Rudy Giuliani on War & Peace
Former Mayor of New York City; Republican Candidate for 2000 Senate (NY)
GIULIANI: I think that, since the capture of bin Laden, there's been a kind of sense that "al-Qaeda's on the run; the threat is less." The threat isn't less. The threat is actually more diverse now, and maybe even more complex. And you can detect, through the Benghazi defense, and even during some of this Boston marathon bombing: There's a tendency to underplay what is, in fact, a growing danger, and to some extent, a different kind of threat than what we were facing, 3 or 4 years ago. [Maybe] this is a product of "leading from behind," like happened in Syria, where a lot of action could have been taken a year ago that may have precluded this. But the president prefers to watch these things play out before he makes a decision. They'd be well advised to get a lot more proactive now, because things are really heating up.
A: I was for it when six out of 10 were for it; I’m for it when six out of 10 are against it. I’m for it not because of polls but because America is in a war, an Islamic terrorist war against us. America has to succeed in Iraq. And the goal in Iraq is an Iraq that’s stable and an ally of the US. To be president of the US, you have to be able to read polls, but you can’t have them push you around.
A: No, I don’t think it does. I think you always leave open the military option in a situation where you’ve got to interpret between high confidence & moderate confidence The policy of this government should be that we don’t take any options off the table, & we keep the pressure on them. And of course we don’t want to use the military option. It would be dangerous; it would be risky. But I think it would be more dangerous and more risky if Iran did become a nuclear power. We should utilize sanctions. We should utilize as much pressure as we’re capable of. But the fact that that military option is there, not taken off the table, ultimately increases the pressure.
A: The reality is the pressure works. The NIE said that, too. They said in 2003 Iran abandoned its nuclear program, they believe, because of all the pressure, all the threats, that they are susceptible to that. 2003 was the year in which we deposed Saddam Hussein. It was the year in which America showed massive military strength.
Q: But you’re not saying deposing Saddam Hussein was a reason that Iran suspended its program?
A: No, you’ve got to look at what was going on in 2003. We had just won a big victory in Afghanistan, we had deposed Saddam Hussein. That’s around the time Qadafi was putting up the white flag of surrender. That pressure helped to bring Iran to that position.
Q: Diplomatic pressure?
A: Well, pressure in general. And the idea that the military option is not taken off the table has got to add to that pressure.
A: No, I believe that military options should not be taken off the table. But I don’t think the military option is the thing that we want, if we don’t have to. We would only get to it if it was a last resort.
Q: Do you believe, as Podhoretz also wrote, that “the intelligence community has been leaking material calculated to undermine Bush, to head off the possibility of air strikes on Iran?”
A: I have no reason to believe that.
A: For as long as necessarily to get the strategic objective achieved. Our strategic objective is an Iraq that’s stable and an Iraq that will act as an ally of the US in the ongoing Islamic terrorist effort war against us. Some think that that’s possible, some think that it’s impossible, but that’s certainly the best strategic objective.
Q: And if it becomes clear there’s no political reconciliation betwee Shiites and Sunnis?
A: If it became clear to any president, Republican or Democrat, that the people in charge of the effort tell you, “Hey, Mr. President, we can’t accomplish this,” I think any president would have to take that real seriously and start thinking about, well, how do we extricate ourselves from this.
Q: But as of now you’re, you’re prepared to spend several more years if necessary?
A: For now, [there should be no] time limits placed on the military.
A: It really depends on exigency of the circumstances and how legitimate it is that it really is an exigent circumstance. It’s desirable. It’s safer to go to Congress, get approval from Congress. If you’re really dealing with exigent circumstance, then the president has to act in the best interests of the country.
CLINTON: I’m not going to answer that because it’s hypothetical. There would need to be a high standard of proof.
Q: Rudy Giuliani said, “Iran is not going to be allowed to build a nuclear power. If they get to a point where they’re going to become a nuclear power, we will prevent them; we will set them back 8 to 10 years. That is not said as a threat; that should be said as a promise.“ Would you make that promise?
CLINTON: I will do everything I can to prevent Iran from becoming an nuclear power, including the use of diplomacy, the use of economic sanctions, opening up direct talks. We haven’t even tried. That’s what is so discouraging about this. We need a concerted, comprehensive strategy to deal with Iran. We haven’t had it. We need it. And I will provide it.
A: I think that we have to look at Iran really in a different way than just the Cold War analysis. It’s a different situation. Iran is right now the single biggest state sponsor of Islamic terrorism. America has to have a clear position. The position should be that Iran is not going to be allowed to go nuclear. Exactly when you would act and how you would act, it would be foolish for anyone running for president to answer a hypothetical like that. You want an element of surprise. You want the other side to understand that there’s a step beyond which you will not go. Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot. But it was because he pointed, like, a thousand missiles at Soviet cities. And he negotiated with them. I heard this confusion in the Democratic debate about when to talk and when not to talk. Well, Reagan talked to them with a thousand missiles pointed directly at their cities.
A: In four Democratic debates, not a single Democratic candidate said the word “Islamic terrorism.” Now, that is taking political correctness to extremes. It really is. The reality is that you do not achieve peace through weakness and appeasement. Weakness and appeasement should not be a policy of the American government. We should seek a victory in Iraq and in Baghdad, and we should define the victory. Why we would want to retreat in the face of at least some empirical evidence that [we’re winning]?
Q: But that’s military progress. No political progress. You’d continue to support the surge even if there’s no political progress?
A: The reality is that if we can bring stability to Iraq, and we can give them a chance to develop stability, that’s what we should be trying to accomplish. This is part of an overall terrorist war against the US. It’s a battle in that war.
A: I believe that is an option that should remain open. We should encourage Musharraf to allow us to do it if we thought he couldn’t accomplish it.
Q: But if he said no, you’d go in?
A: I didn’t say I would go in. I said I wouldn’t take the option off the table.
Q: No, you actually said, “If we have a chance to catch bin Laden and we’ve got to do it ourselves because we’re not sure if somebody is going to do it correctly, yeah, I think I would take that option.”
A: I would take that action if I thought there was no other way to crush Al Qaida, no other way to crush the Taliban, & no other way to be able to capture bin Laden. I think Pakistan has, unfortunately, not been making the efforts that they should be making
A: Iran has to know very clearly that it is unacceptable to the US that they have nuclear power. I think it could be done with conventional weapons, but you can’t rule out anything and you shouldn’t take any option off the table. Iran is a nuclear threat because they are the biggest state sponsor of terrorism and they can hand nuclear materials to terrorists.
And part of what we have to do, and we haven’t done right, is take on that responsibility of nation-building. We created that responsibility for ourselves when we overthrew Saddam Hussein, which we did very effectively. It was one of the greatest military actions in American history overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
But we didn’t accomplish the second step. People can only embrace democracy when they have an orderly existence. We should probably have an Iraq statistical program, in which we measure how many people are going to school, how many people are going to back to work. We have to get into the nitty-gritty of putting an orderly society together in Iraq.
GIULIANI: I was talking about the timetable for retreat that the Democrats passed, in which they did something I’ve never heard of in the history of war, which is to give your enemy a schedule of how a retreating army is going to retreat. That was highly irresponsible. What the Republicans suggested isn’t the right approach either.
Q: Rep. Tancredo, you are one of those congressional Republicans who talks about disengaging from Iraq. You have talked about November as a timeframe for beginning to pull some of our troops back from the frontlines.
TANCREDO: We are going to have troops in Iraq or in the region for a long time. The question is, will the troops be a constabulary force, which I do not believe they should be? Will they be a supporting force for the Iraqi government, which I believe they should be?
PAUL: No. [Abandoning our tradition of] non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we’ve been over there; we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years.
Q: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack?
PAUL: I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it.
GIULIANI: That’s an extraordinary statement, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn’t really mean that.
PAUL: If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there.
Wallace (May 13): Now you hear some Republicans saying September. We’ve got to know by then. So, what would you say to those people?The record is clear: Giuliani’s use of the phrase “fundamentally irresponsible” was in response to a question about Republicans, not Democrats. He also criticized Democrats for proposing a ‘timetable for retreat“ in other portions of the May 13 interview, but not here.
Giuliani: Anybody proposing giving the enemy a timetable of our retreat is proposing something that is fundamentally irresponsible.
A: The commitment that we have to make is to emerging from Iraq with a stable situation there that is going to help us in the effort against terrorism.
Q: If the surge were to fail--I want to get a sense of how committed you are--would you basically say, at this point, that we’re going to stay in Iraq until we get a stable situation? In other words, is or isn’t failure an option in Iraq?
A: Failure should never be the option in a war, because if failure is the option, failure happens. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You should be in a war or in a situation like in Iraq--it should be about victory. It should be about success.
Q: So you’re going to stay there even if the surge fails?
A: Well, no. If, God forbid, failure happens, it happens and you have to deal with it, but you don’t predict it.
A: It really depends on what our intelligence says. The use of military force against Iran would be very dangerous. It would be very provocative. The only thing worse would be Iran being a nuclear power. It’s the worst nightmare of the Cold War, isn’t it? The nuclear weapons in the hands of an irrational person, an irrational force. Ahmadinejad is clearly irrational. He has to understand it’s not an option; he cannot have nuclear weapons. And he has to look at an American president and he has to see Ronald Reagan. Remember, they looked in Ronald Reagan’s eyes, and in two minutes, they released the hostages.
“You are either with civilization or with terrorism,” he said in a speech before the start of a weeklong General Assembly debate on terrorism. “This is not a time for further study or vague directives,” he insisted. “Look at that destruction, that massive, senseless, cruel loss of human life, and then I ask you to look in your hearts and recognize that there is no room for neutrality on the issue of terrorism.“
He said that the era of ”moral relativism“ between those who practice or condone terrorism and those stand up against it must end. ”There is no moral way to synthesize with grossly immoral actions, and by trying to do that, unfortunately a fertile ground has been created in which terrorism has grown.“
Giuliani praised ”as a very good first step“ the Security Council’s recent unanimous passage of Resolution 1373, which adopted wide-ranging antiterrorism measures. The mayor said he was also pleased that the UN [agreed to] cut off terrorists from their funding. ”Now it’s up to the member states to enforce this to take away their financial basis and reduce their ability to carry out complex missions.“
|Other big-city mayors on War & Peace:
|Rudy Giuliani on other issues:
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee)
Bill de Blasio (D,NYC)
Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
Bob Filner (D,San Diego)
Steven Fulop (D,Jersey City)
Eric Garcetti (D,Los Angeles)
Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Marty Walsh (D,Boston)
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
Tom Menino (D,Boston)
Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
Annise Parker (D,Houston)
Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)