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It's World War III, Says Newt

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Nobody ever accused Newt Gingrich of understatement. But he meant it quite literally when he declared Sunday on Meet the Press that we are "in the early stages of what I would describe as the Third World War."

The declaration of World War III by the former House Speaker and West Georgia College History professor — and possible future presidential candidate — has lit up the blogosphere. ("Will Dick Cheneyĺs deferments finally falter in WW3?" asked Nick Gillespie on Wonkette.com.) And he wasn't backing down a bit when TIME.com caught up with him on Monday.

"It all sort of came together for me" as he looked across the map over the past week, Gingrich said: not just the conflagration in the Middle East, but terrorism in India, and plots foiled recently in Canada, Britain and Miami. Nations should stop treating it as a diplomatic situation, Gingrich said.

"The anti-war left has to answer the question, if 50 missiles were hitting Miami and South Florida today, what would their argument be about Cuba? I think this is a core problem," Gingrich said. "The second thing is, for everybody else, once you understand it is a World War, you understand that appeasing North Korea and appeasing Iran is not a possibility. We didn't appease Nazi Germany and imperial Japan and fascist Italy. We beat them."

"I think the clarity of the term 'Third World War' is enormously helpful," he added. "And a number of people who have called me or e-mailed me and said, 'This is exactly right.'"

Has he heard anything from the Bush Administration? "Nothing I want to tell you," he said. "Let me just say that I am cheerful and happy and believe that I am helping communicate accurately what you are living through."