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Contentions

Giuliani vs. Edwards

Rudolph Giuliani has acquired a reputation as a tough terrorist-fighter, but he hasn’t sketched out a comprehensive vision of his foreign policy—until now. The new issue of Foreign Affairs features an essay, “Toward a Realistic Peace,” which lays out his agenda.

(Before proceeding further, a couple of disclosures are in order: First, Foreign Affairs is published by the Council on Foreign Relations, where I work, though I have no say in its content. Second, I’ve offered foreign policy advice to Giuliani. But assuming you’re not bothered by those incestuous relationships, read on.)

The title, with its invocation of “realism,” which is used by so many to bludgeon President Bush’s policies, might raise hackles among some contentions readers. But never fear. Giuliani is most definitely not making a plea for realpolitik of the kind that Brent Scowcroft might endorse. In fact, he says: “A realistic peace is not a peace to be achieved by embracing the ‘realist’ school of foreign-policy thought. That doctrine defines America’s interests too narrowly and avoids attempts to reform the international system according to our values.” Instead of eschewing idealism, Giuliani pledges to pursue it, well, realistically: “Idealism should define our ultimate goals; realism must help us recognize the road we must travel to achieve them.”

What does that mean in practice? Giuliani calls for an unapologetic war on “radical Islamic fascism,” which means, first of all, victory in Afghanistan and Iraq (“the emergence of stable governments and societies”), but also much more. Among other proposals, Giuliani suggests: increasing the size of the army (by “a minimum of ten new combat brigades,” or about 40,000 troops, beyond the increase of 40,000 or so troops already in the pipeline); deploying a national missile defense; expanding counterproliferation programs; and increasing support for public diplomacy and foreign broadcasting. Giuliani also offers a proposal near and dear to my heart—creating a new nation-building agency, a Stabilization and Reconstruction Corps, which would be “staffed by specially trained military and civilian reservists.”

Giuliani professes himself ready to negotiate with Iran, but also to walk away from talks if they don’t produce results. He also warns: “The theocrats ruling Iran need to understand that we can wield the stick as well as the carrot, by undermining popular support for their regime, damaging the Iranian economy, weakening Iran’s military, and, should all else fail, destroying its nuclear infrastructure.”

Perhaps the most newsworthy aspect of the article is Giuliani’s call for expanding NATO membership far beyond Europe: “We should open the organization’s membership to any state that meets basic standards of good governance, military readiness, and global responsibility, regardless of its location. The new NATO should dedicate itself to confronting significant threats to the international system, from territorial aggression to terrorism.” This proposal heads in the same direction as John McCain’s call for a League of Democracies. I’m agnostic about which is the better path, but the imperative to create alternative multilateral structures outside the U.N. is clear, and Giuliani’s endorsement of a global NATO is an interesting development.

By contrast, John Edwards’s article in the same issue of Foreign Affairs is filled with pure pablum that will be familiar to anyone who recalls the Kerry campaign. He calls for a “strategy of reengagement” with the world, and even advocates greater military intervention in Darfur, at the same time that he advocates disengagement from Iraq, the central front in the war on terrorism. He even calls the “war on terror” “a bumper sticker, not a plan.” Actually, Edwards favors bumper stickers himself, writing, at one point, “we need substance, not slogans.”The only part of Edwards’s essay that struck a chord with me was his endorsement of an expanded nation-building capacity similar to that outlined by Giuliani. Edwards calls his version the “Marshall Corps” (a good name), and says it “will consist of at least 10,000 civilian experts who could be deployed abroad to serve in reconstruction, stabilization, and humanitarian missions.” At least that’s one area where there seems to be some bipartisan consensus.



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