Wednesday, August 15, 2007

We Should Sue Rudy For The Lost Minutes Of Our Lives

By Cernig

I know I said I was going to post more of my own thoughts on Rudy Giuliani's foreign policy (ghost) writings. But then I read Matt Yglesias' and James Joyner's excellent posts. And then I saw Jim Henley's effort and admitted defeat in the face of one of the most devastatingly snarky blog posts ever.

So I'm going to link to what some other pundits have said instead (and leave Jim's jewel for last) while noting that everyone I've read is in broad agreement with my view yesterday that Rudy's plan is simply more Cheney-style bloviating about America's "divine mandate" where all else is subordinated to that over-arching idealism of American hegemony and colonialism in all its forms.

Giuliani, who's advised by Norman Podhoretz, is running to uphold the foreign policy of the NeoCons. He is their champion, and his platform reflects their influence. He's the closest thing to Cheney in the race -- right down to the authoritative, secretive streak -- and is probably the most dangerous of the Republican contenders.
What seems apparent about Giuliani is that he's not kidding when he says that being Mayor of New York City is a lot like being president and running American foreign policy. And reading through not just his emphasis on the War on Terror but the particular way he describes it shows that he believes that being on the receiving end of a mass casualty terrorist attack -- even though his record of preparing for it is at best mixed -- gives him a unique understanding of how to combat the threat. And into this general ignorance is poured a group of extremist advisors who would likely have us blowing up various other countries in no time.

In other words, he's the Bush pattern all over again -- only this time starting not from a period of relatively high American standing in the world but into the mess Bush has already gotten us.

As with Bush, the agenda Giuliani sets forth is covered with a patina of enlightened foreign policy internationalism, with emphases on nation-building, investing money in helping destabilized countries build rule-of-law based societies. But just as with Bush even a cursory look at the people slated to implement the policies shows a cadre rooted in militarism and ideological escapism.
Giuliani's treatment of the concept of "peace" and the concept of "realism" are striking. He doesn't particularly object that realism might block some do-gooder scheme or another. Instead, he objects that realism would "place too great a hope in the potential for diplomatic accommodation with hostile states" and "exaggerate America's weaknesses and downplay America's strengths." He opposes, in other words, the realist concept of peace in which the United States and other countries choose to make deal that reconcile our interests through positive-sum collaboration rather than through negative-sum military conflict. Lots of people on the left have some qualms about realism, sometimes rightly so, but this core notion isn't something any liberal worth his salt objects to. You preserve peace by seeking diplomatic arrangements that accommodate everyone's interests, thus avoiding conflict. Giuliani doesn't believe that. He believes Bush abandonned "a decadelong -- and counterproductive -- strategy of defensive reaction in favor of a vigorous offense." Counterproductive is key here. Giuliani thinks that "we must understand that our enemies are emboldened by signs of weakness" so any expressed desire to cut deals actually undermines our safety and invites attack.

The result is a chilling vision of a world where peace can only be achieved through American military domination. Giuliani disparages the UN harshly, and puts forward no vision for reforming it. He wants to transform NATO from a geographically limited defensive alliance into some kind of globe-spanning UN substitute -- a sort of formalized coalition of the willing.

This has been the kind of thinking that's animated the Bush administration at its very worst moments. You get the immediate problem that America's military edge can be countered by nuclear weapons. So it becomes very important to prevent countries from getting nuclear weapons. This can't be done through the UN-backed process of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and international law, or even through diplomacy more generally, because that would signal weakness. The only tools available are coercion -- military and economic. Of course, signaling an American desire to invade lots of countries only makes other countries more eager to get nuclear bombs. What's needed, then, is a credible threat to fight a whole series of wars. This, in turn, becomes one of the motives for trying to do Iraq and Afghanistan with super-light forces. We want to signal that we're ready and willing to do this again and again and again until all countries submit to our will.

Needless to say, this approach has already been put to the test and failed. Its advocates -- including Norm Podhoretz -- have treated to this kind of fantasy world where we're going to "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" as a substitute for the invasions we can't pull off. These airstrikes, however, are even less effective than the too-cheap invasions. So, while we're bombing, we're also going to be engaging in a massive military buildup involving "a minimum of ten new combat brigades" along with whatever quantity of "of submarines, modern long-range bombers, and in-flight refueling tankers" he comes up with. Plus missile defense. Giuliani says, astoundingly, that "The idea of a post-Cold War "peace dividend" was a serious mistake -- the product of wishful thinking and the opposite of true realism."

The result of this policy is going to be an endless series of wars, a bankrupt country accounting for way more than fifty percent of world defense expenditures, fewer and fewer countries willing to cooperate with us on key priorities and, perhaps worst of all, more and more nuclear proliferation as countries decide its not safe to live in a world where the Rudy-led USA is the big kid on the block.
Moderate conservative James Joyner agrees with Matt that Giuliani's policy is "batshit crazy" and calls it a "dangerously stupid foreign policy":
The more I hear and read, though, the more I think Giuliani is either a charlatan or a simpleton. Either he’s lying to us and we therefore have no idea what his foreign policy will be or, worse, this is what he really thinks. Either way, it’s not good.

The “Terrorists’ War on Us” label is annoying but, again, probably smart campaign politics. I can abide sloganeering. But the approach he lays out for fighting it seems designed to exacerbate it. Indeed, it seems he intentionally picked out the worst parts of the foreign policies of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter.

Essentially, he wants to massively increase a defense budget that already spends more than the rest of the countries on the planet combined so as to buy more submarines and anti-missile systems to protect us against a land-based guerrilla movement. We’re then going to use that military to go in, apparently, to topple every regime we don’t like and to wipe out every instance of non-democratic badness and spend decades occupying those countries. All, of course, while winning friends and influencing people.

We’re going to have a diplomatic policy that finally lives up to the caricature of Bush policy. We’re not going to talk to anyone unless they already agree with us. Our diplomats are simply going to be propaganda instruments from now on. And our media, too! And we’ll win the hearts and minds of Muslims everywhere by allying ourselves even more closely with the Israelis while punishing the Palestinian people.

We’re going to spend billions on surveillance systems to ensure that nothing escapes the attention of the U.S. government.

We should learn the one lesson from Vietnam that no serious student of that war has learned: We were THIS CLOSE to winning!

What’s worse is that some team of experts actually wrote this, not Giuliani himself. So this has been filtered and edited and focus grouped so as to appeal to a wider audience. So, Giuliani’s real views are probably much crazier. Just think how well he’d make decisions during an actual crisis!
Finally, to Jim Henley's comments which really need to be read in full but I'm going to quote the one part everyone else is.
You will not enjoy a day of peace so long as Rudy has anything to say about it. Peace is something we will “achieve” in the distant future when the lion has been clubbed senseless with the lamb.
It remains to be seen whether the Serious People of the orthodox foreign policy establishment will be as scornful as these bloggers have been.

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