NEW YORK TIMES: RUDY ISN'T REALLY SCARY, WHICH IS GOOD, EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT THAT HE IS, WHICH COULD ALSO BE GOOD
The extreme views of Rudy Giuliani and his foreign policy team are getting bad press, so an article in today's New York Times raises the issue ... only to assert in its lead paragraphs that Rudy isn't, y'know, nuts, and if he is up to a point, well, hey, is that really so terrible?
First, the raising of the issue:
Rudolph W. Giuliani's approach to foreign policy shares with other Republican presidential candidates an aggressive posture toward terrorism, a commitment to strengthening the military and disdain for the United Nations.
But in developing his views, Mr. Giuliani is consulting with, among others, a particularly hawkish group of advisers and neoconservative thinkers.
Their positions have been criticized by Democrats as irresponsible ...
And now the downplaying of it (emphasis mine):
...and applauded by some conservatives as appropriately tough, while raising questions about how closely aligned Mr. Giuliani's thinking is with theirs.
Mr. Giuliani’s team includes Norman Podhoretz, a prominent neoconservative who advocates bombing Iran "as soon as it is logistically possible"; Daniel Pipes, the director of the Middle East Forum, who has called for profiling Muslims at airports and scrutinizing American Muslims in law enforcement, the military and the diplomatic corps; and Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who has written in favor of revoking the United States’ ban on assassination.
The campaign says that the foreign policy team, which also includes scholars and experts with different policy approaches, is meant to give Mr. Giuliani a variety of perspectives.
Based on his public statements, Mr. Giuliani does not share all of their views and parts company with traditional neoconservative thinking in some respects. But their presence has reassured some conservatives who have expressed doubts about Mr. Giuliani's positions on issues like abortion and gun control, and underscored his efforts to cast himself as a tough-minded potential commander in chief....
So relax! He's just that lovable guy in a dress! He's not scary at all! Or he is scary, but in a tough way!
The Times says Giuliani "parts company with traditional neoconservative thinking" -- in what ways exactly? Well, here's what we're told:
... Mr. Giuliani has distanced himself somewhat from what was once a central neoconservative tenet, the belief that the United States could spread democracy through the Middle East.
But here's Daniel Pipes on Middle East democracy:
When the president first announced the goal of increasing political participation in the Middle East, I applauded, even as I warned against the overly-abrupt replacement of tyranny with democracy, urging that the process be done slowly and cautiously. Noting that the actual implementation empowered Islamists, I assigned it a failing grade.
And in Iraq, Pipes reminds us that he
urged that elections be delayed and that authority be turned over to a democratically-minded Iraqi strongman.
So where's the disagreement?
And here's the huge gap between Giuliani and Norman Podhoretz on Iran, according to the Times:
Asked in a recent interview if he agreed with Mr. Podhoretz that the time to bomb Iran has already come, Mr. Giuliani said: "From the information I do have available, which is all public source material, I would say that that is not correct, we are not at that stage at this point. Can we get to that stage? Yes. And is that stage closer than some of the Democrats believe? I believe it is."
One thinks we should bomb immediately ... and the other thinks we might need to bomb very, very soon! Wow, what a pitched battle! It's a wonder that Giuliani and the Pod are even on speaking terms!
You can get the information you need from the Times story, but the attempt at "balance" serves the Giuliani campaign more than it does the truth.
Speaking of Podhoretz, you have to get to the last two paragraphs of the Podhoretz profile in this week's New York Observer for the real eyebrow-raisser:
...like Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Podhoretz thinks that the creation of an independent Palestinian state would now only create another terrorist state.
Instead, America should be working to overthrow governments in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt and "every one of the despotic regimes in that region, by force if necessary and by nonmilitary means if possible," he said. "They are fronts of the war. You can't do everything at once. And to have toppled two of those regimes in five years or six years is I think a major achievement. And maybe George Bush won’t be able to carry it further, but I think he will. It may have just been given to him to start act one of the five-act play."
So does Rudy agree with this or doesn't he? (Elsewhere in the profile, the Pod says he doesn't see much daylight at all between Rudy's views and his own.)