Giuliani Says Nation at War Requires Him
Marc Santora – New York Times April 7, 2007
As Rudolph Giuliani introduced himself to primary voters this week, he rarely talked about the details of New York’s darkest day.
But Sept. 11 was a constant backdrop, and as Mr. Giuliani promoted his vision of a forceful foreign policy that calls for the United States to continue slugging it out in Iraq, he let his audiences know that his was an outlook forged by fire.
“What they say in Washington is not going to affect the fact that there are terrorists around the world that are planning to come here and kill us,” he said in Iowa, in the most spirited part of his newly honed stump speech.
Pointing his finger and bouncing up and down on his toes, he declared, “It is something I understand better than anyone else running for president.”
Rudy Giuliani’s biography is clearly his message, especially when it comes to foreign policy. He is drawing heavily on his résumé as a crime-fighting mayor who has seen the horror of terrorism to convince voters that he is the candidate who can lead the country in a time of war.
Mr. Giuliani struck other central themes as well this week on a four-day campaign swing that ended in South Carolina on Thursday. The nation must find a way to become energy-independent, he said, promising as president to undertake an effort comparable to the one that put man on the moon. He said he believed there was broad agreement that human behavior was a factor contributing to climate change.
And, he said, it is time to eliminate the estate tax and vastly simplify the tax code.
But it was the Iraq war and efforts against terrorism on which he was most impassioned.
Until this week, Mr. Giuliani’s views on Iraq were not well known. But on this trip he made clear, though never mentioning President Bush by name, that he firmly supported the administration’s current strategy, including Mr. Bush’s decision to send more than 20,000 additional combat troops there.
In an interview, Mr. Giuliani did say there had been mistakes in the execution of the war, including what he described as failure to send enough troops initially and the decision to dismantle the Iraqi Army that had served Saddam Hussein. He also said there had not been the effective communication and leadership needed to convince Americans that the war was crucial to their security.
But the criticism ended there. At a house party in New Hampshire on Monday, he said the United States would most likely be fighting in Iraq for a long time, “unless there is some kind of miracle.” He attacked the “dangerous and irresponsible” Democratic effort for a withdrawal timetable.
And speaking at a high school in St. Petersburg, Fla., he maintained that the struggle would be over only “when they stop planning to come here and kill us.”
The crowd loved it. “Go get ’em, Rudy!” one man shouted.
Mr. Giuliani spoke of what else he means when he says America needs to be on the offensive against terrorism. He would resist efforts to water down central provisions of the USA Patriot Act. He favors legal but aggressive eavesdropping. He backs intense interrogation of suspects, though not torture.
On other policy details, he is less certain. Would he maintain the Bush administration’s approach to detention of terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay? He said he did not know enough about it to render a judgment.
“There is a Greek maxim: Moderation is the answer to everything, and any extreme is bad,” he said. “I haven’t been to Guantánamo. I can’t judge Guantánamo.”
What are his qualifications for dealing with foreign policy matters? He cited his experience as mayor of an international city, and recalled that he had once kicked Yasir Arafat out of a United Nations celebration at Lincoln Center on the ground that he was a terrorist.
And since leaving office five years ago, Mr. Giuliani said, he has made 90 trips to more than 40 countries. In the last few years, “I have probably been to more foreign lands than any other candidate for president,” he said.
At a house party in New Hampshire, Mr. Giuliani suggested that it was unclear which was farther along, Iran or North Korea, in the development of a nuclear weapons program.
Asked about his policy toward the North Koreans, he said he backed the administration’s approach, mentioning in particular a Chinese role in efforts to pressure them. “I think the strategy has produced enough results so far that you have to stick with it,” he said.
As for Iran, Mr. Giuliani said that “in the long term,” it might be “more dangerous than Iraq.”
He then casually lumped Iran with Al Qaeda. “Their movement has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he said.
Mr. Giuliani was asked in an interview to clarify that, inasmuch as Iran had no connection to the Sept. 11 attacks. Further, most of its people are Shiites, whereas Al Qaeda is an organization of Sunnis.
“They have a similar objective,” he replied, “in their anger at the modern world.”
In other words, he said, they hate America.
Last updated 09/04/2007