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James Zogby

James Zogby

Posted: September 7, 2007 10:14 AM

Rudy's World


In focusing the central themes of his campaign on security and fear of terrorism, Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor and now leading Republican presidential candidate, appears to have taken a page out of Karl Rove's 2004 playbook. His views on these matters are laid out in fifty-three terse paragraphs in the September/October issue of the Council on Foreign Relations magazine, Foreign Affairs, in an article called "Toward a Realistic Peace."

Purporting to be Giuliani's foreign policy manifesto, "Toward a Realistic Peace" is, in fact, nothing more than unreconstructed neo-conservatism. In it, Giuliani presents the world painted in stark scenes of black and white, of good and evil engaged in mortal combat. This is Rudy's world, a "dangerous place" where "we cannot afford to indulge any illusions about the enemies we face." It is a world where conflict is inevitable and necessary, and where the fight must be taken to the enemy, and where we must be unrelenting and decisive.

Like his neo-conservative mentors, Giuliani hyper-inflates the threat of terrorism into an existential menace, conflating all evil-doers (from whatever background) into a collective group. "They," of course, are "Islamic fascists;" and they pose, in Giuliani's world, a threat not-unlike that of the Soviet Union in its heyday. It is "they" who are waging what Giuliani terms "The Terrorists War on Us." And since "they" seek to destroy us, we must destroy "them" first.

Giuliani believes that "our enemies are emboldened by signs of weakness" and so we cannot afford to show weakness. The reason we were attacked in the first place, Giuliani says, is because terrorists were "encouraged by unrealistic and inconsistent actions" we have taken in the past. What this means, of course, is that we must be prepared for a "long war...in which we must not rest until the global terrorist movement and its ideology are defeated."

How will this be done? First and foremost, by prevailing in Iraq and Afghanistan, since these are the terrorists' beachhead. But victory here will in no way be the end of the matter.

According to Giuliani, the post-Cold War peace dividend was a mistake, and so he calls for a massive and rapid build-up of U.S. military capacity. Resurrecting an idea from the Reagan era, he calls for the building of a national missile defense system and, in a strange flight of fancy, promotes "constellations of satellites that can watch arms factories everywhere around the globe, above and below ground" as central part of our arsenal.

In Giuliani's view, diplomacy itself must be refashioned. Traditional diplomacy recognizes a world of competing and divergent systems, and understands the need to create an architecture of relationships to communicate across the divide and resolve problems. But in Rudy's world, diplomacy must change: instead of talking with friends and to adversaries, Giuliani diplomacy becomes talking at them. In a rather stunning paragraph, he says, "the time has come to refine the diplomats' mission down to their core purpose: presenting U.S. policy to the rest of the world." This, he calculates, will be enough because "too many people denounce our country, and/or our policies, simply because they are confident they will not hear any serious refutation. ...The era of cost-free anti-Americanism must end." And so, in Rudy's world, diplomacy becomes forceful arguments backed by the threat of force.

Doug Bandow, a conservative analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, summarizes Giuliani's foreign policy thusly:

"A bigger army, navy and air force, prosecuting the war in Iraq until liberal democracy emerges. Bombing Iran. Invading more countries to defenestrate bad regimes and suppress disorder. Attacking more countries to kill the additional terrorists created by his more frequent interventions. Confronting China and Russia. ...George W. Bush already has done his best to bankrupt the nation and anger the world. Giuliani would go double or nothing."

All of this may be, as one writer speculates, merely a clever campaign tactic employed to distract conservative Republican voters from the mayor's many personal problems or to divert attention away from the fact that he is out of touch with the majority of Republican primary voters on key social issues. Even so, it's dangerous.

In "Toward a Realistic Peace," Giuliani displays himself to be out of touch with reality, with no lessons learned from this administration's many failures. There is no recognition of the reality that the Iraq war has weakened the U.S., showing the limits of military might and the how the careless use of force, instead of weakening enemies, actually emboldens them.

Giuliani claims to know more about foreign policy than any of his opponents, but in "Toward a Realistic Peace" he displays a failure to understand the basic requirements of diplomacy - requirements learned too late by the Bush administration, which is only now being forced begrudgingly and half-heartedly to adopt an alternative course.

Giuliani's views are extreme, but are sadly uncontested by his major opponents in the Republican Party, representing the victory of neo-conservatives in shaping the GOP's policy discourse. In today's GOP, there is no place for the "pre-9/11 mindset" of George H.W. Bush, James Baker, or even Richard Nixon. These practitioners of traditional diplomacy built alliances, negotiated treaties, and even talked to their adversaries. All of this is now swept aside, and what we have left is Rudy's world.

How very sad, and how very dangerous.