Making an unusual campaign swing outside his own country, Rudolph W. Giuliani said Wednesday that he would like to see a broad expansion of the NATO alliance, including an invitation to Israel, and that the United States would use military force if necessary to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Mr. Giuliani, long a supporter of Israel, acknowledged that pushing its membership in NATO might be viewed as provocative. Still, he said, he thinks it only natural, since the Israelis would be “willing to help us in the effort against terrorism.”
Any attempt to include Israel in the alliance, an idea discussed within past American administrations, would most likely face insurmountable barriers, however, given that all NATO member states would first have to sign off.
Mr. Giuliani raised the idea of Israel’s NATO membership in an interview with The New York Times. The comments by the former New York mayor, a chief contender for the Republican presidential nomination, will most likely appeal to Jewish voters in states like New York and Florida, which hold early primaries this election cycle.
'They are a democracy'
“They are a democracy,” he said of the Israelis. “They are an ally of the United States. They would have to decide whether that would be in their own national interest.”
Mr. Giuliani said the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, called him Wednesday night to discuss Iran. The candidate said the United States would use every lever at its disposal, including a military strike, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
He said that such blunt talk was not a “threat but a promise.” He also denounced as “outrageous” a request by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to be escorted to ground zero next week when Mr. Ahmadinejad visits New York to attend the new session of the United Nations General Assembly.
And in a later speech at a luncheon fund-raiser where Americans here contributed to his campaign, he again raised the prospect of military force.
“If they get to the point where they are going to become a nuclear power, we will prevent them,” he said of the Iranians, adding, “Or we will set them back 5 or 10 years.”
The trip to London was both an opportunity to raise money and a chance for Mr. Giuliani’s campaign organization to present him as a statesman while also scoring points with the Republican faithful by associating him with Margaret Thatcher, the former Conservative prime minister, who was the host of a speech he gave here Wednesday evening.
That speech capped a whirlwind day in which he gave a half-dozen interviews to foreign and American news organizations and had private meetings with Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street and former Prime Minister Tony Blair at Mr. Blair’s offices here.
He was joined by his wife, Judith, who managed to cram in a quick visit to the British Museum while he met with the British foreign secretary, David Miliband.
In his evening speech, Mr. Giuliani noted that both London and New York had been victims of deadly terrorist attacks.
“Like Britain, if you come and kill our people and try and take our freedom away, we are going to fight you,” he said to applause from an audience that rose three times to give him a standing ovation. The dinner was organized by the Atlantic Bridge, which focuses on advancing conservative principles and the bonds between Britain and the United States.
NATO expansion was just one of four key elements Mr. Giuliani listed as essential in winning the struggle against Islamic terrorists.
He also called for increased intelligence sharing among nations, a larger and more flexible military, and more forceful engagement in the war of ideas so that Western nations can better combat Islamic fundamentalism.
Mr. Giuliani’s speech did not dwell on NATO’s inclusion of the Israelis, merely listing Israel along with other nations, including Japan, Australia and India, as those that meet the “basic standards of good governance, military readiness” and “global responsibility.”
He did not express any concern that under NATO’s charter, all member countries are obliged to come to the defense of one that is attacked.
“We would have to look at all that,” he said.
While some have talked of how Israel’s joining NATO might bolster chances of peace in the Middle East, Mr. Giuliani said this was not his primary motivation.
“If it would have the impact of assisting in some sort of reasonable movement of the peace process, that would be a good thing,” he said. “But that shouldn’t be the only reason for it.”