Secretary Clinton today say it doesn't really matter what happened at Benghazi. Why are we going back and looking at what happened? Well, baloney! Of course it matters.

This administration consistently refuses to confront the reality of international terrorism. Now they're going to be shocked to discover that the Algerian event, a country we did not think was going to have an event - - the Algerian crisis was, in fact, caused by people who are related to what happened in Benghazi. We're shocked to discover -- and she at least admitted this -- that the weapons from Libya and Syria are drifting all over the region. So you're now going to have better-armed terrorists in more places.

Nobody six months ago knew where Mali was. Now Mali all of a sudden is in danger of becoming a terrorist sanctuary. Nobody in the administration wants to admit this is spiraling steadily worse and is getting to be, I think, a bigger and bigger international problem, which raises the question, how can you know that an embassy is safe? She talked about looking at high-risk embassies. I would argue we live in an era where every embassy is a high-risk embassy if the terrorists figure out that's the one which is vulnerable to be attacked.

VAN SUSTEREN: I remember that we used to look the at presidencies in terms of how many -- you know, how many countries went communist during the presidency. Now what we're looking, at least in North Africa and West Africa, in the past few months, we've seen it sort of awash with terrorism. And they're called al Qaeda-related groups, and it's spreading. And you make the reference to Mali. I mean, the whole place is just -- it's turning into a sort of a fertile ground for the creation of terrorism.

What are we doing? What should we be doing?

GINGRICH: Well, we need to have a very basic rethinking of our entire strategy. And frankly, this goes all the way back to the Bush administration. Neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration has wanted to confront the scale of international terrorism and the scale of the fanaticism which is driving it.

And you can argue that Obama is worse, but the elites in both parties have been trying to find some way to get it down to being a manageable problem. It's a big problem.

And frankly, nobody in the U.S. is covering the problems in Pakistan, which are very real. Pakistan is probably building more nuclear weapons right now than any other country in the world. We talk about an Iranian bomb maybe in the near future. There are -- I think there are over 100 Pakistani nuclear weapons, and it's a very fragile country with very, very deep problems.

Afghanistan is decaying. It's not getting better. Iraq is decaying. The amount of violence in Iraq has gone up dramatically. Syria is a mess. Bahrain has a serious problem. The Yemen is a mess. Somalia is a mess.

You start looking around and you begin to realize there's a much more dangerous world out there than President Obama's inaugural address or Secretary Clinton's testimony today would lead you to believe.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker let me just change the topic a little bit. I'm curious. Who is the -- who is the leader of the Republican Party right now?

GINGRICH: Oh, I don't think we have a leader right now. It'll be Reince Priebus on Friday, when he's reelected chairman, but...

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's the...

GINGRICH: I think...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's the Republican -- I mean, that's the -- I mean, I'm talking about sort of who's the -- you know, I mean, who does the Republican Party look to right now?

GINGRICH: The Republican Party will not have a single leader until we get a nominee in 2016. That's just the nature of being the opposition party. We have a lot of great governors, a lot of very effective senators and House members. I think there are a lot of folks who could emerge as leader, but nobody's going to be able to get that job until they win the nomination in 2016. That's just the nature of politics in America.

VAN SUSTEREN: And so how do you...

GINGRICH: Now, I have to take a second -- wait a second.


GINGRICH: I have to take one second and tell your audience Callista and I had the great opportunity today to go visit Billy Graham's library, which is a remarkable place. And in Billy Graham's library, the last interview he did was with you three years ago, and they show it to everybody who comes through. And it opens with him saying how thrilled he is that you're interviewing him.

And it's truly charming, and I just think you deserve some credit for being a person who got his attention, convinced him to do an interview like that. It's the first one he'd done in many years, and it's a very, very charming interview. I just wanted to report that to your many viewers.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's very nice. I'm very lucky. His son and I have become very good friends -- Franklin Graham and I have become very good friends, and so I was given the opportunity to interview his father, so it was very fortunate.

Anyway, Speaker, always nice to see you, sir.

GINGRICH: Good to see you.