Friday, July 13, 2007

Inside Track: Rudy’s New Foreign Policy Posse

by Philip Giraldi

The naming of leading neoconservative Norman Podhoretz as one of Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani’s senior foreign policy advisers is disconcerting to those Americans who have hoped that the current disagreements with Iran might be resolved short of war. Giuliani—together with Mitt Romney and John McCain—has publicly advocated a military strike against Iran to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons. He has also not ruled out the use of America’s own nuclear weapons if that should prove necessary to deter Tehran.

Depending on how the situation between Washington and Tehran develops, this pledge could conceivably mean a nuclear attack on a country that has not itself attacked the United States. This would shatter the policy of only using nuclear weapons as a deterrent that has been in effect since the Second World War. It would also establish a dangerous first-strike precedent for other nuclear powers like India, China and Pakistan that might in the future feel threatened. The acquisition of Podhoretz as an adviser confirms that Giuliani’s statements should be taken seriously and are not just political rhetoric designed to obtain the support of the influential Israeli lobby.

Podhoretz has recently called on the United States to bomb Iran and he describes the current situation—pitting Washington against what he describes as "the Islamofascist threat"—as World War IV. Podhoretz basically advocates a world-wide conflict not unlike World War II to defeat Islamists everywhere they are to be found. Giuliani is already the U.S. presidential hopeful who is perceived most favorably in Israel because of his uncompromising stance on issues like the Iranian threat and terrorism, and the addition of Podhoretz will certainly be viewed favorably by many influential neoconservatives. Podhoretz is himself an uncompromising advocate of what he sees as Israeli national security imperatives very much in the mold of the right-wing Likud party.

He continues to be a leading supporter of the Iraq War and is one of the few remaining apologists for the WMD claim, insisting that they were spirited away to Syria prior to the start of the fighting. In addition to Iran, Podhoretz advocates regime change policies for Syria and renewing warfare in the south of Lebanon to eliminate Hizballah. He has also supported regime change for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians. His advocacy of foreign policy positions for the United States will be decidedly Israel-centric. Even in Israeli terms, he is from the far right, advocating simplistic military solutions to solve what are complex and multifaceted international problems.

Podhoretz’s definition of the enemy as Islamofascism is itself a borrowing from right-wing Israeli think tanks that prefer to see an enemy in unitary terms that can be conflated with international terrorism. Most experts on Islam and on the many countries that have majority Muslim populations would reject that Islamofascism or anything like it really exists, just as the "global war on terrorism" is essentially a misleading simplification that has little meaning. The basically false depiction of a hostile and menacing global entity is done deliberately to help formulate a policy which perforce makes Israel’s enemies also the enemies of the United States, even when they are not.

Beyond terrorism, Podhoretz also does not see any difference between Israel’s broader security concerns and those of the United States, an assumption that is basically fallacious and which ultimately benefits neither Israel nor Washington. Of particular concern is the possibility that Rudy Giuliani has "bought in" to the world view expressed by Podhoretz and that his willingness to incorporate those positions will bring about a shift by Romney and McCain. As Giuliani is the front-runner, McCain and Romney might seek to outflank him in foreign policy by embracing even more hard-line positions that would be even less in the U.S. national interest.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is the Francis Walsingham Fellow for the American Conservative Defense Alliance.