UPDATED Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich last week criticized the United States for not engaging more forcefully with other countries besides Iraq that President Georgw W. Bush had identified as the "Axis of Evil."
"I believe he was right but in fact could not operationalize what he said," Gingrich said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. "That is, there was an Axis of Evil, Iran, Iraq, North Korea. Well we're one out of three. And people ought to think about that. If Bush was right in January of 2002 -- and by the way virtually the entire Congress gave him a standing ovation when he said it -- then why is it that the other two parts of the Axis of Evil are still visibly, cheerfully making nuclear weapons? And it's because we've stood at brink, looked over and thought, 'too big a problem.'"
Separately in an interview with Newsmax, Gingrich said that the "secular elites" haven't taken seriously "threats to America," and that Elena Kagan has "no real appreciation of the danger of Sharia," because she "welcomed Saudi money" while serving as the Dean of Harvard University Law School.
"Radical Islamists are people who want to impose on the rest of us Sharia, which is a form of medieval law which would fundamentally end America as we've known it," Gingrich said. "There are disturbing signs that some places ... you see judges succumb to this line of reasoning." He called on "isolating and defeating radicals," while "modernizing" moderates.
The former House Speaker also told Newsmax that the planned mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan should be stopped. He suggested that, were he president, he would "declare the area around the World Trade Center a national military battlefield because that was a battle and it part of a real war."
WATCH: Newt Gingrich's interview with Newsmax: