There have been a few odd and funny moments in the presidential campaign, but no one really brought the crazy until Rudy Giuliani dropped his foreign-policy manifesto in Foreign Affairs last month. The piece is a hodgepodge of apocalyptic scenarios and conservative victory narratives that everyone has come to expect from Giuliani. But what is scary about the manifesto is how clearly it indicates his ambition to bring his craziness to bear on the entire world.
Giuliani leaves no doubts as to where he's coming from. The manifesto's first line reads: "We are all members of the 9-11 generation." He goes on to describe, in very broad terms, a policy that imposes a Cold War framework over the United States' war against "radical Islamic fascism," a term which preposterously gathers al-Qaeda, Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah, and Iraq's Mahdi Army under a single heading. He regards international institutions, at best, as mere tools for implementing the will of the United States, to be sidelined when they prove unsupportive or unwilling to acquiesce in various American adventures. Giuliani's approach would keep the United States on a permanent war footing, amping up Bush's aggressive, military-first posture toward "the terrorists."
This posture comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with Giuliani; it represents the projection of his legendary pugnacity onto the international stage. Giuliani himself has little foreign-policy experience (and declined a seat on the 9-11 Commission in order to campaign for president), but he clearly feels that his experience as New York's 9-11 mayor provides him substantial credibility on this score, and he's sought to be the embodiment of the anger and pain of that day. He uses 9-11 as an entry point into his "war of civilizations" rhetoric, which frames America as engaged in a struggle for its very existence. It's important to understand the characters Giuliani has brought on to shape this rhetoric and advise him on the Middle East, and the particular school of foreign-policy thought they represent.
The men Giuliani is turning to for foreign-policy advice all subscribe to a worldview advanced by Bernard Lewis, an aging scholar once referred to by The New York Times as the "doyen of Middle Eastern studies" in America. It was Lewis who first coined the term "clash of civilizations" (later popularized into an entire school of foreign-policy thought by Samuel Huntington) to describe his belief that a conflict between the Western world (rational, modern) and the Islamic world (inscrutable, irrational) was inevitable. As most of his early work focused on Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, Lewis holds Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, in almost worshipful esteem as the supreme example of a modernizing (read: de-Islamizing) strongman, and his support for the Iraq invasion was rooted in the idea that such a strongman could be installed there. A 2004 article in the Washington Monthly detailed how Lewis' belief that "either we bring them freedom or they destroy us" heavily influenced Bush's decision to invade and attempt to install democracy in Iraq.
Lewis' beliefs -- his presentation of the Islamic world as static and stunted, and his notion that the decoupling of Islam and politics is a prerequisite for Arab and Islamic societies to join the modern world -- have not aged well in academia, but persist among the right-wing think tanks and magazines that promote the war on terrorism, which is where Giuliani has gathered his Middle East experts.
Giuliani's most well-known adviser is Norman Podhoretz, editor of the conservative journal Commentary. One of the original professional ex-leftist neoconservatives, Podhoretz recently published a cri de war, World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism, in which he argues that the struggle against radical Islam is even greater than the struggle against communism and Nazism. The book presents an astonishingly unsophisticated take on the threat of radical Islam. As with the great bulk of his output, Podhoretz seems less concerned with describing or defending his point of view than with attacking those who displease him by not sharing it. A substantial part of the book is given over to the idea that the war of ideas here on the home front is just as important as the actual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Podhoretz rehashes old conservative charges against Democrats for losing Vietnam, apparently untroubled by the fact that his and other conservatives' dire predictions of falling communist dominoes never came to pass.
Podhoretz is full-throated in his support for attacking Iran to prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons. In a recent interview, Podhoretz stated, "If we bomb the Iranians, as I hope and pray we will, it will unleash a wave of anti-Americanism all over the world that will make the anti-Americanism we've experienced so far look like a love fest." (Sounds like a plan!) Podhoretz suggests that this is a worst-case scenario, and "worst case scenarios don't always come to pass," but is strangely unwilling to apply this thinking to his firm belief that a nuclear Iran would end in global holocaust.
In addition to Podhoretz, Giuliani's cabinet includes one of Lewis' protégés, Martin Kramer, an American-Israeli Middle East expert best known for his 2001 book Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle East Studies in America, in which he argued that Middle East programs at American universities had failed to produce usable knowledge about the Middle East, and were instead serving as incubators of trendy postmodernist and anti-American attitudes. Kramer was criticized for his vast generalizations about the Middle East scholarship being produced in the United States. Interestingly, many, if not most, of the "trendy" scholars whom Kramer personally criticized, such as Edward Said, Richard Bulliet, and Rashid Khalidi, turned out to be right about the regional effects of the Iraq invasion -- unlike Kramer.
And the latest, and most controversial, Middle East adviser to be brought on by Giuliani is Daniel Pipes, another Lewis acolyte. Pipes has made a career of warning against the Islamist menace in terms that echo the worst aspects of classic nativist demagoguery. He has defended the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and has suggested that, similarly, Muslims in America must be subjected to "special scrutiny." Pipes claims to differentiate between "Islamists" and moderate Muslims, but his writings make clear that a "moderate" is any Muslim who agrees with Daniel Pipes, and an "Islamist" is one who doesn't. In a recent article opposing the creation of a public Arabic-language school in New York City, Pipes describes "the problems implicit in an Arabic-language school: the tendency to Islamist and Arabist content and proselytizing." Pipes insists without evidence, that Islamist indoctrination was unavoidable in the teaching of Arabic language and culture, even though the school has Jews, Christians, and Muslims on its board of directors.
James Zogby, the president of the Washington, D.C.-based Arab-American Institute, is unsurprised by these kinds of assertions from Pipes, whom he describes as "a sicko, obsessed by Muslims and Arabs." Zogby advises, "Look at his content; if you replaced "Arab" with "Jew" people would shriek in horror." Zogby laments an atmosphere in which Pipes' sort of bigotry is acceptable and in which a presidential candidate would associate with such a person. "It's scary out there," he says.
Pipes' nomination by President Bush to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace in 2003 created an uproar, particularly from American Muslims and Arabs, who noted that Pipes has consistently opposed peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Pipes himself has repeatedly insisted that peace will be achieved only by Israel crushing the Palestinians, militarily and psychologically.
Like Kramer, Pipes blames his relative lack of prominence in American academia on the insular anti-Americanism of Middle East Studies departments. In 2002, Pipes co-founded Campus Watch, an organization dedicated to monitoring Middle East Studies departments in American universities for evidence of anti-American and anti-Israel bias. Taking advantage of the charged post-9-11 atmosphere, Pipes encouraged students to report on their professors, and posted "dossiers" on scholars deemed "anti-American" on the Campus Watch Web site (the dossiers were quietly removed soon after being publicized).
Just as Giuliani presents a foreign policy that is the Bush Doctrine on steroids, he has also brought on three of the most extreme supporters of a military-forward posture to advise him on his terrorism policy. They promote a view of radical Islamism that is troublingly uncomplicated, carelessly grouping together various Islamic movements with different grievances and goals, presenting them as a unified front against the West. All three were, and are, strong advocates for continuing the war in Iraq and for expanding it throughout the Middle East. You might think Giuliani would have been smart enough to surround himself with advocates of a policy that had worked.
As blogger Jim Henley warned after reading Giuliani's manifesto in Foreign Affairs, "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."
You may also like:
You need to be logged in to comment.
(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)