Monday, October 8, 2007

Neoconservatives and Rudy Giuliani

Neoconservatives are having a big influence on Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign, as this week's Newsweek reports:

Neocons can't help but slink around Washington, D.C. The Iraq War has given the neoconservatives—who favor the assertive use of American power abroad to spread American values—something of a bad name, and several of the Republican candidates seem less than eager to hire them as advisers. But Rudy Giuliani apparently never got that memo. One of the top foreign-policy consultants to the leading GOP candidate is Norman Podhoretz, a founding father of the neocon movement.

Podhoretz is in favor of bombing Iran because of the country's unwillingness to suspend its uranium-enrichment program. He also believes America is engaged in a "world war" with "Islamofascism" and that Giuliani is the only man who can win it. "I decided to join Giuliani's team because his view of the war—what I call World War IV—is very close to my own," Podhoretz tells NEWSWEEK. (World War III, in his view, was the cold war.) "And also because he has the qualities of a wartime leader, including a fighting spirit and a determination to win."

Giuliani clearly hopes this image, born of his heroic performance on 9/11, can carry him to the GOP nomination and to the White House. But is he really the candidate who will "keep Americans safer" if his primary tactic is to go "on offense" in the "long war," as he often puts it in his campaign stump speech? Critics will say that the neocons already tried that—in Iraq. Still, what's left of the neocon movement does seem to be converging around the Giuliani campaign, to some degree, because he embraces their common themes: a willingness to use military power, a tendency to group all radical Islamist groups together as a common enemy, strong support for Israel and an aggressive posture toward Iran. "He's positioning himself as the neo-neocon," jokes Richard Holbrooke, a top foreign-policy adviser to Hillary Clinton.

Among the core consultants surrounding Giuliani: Martin Kramer, who has led an attack on U.S. Middle Eastern scholars since 9/11 for being soft on terrorism; Stephen Rosen, a hawkish professor at Harvard who advocates major new spending on defense and is close to prominent neoconservative Bill Kristol; former Wisconsin senator Bob Kasten, who often sided with the neocons during the Reagan era and was an untiring supporter of aid to Israel, and Daniel Pipes, who has advocated for the racial profiling of Muslim Americans. (He's argued that the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was not the moral offense it's been portrayed as, though he doesn't say Muslims should suffer the same.)

Read the whole thing. While the piece offers an (undeserved) quick and easy dismissal of neoconservative foreign policy, the artice suggests the reason for Giuliani's current frontrunner status - considering his social policy centrism - is his firm moral clarity on the terrorist threat.

Plus, that's an impressive list of advisors. I blog on Podhoretz every now and then (his YouTube making the case for bombing Iran is here). Stephen Rosen is a top foreign policy expert whose articles appear regularly in journals like Foreign Affairs and International Security. William Kristol, of course, is the founder and publisher of the Weekly Standard, a top neoconservative magazine; and Daniel Pipes is an American historian and counterterrorism expert, and founder of Campus Watch.

Newsweek notes that Giulani's careful to solicit a wide range of advice and policy recommendations, and while he's yet to endorse some of the more breathtaking neoconservative suggestions - like a preventive strike on Iran - it's nevertheless heartening to see such an intense ideological focus driving his bid.

For more on Giulani's international policy, check out his excellent piece from the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs.