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    15 August 2007

    Rudy Giuliani: On US Foreign Policy After the Bush Years

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    So I just read Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani's new foreign policy thesis in Foreign Affairs and I just have to share a few comments before I retire for the night.

    [UPDATE] Fixed link to go to main story not the print page.

    First his new lexicon is "terrorists' war on global order" and "on us" so get used to that. This phrase arises in Rudy's reference to the "three key foreign policy challenges" facing the next president, which are:

    • Victory in the "terrorists' war on global order."

    • Strengthen that global order (a.k.a. the "international system").

    • As security spreads, ensure that the international system is there to welcome liberated peoples and/or nations.

    This will be done by, among other things, finding a balance between "realism and idealism in our foreign policy." To Rudy, idealism is our ultimate goal and realism is our means to getting there. the goal? "Preserving and extending American ideals..." pursued "...through realistic means."

    So my reading is that we should impose our interpretation of the world populations desired ends, by any "realistic" means necessary, to those populations. Like we are doing in Iraq guess...

    Now here's where he loses me. After stating that we need to use our ideology as a guide, governed by realism. He writes:
    We cannot afford to indulge any illusions about the enemies we face. The Terrorists' War on Us was encouraged by unrealistic and inconsistent actions taken in response to terrorist attacks in the past. A realistic peace can only be achieved through strength.

    So it wasn't our policies (support for corrupt regimes, support for Israel, military presence in the Muslim Holy Land, and US foreign policy in general) that caused terrorism against western nations. No, it was our reaction to terrorist's attacks prior to 9/11. I suppose that's a vague shot at Clinton (but also H.W. Bush and Reagan, et cetera). Still, how can anyone who is trying to put forward a new approach to foreign policy in the post-9/11 world say that previous responses to terrorism are the nexus of our problems? This ignores, outright, the preeminent causes of terrorism currently. To ignore the effects of the occupation of Iraq or our actions on the world stage (Gitmo, abu Ghraib) in a new foreign policy doctrine is approaching, if not the definition of, intellectual nadir. Rudy's prescription is basically the status quo. It's not a long-term battle he's planning for it's more of the same. Short-term reactions to current events. This is just treating the symptoms not the cause. It's ridiculous.

    To make this even worse, Rudy's first step is to understand the enemy's "violent ideology." But rather than incorporate a plan for addressing this ideology--which is in many ways fueled by our ideology that says everyone ought to be like us--Rudy blames the American people for not 'staying the course' in Vietnam, creating an analogy to Iraq. It's all nation building here, no public relations. It's like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.

    When Rudy transitions into diplomacy he starts to some signs that he is aware of the current reality.
    It is clear that we need to do a better job of explaining America's message and mission to the rest of the world, not by imposing our ideas on others but by appealing to their enlightened self-interest. To this end, the Voice of America program must be significantly strengthened and broadened. Its surrogate stations, such as Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, which were so effective at inspiring grass-roots dissidents during the Cold War, must be expanded as well. Our entire approach to public diplomacy and strategic communications must be upgraded and extended, with a greater focus on new media such as the Internet. We confront multifaceted challenges in the Middle East, the Pacific region, Africa, and Latin America. In all these places, effective communication can be a powerful way of advancing our interests. We will not shy away from any debate. And armed with honest advocacy, America will win the war of ideas.

    And there's the key, the war of ideas. But he offers nothing (though he didn't backtrack and do as Newt Gingrich [Foreign Policy, July/August 2003] would and make these tools of public diplomacy nothing more than tools for propaganda.) This further exemplifies the inability of Rudy and many Republicans to understand that fighting a long war is only possible with robust efforts at strategic but genuine public diplomacy in compliment to "reasonable" use of force. Military force has a role but the belligerent use of this force can have a long-term detrimental effect. Earlier in this essay, Rudy calls for increasing the size of our military, expanding intelligence and survalience and finding a missile defense system that will work. This is pretty obvious. But other than strengthening, broadening, upgrading and extending our public diplomacy there are no legitimate policy prescriptions, despite stating correctly that "America has been most successful as a world leader when it has used strength and diplomacy hand in hand." Rudy's doctrine here is hardly "hand in hand." Perhaps a revision with some dollar signs or incorporating some scholarly research Mayor? I guess those don't emit fear quite as well as other subjects (this essay is full of his trade mark fear-mongering coupled with his fatherly leadership in the face of terror).

    All in all the documents pretty much advocating for the status quo. It offered nothing groundbreaking and a lot of poor advise for a country on the verge of transitioning from under one of the wost foreign policy performances ever. In the last section Rudy writes "America's next president must also craft polices to fit the needs of the decade ahead...". Well with foreign policy, a president elected in '08 will only be leading till January 2013.

    Posted by Geoff

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