Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The end of 9/11 politics

Interesting article by Ben Smith and David Paul Kuhn of Politico.com (http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=C8C36A31-3048-5C12-0004C225CEB6FB62) about how the defeat of Rudy Giuliani marks the end of "9/11 politics." While we can all sign our hallelujias for that, there should be some discussion of why it happened. The "9/11 fatigue" referred to in the article comes in large measure from the current President's insistence on using the horrors of that day as a club to beat his political opponents into submission. After six years of the current President cynically using 9/11 to mislead us into a war, spy on us, create an American gulag in Cuba, and justify American torture, it's no wonder that 9/11 doesn't carry the weight it used to. Just like the boy who cried wolf, eventually the American people realized they were being played, and now any use of 9/11 sounds like the current President trying once again to push the same Rovian buttons that worked so well in 2003.

How monstrous that a day of such horror and tragedy has been transformed by guys like Giuliani and the current President into a punchline. Thanks a lot, fellas.

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Rudy defeat marks end of 9/11 politics
By: Ben Smith and David Paul Kuhn
January 30, 2008 06:35 AM EST

Rudy Giuliani's distant third-place finish in Florida may put an end to his bid for president, and it seems also to mark the beginning of the end of a period in Republican politics that began on Sept. 11, 2001.

Giuliani's national celebrity was based on his steady, comforting appearance in Americans' living rooms amid the terrorist attacks, and his campaign for president never found a message beyond that moment.

The emotional connection he forged that day, it seems, has proved politically worthless. After months of wonder that the former mayor seemed to have no ceiling to his support, he turned out to have no floor, trading fourth-place finishes with Ron Paul, a little-known Texas congressman.

"There's a paradox for Rudy," said former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, who was a member of the 9/11 Commission. "One of the things he did very well on 9/11 was say, 'We've got to get back to normal.' And that's what's happened. We've gotten back to normal."

Giuliani's failure reflects a broader shift in the American landscape, in which Sept. 11 has so diminished as an emotional touchstone that neither The Gallup Organization nor The Pew Research Center has even polled Americans about the attacks for a half year.

Giuliani isn't the only one who suffered from the declining salience of the terror attacks. The Partnership for a Secure America, a bipartisan group that's still pressing to fulfill the recommendations of the 2004 9/11 Commission Report, announced Tuesday that it had produced a 30-second television advertisement to remind Americans of the threat of nuclear terrorism. A country that was brought to war less than five years ago in part by the specter of a "smoking gun" in the form of "a mushroom cloud" now needs reminding that the threat even exists.

"The American attention span has always been very short," former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, the former chairman of the commission and an adviser to the Partnership, told Politico.

When Gallup last asked about Sept. 11, in the summer of 2007, only 43 percent of Americans considered the war in Iraq "to be part of the war on terrorism which began on Sept. 11, 2001." Four years earlier, in the summer of 2003, 57 percent of Americans believed the war in Iraq was related to the Sept. 11 attacks.

It was that perception shift that made a Sept. 11 campaign far more effective in 2004 than in 2008. The image of George W. Bush standing amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center gave the Bush campaign an anchor to effectively tout their candidate's leadership qualities.

But in the ensuing years — as the war in Iraq plummeted in popularity, concern over imminent attacks ebbed, and Americans became increasingly worried about the economy — the evocative image of Giuliani managing a city under attack became less and less relevant.

The Giuliani campaign failed to shift with the country. Last year, as Sept. 11 was receding from the American zeitgeist, Giuliani's strategists made his performance that day the bedrock of his campaign.

"They never made the pivot from success as a leader after 9/11 in New York to the ability to make success as a leader in federal or national government," said Matt Dowd, the chief strategist for George W. Bush's 2004 campaign. "They over relied on 9/11. There was no reason to talk about that. It was baked into his DNA. What they had to do was to make the transition from why what he did in the aftermath of 9/11 why that would make him a great leader at the time of any situation."

Instead, Giuliani managed to do something that would have been unthinkable a few years earlier: He turned 9/11 into a punch line. The late-night television riffs bubbled into prime time during a Democratic debate in October, when Sen. Joe Biden dismissed the former mayor scornfully.

"There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11," Biden said.

Giuliani's campaign tried in vain to awaken the country to the urgency of terrorism with a television ad released Jan. 2, which featured chanting terrorist hordes and the images of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Osama bin Laden. Another ad, released Jan. 18, flashed an image of the ruined Twin Towers.

"When the world wavered and history hesitated, he never did," said the narrator.

His ads, though, drew more snide jokes than votes, and he closed out his campaign in Florida on the relatively anodyne question of insurance policy.

After growing accustomed to tapping into fears of terrorism and faith in Republican strength, Giuliani's failure will force a major shift in Republican campaigns, some GOP strategists said.

"Between the trauma of 9/11 and the civil war we had over the present policy in the Gulf — people have reached a point where they're just exhausted by it. I think that's a terrible, terrible thing," said Rick Wilson, a Florida-based GOP adman who produced perhaps the iconic post-9/11 television ad: Saxby Chambliss' searing attack on the willingness of Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, a Vietnam War hero, to keep America safe — a spot illustrated with the visages of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

"Americans want to watch 'America's Top Model' — and they really, really don't want to be reminded that bad people want to kill them," said Wilson, who worked for Giuliani's 2000 Senate campaign and advised him informally this year. "Talking about 9/11 now is like 'Remember the Maine.'"

Friday, January 25, 2008

The end of two eras?

Interesting article from the Wall Street Journal(http://online.wsj.com/article/declarations.html) by Peggy Noonan (so, take it for what it's worth) about the negative reaction to Bill Clinton being his wife's hatchet-man, and about the state of the Republican Party. Most interesting is the nugget at the end that if anyone has destroyed the Republican Party, it's George W. Bush, not John McCain or Mike Huckabee (as a certain rotund radio blowhard would have you believe, between mouthfuls of OxyContin). While to me that seems patently obvious, it's amazing when it comes from a former speechwriter for Reagan and Bush 41, and who campaigned for the current President.

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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
By PEGGY NOONAN
January 25, 2008

We begin, as one always must now, again, with Bill Clinton. The past week he has traveled South Carolina, leaving discord in his wake. Barack Obama, that "fairytale," is low, sneaky. "He put out a hit job on me." The press is cruelly carrying Mr. Obama's counter-jabs. "You live for it."

In Dillon, S.C., according to the Associated Press, on Thursday Mr. Clinton "predicted that many voters will be guided mainly by gender and race loyalties" and suggested he wife may lose Saturday's primary because black voters will side with Mr. Obama. Who is raising race as an issue? Bill Clinton knows. It's the press, and Mr. Obama. "Shame on you," Mr. Clinton said to a CNN reporter. The same day the Web site believed to be the back door of the Clinton war room unveiled a new name for the senator from Illinois: "Sticky Fingers Obama."

Bill Clinton, with his trembly, red faced rage, makes John McCain look young. His divisive and destructive daily comportment—this is a former president of the United States—is a civic embarrassment. It is also an education, and there is something heartening in this.

There are many serious and thoughtful liberals and Democrats who support Mr. Obama and John Edwards, and who are seeing Mr. Clinton in a new way and saying so. Here is William Greider in The Nation, the venerable left-liberal magazine. The Clintons are "high minded" on the surface but "smarmily duplicitous underneath, meanwhile jabbing hard at the groin area. They are a slippery pair and come as a package. The nation is at fair risk of getting them back in the White House for four years."

That, again, is from one of the premier liberal journals in the United States. It is exactly what conservatives have been saying for a decade. This may mark a certain coming together of the thoughtful on both sides. The Clintons, uniters at last.

Mr. Obama takes the pummeling and preaches the high road. It's all windup with him, like a great pitcher more comfortable preparing to throw than throwing. Something in him resists aggression. He tends to be indirect in his language, feinting, only suggestive. I used to think he was being careful not to tear the party apart, and endanger his own future.

But the Clintons are tearing the party apart. It will not be the same after this. It will not be the same after its most famous leader, and probable ultimate victor, treated a proud and accomplished black man who is a U.S. senator as if he were nothing, a mere impediment to their plans. And to do it in a way that signals, to his supporters, How dare you have the temerity, the ingratitude, after all we've done for you?

Watch for the GOP to attempt swoop in after the November elections and make profit of the wreckage.

* * *

As for the Republicans, their slow civil war continues. The primary race itself is winnowing down and clarifying: It is John McCain versus Mitt Romney, period. At the same time the conservative journalistic world is convulsed by recrimination and attack. They're throwing each other out of the party. Republicans have become very good at that. David Brooks damns Rush Limbaugh who knocks Bill Kristol who anathematizes whoever is to be anathematized this week. This Web site opposes that magazine.

The rage is due to many things. A world is ending, the old world of conservative meaning, and ascendancy. Loss leads to resentment. (See Clinton, Bill.) Different pundits back different candidates. Some opportunistically discover new virtues in candidates who appear at the moment to be winning. Some feel they cannot be fully frank about causes and effects.

More on that in a moment.

I saw Mr. McCain this Tuesday in New York, at a fund-raiser at which a breathless aide shared, "We just made a million dollars." What a difference a few wins makes. There were a hundred people outside chanting, "Mac is Back!" and perhaps a thousand people inside, crammed into a three-chandelier ballroom at the St Regis. When I attended a fundraiser in October there was none of this; perhaps 200 came, and people were directed to crowd around the candidate as if to show he had support. Now you had to fight your way through a three-ring cluster. (When I attended a Giuliani fund-raiser this summer I saw something I wish I'd noted: The audience was big but wasn't listening. They were all on their BlackBerrys. That should have told me something about his support.)

Mr. McCain is in the middle of a shift. Previous strategy: I'm John McCain and you know me, we've traveled through history together. New strategy: I'm the old vet who fought on the front lines of the Reagan-era front, and I am about to take on the mantle of the essentials of conservatism—lower spending, smaller government, strong in the world. He is going to strike the great Reagan gong, not in a way that is new but in a way that is new for him.

In this he is repositioning himself back to where he started 30 years ago: as a Southwestern American conservative veteran of the armed forces. That is, inherently if not showily, anti-establishment. That is, I am the best of the past.

Mr. Romney, on the other hand, is running as I Am Today. I am new and fresh, in fact I'm tomorrow, I know all about the international flow of money and the flatness of the world, I know what China is, I can see you through the turbulence just as I saw Bain to success.

It will all come down to: Whom do Republicans believe? Mr. Romney in spite of his past and now-disavowed liberal positions? Or Mr. McCain in spite of his forays, the past 10 years, into a kind of establishment mindset that has suggested that The Establishment Knows Best?

Do conservatives take inspiration from Mr. Romney's newness? Or do they take comfort and security from Mr. McCain's rugged ability to endure, and to remind?

It is along those lines the big decision will be made.

* * *

On the pundit civil wars, Rush Limbaugh declared on the radio this week, "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys [Mr. McCain or Mike Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it!"

This is absurd. George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues.

Were there other causes? Yes, of course. But there was an immediate and essential cause.

And this needs saying, because if you don't know what broke the elephant you can't put it together again. The party cannot re-find itself if it can't trace back the moment at which it became lost. It cannot heal an illness whose origin is kept obscure.

I believe that some of the ferocity of the pundit wars is due to a certain amount of self-censorship. It's not in human nature to enjoy self-censorship. The truth will out, like steam from a kettle. It hurts to say something you supported didn't work. I would know. But I would say of these men (why, in the continuing age of Bill Clinton, does the emoting come from the men?) who are fighting one another as they resist naming the cause for the fight: Sack up, get serious, define. That's the way to help.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

File under "No Kidding"

Interesting article from MSNBC.com care of the Associated Press (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22794451/print/1/displaymode/1098/) about a study done by a third-party group that has reached the conclusion that the current President led this country to war under false pretenses. While everyone outside of the most ardent ditto-head knew that already, reading the objective data about it is still interesting, angering, and helpful to combat some of the nonsense coming out of the right.

Now, will this help make a difference with regards to any military action against Iran prior to the current President leaving office?

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Study: False statements preceded war
Hundreds of false statements on WMDs, al-Qaida used to justify Iraq war
The Associated Press
updated 1:30 a.m. CT, Wed., Jan. 23, 2008
WASHINGTON - A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.

"The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of intelligence agencies around the world," Stanzel said.

WMD, al-Qaida links debunked
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

Named in the study along with Bush were top officials of the administration during the period studied: Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan.

Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study found. That was second only to Powell's 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaida.

Media 'validation'
The center said the study was based on a database created with public statements over the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles, speeches and interviews.

"The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.

"Some journalists — indeed, even some entire news organizations — have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq," it said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22794451/

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Giuliani's culture of retaliation

Any reader of this 'blog probably suspects I don't particularly care for Rudy Giuliani. Of all the Republican candidates, he's the only one that really scares me. I'm in no hurry to see a Romney, Huckabee, or McCain administration, rest assured. But none of them present the kind of stark nastiness that Hizzoner does. This article, by Michael Power and Russ Buettner of Newsweek (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22776911/page/4/print/1/displaymode/1098/), talk about the petty way Giuliani used the power of his office to extract revenge on those he felt had crossed him.

It's this kind of arrogance and willingness to abuse power for personal gain that has sickened me with the current President. And I think a Giuliani administration would be like having George W. Bush on steroids.

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Crossing Giuliani often had a price
While in office, Republican's toughness edged toward ruthlessness
THE LONG RUN
By Michael Powell and Russ Buettner
The New York Times
updated 6:59 a.m. CT, Tues., Jan. 22, 2008
Rudolph W. Giuliani likens himself to a boxer who never takes a punch without swinging back. As mayor, he made the vengeful roundhouse an instrument of government, clipping anyone who crossed him.

In August 1997, James Schillaci, a rough-hewn chauffeur from the Bronx, dialed Mayor Giuliani’s radio program on WABC-AM to complain about a red-light sting run by the police near the Bronx Zoo. When the call yielded no results, Mr. Schillaci turned to The Daily News, which then ran a photo of the red light and this front page headline: “GOTCHA!”

That morning, police officers appeared on Mr. Schillaci’s doorstep. What are you going to do, Mr. Schillaci asked, arrest me? He was joking, but the officers were not.

They slapped on handcuffs and took him to court on a 13-year-old traffic warrant. A judge threw out the charge. A police spokeswoman later read Mr. Schillaci’s decades-old criminal rap sheet to a reporter for The Daily News, a move of questionable legality because the state restricts how such information is released. She said, falsely, that he had been convicted of sodomy.

Then Mr. Giuliani took up the cudgel.

“Mr. Schillaci was posing as an altruistic whistle-blower,” the mayor told reporters at the time. “Maybe he’s dishonest enough to lie about police officers.”

Mr. Schillaci suffered an emotional breakdown, was briefly hospitalized and later received a $290,000 legal settlement from the city. “It really damaged me,” said Mr. Schillaci, now 60, massaging his face with thick hands. “I thought I was doing something good for once, my civic duty and all. Then he steps on me.”

Mr. Giuliani was a pugilist in a city of political brawlers. But far more than his predecessors, historians and politicians say, his toughness edged toward ruthlessness and became a defining aspect of his mayoralty. One result: New York City spent at least $7 million in settling civil rights lawsuits and paying retaliatory damages during the Giuliani years.

After AIDS activists with Housing Works loudly challenged the mayor, city officials sabotaged the group’s application for a federal housing grant. A caseworker who spoke of missteps in the death of a child was fired. After unidentified city workers complained of pressure to hand contracts to Giuliani-favored organizations, investigators examined not the charges but the identity of the leakers.

“There were constant loyalty tests: ‘Will you shoot your brother?’ ” said Marilyn Gelber, who served as environmental commissioner under Mr. Giuliani. “People were marked for destruction for disloyal jokes.”

Mr. Giuliani paid careful attention to the art of political payback. When former Mayors Edward I. Koch and David N. Dinkins spoke publicly of Mr. Giuliani’s foibles, mayoral aides removed their official portraits from the ceremonial Blue Room at City Hall. Mr. Koch, who wrote a book titled “Giuliani: Nasty Man,” shrugs.


“David Dinkins and I are lucky that Rudy didn’t cast our portraits onto a bonfire along with the First Amendment, which he enjoyed violating daily,” Mr. Koch said in a recent interview.

Mr. Giuliani retails his stories of childhood toughness, in standing up to bullies who mocked his love of opera and bridled at his Yankee loyalties. Years after leaving Manhattan College, he held a grudge against a man who beat him in a class election. He urged his commissioners to walk out of City Council hearings when questions turned hostile. But in his 2002 book “Leadership,” he said his instructions owed nothing to his temper.

“It wasn’t my sensitivities I was worried about, but the tone of civility I strived to establish throughout the city,” he wrote. Mr. Giuliani declined requests to be interviewed for this article.

His admirers, not least former Deputy Mayor Randy M. Mastro, said it was unfair to characterize the mayor as vengeful, particularly given the “Herculean task” he faced when he entered office in 1994. Mr. Giuliani’s admirers claimed that the depredations of crack, AIDS, homicide and recession had brought the city to its knees, and that he faced a sclerotic liberal establishment. He wielded intimidation as his mace and wrested cost-savings and savings from powerful unions and politicians.

“The notion that the city needed broad-based change frightened a lot of entrenched groups,” said Fred Siegel, a historian and author of “The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life.” “He didn’t want to be politic with them.”

He cowed many into silence. Silence ensured the flow of city money.

Andy Humm, a gay activist, worked for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which pushed condom giveaways in public schools. When Mr. Giuliani supported a parental opt-out, the institute’s director counseled silence to avoid losing city funds. “He said, ‘We’re going to say it’s not good, but we’re not going to mention him,’ ” Mr. Humm said.

“We were muzzled, and it was a disgrace.”

Picking his fights
Mr. Giuliani says he prefers to brawl with imposing opponents. His father, he wrote in “Leadership,” would “always emphasize: never pick on someone smaller than you. Never be a bully.”

As mayor, he picked fights with a notable lack of discrimination, challenging the city and state comptrollers, a few corporations and the odd council member. But the mayor’s fist also fell on the less powerful. In mid-May 1994, newspapers revealed that Mr. Giuliani’s youth commissioner, the Rev. John E. Brandon, suffered tax problems; more troubling revelations seemed in the offing.

At 7 p.m. on May 17, Mr. Giuliani’s press secretary dialed reporters and served up a hotter story: A former youth commissioner under Mr. Dinkins, Richard L. Murphy, had ladled millions of dollars to supporters of the former mayor. And someone had destroyed Department of Youth Services records and hard drives and stolen computers in an apparent effort to obscure what had happened to that money.

“My immediate goal is to get rid of the stealing, to get rid of the corruption,” Mr. Giuliani told The Daily News.

None of it was true. In 1995, the Department of Investigation found no politically motivated contracts and no theft by senior officials. But Mr. Murphy’s professional life was wrecked.

“I was soiled merchandise — the taint just lingers,” Mr. Murphy said in a recent interview.

Not long after, a major foundation recruited Mr. Murphy to work on the West Coast. The group wanted him to replicate his much-honored concept of opening schools at night as community centers. A senior Giuliani official called the foundation — a move a former mayoral official confirmed on the condition of anonymity for fear of embarrassing the organization — and the prospective job disappeared.

“He goes to people and makes them complicit in his revenge,” Mr. Murphy said.

This theme repeats. Two private employers in New York City, neither of which wanted to be identified because they feared retaliation should Mr. Giuliani be elected president, said the mayor’s office exerted pressure not to hire former Dinkins officials. When Mr. Giuliani battled schools Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines, he demanded that Mr. Cortines prove his loyalty by firing the press spokesman, John Beckman.

Mr. Beckman’s offense? He had worked in the Dinkins administration. “I found it,” Mr. Beckman said in an interview, “a really unfortunate example of how to govern.”

Joel Berger worked as a senior litigator in the city corporation counsel’s office until 1996. Afterward, he represented victims of police brutality and taught a class at the New York University School of Law, and his students served apprenticeships with the corporation counsel.

In late August 1997, Mr. Berger wrote a column in The New York Times criticizing Mr. Giuliani’s record on police brutality. A week later, a city official called the director of the N.Y.U. law school’s clinical programs and demanded that Mr. Berger be removed from the course. Otherwise, the official said, we will suspend the corporation counsel apprenticeship, according to Mr. Berger and an N.Y.U. official.

“It was ridiculously petty,” Mr. Berger said.

N.Y.U. declined to replace Mr. Berger and instead suspended the class after that semester.

‘Culture of retaliation’
The Citizens Budget Commission has driven mayors of various ideological stripes to distraction since it was founded in 1932. The business-backed group bird-dogs the city’s fiscal management with an unsparing eye. But its analysts are fonts of creative thinking, and Mr. Giuliani asked Raymond Horton, the group’s president, to serve on his transition committee in 1993.

That comity was long gone by the autumn of 1997, when Mr. Giuliani faced re-election. Ruth Messinger, the mayor’s Democratic opponent, cited the commission’s work, and the mayor denounced the group, which had issued critical reports on welfare reform, police inefficiency and the city budget.

So far, so typical for mayors and their relationship with the commission. Mr. Koch once banned his officials from attending the group’s annual retreat. Another time, he attended and gave a speech excoriating the commission.

But one of Mr. Giuliani’s deputy mayors, Joseph Lhota, took an unprecedented step. He called major securities firms that underwrite city bonds and discouraged them from buying seats at the commission’s annual fund-raising dinner. Because Mr. Lhota played a key role in selecting the investment firms that underwrote the bonds, his calls raised an ethical tempest.

Apologizing struck Mr. Giuliani as silly.

“We are sending exactly the right message,” he said. “Their reports are pretty useless; they are a dilettante organization.”

Still, that dinner was a rousing success. “All mayors have thin skins, but Rudy has the thinnest skin of all,” Mr. Horton said.

Mr. Giuliani’s war with the nonprofit group Housing Works was more operatic. Housing Works runs nationally respected programs for the homeless, the mentally ill and people who are infected with H.I.V. But it weds that service to a 1960s straight-from-the-rice-paddies guerrilla ethos.

The group’s members marched on City Hall, staged sit-ins, and delighted in singling out city officials for opprobrium. Mr. Giuliani, who considered doing away with the Division of AIDS Services, became their favorite mayor in effigy.

Mr. Giuliani responded in kind. His police commanders stationed snipers atop City Hall and sent helicopters whirling overhead when 100 or so unarmed Housing Works protesters marched nearby in 1998. A year earlier, his officials systematically killed $6 million worth of contracts with the group, saying it had mismanaged funds.

Housing Works sued the city and discovered that officials had rescored a federal evaluation form to ensure that the group lost a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Martin Oesterreich, the city’s homeless commissioner, denied wrongdoing but acknowledged that his job might have been forfeited if Housing Works had obtained that contract.

“That possibility could have happened,” Mr. Oesterreich told a federal judge.

The mayor’s fingerprints could not be found on every decision. But his enemies were widely known.

“The culture of retaliation was really quite remarkable,” said Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, the lawyer who represented Housing Works. “Up and down the food chain, everyone knew what this guy demanded.”

The charter fight
The mayor’s wartime style of governance reached an exhaustion point in the late 1990s. His poll numbers dipped, and the courts routinely ruled against the city, upholding the New York Civil Liberties Union in 23 of its 27 free-speech challenges during Mr. Giuliani’s mayoralty. After he left office, the city agreed to pay $327,000 to a black police officer who was fired because he had testified before the City Council about police brutality toward blacks. The city also agreed to rescind the firing of the caseworker who talked about a child’s death.

In 1999, Mr. Giuliani explored a run for the United States Senate. If he won that seat, he would leave the mayor’s office a year early. The City Charter dictated that Mark Green, the public advocate, would succeed him.

That prospect was intolerable to Mr. Giuliani. Few politicians crawled under the mayor’s skin as skillfully as Mr. Green. “Idiotic” and “inane” were some of the kinder words that Mr. Giuliani sent winging toward the public advocate, who delighted in verbally tweaking the mayor.

So Mr. Giuliani announced in June 1999 that a Charter Revision Commission, stocked with his loyalists, would explore changing the line of mayoral succession. Mr. Giuliani told The New York Times Magazine that he might not have initiated the charter review campaign if Mr. Green were not the public advocate. Three former mayors declared themselves appalled; Mr. Koch fired the loudest cannonade. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Mayor,” he said during a news conference.

Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., chairman of a Charter Revision Commission a decade earlier, wrote a letter to Mr. Giuliani warning that “targeting a particular person” would “smack of personal politics and predilections.

“All this is not worthy of you, or our city,” Mr. Schwarz wrote.

Mr. Mastro, who had left the administration, agreed to serve as the commission chairman. He eventually announced that a proposal requiring a special election within 60 days of a mayor’s early departure would not take effect until 2002, after both Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Green had left office. A civic group estimated that the commission spent more than a million dollars of taxpayer money on commercials before a citywide referendum on the proposal that was held in November 1999.

Voters defeated the measure, 76 percent to 24 percent. (In 2002, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg advocated a similar charter revision that passed with little controversy.)

Mr. Green had warned the mayor that rejection loomed.

“It was simple,” Mr. Green said. “It was the mayor vindictively going after an institutional critic for doing his job.”

None of this left the mayor chastened. In March 2000, an undercover officer killed Patrick Dorismond, a security guard, during a fight when the police mistook him for a drug dealer. The outcry infuriated the mayor, who released Mr. Dorismond’s juvenile record, a document that legally was supposed to remain sealed.

The victim, Mr. Giuliani opined, was no “altar boy.” Actually, he was. (Mr. Giuliani later expressed regret without precisely apologizing.)

James Schillaci, the Bronx whistle-blower, recalled reading those comments and shuddering at the memory. “The mayor tarred me up; you know what that feels like?” he said. “I still have nightmares.”

Copyright © 2008 The New York Times
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22776911/page/4/

Monday, January 07, 2008

Forever War

Thanks to Brent Helt for forwarding this piece on to me from The American Conservative by Michael C. Desch (http://www.amconmag.com/2008/2008_01_14/cover.html) on Rudy Giuliani's foreign policy ideas and advisors. The basic point of the piece is to point out how many of the neoconservatives banished from the current President's administration - and some that were too far out there even for W - have found a home with Rudy Giuliani. What's more disturbing is the picture painted that Giuliani, as opposed to W, actually understands and believes what they do.

It's looking more and more like Giuliani's candidacy will be a stillbirth come the vote in Florida and Super Tuesday. (My money is on John McCain winning the nomination at this point). But this article is the prime reason Giuliani scares me more than any other candidate in the field. He really believes the mantra of a monolithic group of Bad Guys out there who are acting because they "hate our way of life," and would put us into a state of perpetual war.

Or, to quote from the end of the article, "Yglesias himself is not so sure: he thinks Rudy is “bat-s - - t insane."

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January 14, 2008 Issue
Copyright © 2007 The American Conservative



Declaring Forever War

Giuliani has surrounded himself with advisors who think the Bush Doctrine didn’t go nearly far enough.

by Michael C. Desch

Like most Americans, I knew little about Rudolph Giuliani, save that he had been the very successful mayor of New York City catapulted to iconic status for his cool-headed demeanor after the Sept. 11 attacks. I was curious about where he stood as a presidential candidate, so in April 2007, I joined nearly 3,000 other Texas A&M faculty and students to hear him speak.

After saying some nice things about his host, President George H.W. Bush, Rudy launched into a stemwinder about the “war on Islamic fundamentalist terrorism” that basically repudiated everything the former president stood for in his foreign policy. Moreover, in the space of 40 minutes, Giuliani never once mentioned Osama bin Laden, the man who masterminded the attack on his city.

I was so appalled by the mayor’s simplistic message that terrorists were attacking us because they “oppose our freedom and ... want to impose their ideology on us” that I ignored protocol and challenged him during the Q&A. To the accompaniment of hisses from the rabidly pro-Rudy students, I reminded the mayor that Islamic fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and elsewhere in the Middle East have taken our side against al-Qaeda at various times. Like the students, Hizzonor was not amused, and I got five minutes of unvarnished Rudy chiding me for just not getting it.

To the cheers of the partisan crowd, Giuliani argued that my “failure to see the connection between Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups [was] a recipe for disaster.” In his view, the campaign of radical Islamic terrorism began back in the 1960s and 1970s and included things like the Black September attack upon Israeli Olympic athletes at Munich in 1972. He ridiculed my call to disaggregate the terrorist threat, saying it ignored the fact that Yasir Arafat, whom, he lamented, we helped win the Nobel Prize, was responsible for “slaughtering 29 Americans” over the years. I learned later that Giuliani was so annoyed by my hectoring that he complained about it at the reception after the talk. He was reportedly shocked to learn that I was not some lefty professor but a member of the faculty at the Bush School.

After this disheartening experience, I decided to look more closely at what Giuliani was saying about foreign policy and who was advising him. What I found alarmed me: Rudy’s performance here was no aberration. Those who thought George W. Bush was too timid in the conduct of his foreign policy will find a champion in Rudy.

The Giuliani campaign was slow to articulate a detailed foreign policy. Through the summer of 2007, it was content to offer platitudes among the mayor’s “Twelve Commitments” such as, “I will keep America on the offense in the Terrorists’ War on Us.” But by the fall, the candidate published a major piece in Foreign Affairs that outlined his agenda. Explicitly rejecting realism, he instead sounded the tocsin: “Civilization itself, and the international system, had come under attack by a ruthless and radical Islamist enemy.” Giuliani warned, “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.”

Had I been more attentive over the years, I might have been less surprised by the mayor’s hard-line neoconservative stance. I had forgotten that while U.S. attorney in New York, Giuliani tried to close the PLO’s New York office. As mayor, he made headlines in 1995, when he had Arafat ejected from a concert at Lincoln Center. In a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition this fall, Rudy pointed to this incident as emblematic of his leadership style: “I didn’t hesitate, like Hillary Clinton hesitates to answer questions on what she’s going to do about Iran. I didn’t seek to negotiate with him, like Barack Obama would do or says he’d do with these people. I didn’t call for a team of lawyers to help me. … I just made a decision. See, I lead. That’s what [being a] leader is about.”

To the extent that a mayor of New York has a foreign policy, it needs to be loudly supportive of Israel. In a speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention, Giuliani struck the “Israel’s war is our war” note by claiming that the war on terror began in Munich in 1972. His September 2007 proposal to expand NATO to include Israel is part and parcel of this approach. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Giuliani is “the clear favorite of the party’s top Jewish activists.”

Giuliani holds up his résumé as mayor to buttress his claim that he is ready to be president. “I know from personal experience,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs, “that when security is reliably established in a troubled part of a city, normal life rapidly reestablishes itself: shops open, people move back in, children start playing ball on the sidewalks again, and soon a decent and law-abiding community returns to life. The same is true in world affairs.” Alas, his New York record is not so reassuring. Recall such pre-9/11 missteps as his decision to locate the city’s counterterrorism center in the World Trade Center, which had already been the target of an al-Qaeda terrorist attack in 1993; his failure to integrate the fire and police communications systems; his penchant for surrounding himself with sketchy characters like Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, whom Giuliani would later recommend to train Iraqi security forces and as secretary of the department of homeland security. He dropped out of the blue-ribbon Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group because it cut into his paid speechmaking. Giuliani apparently thinks his years in Gracie Mansion sufficed to school him in high politics.

In one sense, his campaign is a big tent: it has by some estimates between 60 and 70 advisors. Some—British Soviet expert Robert Conquest and Reagan campaign defense advisor William Van Cleave—are clearly window-dressing. The core of senior advisors includes former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, Martin Kramer (Middle East), Stephen Rosen (defense), S. Enders Wimbush (diplomacy), Peter Berkowitz (statecraft, human rights, and freedom), Kim Holmes (foreign policy), and perhaps Daniel Pipes. Giuliani’s chief foreign-policy advisor is retired diplomat and Yale instructor Charles Hill. In the face of controversy about how many neoconservatives were playing prominent roles, Podhoretz bragged to the New York Observer,“Giuliani doesn’t think that this is a liability.”

Podhoretz is the person whose presence has done the most to set in concrete the notion that Team Rudy is all neocon all the time. Famous for arguing that we are in the midst of “World War IV,” Podhoretz is scathing in his criticism of those he suspects of not waging the war with enough vigor. He even charges that many senior military officers show insufficient stomach for the fight, singling out former CENTCOM commander John Abizaid and his successor, Adm. William Fallon. Podhoretz is also an assiduous peddler of the new neocon myth that the antiwar camp stabbed President Bush in the back.

And he doesn’t stop at Iraq: Podhoretz constantly beats the drum for bombing Iran to halt its nascent nuclear program. Air Marshal Podhoretz assured The Telegraph that the air campaign “would take five minutes.” His optimism that attacking Iran would be another cakewalk combines with pessimism about the prospects of multilateral sanctions preventing Iran from getting the bomb. “Yet for all their retrospective remorse over the wholesale slaughter of the Jews back then,” Podhoretz sneers, “the Europeans seem no readier to lift a finger to prevent a second Holocaust than they were the first time around.”

There are areas where Podhoretz is out of synch with the rest of the Giuliani team. One is his steadfast commitment to the Bush administration’s efforts to spread democracy in the Middle East, which he applies equally to American enemies like Iran and Syria and friends like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Other Giuliani advisors are more restrained about democracy promotion. Another point of departure is Podhoretz’s long-standing critique of the Clinton administration for treating terrorism as simply a “crime problem,” a charge somewhat discordant with the mayor’s claim that his successful campaign against crime in New York City justifies electing him global sheriff.

The biggest problem Podhoretz poses for the Giuliani campaign is that he has some particularly far-fetched beliefs that even in these fevered times most Americans do not share. As Ian Buruma noted in a recent review of World War IV, Podhoretz “expresses a weird longing for the state of war, for the clarity it brings, and for the chance to divide one’s fellow citizens, or indeed the whole world, neatly into friends and foes, comrades and traitors, warriors and appeasers, those who are with us and those who are against.”

Another neocon stalwart in Rudy’s camp is Martin Kramer, a long-time think-tanker in Israel and the United States, who specializes in exposing the “biases” in academic studies of the Middle East. These wrong-headed ideas need to be challenged, in Kramer’s view, because they undermine U.S. policy. Among them, the faulty notion of “Arabists” in academia and government that the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict is somehow related to America’s problems in the Middle East. In Kramer’s view, the U.S. should stand firmly with Israel because only then will the Arabs respect us. In 2001, he told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) that the United States’ key problem in the region is “its perceived lack of resolve; its quickness to forgive, or at least forget; its penchant for creating categorical boxes, like the state sponsors of terrorism list, and then ignoring them altogether. This is perceived as weakness, and when you are perceived as weak in the Middle East, you become a tempting target and the vultures begin to circle.” Kramer’s lack of confidence that America will show the necessary mettle persuades him that Podhoretz is too sanguine about our chances in World War IV.

Kramer is representative of the Giuliani team’s more cautious view of nation building. Challenging the Bush administration’s faith in democracy as a panacea for our problems in the Middle East, he reminded a WINEP audience in 2002, “from the vantage point of Israel, things look precisely the opposite. Israel has five immediate neighbors: Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority. Syria, Jordan, and Egypt are ruled without even a pretense of democracy. … And witness: Islamist movements are no great threat to order in any of these three autocratic states.” Conversely, he observed, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority both have some measure of “pluralism” and are rife with Islamicism. Like most other members of the Giuliani varsity foreign-policy team, Kramer takes a more Jeane Kirpatrick-type line on democracy promotion than neocons in the Bush administration did.

Giuliani’s senior defense advisor is my old colleague from Harvard’s Olin Institute of Strategic Studies, Stephen Peter Rosen. He qualifies as a movement neocon, having signed many of the Project for a New American Century’s ukases, such as the Sept. 21, 2001 letter arguing, “even if the 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” and the April 3, 2002 letter baldly declaring, “Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight.” Not surprisingly, given his experience on the National Security Council during the early years of the Reagan military build-up, Rosen supports increased defense spending and the expansion of our ground forces. He is also an unabashed advocate of American primacy, arguing in a recent piece in The National Interest, “successful imperial governance must focus on maintaining and increasing, if possible, the initial advantage in the ability to generate military power.”

But Rosen’s view of international politics goes beyond renascent Reagan-era hawkishness and embraces a social Darwinistic framework for understanding hegemonic America’s challenges. Rejecting Bush’s pre-9/11 argument that America needed a “humble foreign policy,” Rosen wrote:

Humility is always a virtue, but the dominant male atop any social hierarchy, human or otherwise, never managed to rule simply by being nice. Human evolutionary history has produced a species that both creates hierarchies and harbors the desire among subordinates to challenge its dominant member. Those challenges never disappear. The dominant member can never do everything that subordinates desire, and so it is blamed for what it does not do as much as for what it does.

Giuliani’s senior team has another Harvard connection through Peter Berkowitz, a former political theory professor in the Government Department who now holds a joint appointment at George Mason Law School and Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Berkowitz is extremely critical of academia, issuing jeremiads like the one that appeared in April 2005 in the Washington Post charging that many Middle East studies programs are in thrall to the “poisonous political proposition that Israel is the root source of all the ills that beset the Muslim world.” In a summer 2007 piece in Policy Review, he dismissed academia as “unaccountable to outside authority, largely sheltered from opposing points of view, given to seeing themselves as a saving remnant both unappreciated by the broader public and besieged by an evil government, professors at our leading universities have created an intellectual environment that has undermined the conditions that foster free and unbiased exploration of the great issues of the day.” To be sure, academia has its biases, but these are counterbalanced by other intellectual forces in society. If Berkowitz and other neoconservatives had their way, they would impose their own orthodoxy on campus, thereby removing a check on themselves.

S. Enders Wimbush, a former Radio Liberty director and currently a Hudson Institute senior fellow, apparently aspires to be President Giuliani’s Karen Hughes. One of his major strategic planks is to establish a “Radio Free Iran” to undermine the mullocracy. He epitomizes the ambivalence about Iran among the Giuliani crowd: on the one hand, they envision a major role for the captive Iranian masses yearning for freedom; on the other, they treat Iran as a monolith. In January 2007, for example, Wimbush despaired that Iran is undeterrable because the regime is willing to “‘martyr’ the entire Iranian nation, and it has even expressed the desirability of doing so in a way to accelerate the inevitable, apocalyptic collision between Islam and the West that will result in Islam’s final worldwide triumph.” Like Berkowitz, Wimbush complains that American universities are not doing their part by producing graduates with the skills necessary to wage the global war on terror, so he is an advocate of the philanthropic community using its resources to prompt reform.

Kim Holmes, a defense analyst for the Heritage Foundation, recently served as assistant secretary of state for international organization in the second Bush administration. Like most of the rest of the team, he is cautious about depending too much on democracy promotion, arguing in an August 2006 lecture: “We must distinguish between elections and democracy, and between populism and freedom. Frankly, there may be times when supporting overseas elections may not be advisable. And not every populist movement desires liberty. Even despots and terrorists can get elected in some circumstances. We have only to look at Belarus or the Palestinian elections.” Holmes still maintains that we went to war in Iraq exclusively to prevent Saddam from developing weapons of mass destruction and to disrupt his links with al-Qaeda. He blames most of our troubles today in Iraq on Iran, arguing that the Islamic Republic is “acting as if it’s on a roll.” Holmes is also critical of European politicians he thinks are insufficiently supportive of the United States. The strangest example was his March 2007 broadside against the British Conservative Party, which he suggested was going wobbly.

Daniel Pipes is the crazy uncle of the Giuliani campaign. In some places he is listed as a senior advisor, but the chair of the senior advisory team went to great lengths to minimize his influence. This is not surprising because even among this group, Pipes stands out as an extremist. His day job is as director of The Middle East Forum, a think tank that focuses on U.S. interests in the Middle East and includes Campus Watch, a group that monitors Middle Eastern studies on campus for evidence of anti-Israel bias. He gave this over-the-top assessment of the situation to the New York Sun in December 2006: “Self-hating Westerners have an out-sized importance due to their prominent role as shapers of opinion in universities, the media, religious institutions, and the arts. They serve as the Islamists’ auxiliary mujahideen.” Pipes’s appointment to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace by President Bush sparked controversy because, among other things, he urged Congress to pass legislation to establish a board to monitor federally funded area studies programs in universities for anti-American sentiments.

That alarmism also colors his view of Israel’s security situation: in an October 2007 article in the Jerusalem Post, Pipes portrayed the Jewish state as besieged from all sides: “Count the ways Israel is under siege: from Iranians building a nuclear bomb, Syrians stockpiling chemical weapons, Egyptians and Saudis developing serious conventional forces, Hezbullah attacking from Lebanon, Fatah from the West Bank, Hamas from Gaza, and Israel’s Muslim citizens becoming politically restive and more violent.” No one denies that Israel faces a challenging security environment, but few serious analysts would endorse this apocalyptic view. In the New York Sun, he dismissed the bipartisan Iraq Study Group’s conclusion that many of our problems in Iraq are linked to the unresolved Israel-Palestine conflict as the product of “small minds.”

Pipes’s uncompromisingly pro-Israel line has at times gotten him into trouble. For example, he was a major supporter of From Time Immemorial author Joan Peters’s discredited thesis that the Arabs had no claim to Palestine because most of them did not arrive there until shortly before 1948. Pipes, like neoconservative hawk Laurie Mylroie, has also flip-flopped wildly on how to treat Saddam Hussein. Both advocated closer ties with Saddam when he was fighting Iran in the 1980s. After that war ended, both suddenly discovered his horrendous human-rights record and support of Palestinian terrorism. But nothing better demonstrates how far out of the post-Annapolis mainstream Pipes is than his association with extremist groups, such as Jerusalem Summit, which oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories and advocates that Palestinians settle in other Arab countries.

Finally, Giuliani enlisted former Foreign Service officer Charles Hill to chair his senior advisory team. Many reports imply that Hill, a previously rather obscure figure, was chosen to counter the widespread perception that Giuliani’s team was a wholly owned neoconservative subsidiary. In an October 2007 interview in the New York Sun, Hill expressed dismay about a recent New York Times piece because “the subtext seems to be war crazy neocons have captured the campaign and that is a distortion.” Hill countered, “this is a non-ideological approach that we take. … It is a center right group of people with a wide range of thoughts and ideas.”

Hill describes himself as an “Edmund Burke conservative,” but as one former Yale International Security Studies Fellow explained to me, “There’s not much if any daylight between Charlie and the neocons, except on the degree to which is Charlie is more of a multilateralist than them. ... I suppose the only difference is that Charlie is more like Cheney, who dovetails with the neocons on most issues of the last 6.5 years, rather than strictly being a neocon. And like Cheney, I think 9/11 had a massive effect on Charlie. You can’t underestimate just how much it galvanized him.”

A brief review of Hill’s career reveals how he has moved steadily closer to the neocon camp. As his former Yale student Molly Worthen recounts in her treacly biography, The Man On Whom Nothing Was Lost, Hill began his Foreign Service career in Switzerland. While he was watching the young Red Guards in the vanguard of the Cultural Revolution from across the bamboo curtain in Hong Kong, Hill realized the double-edged nature of youth: he appreciated their dynamism, but feared their disregard for established order. This lesson was reinforced during a sabbatical he took at Harvard in 1970, where he experienced American youth rebellion firsthand. Worthen reports that Hill flirted with the antiwar movement, writing articles in the campus newspaper and even contributing a chapter to a book edited by Noam Chomsky. But after his next assignment in Vietnam, which he initially resisted, Hill came to believe that the antiwar movement had undercut the American effort just as it was beginning to succeed.

Hill’s assignment to the Israel desk at Foggy Bottom and then to the embassy in Tel Aviv edged him closer to the neoconservative camp. According to Worthen, Hill “was very informed by his experience in Israel and has deep, deep sympathy for the Israelis, not based on their political situation, but a very existential empathy for their national philosophy and their culture, which he perceives as honest and manly, really standing for something that is good and true about the human race.” Hill found the Israelis he met to be “intrepid,” in contrast to the effete Americans he encountered in Cambridge. During his posting in Israel, Hill was introduced to Menachem Begin and was so taken that he asked the Likud prime minister for an autographed picture. Later, when he was Secretary of State George Shultz’s executive assistant, Hill would develop a close relationship with Israel’s United Nations representative Benyamin Netanyahu.

Hill’s government service ended abruptly with Schultz’s departure during the transition to the first Bush administration. While Bush and Reagan’s personal relations were cordial, a fact historian Douglas Brinkley tells me is amply evident in Reagan’s soon to be published diaries, there was little love lost among lower-level officials in the two administrations. Hill went with Schultz to the Hoover Institution for a year, but was forced to resign from the Foreign Service after it became clear that he had concealed evidence of Schultz’s extensive knowledge of the Iran-Contra scandal from federal agents. Hill moved to New Haven and commuted for a time to New York while he worked for UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali. With Boutros Ghali’s retirement, Hill began to teach in 1997 in Yale’s Freshman Directed Studies in the Humanities program.

It was there that he met historians Paul Kennedy and John Lewis Gaddis and came to play a role in the development of Yale’s Studies in Grand Strategy program. From the beginning, the program was a lightning rod for controversy. Some Yalies objected to its elitism—the former ISS fellow says the program “very much views itself as elite and cultivates that reputation”—others to its right-of-center political orientation (probably unfair to Kennedy, though he has of late started signing Project for a New American Century manifestos), still others to its pretentiousness. On this last count, Worthen admits, “sometimes it can seem like students in the grand strategy course are laboring under the delusion that they will be appointed secretary of state or find themselves nominated to the Supreme Court just a few months after they graduate.” Another former fellow described how Kennedy and Gaddis convened an “emergency dinner” of the grand-strategy faculty and ISS fellows after 9/11 and had the transcript of the evening’s discussions sealed in Yale’s archives for posterity. Worthen’s biography of Hill itself grew out of a paper she wrote for Gaddis, which is the sort of self-referential assignment that one would only get in a program that thought so well of itself.

But the most frequent criticism of the program involves Hill’s pedagogical approach. Worthen observes, “Hill’s teaching style dazzles and offends in the same way that religious indoctrination does.” His demeanor in the classroom, along with its extracurricular manifestations, turned Worthen from an acolyte who scrawled “Charles Hill is God” in her freshman notebook into a skeptical biographer, who confessed that “each time I packed up my notebook and left his office, I could not help feeling a bit brainwashed.” Worthen fretted, “something about Professor Hill made us wildly anxious to prove ourselves, evidently to the point of self ruin.” She recounts how Hill encouraged one undergraduate to enlist in the Marines and another to forego a lucrative corporate job for a U.S. government post in Kuwait, much to her parents’ chagrin.

What do we know of Hill’s own foreign-policy agenda? In an interview broadcast over a conservative website called Captain’s Quarters in July 2007, Hill focused on three issues. First, he argued that the American Diplomatic Corps was badly in need of reform because of a “lack of professional dedication came into the Foreign Service.” He explained that this problem was “related to the 1968 generation of young people coming into the Service and essentially not wanting to put loyalty to the President or American foreign policy first. They were putting their own employee rights first, as if they were unionized workers.” Hill promised that Rudy will “get rid of the people not on the team” and suggested the mayor will do for the Foreign Service what he did to the New York Police Department.

Second, Hill argued that a Giuliani administration would give high priority to combating anti-Americanism. This is urgent, in his view, because many of our problems in the Middle East are the result of the “propaganda pumped out by Arab regimes” rather than any specific U.S. policies.

Finally, Hill offered what he considered a more nuanced and effective policy for promoting human rights and democracy than the Bush administration’s. Under Giuliani, the emphasis would be on supporting dissidents “bravely resisting tyranny” rather than on reforming friendly governments. Hill further promised to focus on the more limited goal of spreading “decent government.” He explained to The American Spectator that the United States “has to stand for democracy. We can’t turn away from that, but we have to do it in a way that’s realistic and Rudy Giuliani has talked about the realistic piece.”

Otherwise, Hill is squarely in the neoconservative camp. He maintains, “If we pull out of Iraq now, it’s just going to break the dam and there will be flood waters of chaos and murder across the region.” He evidently buys into Podhoretz’s World War IV mindset, writing in The Yale Israel Journal, “if the Islamists can defeat the Middle Eastern states that seek reform and work with the international system, we will be faced with another world war.” It’s as if Hill believes radical Islamic terrorists constitute a greater danger to the United States than the Soviet Union did.

In State of Denial—the third installment of his Bush at War trilogy—Bob Woodward recounted a conversation between then-Texas governor George W. Bush and Saudi Prince Bandar bin-Sultan before the 2000 election in which the candidate confessed, “I don’t have the foggiest idea about what I think about foreign policy.” To fill that empty vessel, the Bush campaign assembled a diverse group of advisors—“the Vulcans”—who represented a broad range of opinion within the Republican Party, from neoconservatives (Paul Wolfowitz) to traditional hawks (Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) to realists (Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, and Condoleezza Rice). That Bush eventually threw his lot in with the neoconservatives is a function of the dramatic events of 9/11 combined with the weaknesses of his other advisors. But at least this was not a foregone conclusion.

Rudolph Giuliani, in contrast, is no empty vessel. He knows exactly where he stands. His spokesman told the New York Observer: “Mayor Giuliani has a range of advisors to provide him information on foreign policy issues and at the end of the day Mayor Giuliani’s viewpoints regarding foreign policy are his own.” Hill confirmed to Captain’s Quarters that Giuliani has a “really fully formed foreign policy approach, a comprehensive vision. ... not something where he needs to turn to somebody and say ‘what do I do, or what do I think about this?’ He already has it in mind.”

Unfortunately, he is of one mind with some of the most unrepentant, unreconstructed neoconservatives around. Podhoretz told the New York Observer that “as far as I can tell, there is very little difference in how he sees the war and how I see it.” If anyone thinks that neoconservativism is on the outs after the debacle in Iraq, they need look no further than the Republican frontrunner’s brain-trust.

To be sure, neoconservatives do not all think alike on every issue, as evidenced by the Giuliani team’s skepticism about social engineering. But the continuities far outnumber the divergences. Even allegedly non-neocon members of the team like Charles Hill turn out, upon closer inspection, to be solidly of the familiar persuasion.

Some hope that all of this is just posturing to secure the Republican nomination, which will be delivered by a base troubled by Giuliani’s multiple marriages, occasional cross-dressing, and support for abortion, civil unions, and immigrants’ rights. A post on Matthew Yglesias’s Atlantic Monthly blog offered a theory: “Giuliani is stocking up on these stock characters not for real advice—he’s not that insane—but rather to get out a sort of dogwhistle message to the true rightwing nuts, who are willing to forgive a guy anything if he will only pledge to nuke significant parts of the Middle East.” Yglesias himself is not so sure: he thinks Rudy is “bat-s - - t insane.”

Giuliani’s tendency to conflate all terrorist groups—whether Islamist or not and whether they attack the United States or just allies like Israel—led Fred Kaplan of Slate to dub him the “anti-statesman.” Sending him and his team to the White House might actually ignite World War IV.
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Michael C. Desch is Professor and Robert M. Gates Chair in Intelligence and National Security Decision-making at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.