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“The Republican Party is in desperate straits. How else to explain that Rudy Giuliani–a former mayor with no foreign policy experience–is the Republican front-runner, largely based on his supposed foreign policy expertise?”
So opens an amusing critique penned by conservative writer Doug Bandow about Giuliani’s recent essay in Foreign Affairs. In that essay, Giuliani stated that the next U.S. president “will face three key foreign policy challenges. First and foremost will be to set a course for victory in the terrorists’ war on global order.” It seems that Democrats, and many Republicans besides Giuliani, just don’t understand what needs to be done to confront the terrorist threat. The essay is filled with simplistic, idiotic arguments, and Bandow does a good job of demolishing them.
Let’s take just one of Giuliani’s insights—“For 15 years, the de facto policy of both Republicans and Democrats has been to ask the U.S. military to do increasingly more with increasingly less. The idea of a post-Cold War ‘peace dividend’ was a serious mistake—the product of wishful thinking and the opposite of true realism.”
In an essay filled with silly nonsense, this statement stands out as being uniquely stupid. Between 1980 and 2000 the Soviet Union disintegrated, the Warsaw Pact disbanded, Maoism disappeared from China, the former Soviet republics and Eastern European satellites gravitated towards America and Europe, and Vietnam opened to the West. As a result, the United States found itself allied with every major industrialized state as well as many former communist countries while, as Colin Powell famously put it, America’s enemies were down to Cuba and North Korea. In this new world, Giuliani believes that the U.S. shouldn’t have reduced military spending even a little?
It’s easy to see where Giuliani gets his ideas on foreign policy, given the team of foreign policy advisors he announced last month Norman Podhoretz’s name attracted the most attention when the list was announced, and with good reason–take a look at this video (posted by Andrew Sullivan), for example, in which Podhoretz portrays a military attack on Iran as not only the best option but the only option.
There are a number of other notable hardliners advising Giuliani. Charles Hill of the Hoover Institution, the campaign’s chief advisor, joined a number of leading neo-conservatives in signing a September 20, 2001 letter to President Bush that said that even if Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, “any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove [him] from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.”
During a March 2003 debate at Yale, shortly before the Iraq war began, Hill said: “The U.S. has the power to do this operation swiftly, and it will be a war that will not do great damage to Iraq, to its installations, to its infrastructure, or to its people.” He downplayed obstacles and suggestions that the financial cost of the war might be huge, saying the long-terms benefits of an invasion would be huge, and would include “the restoration of American credibility and decisiveness. We’ll see an Iraq that is freed from oppression. This situation will also do a lot to transform the Israeli-Palestinian situation.” (This is the tip of the iceberg. Do a Google search on Hill and Iraq and you’ll find a trove of false prophecies.)
There’s also Martin Kramer, who spent 25 years at Tel Aviv University and whose Middle East policy can basically be summarized as “What’s Good for Israel,” and former Senator Robert Kasten of Wisconsin, whose career was best known for his loopy attacks on the United Nations and for being arrested for drunk driving after running a red light and driving down the wrong side of the road.
I asked Augustus Richard Norton of Boston University, an expert adviser to the Iraq Study Group, for his take on Giuliani’s crew. He dubbed the group “AIPAC’s Dream Team.”
“What I find fascinating,” he said, “is how skewed this team seems to be in terms of the regional focus. Most of the members are well known as Israel advocates. There is no real expertise on Africa, Asia, Latin America, or much of Europe.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.
Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Science’s crisis of faith