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Mideast hawks help to develop Giuliani policy

In developing his foreign policy views, Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani is consulting with, among others, a particularly hawkish group of advisers and neoconservative thinkers.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks at Republican Jewish Coalition's Victory 2008 candidate forum at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington DC
Republican presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition's Victory 2008 candidate forum in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 16.Matthew Cavanaugh / EPA file
/ Source: The New York Times

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 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.

And while Mr. Giuliani, like other New York mayors, liked to be seen as conducting his own brand of foreign policy from City Hall, he had little direct exposure to many of the specific issues the next president will confront and is still meeting for the first time with some of his advisers to develop detailed positions on particular subjects.

Mr. Giuliani has taken an aggressive position on Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear program, saying last month it was a “promise” that as president he would take military action to keep the Iranians from developing a nuclear weapon.

Warnings like that one and his reliance on advisers like Mr. Podhoretz, who wrote an article in June for Commentary magazine called “The Case for Bombing Iran,” have raised concerns among some Democrats.

Mr. Podhoretz said in an interview published Wednesday in The New York Observer that he recently met with Mr. Giuliani to discuss his new book, in which he advocates bombing Iran as part of a larger struggle against “Islamofascism,” and “there is very little difference in how he sees the war and I see it.”

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.”

Questions about democracy effort
Like the neoconservatives, who played a major role in developing the Bush administration’s rationale for invading Iraq, Mr. Giuliani is a strong supporter of Israel who has expressed skepticism about how far the United States should go to back the creation of a Palestinian state.

But 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.

Mr. Giuliani rejects the democracy effort as premature, and overly idealistic, noting that the policy led to the sweeping victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections.

“Elections are necessary but not sufficient to establish genuine democracy,” Mr. Giuliani wrote in an article in Foreign Affairs, the policy journal. “Aspiring dictators sometimes win elections, and elected leaders sometimes govern badly and threaten their neighbors.”

Neoconservatives said they were generally supportive of Mr. Giuliani’s positions and saw them as being in line with those taken by the other leading Republican presidential candidates.

“I would say, as a card-carrying member of the neoconservative conspiracy,” said William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, “that I think Giuliani, McCain and Thompson are all getting really good advice — and Romney.” Mr. Kristol said that none of the leading Republican candidates “buy any of these fundamental criticisms that Bush took us on a radically wrong path, and we have to go to a pre-9/11 foreign policy.”

The emerging Giuliani doctrine, which is being created through conference calls, policy papers, and seminarlike meetings, contains a number of main elements.

Mr. Giuliani calls for continuing the war in Iraq and building up the military by adding at least 10 combat brigades to the Army. He takes a dim view of the United Nations, which he sees as good for little other than humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, but wants to expand NATO and invite Israel to join it.

He would continue the Bush administration’s efforts to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa, but would tailor policy toward Africa to emphasize trade over aid.

If there is a central tenet to his thinking, it may be that the United States must project strength to keep itself safe. “Weakness invites attack,” Mr. Giuliani warned to cheers in a speech he gave recently to the Republican Jewish Coalition.

On the question of diplomacy, Mr. Giuliani makes it clear that he would impose a number of conditions before opening talks with unfriendly countries. In the Foreign Affairs article, he wrote that it might be advisable at times to hold serious diplomatic talks with the nation’s adversaries, but not with “those bent on our destruction or those who cannot deliver on their agreements.”

‘Great fallacy’
In a recent speech to the Jewish Coalition, he went further, accusing the Democrats of putting too much stock in diplomacy. “This is the great fallacy in this now very strong Democratic desire to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate and negotiate,” he said. “You’ve got to know with whom to negotiate and with whom you should not negotiate.”

The foreign policy education of Mr. Giuliani, from former big-city mayor to would-be statesman, has played out in a series of briefings and papers and calls.

Aides to Mr. Giuliani dismiss any comparison to the briefings President Bush received when he was the governor of Texas, and a procession of experts — who called themselves Vulcans, after the Greek god of the forge — visited him in Austin to school him on policy. Mr. Giuliani, these aides said, already had a broad vision of what he wanted to do.

One of Mr. Giuliani’s most important foreign policy tutors is Charles Hill, a career diplomat and former deputy to Secretary of State George P. Shultz in the Reagan administration. Mr. Hill had never met Mr. Giuliani when he was invited to a 45-minute meeting at Giuliani Partners in late February — a meeting that stretched to nearly three hours.

Mr. Hill went on to become the campaign’s chief foreign policy adviser, and to assemble a team that is united by its generally hawkish views and its belief in using American power to achieve its aims.

Just days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Hill joined a number of foreign policy experts in signing an open letter to Mr. Bush urging that “even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”

‘The terrorists’ war on us’
Instead of talking about “the war on terror,” Mr. Giuliani speaks of “the terrorists’ war on us,” or, as he put it in a recent speech to a group of conservative Christians, the “Islamic terrorists’ war against the United States.” He sometimes faults Democrats for failing to mention that the terrorist threat comes specifically from Muslims.

When Mr. Giuliani was asked in a recent interview if he could be viewed as an evenhanded broker when it came to Israeli-Palestinian issues, he questioned the premise of the question.

“America shouldn’t be evenhanded in dealing with the difference between an elected democracy that’s a government ruled by law, and a group of terrorists,” he said. “I think that was part of the mistake of the 1990s that led to the debacle that we saw in the Middle East in the way Clinton was handling it.”