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Newt Gingrich is doing himself no favors with this flip flop on Libya, but it's an instructive moment for other Republicans on the problem with being reflexively anti-Obama. Here's the situation:

On March 7, the former Speaker of the House and likely 2012 presidential candidate told Fox Newsâ?? Greta Van Susteren that his response to Libya would be swift and unilateral. â??Exercise a no-fly zone this evening,â? he said.

â??I mean, the idea that weâ??re confused about a man who has been an anti-American dictator since 1969 just tells you how inept this administration is,â? he continued. â??They were very quick to jump on Mubarak, who was their ally for 30 years, and they were confused about getting rid of Gaddafi. This is a moment to get rid of him. Do it. Get it over with.â?

Now that Obama has taken that step and established a no-fly zone in conjunction with UN allies, Gingrich has changed tacks.

â??I would not have intervened,â? he told Matt Lauer on The Today Show Wednesday. â??I think there are a lot of other ways to affect Gaddafi. I think there are a lot of other allies in the region that we could have worked with. I would not have used American and European forces.â?

He criticized Obama for changing the designated purpose of the mission. â??The president said on March 3, â??Gaddafi has to go.â?? Well theyâ??re now saying this is a humanitarian intervention, which is nonsense. If this is not designed to get rid of Gaddafi, then this makes no sense at all.â?

â??This is about as badly run as any foreign operation weâ??ve seen in our lifetime,â? he added.

Gingrichâ??s spokesperson Rick Tyler, explained that this was not the flip-flop that it might seem. Rather, he said, Gingrichâ??s response changed because Obamaâ??s proposed mission had changed. â??The Speaker has been consistent,â? he told The Daily Caller. â??The president has changed his mind.â?

Gingrich explains his position further in a Facebook post, but I have a hard time seeing this as anything other than a flubbed situation. It's one thing to say "I support an NFZ right now, and not later, because later is too late," but that doesn't seem to be Gingrich's argument on the Today Show. Instead, the criticism seems to have shifted simply because "the president changed his mind."

I basically agree with Gingrich's latter position, as I understand it: Removing Gaddafi has to be the focus of any mission in Libya (with the U.S. in either an active or supporting role), and that a coalition-based "humanitarian involvement" is just another pointless, vague and demanding enterprise which has little promise of long term success. But if he only arrived at this position primarily because Obama shifted his own view, that's a rather dubious path to figuring out foreign policy.

(AP Photo)

Benjamin Domenech is editor of The Transom. Click here to subscribe.