August 17, 2007

Rudy, Pugnacious Hedgehog

Rudy Giuliani desperately wants you to know he’s tough. That he means business. In his foreign policy manifesto manqué in the (heretofore?) august pages of Foreign Affairs, we are repeatedly made to understand, with primitive repetitiveness, that Rudy is the right man at the right time, providentially made available to protect us endangered masses in these most perilous of times. Yes, he gets the threat all right, as the spiritual overseer of the self-declared “9/11 generation”, where others, alas, have not learned the lessons of that terrible day.

I mean, didn’t you know, the Democrats in their recent debate didn’t even mention the term “Islamic terrorism” once?!? Holy cow! They are simply either in total denial or lack the courage of their convictions, evidently. Well, not Rudy, folks! I mean, check out his Foreign Affairs piece, OK? The terrorists we face are not just “Islamist terrorists.” They are the “radical Islamist enemy”. No, not quite good enough, they are the “radical Islamic terrorists.” Sorry wait, not really quite right either, in terms of communicating the apocalyptic stakes here, how about: “radical Islamic fascism” (quelle mouthful, though it will doubtless get the Hewitt-Steyn Wing in appropriately gleeful tizzy).

You see, the Great One gets it. No ‘GWOT is just a slogan' hog-wash here. Fanatics are about to charge the very ramparts of civilization, and by God, it shan’t happen under Great Protector Giuliani’s watch. Indeed, be assured, we’ll be fighting them, you must understand, for a very long while. Yes, the former Mayor assures us, “this war will be long.” After all, it’s nothing less than the “terrorists’ war on global order”. No, one better: it’s the “Terrorists’ War on Us” (Rudy’s stunningly juvenile all caps in the original, perhaps a derivation of Toys “R” Us?). Bottom line folks: the “long war” (sorry, The Long War?) looms, and you better get ready for many “battlegrounds” to come (“Iraq and Afghanistan….are only two battlegrounds in a wider war.”) Ah, the smell of victory in Damascus and Teheran come Spring '09! And is that Riyadh I see beckoning, or perhaps Mecca (grab your Tancredoish pitchforks, and come along!)?

And so what is our strategy to confront this petrifying al-Qaeda threat, a group that enjoyed a spectacular success on 9/11 but pales in comparison to foes we’ve faced like the Soviet Union, the Axis Powers during WWII, or, say, a rising China? Well, for starters kiddies, we’re going to retire that horrifically sissy-like soi disant ‘peace dividend’. Once we’ve put that Les Aspin type reverie to bed, we’re going to build a real national missile defense system. Next up? How’s about 10 new combat brigades minimum, not to mention that we are gonna really ramp up on “submarines, long-range bombers and in-flight refueling tankers” (the submarines will be particularly helpful for hunting UBL in the arid, craggy elevations of Waziristan, ostensibly?).

Oh, and there will be “constellations of satellites that can watch arms factories everywhere around the globe, day and night, above-and belowground, combined with more robust human intelligence…” Well you know something? If those satellites weren’t 24/7, or they could only see above-ground or something, I’d have been mighty ticked off, and my adolescent fancy would have just, like, cratered. As it stands, however, all I can say is, Booyah Rudy, You're the Man! (If only we could bottle up the manliness inherent in this Vigilant Shield Vision, cojones infused and far-sighted as it is, we'd be able to shoot all of Manhattan to the moon with the potent Chateau Giuliani elixir!)

But as we all know, we can’t just Stay On The Offense in foreign theaters militarily, right? That’s just part of the picture. You have to get your deep-think on people! After all, defense of the Volk (sorry, “homeland”) is critical too. Thus:

We must preserve the gains made by the U.S.A. Patriot Act and not unrealistically limit electronic surveillance or legal interrogation. Preventing a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack on our homeland must be the federal government's top priority. We must construct a technological and intelligence shield that is effective against all delivery methods.

“Legal interrogation”, eh? Sounds so much better than “enhanced interrogation techniques”, which smell a bit too much of, you know, torture and other such pre-Enlightenment nastiness. And “legal” is such delightfully expansive fare (in these racy post-Yoo/Addington days), so rest assured we’ll be water-boarding to our heart’s content as need be during a Giuliani Administration, with nettlesome artefacts like the Geneva Convention getting their comeuppance once and for all. And what, really, does it mean to “preserve the gains” of the Patriot Act, in Giuliani-speak? Ramp it up folks, cuz we’re just getting started! (For more on Rudy’s authoritarian tendencies, don’t miss this part of the F.A. piece either: “For diplomacy to succeed, the U.S. government must be united. Adversaries naturally exploit divisions. Members of Congress who talk directly to rogue regimes at cross-purposes with the White House are not practicing diplomacy; they are undermining it. The task of a president is not merely to set priorities but to ensure that they are pursued across the government.” Translation: I’ll throw Nancy in the clink if she dares go to Damascus again, in a New York minute…)

OK, OK. So ‘flypaper’ (Must. Stay. On. Offense. Because, if we leave Iraq, Sadr militia will turn up in Greenwich, CT next week, capiche?) and ‘homeland protection’ are kosher now, I’m good with your program, but how about the over-arching strategic lens behind all this neo-Reaganite muscle? Where’s the beef, Mr. Mayor, what’s your strategic direction?

Giuliani writes:

The next U.S. president will face three key foreign policy challenges. First and foremost will be to set a course for victory in the terrorists' war on global order. The second will be to strengthen the international system that the terrorists seek to destroy. The third will be to extend the benefits of the international system in an ever-widening arc of security and stability across the globe. The most effective means for achieving these goals are building a stronger defense, developing a determined diplomacy, and expanding our economic and cultural influence. Using all three, the next president can build the foundations of a lasting, realistic peace.

In this supposed crystallization of what the next President’s supposed three “key foreign policy challenges” will be, we see the profound emptiness of Rudy Giuliani’s world view. That the Emperor simply has no clothes, I’m afraid. He is the quintessential hedgehog as described by Isaiah Berlin, animated simply by one Big Idea, which is to say, we face Radical Islamic Fascism in the Terrorists’ War on Us (and Only I, The Great Rudy, Can Shield Us From This Grave Peril).

Let’s go Derrida on Rudy for a little second, and deconstruct some. Goal 1 is to “set a course of victory in the terrorists’ war on global order”. How? Bloated military budgets and “determined diplomacy”, whatever that means (though props for the alliteration!). Next we strengthen the international system (by opening up NATO to all comers and de facto relegating the UN to the ash-heap!). And then, the glorious coda, we create an “ever-widening arc of security and stability across the globe”. Sounds delightful, and it's always heartening to see hifalutin' Kaganite pipe-dreams making the rounds, again.

It’s all here, isn’t it? The easy meta-narrative of Good vs Evil, the empty Manichean machismo, the Concert of Democracies bursting forth to carry the torch of liberty to the subjects gratefully arrayed before Imperator Rudy. Throw in, and this goes without saying of course, a hyper-simplistic conflation of Shi’a and Sunni, Syria and Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, rebels in Thailand and the Philippines, with Chechens and Afghans, or Maghrebis and Muslim minorities in Europe. I mean, they’re radical, and they’re fascist, and they’re Islamic—what else do you need to know? Indeed, it is painfully difficult to imagine Rudy summoning up the insight that, say, conflict resolution aimed at de-radicalizing populations (see Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnya) mightn’t hurt, or that chanting on about ‘carrots and sticks’ vis-à-vis the Iranians is grotesquely unsubtle and transparent, or bashing the Arab-Israeli peace process as a waste of time will get us nowhere, and so on and on.

There’s more of course. As Dan Drezner has pointed out, Rudy shows a majestic lack of basic understanding about realism, not to mention the Vietnam precedent (as I’d earlier quipped, Walt Rostow meets The Sopranos). Then there is the alarming residue of Bushian new-paradigmist, ‘transformationalist’ thinking (Foggy Bottom shall be revamped, and Ambassadors shall henceforth take names and kick ass, NATO should be opened up to all who see the Justness of the Cause (welcome, Ethiopia!), how dare nettlesome Iran hide behind quaint notions of sovereignty, Hamas is corrupt and hopeless (save the detail they were voted in as a result of Fatah corruption!), the Madrid-Oslo approach is for Utopic Wimps, and to be banished, until decades hence 'institution-building' status or such is deemed a la hauteur.

Ah yes, what’s the Bowie song: “ch…ch…ch…changes…”? They’ll be plenty of them come the Rudy Administration. Like a bad hang-over from the ascendant Cheney, Rummy, Bolton, Wolfy etc days, even the munificent crumbs of the Bush 43 Thermidor (see competent players like Paulson and Gates), those smalls rays of sunshine might well prove things of the past. We’ll be back to the hard-core neo-con play-book, circa. 2003. Only this time, not only will we still have the toxic combination of Dubya’s utopian ideology and bovine stubbornness, but we’ll be throwing in even headier doses of pugnaciously primal excess (think Bernie Kerik without his bone). And this with someone who, having digested these past six years, suggests a course correction, but one that’s in an even more ill-fated direction! To top it off, this approach will be emitting from Ye Great Savior who sees running New York City as neatly analogous to supervising the planet. It’s all rather simple, see:

In this decade, for the first time in human history, half of the world's population will live in cities. I know from personal experience that when security is reliably established in a troubled part of a city, normal life rapidly reestablishes itself: shops open, people move back in, children start playing ball on the sidewalks again, and soon a decent and law-abiding community returns to life. The same is true in world affairs. Disorder in the world's bad neighborhoods tends to spread. Tolerating bad behavior breeds more bad behavior. But concerted action to uphold international standards will help peoples, economies, and states to thrive. Civil society can triumph over chaos if it is backed by determined action.

Save, as Fred Kaplan sagely observes:

Here is another of Giuliani's potentially dangerous assumptions on display—that being mayor of New York City isn't so different from being president of the United States. One difference, among many, is that the mayor doesn't need to negotiate with the Queens borough president before sending more cops to Jackson Heights. Another difference is that, once the cops do go to Jackson Heights, they are generally recognized as figures of authority; their guns and badges carry legitimacy; it's a major news story, not a commonplace event, when the bad guys respond by drawing their own guns, much less firing back.

Well, yes, though "carry legitimacy" is a stretch Fred, after all, an Amadou Diallo approach regarding the Persian Gulf isn’t the way forward post the Bush 43 debacles, I’m afraid. I’ll take Hillary, or Barack, or Chuck Hagel instead, thank you very much. (Hell, even Mitt ‘Double Gitmo’ Romney or John ‘Surge Furevah!’ McCain might be saner).

Rudy concludes:

After the attacks of 9/11, President Bush put America on the offensive against terrorists, orchestrating the most fundamental change in U.S. strategy since President Harry Truman reoriented American foreign and defense policy at the outset of the Cold War. But times and challenges change, and our nation must be flexible. President Dwight Eisenhower and his successors accepted Truman's framework, but they corrected course to fit the specific challenges of their own times.

Yes, but Truman had Dean Acheson, and George Kennan, and Chip Bohlen, and many others of caliber, advising him. Rudy has a crush on John Bolton and Norm Podhoretz and other such discredited hot-air balloons. And Truman, I suspect, was cut out of relatively sound non-authoritarian cloth, while Rudy’s something of a Manhattan Mussolini, as Andrew Sullivan quipped recently, and one who thinks he’s on the cusp of becoming the planetary savior because he’s going to kick some Islamic Radical Fascist tail from Jakarta to Tangier. Let’s pass, shall we? I’m for damage containment in ’08, not double-down ‘real men go to Teheran’. What say you?

Posted by Gregory at August 17, 2007 08:14 PM

I mean, check out his Foreign Affairs piece, OK?

Greg, who actually wrote this piece. Rudy is credited as the sole author....but do you think he really wrote it>

And seriously, how did something so glaringly stupid, written by someone with no experience in international relations, get published in "Foreign Affairs"? Surely, you must know some people who can explain how Rudy got himself published in that journal....

Posted by: p_lukasiak at August 17, 2007 09:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Remind me not to get on your bad side. Ever.

I only wish I'd thought of the phrase "the Bush 43 Thermidor" first.

Posted by: hilzoy at August 17, 2007 10:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I say a lot of the people now putting their thoughts on foreign policy before the public really need to engage the services of an editor.

Posted by: Zathras at August 18, 2007 03:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't understand much of the snarky criticism of Mr. Giuliani's essay, to be honest. To me, the Foreign Affairs article reads very clearly as a very carefully crafted culmination of Orwellian authoritarian/totalitarian foreign policy: eternal war, amorphous and aethereal "enemies," an unflinching embrace of violence for its own sake, total disdain for "diplomacy" (or any form of communication with the rest of the world except through the levers of force, it seems), and blind rage at any dissent.

This is not a mistake, nor ignorance, nor stupidity, nor "insanity": it is a conscious decision to turn the U.S.A. into a quasi-fascisitic totalitarian state and end the Republic. (It is amazing how alarmist the previous sentence seems, yet I can't find another way to say it without losing a certain degree of precision.)

And the thing to remember about fascism: no one ever said it doesn't work. Or that it can't be very, very popular. Maybe Mr. Giuliani will actually be able to make the trains run on time.

(excuse me while I look into living abroad... anyone have any suggestions? Canada? The Netherlands? New Zealand? Myanmar?)

Posted by: SGEW at August 18, 2007 05:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Quelle surprise, Greg doesn't like it & nor does every other lefty-liberal blogger who shares the view that if America just listened to their 'friends' everything would be hunky-dory. You know I like the sound of Giuiliani more & more.

Posted by: Fred at August 18, 2007 07:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


You know I like the sound of Giuiliani more & more.

Well, of course you're a fascist.

We better get used to being blunt with these folks. Right-Wing authoritarians have been getting the "diplomatic" treatment for far too long, in this country. It's time to start calling them out on their beliefs.

Posted by: someotherdude at August 18, 2007 11:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Guiliani has a keen prosecutorial mentality, just as you have a sublime diplomatic one. There's no point in trying to decide who is more right in how best to settle world affairs-and, specifically, that elephant-in-the-room Jihadist spectre-except to say that exigency appears to be his manifest destiny.

Is that such a bad thing, I wonder?

You don't need me to detail his unimpeachable crisis-management portfolio. Ask yourself this: how long would those bedraggled Katrina victims have shared bureaucratic swamp time with alligators, toxicity and hopelessness had America's Mayor been babysitting New Orleans?

Better yet, ask yourself this, even if you do see him as a one-trick pony: you awaken in late January '08 to the news that Tabun gas has been sprinkled across the Superbowl crowd, courtesy of a hijacked Fox-News helicopter, and 66,000 are presumed dead. (We'll overlook the ancillary detritus for now. Yea, a (real) Black Sunday redux. But who's to argue the reality of it.)

Would you prefer that Hillary or Obama address the matter, instead of Rudy? You want Ron Paul minding ship? I'm sorry. I must have missed their transcendent management credentials. Hillary has governed what or whom, exactly? Last I checked, she was playing tiddlywinks with the nation's health care system until darling Bill sent her to their cloistered bedroom.

And what of the peripatetic Barack, whose initial dive into abstract- waters global has him unilaterally carpet bombing the Islamic Republic of Pakistan while Musharraf fiddles with al Qaeda puppets in the National Assembly. Thanks, Obama. So much for the faux-JFK lovefest and the JOIN THE MOVEMENT campaign. Not quite as easy now, is it, when the other guys start shooting back.

Your asides on Guiliani are wonderfully crafted, Greg, and display a depth of geopolitical understanding that I can only envy. But I'm not convinced that your displeasures with Rudy's acumen and tactics on foreign affairs necessarily vaporizes their merits. Indeed, I havent yet met the man who has come, saw and conquered. Awaken me when one does. Moreover, Rudy's limited style has had pragmatic success, and that's at least a critical element that the whole of his detractors-including seasoned bloggers- can only claim in the abstract.

Posted by: reshufflex at August 19, 2007 12:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Giuliani always spoke highly of you, Greg. Otherwise alright?

Posted by: Paul Finegan at August 19, 2007 03:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Edit-make my first sentence read keenly and sublimely. The (modifiers) adverbs thing, ya know.

Posted by: reshufflex at August 19, 2007 12:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If America and Iran go to war, regardless of how it starts, which side will Iraq be on?

Posted by: DRS at August 19, 2007 03:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


You want Rudy at the helm in case of disaster? What do you expect Rudy to do if there is not the disaster you apparently seek?

Or are we now living in a state of perpetual fear?

I did not surrender my freedom to al Qaeda or the current administration. Did you?

Posted by: Mark at August 19, 2007 03:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Before we put Rudy out as POTUS, maybe we should look at exactly how "great" he was as Mayor of NYC, hmmm?

Rudy is HATED there, and I don't think it's just because a lot of the people voting are DFH.

And how intelligent is it to put your Emergency Center right smack in the middle of the biggest target?

Anyone who thinks Rudy knows what he is doing should do a bit more reading of his actual history.

Posted by: grumpy realist at August 19, 2007 04:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Congratulations. Three non sequiturs in three sentences.

Posted by: reshufflex at August 19, 2007 06:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


"Rudy is HATED there, and I don't think it's just because a lot of the people voting are DFH. "

Quick question. Name the only two-term GOP mayor in NYC not named LaGuardia? That's unpopularity for you, eh? And would you like me to announce exactly how many republicans even live in NYC? Well, there's Rudy and his wife....

If you want to deny what he did for the city before, during and after 911, I can't help you. Crime dropped, jobs rose, the city's image rebounded. By light-years. If I recall, Time Magazine picked him as '01 man of the year-which by any objective standard says tons.

No he aint a saint. Yes he's ready to shanghai terrorists to the abyss, if not reinvigorate extraordinary rendition. Point conceded. Some of him needs serious rehab. But who else do we have to pick from? Clinton? Edwards? Barack? Talk about no there, there.

Btw, as to Rudy'd excesses, tell the goddamn democrats to quit acting like wilting flowers whenever jazz like the TSP and FISA amendments get shoved in their face at the 11th hour. Are those dopes aware of their oversight duties? All the bitching from the left and the next thing you know, half of 'em are voting to enhance wiretapping latitude. Where's Pat Leahy all of a sudden? Somebody email Mr. Fouth Amendment and tell him that the BOR is fast crumbling.

And, Greg. Why nothing on the new FISA dangers to the constitution? You asleep at the wheel?

Posted by: reshufflex at August 19, 2007 07:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Edit-make that "Rudy's" excesses and Mr. "Fourth" Amendment. Regrets.

Posted by: reshufflex at August 19, 2007 07:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


And your blatant refusal to answer the question indicates the factual basis for your rationalizations in this manner.

Thank you, though, for the grammar police. If you cannot land a job at the FISA-lite NSA, perhaps Mr. Murdoch can employ your skills to clean up the mess that is John P. Normanson at The New York Post?

Idle hands are the devil's workshop, that sort of thing.

Posted by: Mark at August 19, 2007 09:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Btw, as to Rudy'd excesses, tell the goddamn democrats to quit acting like wilting flowers whenever jazz like the TSP and FISA amendments get shoved in their face at the 11th hour."


True Conservatives and Neoconservatives neither cuss nor take the Lord's name in vain. Now your very Conservative and Neoconservative credentials must be questioned after your blasphemous use of His title.

Sad, so very sad.

Posted by: Mark at August 19, 2007 10:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If Rudy hadn't been the mayor at the time of the attack (it's all in the timing, I guess; if the terrorists had waited a couple more months, Bloomberg would have gotten all the disaster glory and poor Rudy would be but a footnote in history today), he probably wouldn't be campaigning for president now. So in a way, he should thank the terrorists for making him a "hero." Guess he wants the Iranians to do for him on a national scale what the mostly Saudi 9/11 terrorists did for him in NYC, ie, give him an excuse to exercise his most ambitious tyrannical aspirations.

His unending flogging of "9/11" is really quite sickening. I wouldn't vote for him just because of that. What a douchebag he is.

Posted by: LL at August 20, 2007 06:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Reshufflex's opinion of Giuliani reminds me of Giuliani's opinion of someone else: "Thank God George Bush is our president."

Posted by: Kenneth Almquist at August 20, 2007 06:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"And how intelligent is it to put your Emergency Center right smack in the middle of the biggest target?"

It's wasn't right smack in the middle of the biggest target. The biggest target was the Twin Towers. The EOC was placed in 7 WTC. Unless you somehow predicted before 9/11 that the next attack would involve airline jets slamming into the buildings, causing the steel to melt and the towers to collapse onto surrounding buildings, causing those to collapse, it made perfect sense to put it there. Most people were looking for something on the level of the 93 bombing, which came far from causing the the towers to collapse - in which case, you'd want your EOC nearby so you can essentially coordinate response at the site, but not where the bombs would be. Even after the planes hit, people still weren't thinking the towers would collapse - so this all seemed to be the obvious response. But I guess Grumpy Realist saw that 7 WTC would collapse too, when no one else did.

This is why I take so few criticisms of Giuliani seriously - they're completely unserious. In this case, New Yorkers like the Village Voice writer takes advantage of the fact that to a lot of Americans, the WTC and Twin Towers were the same thing - they didn't know there were all these other buildings. So when they hear Rudy put his EOC wt the WTC, they think it was in one of the Towers - which would not have been smart. Meanwhile, the VV author and Grumpy Realist and others know full well thats not the case - but they do all they can to further it along in political discourse. These are the supposedly "serious" people who "know" what a bad state our foreign policy is in and, presumably, will be the ones to fix it. But knowing how disingenuous they are with the WTC/EOC argument causes you to wonder which of their other "serious" foreign and defense (and domestic) policy critiques they're being equally disingenuous about.

Posted by: Dan at August 20, 2007 06:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You have to understand, we need a strongman like Hitler because the bad nasty people are out to get us, and only wimps whine about democracy and constitution and other communist excuses to oppose the Glorious Fuhrer...

Posted by: guliani_fan at August 21, 2007 11:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Name the only two-term GOP mayor in NYC not named LaGuardia?"

Um, the current one? Michael Bloomberg, the one who can manage the city without being an authoritarian. That two-term GOP mayor in NYC not named LaGuardia.

Posted by: Lynn at August 21, 2007 03:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hi Lynn-

Good answer. Unfortunately, MB is no longer part of the GOP. He abandoned ship in '07 when he switched to become an independent (courtesy of Chuck Hagel), no doubt to optimize his presidential prospects.

As to his not being an authoritarian, try selling that to the 2000- plus protesters whom he illegally detained on the "Gitmo on the Hudson" ( the Pier 57 parking gargage), during the GOP convention in '04.

Posted by: reshufflex at August 21, 2007 05:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh damn, the whole dadgum board is pissed. They thought that it was going to be so easy for Hillary to just waltz in next year and now Rudy is out there, urinating in the punch bowl.

So, if the guy does get elected, everyone's head gets to explode, okay?

BTW, where is the vaunted Congressional oversight, btw? Oh, it's only Democrats posturing.

Posted by: section9 at August 22, 2007 02:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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