In the last two issues of Foreign Affairs, the magazine has published articles by some of the major presidential candidates. The July/August issue featured articles by Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and the September/October issue by John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani. To my own surprise, I found Edwards’s piece to be the best, most comprehensive, most logical approach. Giuliani, however, is, in the words of our household, “kooky-pants.” Let me illustrate with some of the lines from his article.
The problems start in the first statement: “We are all members of the 9/11 generation.” I understand his reason for doing this; it’s the only thing he has going for him and he wants to keep it fresh in our minds. But I resent being defined by one event. The Greatest Generation was not defined by Pearl Harbor, nor even by World War II. They went on to build the greatest nation and economy in history, by looking forward, not back.
Giuliani attempts to coin a new phrase, “the Terrorists’ War on Us” (his capitalization, not mine) and goes on to state that “this war will be long.” This is another ploy to scare us into looking for a bellicose candidate. And despite evidence to the contrary, Giuliani still has that luster in the eyes of much of the public because of his face on TV after 9/11. Through this approach, Giuliani is actually helping the terrorists. Terrorism is defined as “The systematic use of terror” and one of the definitions of terror is “violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands.” By keeping us afraid to act normally and willing to surrender rights, Giuliani and others who have the same approach hand the terrorists some of what they want. According to Randall Larsen, Air Force Colonel (ret.) and the director of the Institute for Homeland Security, “Remember, the purpose of terrorism is to get us to overreact and put fear in our hearts. [But] it is our job as citizens not to overreact. Let’s keep it in perspective: Between 2001 and 2006, nearly 3,000 Americans died from terrorism, but 30,000 died from food poisoning, 240,000 died on our highways, and nearly 600,000 died from medical mistakes.”
Giuliani writes, “[T]he era of cost-free anti-Americanism must end.” What does he mean by this? If someone disagrees with us, what must they pay? If they hate our policies and tactics, our bullying and self-righteousness, what debt will we demand? He writes, “It is clear that we need to do a better job of explaining America’s message and mission to the rest of the world, not by imposing our ideas on others but by appealing to their enlightened self-interest.” What happens if they feel their best interests are not served by becoming a subsidiary of America, Inc.? Who will enlighten them? His answer: “Ultimately, the most important thing we can do to help Africa [and other countries in need, I presume] is to increase trade with the continent.” And “[T]he better a country’s record on good governance, human rights, and democratic development, the better its relations with the United States will be. Those countries that want our help in moving toward these ideals will have it.” In other words, we won’t help you unless you meet our standards (never mind our own failings in “good governance, human rights, and democratic development”). Moreover, “Foreign aid can help overcome specific problems, but it does not lead to lasting prosperity because it cannot replace trade. Private direct investment is the best way to promote economic development. The next U.S. president should thus revitalize and streamline all U.S. foreign-aid activities to support– not substitute for–private investment in other countries.” In other words, not the locals but rather American CEOs should decide where money will best be spent to help with social, economic, religious, political, and ethnic problems.
Giuliani’s disunderstanding of the world baffles the mind. For example, the statement, “Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are pointing the way by starting to interpret Islam in ways that respect the distinctiveness of their local cultures but are consistent with the global marketplace.” If Giuliani understood religion and God a little better he would know that it’s wrong to mold religion to fit our temporal desires—a point that most Muslims understand very well. This statement will drive away more Muslims than it will assuage. Another example: “Washington should also make clear that only if China and Russia move toward democracy, civil liberties, and an open and uncorrupted economy will they benefit from the vast possibilities available in the world today.” How can Giuliani ensure that China and Russia can’t keep heading where they’re headed and still come out ahead? They both have veto power on the U.N. Security Council, so multinational sanctions won’t work. A third example: “There is no realistic alternative to the sovereign state system.” I’m sure the Athenians and Spartans thought the same about the city-state system.
In conclusion he writes, “Above all, we have learned that evil must be confronted–not appeased–because only principled strength can lead to a realistic peace.” This is not the voice of someone concerned with civil liberties, measured responses, equitable diplomacy, the effects of climate change on foreign policy, etc. This is the voice of a man relying on his image as a take-charge scrapper to captivate the minds of the paranoid. The problem is that approximately 26-34% of Republican primary voters are OK with that.