Looking at the U.S. Presidential contest from afar, I can only shake my head with disbelief. Sure, all of the candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike, compete to see who can be a better bootlicker to Israel, but only one makes Israel and its defense — as well as the Global War on whatever — the centerpiece of his campaign. And only this one is truly, profoundly dangerous.
Rudy Giuliani’s bellicosity and Big Man style of governance is a threat to domestic politics, yes. For those of us overseas who have covered our eyes at the cascades of screw-ups that has been the Bush presidency, there is only one frightening thought. If Giuliani wins the nomination and the Oval Office, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Because his foreign policy can be summed up in six words: “Verily, I will kick Muslim ass.”
Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory 2008, he criticized Democrats (falsely) for never using the phrase “Islamic terrorist.” “I don’t know what kind of view of the world they have,” he said recently. “I understand when I say ‘Islamic terrorism,’ I’m not offending all of Islam. I’m not offending all of the Arab world. I’m offending exactly who I want to offend and making it clear to them that we stand against them.”
He chortled as he recounted kicking Yassir Arafat out of Lincoln Center, saying he was “a freeloader.” He bragged of sending back a $10 million check for 9/11 families from a Saudi prince. The prince’s crime? Urging America to “adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.”
He said his posture on preventing Iran from building a bomb included a “promise” that if elected, he would use military force to keep them from building a nuke.
It’s as if Giuliani has decided that Bush’s policies in the Middle East are going great, so we need more of them. But is that – truly – worse than what the Bush White House has done?
Yes. Much worse. Rudy Giuliani makes the George W. Bush of 2001 look positively humble.
Just read the opening sentence of Giuliani’s article in Foreign Affairs describing his foreign “policy.” It’s bracingly unsubtle: “We are all members of the 9/11 generation.”
According to Rudy, America will have to go into more troubled parts of the world. (” Faced with a choice between leaving a troubled zone to anarchy or helping build functioning civil societies with accountable governments that can serve as bulwarks against barbarism, the American people will choose the latter.”) He wants to build a “hybrid military-civilian organization” to embark on ambitious nation building of places we invade. And he writes that cleaning up parts of New York City prepare him for cleaning up parts of the world. (“Disorder in the world’s bad neighborhoods tends to spread. Tolerating bad behavior breeds more bad behavior.”)
He wants to expand the military by at least 10 brigades, build a missile defense system, adopt a take-it-or-leave-it style of “diplomacy” and not talk at all with certain regimes. (Iran, in particular.) He disdains the U.N. (must have been all those unpaid parking tickets when he was mayor) and holds anything that restrains the U.S. in contempt.
He also wants to invite Israel into NATO, a particularly horrible idea. Under Article V of the NATO treaty, an attack on a member nation is an attack on all members, and must be met with a united front which is how German and Dutch troops come to be in Afghanistan. If Israel is a NATO member, what happens when a Palestinian suicide bomber blows himself up in Tel Aviv? Is America at war with the Palestinians then? Is that what Rudy wants?
Apparently, yes., Look at his team of foreign policy advisors led by founder of the neo-Conservative movement Norman Podhoretz, who wants to bomb Iran “as soon as it is logistically possible.” Next up is Daniel Pipes, who advocates profiling Muslims at airports and taking a hard look at their membership in law enforcement, the military and the diplomatic corps. He also thinks the Camp David peace agreement between Israel and Egypt is some kind of trick. Lastly, we have Michael Rubin, who wants to scrap the U.S. ban on assassinations.
These are the guys who were too crazy even for the first Bush foreign policy team.
Rudy also won’t disavow torture. “It depends on how it’s done,” he said, adding he doubted the descriptions of the procedure by the “liberal media” were accurate. “It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it.”
It depends on who does it. So when Saddam does it, it’s bad. When we do it, it’s OK! That a major presidential candidate is getting away with this kind of rhetoric makes me weep for the Republic.
Giuliani is the most dangerous of men: one who don’t know how much he doesn’t know. But he knows that America’s right, dammit, and to hell with anyone who says otherwise. His penchant for authoritarianism, his my-way-or-the-highway mode of governance and his notoriously thin skin make him far, far more dangerous than Bush could ever be.
Indeed, we ain’t seen nothing yet.