Rudy Giuliani, Unfit to Serve
Rudy Giuliani is one of the present front-runners for the Republican nomination in the US 2008 presidential election. His main claim to fame, at least on the world stage, is being Mayor of New York City at the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Giuliani has looked to parlay his experience as mayor of one of the largest cities in the world into a run for the presidency. His distinctly liberal views on social issues set him apart from several other Republican candidates.
From a social perspective, Giuliani is just as much a potential left wing Democrat as he is a Republican. He supports abortion, is in favour of gay rights, and so forth. (He's also on his fourth wife.)
Economically, Giuliani probably fits the Republican mould better. He is a staunch supporter of free trade — unsurprising, considering that New York would be dead if not for trade, and likewise we would be poorer if not for New York — a classic example of the mutual benefits of trade if there ever was.
These domestic policy issues alone make him a reasonable candidate; I might even dare to call Giuliani the best Republican candidate out there. (Mitt Romney probably holds similar views, but has severely modified them in his stump speeches and advertising to appeal to far-right Republican voters.)
What profoundly worries me about Rudy Giuliani is his approach to foreign policy, and to a lesser extent, his character. Giuliani's campaign is centred on "going on offense" concerning terrorism.
The obvious insinuation is that other candidates, Democratic and Republican, wouldn't be on offense. But how true is this? Even Barack Obama, the poster child of Democratic liberalism, has said that he'd launch missiles into Pakistan to take out terrorists, without necessarily consulting the Pakistani government. The only way Giuliani could be more offensive than this is if he were to nuke anyone he doesn't like.
More worryingly, Giuliani (and incidentally most other Republican candidates) have refused to accept that the true way to fight terrorism is to address its root causes — economic discontent and the particularly arrogant posture Americans tend to assume, as if they are always absolutely right. Hardly any of the Republican candidates have repudiated the torture tactics utilised by the Bush administration.
That brings us to the character problem — Giuliani has trouble admitting he's wrong. He has shown a predilection to pull facts out of thin air when debating other candidates — and because he sounds credible, nobody calls him out on his bullshit. Fringe candidate Ron Paul rightly pointed out that Osama bin Laden's main grievance has been with American foreign policy, which continues to station troops in Saudi Arabia. Giuliani dismissed this, insisting that Osama attacked America because he hates American freedoms — which may be true, but doesn't necessarily help with tackling the root problem.
Giuliani has staked out reasonable stands on several domestic policy issues. But how he addresses foreign policy is cause for concern — and, in my view, makes him an unacceptable candidate. The US and the world do not need more torture, more military solutions to terrorism; in the long run, to wipe out terrorism, we must wipe out terrorists. And, in the words of one grand old Republican himself, "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"