Posts Tagged Rudy Giuliani
In September of last year, Pat Buchanan, founder of the weekly magazine The American Conservative, published an article on its pages entitled “Fascists Under the Bed.” In that piece, Buchanan attacked President Bush for his assertion that we are “at war with Islamic fascism.” As a prelude, Buchanan made a general critique of the reckless way analogies to fascism have been deployed in American politics. Buchanan:
Orwell said when someone calls Smith a fascist, what he means is, “I hate Smith.” By calling Smith a fascist, you force Smith to deny he’s a sympathizer of Hitler and Mussolini…. Since the 1930s, “fascist” has been a term of hate and abuse used by the Left against the Right, as in the Harry Truman campaign. In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. claimed to see in the Goldwater campaign “dangerous signs of Hitlerism.” Twin the words, “Reagan, fascism” in Google and 1,800,000 references pop up.
The loose use of the fascist analogy, claimed Buchanan, was a trademark of the far left, so that those who identified the enemy as “Islamofascism” simply betrayed their intellectual origins:
Unsurprisingly, it is neoconservatives, whose roots are in the Trotskyist-Social Democratic Left, who are promoting use of the term. Their goal is to have Bush stuff al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran into an “Islamofascist” kill box, then let SAC do the rest. The term represents the same lazy, shallow thinking that got us into Iraq, where Americans were persuaded that by dumping over Saddam, we were avenging 9/11.
Having read Buchanan’s denunciation of fascist-name-calling as a far-left and neo-con rhetorical device—on the pages of The American Conservative—I almost fell over when I saw the cover of the current issue of The American Conservative:
A few bloggers have commented that Giuliani is cast here as a Mussolini figure. No he isn’t. He’s being portrayed as a Nazi. It’s not just the armband, it’s the pose and the fine details of dress, all of which refer back to this iconic image, from the poster for the 1933 Nazi film, S.A.-Mann Brand (“Storm-Trooper Brand”):
So you get the picture. Pat Buchanan gets himself into a righteous lather if you dare to compare Osama bin Laden to a fascist. But on the cover of the very magazine where he does that, it’s perfectly legitimate to compare Rudy Giuliani to a Nazi. The cover of The American Conservative seems to have been concocted by someone steeped in the tradition of… well, the Trotskyite-Social Democratic Left. But here’s another irony: the cover article it illustrates, criticizing Giuliani’s foreign policy vision, is by Michael Desch, who’s well-known for his belief that the civilian leaders of this country exercise too much control over the professional military.
Is this bizarre convergence of far left and far right either American or conservative? I don’t know, but I do know that its graphic rhetoric is crude and tasteless.
Martin Kramer delivered these remarks to a closed session of the board of trustees of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The session was devoted to the Middle East in the 2008 elections, and it was held in Lansdowne, Virginia on October 19, 2007. Chair: Robert Satloff, director of the Institute; co-panelist, Dennis Ross, Institute distinguished fellow. Posted retroactively at Sandbox.
Thanks, Rob. As Rob has pointed out, I’m an adviser to a political campaign—I’m the senior Middle East adviser to the Giuliani campaign. If you’d compiled a list of people at The Washington Institute likely to end up with such an exalted title in any of the campaigns, Dennis Ross would have been at the top, and I’d have been at the bottom. I certainly didn’t seek it, because I didn’t imagine it.
Now I’m in the idea business. I didn’t get the call because of my experience in government—I haven’t got any—or my personal charm or connection to the candidate—I hadn’t met the Mayor. I like to think I was approached because at least some of my ideas resonated in the Giuliani campaign.
Now as an adviser, I simply continue to do what I’ve always done, which is look hard at the Middle East, and speak what I believe to be the truth. I also listen to other advisers, and learn from them. The point I want to emphasize this morning is that I’m not a spokesperson for the campaign—I provide input, not output. If you want output, read the Mayor’s Foreign Affairs article and listen to him speak. Nor have I turned into an instant analyst of American politics. I don’t closely watch the other candidates, Republican or Democrat, and it’s not my job to campaign.
My aim is to make sure that if Mayor Giuliani is elected president a year from now, he’ll have a full panoply of realistic ideas about what’s needed and feasible in the Middle East, to take with him to the White House two months later.
So this morning, I won’t speak for the Mayor, or indulge in campaigning, or parse the positions of the candidates. Instead I’ll talk about what I see as the stakes in this election. I believe my ideas largely conform to the Mayor’s stated positions, and where they do, I’ll mention them, or my understanding of them. By the way, it’s no small matter to keep up with what a candidate says on the road. He’ll be asked a question on Iran or Iraq by a voter in New Hampshire or Iowa, and I won’t know the answer before you do. But I know I’ve made the right choice because I haven’t been unpleasantly surprised. There are advisers to other campaigns who can’t say the same.
So that’s my preamble. Now to substance. It’s obvious that a lot of what’s at stake in this election turns on America’s role in the Middle East. But before we break it down to specific issues, we have to step back and ask a big question. The big question is this: are we really in a war on terror?
That question’s been sharpened for us by Tom Friedman and Norman Podhoretz. Friedman recently published a column in the New York Times under the headline “9/11 is Over.” Podhoretz has published a new book under the title World War IV. These two ideas—”9/11 is Over” and “World War IV”—neatly define the two opposite poles of the debate that’s at the very heart of this election.
In his piece, Friedman wrote this: “I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate. What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid.” Why? It’s caused us to neglect other things more important. Such as, you ask? As an example of neglect, Friedman complained: “I still can’t get uninterrupted cellphone service between my home in Bethesda and my office in D.C.” Leave it to Tom to undermine his own proposition. But the proposition is clear, and it’s this: “Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July—which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.”
Opposite Friedman’s determination that 9/11 ended on 9/12, is Norman Podhoretz’s belief that 9/11, in his words, “constituted an open declaration of war on the United States, and the war into which it catapulted us was nothing less than another world war.” (He calls it World War IV—the Cold War was World War III.) Podhoretz predicts this world war will last three or four decades, as the Cold War did. If you ask him where we are now, in comparison to the Cold War, he’ll tell you we’re only in 1952 or thereabouts. 9/11, far from making us stupid, finally wised us up—or should have. Podhoretz also knows who he thinks should lead America in wartime: he’s a senior foreign policy adviser to the Giuliani campaign.
Now I suspect the vast majority of Americans don’t think 9/11 is over, but also don’t feel that we’re in a world war. As I said, these are the two opposite poles of the debate. But even if these are two views from the far poles, I think they do frame the debate. This election, to the extent it’s about foreign policy and national security, is about whether Americans believe we’re in a 9/11 war.
That may seem paradoxical, because some people think this election is about the Iraq war. Others think it’s about a possible Iran war. But these are policy subsets of the bigger question framed by Friedman and Podhoretz. How you answer that bigger question will inflect your answer to all the lesser questions.
So Americans first have to decide whether we’re in a war that began on 9/11. Yes, we haven’t had an attack since 9/11. Does that mean 9/11 was a one-off unlucky hit, to which we’ve overreacted with a “war on terror”? Or is the “war on terror”—the fact that we’ve been on the offensive—the real reason 9/11 hasn’t been repeated? (Actually, 9/11 has been repeated—just not here. 9/11 wasn’t followed by 9/12, it was followed by 3/11 in Madrid and 7/7 in London and other attacks.)
Now even Tom Friedman, only one week after his “9/11 is Over” piece, wrote this in another column: “The struggle against radical Islam is the fight of our generation.” He may think the world is flat, but there are some truths even Tom can’t deny. Ironically, his words are almost identical to this snippet from Rudy Giuliani’s website: “Rudy Giuliani believes winning the war on terror is the great responsibility of our generation.” In Giuliani’s view, this makes us “all members of the 9/11 generation.” Maybe you think we are, and maybe you think we aren’t: labeling generations is tricky business. But we’re all certainly post-9/11, in this crucial respect: we’re now aware that we have a determined enemy called “radical Islam” or, as Giuliani called it in his article in Foreign Affairs, “radical Islamic fascism.” If we don’t defeat this enemy, it will strike us again. This means that, like it or not, we’re electing a war president—someone who’ll have to act, every day, not just as our president, but as commander in chief.
Now even the candidates who speak of the “war on terror” against “radical Islam” have different ideas on what the “central front” is. Is it Iraq? Or is it Afghanistan? Maybe it’s always been Iran? Or is it in hearts and minds—the war on ideas? Where should we lay the greater emphasis, where should we deploy the most resources, where should we pull back and where should we push forward, and what should be our mix of hard power and soft power? Who are our true allies, and who are our real adversaries? How important is the spread of democracy to our winning the war?
These are all questions about which reasonable people can differ. But to me, these are subsets of another bigger question. I would put it this way: are we prepared to stand our ground in the Middle East, if that’s what it takes to win?
For decades, the United States didn’t have to stand on the ground in the Middle East. It maintained an off-shore position—it engaged, at times, in what’s been called off-shore balancing. The United States maintained its position through diplomacy, arms sales, economic sanctions—everything short of boots on the ground. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq represented a clear break from that past. The United States went on-shore, after some of our enemies were emboldened to cross the oceans and attack us on our shores.
The Iraq war is still enveloped in a fog, but there are people who believe that going on-shore was a mistake, and who want to go back to the off-shore posture. In all the discussion of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s conspiracy theories in their book The Israel Lobby, people overlook the alternative strategy they offer at the end, which is off-shore balancing. Let me quote them:
This strategy would be less ambitious in scope but much more effective at protecting US interests in the Middle East…. This strategy categorically rejects using military force to reshape the Middle East, [and] it also recognizes that the United States does not need to control this vitally important region; it merely needs to ensure that no other country does…. Off-shore balancing minimizes the resentment created when American troops are permanently stationed on Arab soil. This resentment often manifests itself in terrorism…. In effect, a strategy of offshore balancing would reverse virtually all of America’s current regional policies…. The United States would withdraw as soon as possible from Iraq… push Israel to give up the Golan Heights [to] drive a wedge between Syria and Iran… [and] cut a deal on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Zbigniew Brzezinski has emerged as the champion of this strategy among advisers to candidates. I don’t think it far-fetched to say that a preference for the off-shore posture runs like a thread through the positions of all the Democratic candidates. There are variations, and perhaps Dennis can explain them. Martin Indyk’s piece in the new The American Interest, called “Back to Balancing,” is a more muscular version. But this is the preferred strategy. The crux of the debate among Democrats is who’s willing to promise to get us back off-shore the fastest, and keep us off-shore.
Now the question each of us must answer is this: if we were to go off-shore in the Middle East, who would balance off whom, and who would fill the vacuum? The thread running through the positions of the Republican candidates is that if we move to an off-shore position, if we don’t stand our ground, our allies won’t be able to stand their ground even with our remote support. Our radical Islamist enemies will fill the vacuum. If we don’t strategically control—yes, control—the Persian Gulf region, from the strait of Hormuz up to the Iraqi-Turkish border, our enemies eventually will control it. If we leave Iraq in chaos, our enemies will control it. If Iran acquires a nuclear capability, this corridor will no longer be within our strategic control. Uncertainty will grow, terrorists will be emboldened, oil prices will skyrocket, our enemies will be enriched, and they’ll build and buy weapons of mass destruction. The Pax Americana will be over.
Only American military power, and our perceived willingness to use it, on-shore, can prevent the worst scenarios. Timetables for withdrawals and taking military options off the table constrain us, and just embolden our enemies. This is what Giuliani means when he says we must stay on offense in the war, and that staying on offense will shorten the war. The idea that we can cajole, entice, persuade, and incentivize our allies and even our adversaries into doing our bidding is plain naive. Of course, ultimately it has to be our aim to return to our traditional posture off-shore—but as the victor, not as the vanquished.
I’ve saved the Israeli-Palestinian issue for last, but there are those who would put it first. Why the difference? Because there are different answers to this question: how central is resolving this conflict to U.S. interests in the Middle East?
There was a time not long ago, when people of a certain generation, older than mine, believed as a matter of course that this conflict was the source of all our troubles in the Middle East, and resolving it was the key to fixing the Middle East. Indeed, it was the “Middle East conflict,” solving it was the “Middle East peace process.” Today, serious people no longer take this for granted: Iran’s revolution, three Iraq wars, the rise of Al Qaeda parallel to the Oslo process—today we understand that the Middle East doesn’t have a root conflict. It has many conflicts. Success here doesn’t guarantee success there; the same with failure.
Many of the candidates have records of strong support for Israel. There’s no reason to question them. The more relevant question is who has learned from 9/11 to put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in proper perspective, and not overvalue the “peace process” as a panacea. Giuliani spoke to this in his Foreign Affairs piece, when he wrote this, and I quote:
The Palestinian people need decent governance first, as a prerequisite for statehood. Too much emphasis has been placed on brokering negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians—negotiations that bring up the same issues again and again. It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism. Palestinian statehood will have to be earned through sustained good governance, a clear commitment to fighting terrorism, and a willingness to live in peace with Israel. America’s commitment to Israel’s security is a permanent feature of our foreign policy.
This was misinterpreted in some of the press to mean that Giuliani opposes a Palestinian state. He didn’t say that, but he does dissent from the overvaluation of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The war against radical Islam takes precedence. A Palestinian state won’t necessarily contribute to winning it, and such a state could ally itself with our enemies, if it doesn’t rest on the firm foundations of good governance and fighting terror.
Significantly, Giuliani affirms that the Palestinians have yet to earn their state. This was once the position of the Bush administration, which seems of late to have abandoned it in a go-for-broke gamble. So we see Secretary of State Rice in Ramallah announcing that “Frankly, it’s time for the establishment of a Palestinian state,” and that such as state is “absolutely essential for the future, not just of Palestinians and Israelis but also for the Middle East and indeed to American interests.” To judge from the situation on the ground, frankly, it may not be the time, nor is it clear in what way its creation is absolutely essential to U.S. interests.
As we’ve seen time and again, such statements only free the Palestinians from doing what needs to be done to earn their statehood. Only by pushing the so-called political horizon back, not forward, is there any chance the Palestinians will run to reach it. The over-privileged “peace process,” as traditionally configured, has had the opposite of its intended effect, making the two-state solution still more remote. It needs to be reengineered.
Well, I got through this opening without mentioning the name of any candidate other than the one I advise. I’ve tried to ask what I think are the key questions on guiding principles. You may prefer different answers to mine, and so may prefer a different candidate. But I hope we can agree that these are the questions. Of course, there are hundreds of lesser policy questions, but these are always changing anyway, and they’ll be different in January 2009 when the next president enters the White House. Ask me about them, and I promise to do my very best to avoid answering them. Thank you.
(For the record: Martin Kramer, a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is not and has never been an employee of the Institute, which is non-partisan.)
The neocon conspiracy embedded in the Giuliani campaign, of which I am a part, is most devious. One of our occult powers is our ability to assume the physical traits of one another. This makes it much easier to elude our pursuers. You may see the evidence for our powers in the accompanying sidebar, taken from this week’s Newsweek.
You will note, for example, that I have assumed the features of Daniel Pipes. This is made possible by the fact that Pipes and I have the same birthday, September 9, the number nine having magical properties in neocon spells. (See “sorcery, neoconservative” in the index to John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby.)
Alas, the witch-hunters at Newsweek belatedly figured out our trick, and published this correction in their Internet edition:
Editor’s Note: In our print edition, several captions for the photographs accompanying this report were inadvertently transposed. Martin Kramer’s photograph is identified as Norman Podhoretz; Daniel Pipes’s photograph is identified as Kramer; Peter Berkowitz’s photograph is identified as Pipes; Nile Gardiner’s photograph is identified as Berkowitz’s and Podhoretz’s photograph is identified as Gardiner’s. NEWSWEEK regrets the errors.
(Believe me, they don’t regret them as much as my mother does. She’s livid.)
The article accompanying this sidebar, by Michael Hirsh, manages to expose many of our deepest and darkest secrets, which is remarkable since he only talked to a couple of us (not me), and scraped most of his “information” off the Internet. Clearly, we are going to have to scour the Kabbalah for some fresh spells, in our furtive contest with voodoo journalists.
Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer profiled me in his paper the other day, and he did a decent job of it. He chose to emphasize my reputation as a democratization skeptic. As my readers know, I’ve been consistent over the years in questioning the wisdom of promoting democracy, at a time when the chief beneficiaries of every political opening have been Islamist zealots with fascist tendencies who detest America.
Yesterday, Horowitz went for a reaction to Steven Simon, the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former staffer on Bill Clinton’s National Security Council. Simon said about me that “he and Giuliani are made for one another”—I hope that’s true—but then added this (and here I quote the report):
“Giuliani seems to believe that the only thing the other guy understands is a boot in the face, and so he has a boot in the face foreign policy,” said Simon. He said that Kramer, a self-proclaimed democratization cynic, represented a view not uncommon amongst Israeli foreign policy experts, in that he stressed views Simon characterized as “the height of neorealism on international relations.”
Essentially, Simon said the two men viewed too much democracy promotion as counterproductive to American security interests.
“You’re just going to wind up with Hezbollah or Hamas running these countries if that gets out of hand,” Simon said, characterizing Mr. Giuliani’s and Mr. Kramer’s thinking. “On balance the only strategically sensible course is to put all this democracy stuff on the back burner and focus on what’s really important. That’s certainly a departure from the Bush view.”
From the tone of it, you might think that Simon is an idealistic supporter of democratization—not at gunpoint, of course, but as a guiding principle of U.S. foreign policy. Simon, you might conclude, takes democracy promotion seriously, not as “stuff” to be shoved “on the back burner.” And without promoting democracy, what’s left? “Boot in the face.”
Well, I’ve been an avid reader of Steve Simon for a long time, so I did a double-take when I read his reaction. Is this the same Steve Simon who said this to a Congressional committee last fall?
Pursuing democratization, even assuming it was in our power to bring it about, would almost certainly result in the accession of hostile governments in the region. Whether this would defang jihadism is open to question. In any case, the costs would be high.
Well, that hardly sounds like a ringing endorsement of democracy promotion. But it gets better. In a Washington Post op-ed in June, Simon (and coauthor Ray Takeyh) dismissed “the appealing but naive belief that promoting democracy is a panacea for the Middle East’s ills.”
Washington faces a bleak choice: It can push its values or realize its interests. It cannot do both.
The problem with trying to build democracy in the Arab world is not solely that Islamic radical groups such as Hamas tend to win the elections; it’s also the absence of secular, liberal parties or politicians who support U.S. policies. It is Washington’s misfortune that it can achieve its objectives only by working with illiberal regimes such as the stagnant autocracy of Egypt or the complacent monarchies of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. On the margins, some reforms could take place; Arab despots have an interest in cultivating a veneer of legitimacy, which is best served by including some more moderate elements of the opposition in government. But the notion that America’s foremost aim should be disrupting the existing Arab order in the name of democratic transformation must be discarded.
Yes, I’m a skeptic on democracy promotion, but I’m not sure I can compete with that passage.
And then there’s this business about my representing “the height of neorealism,” whatever that means (from the context, it doesn’t sound good). In the spring, Simon wrote an article about U.S.-Saudi relations, and this is how he ended it:
With the loss of fevered neocon dreams of taking the “Saudi” out of “Arabia,” and the return to realpolitik, the U.S.–Saudi relationship is a bit closer to where it should be. It is not, nor will it ever be, a “special relationship” grounded in shared values or common experience. Serious policy differences, especially over Israel and Iraq, are likely to persist. Political liberalization will remain important, though perhaps not decisive, when it comes to the longevity of House of Saud’s authority. As neoconservative rigidity has begun to give way to neorealism, a strong relationship with the kingdom is in America’s interest. And as Lord Palmerston said: “Nations have no permanent friends or allies; they only have permanent interests.”
My Lord Palmerston! That sounds to me like a ringing endorsement not just of realpolitik, but even of “neorealism.” If anything, Simon seems to wish that the United States would radiate even more warm realpolitik toward the Saudis. (Am I surprised?)
Now I welcome it when a fervent believer in the promotion of democracy comes forward to contest me. Joshua Muravchik is a prime example: his thought is an example of the principled, consistent, and honest conviction of the best of the neoconservatives. I don’t agree with him, but I admire and respect him. The same goes for my colleague, Natan Sharansky, whom I’ve debated. But who is Steve Simon to hold himself up as a champion of idealistic principle in our Middle East policy? He’s as realist as they come—and to judge from his weak spot for the Saudis, a lot more so than I am.
If you read Rudy Giuliani’s article in Foreign Affairs, you’ll see a vision for the Middle East that calls for working closely with progress-seeking leaders from all walks of life, in a shared effort to deliver what the region most lacks: good governance, better security, and economic opportunity. Without these precursors, democracy is impossible. But from the start, a Giuliani administration would support courageous dissidents—a commitment stressed by Charles Hill, Giuliani’s chief foreign policy advisor, in an important interview. I met many of these dissidents at a conference in Prague last June. America has a moral obligation to protect them.
But if someone out there tries to kill Americans or terrorize innocents in order to set the Middle East aflame, he deserves the boot, and not just in the face. Sure, there are people who think otherwise, on the blame-America far left and among the congenitally naive. They favor appeasement. But is Steve Simon one of them? I don’t think so, which makes his reaction even less comprehensible. I guess it’s just all about politics and ambition: they do make people say the darndest things.
Corrrections: Jason Horowitz, in his original piece, correctly identified me as senior Middle East advisor to the Giuliani campaign. In his subsequent posting on Simon, he incorrectly identified me as senior Iraq advisor. Iraq is an issue with ramifications well beyond the Middle East, and there are many Americans with rich experience there. The campaign is looking to them for advice on Iraq.
In the original piece, Horowitz identified me as a “self-proclaimed democratization skeptic,” which is true. In the subsequent posting, he called me a “self-proclaimed democratization cynic,” which is not true. I’ve called myself a skeptic; I don’t call myself a cynic.
The following profile of Martin Kramer by Jason Horowitz appeared in the New York Observer in the issue of August 27, 2007. Posted retroactively at Sandbox.
Martin Kramer has never met Rudy Giuliani. But the recently named senior Middle East advisor to the Giuliani campaign appears to be having significant influence on how the former mayor views the world.
“I was not added for who I am,” said Mr. Kramer, in a phone interview from Tel Aviv. “Certainly not for my policy experience I don’t have any experience in government. Not for my personal charm I don’t know the mayor. I’m there for my ideas. And for me it is an opportunity to give my ideas a wider audience.“
Given Mr. Giuliani’s largely uniform support for the Bush administration’s foreign policy up to this point, those ideas aren’t what one might expect. Mr. Kramer is a self-proclaimed “democratization skeptic,” and subscribes to a distinctly different worldview than that of the idealistic neo-conservatives who promoted democratic elections in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. If his public role on Mr. Giuliani’s foreign policy team says one thing, it is the following: when it comes to the Middle East, Mr. Giuliani is no George W. Bush.
“I saw myself in a debate mode with President Bush,” he said. “I don’t see myself in a debate mode with Rudy Giuliani.”
The international relations philosophy of Mr. Kramer, 52, a dual Israeli-American citizen who is a professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, places him well outside the circle of interventionist would-be regional transformers who have guided America’s Middle East policy for the past seven years.
He is perhaps best known in foreign policy circles for his strong views on the perils of democracy promotion in the Middle East, a belief that a consortium of Islamic and Arab regimes and extremists share a grand vision of a world without Israel and a strong United States, and a faith in what he calls the “consensual Authoritarianism” of strong, stable central governments.
To judge by Mr. Giuliani’s recently articulated plan for U.S. policy abroad, he has already begin appropriating some of Mr. Kramer’s ideas.
“Aspiring dictators sometimes win elections, and elected leaders sometimes govern badly and threaten their neighbors,” Mr. Giuliani wrote in a recent, much-discussed article in Foreign Affairs. “History demonstrates that democracy usually follows good governance, not the reverse.”
Mr. Giuliani then specifically cites the election of Hamas in the Palestinian-controlled territories as an example of democracy gone awry.
“The problem there is not the lack of statehood but corrupt and unaccountable governance,” Mr. Giuliani wrote. “The Palestinian people need decent governance first, as a prerequisite for statehood.”
In the article, Mr. Giuliani also seems to distance himself from Mr. Bush’s core ideological belief in democracy promotion, mentioning it only to point out that it must be tempered by “realism.”
Mr. Kramer very much approves.
“The mayor does talk about security being a prerequisite of democracy in that speech,” he said, referring to the Foreign Affairs article, adding “He did, to me, say things that invoked my ideas.”
Mr. Kramer also said that since he was unexpectedly embraced by the Giuliani campaign, his philosophy – and particularly his web site, MartinKramer.org – has begun receiving a lot more attention.
“I was pleased that someone was interested in my ideas,” Mr. Kramer said. He said the campaign had “pretty much” called him out of the blue, and added, “I have enjoyed watching the traffic on my web site increase.”
Mr. Kramer, like Mr. Giuliani, is a hawk. He supported the invasion of Iraq – but for tactical reasons – and believes, like the mayor, that America is engaged in a long-term global struggle with an Islamic brand of fascism.
But his philosophy about how to conduct that fight represents a sharp turn away from a key tenet of the Bush administration’s Middle East policy – the part that assumes that free elections in repressed Arab nations will give rise to governments that are kindly disposed toward the West and Israel.
Mr. Kramer’s web site promises “alternative readings of Islam and the Arab world,” and lists his lectures, commentary and analysis under categories called “sandstorm” and “sandbox.” The site’s homepage has a doctored image of an ululating woman in black headdress hoisting his staid headshot above her head, and there are several pictures of Mr. Kramer with his “mentor” Bernard Lewis, a Princeton-based Middle East scholar widely admired and cited by neoconservatives.
“I was a student of Bernard Lewis’ and in 1978, Edward Said wrote a book about Orientalism which turned the field first and foremost against my teacher,” said Mr. Kramer, referring to the book by the late Columbia University professor and Palestinian intellectual who argued that westerners had an inherent cultural bias against the Arab world. “I don’t think I could have found a position in the United States at a leading university of Middle East studies with the intellectual pedigree that I had, but I could in Tel Aviv.”
Mr. Kramer, a Washington native, ended up teaching at Tel Aviv University for 25 years, eventually returning home to visit his children as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, Georgetown and Cornell. In 2005, he retired from Tel Aviv University and moved to the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, where he is a senior fellow and colleague of prominent Israeli hawk (and democracy advocate) Natan Sharansky.
Mr. Kramer spends half the year there and divides the rest of his time between the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Olin Institute at Harvard University.
From his vantage point in Israel, Mr. Kramer has come to a position of extreme skepticism about the president’s forceful public advocacy of the spread of democracy in the Middle East.
“In Israel, there has never been great enthusiasm for the democratizing agenda,” Mr. Kramer said.
In an address to a Washington Institute for Near East Policy program in Beverly Hills on November 29, 2006, Mr. Kramer expressed disdain for the administration’s “big ideas” for changing the Middle East.
“The way to cure the Middle East was to shake it up by promoting democracy first by forced ‘regime change’ in Iraq and then by encouraging liberals across the Middle East,” Mr. Kramer said in the lecture. “The president launched what he described as his ‘forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East.’ It became known as the ‘Bush Doctrine.’”
He continued: “Now that big idea has crashed, too. It has crashed, first, as a result of the maelstrom in Iraq, and second, as a result of the election of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, and the fact that free elections everywhere end in victory for Islamist zealots.
“Promoting democracy to Arabs,” he added, “is coming to be regarded in this country as the ultimate fool’s errand.”
Instead of the personal freedoms cherished in the United States, he says people in the Middle East are working off a different model in which they are more protective of collective freedoms, such as the right to speak their language, if not the freedom of speech.
“Were the United States to champion those kinds of freedoms, it would have greater resonance than perhaps the single championing of elections,” said Mr. Kramer.
He believes the countries with the most stability in the region, such as Egypt and Jordan, practice a form of government in which a de facto bargain has been reached between a central power and the people in which there are no elections, but the rulers guarantee security and stability, recognize some collective rights, and limit their intrusions into the lives of law-abiding people.
In another panel on June 5, 2007 at the Prague conference on “Democracy and Security: Core Values and Sound Policies,” Mr. Kramer delivered a speech that he fashioned as a direct challenge to Mr. Bush, who was set to deliver his own remarks in the same room hours later, and challenged the Bush doctrine’s core tenant that democracy promotion ultimately serves the interests of America’s national security.
“Democracy competes not against them, but against this consensual authoritarianism,” Mr. Kramer said in Prague. “And the reason democracy is losing that competition is that consensual authoritarianism produces security for its peoples, and exports security to its neighbors and the world.”
Mr. Bush, in his remarks later that day at the same conference, took an opposite view.
“Still, some argue that a safer goal would be stability, especially in the Middle East,” said Mr. Bush. “The problem is that pursuing stability at the expense of liberty does not lead to peace it leads to September the 11th, 2001. The policy of tolerating tyranny is a moral and strategic failure. It is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.”
Mr. Giuliani has long supported the administration’s rationale for going into Iraq, saying that the Sept. 11 attacks made it clear that the United States had to move off the “defense” and go on the “offense.” But he has since sought to put at least a small measure of distance between himself and the White House by criticizing the tactical mistakes made in the war’s prosecution.
Mr. Kramer, who supported the war, goes further in criticizing the Bush administration, saying that every one of the president’s stated reasons for attacking – the weapons of mass destruction, the introduction of free elections and, especially, the alleged ties to Sept. 11 – was flawed.
“I believed like others and I still believe that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11,” said Mr. Kramer.
Asked if Mr. Kramer’s role as a Giuliani campaign advisor reflected a break with the president on the idea of liberating the Middle East from non-democratic governments, Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the Giuliani campaign, said in an e-mail, “The Foreign Affairs piece speaks for itself where the Mayor speaks to achieving the ultimate, long-term goal of democracy.”
The area where Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Kramer are most in sync, and the area in which they seem closest to the neo-conservatism of the Bush administration, is their shared belief, as Mr. Giuliani likes to say, that there is a “terrorists’ war on us” and that America faces an “Islamic fascist” enemy.
“I call it a vision, a big idea,” said Mr. Kramer. “The idea in the Middle East or Arab Islamic world is to be free of the restraints that are presently imposed on it by American power. If you look at what these organizations what they say to themselves, it doesn’t matter if it is Al Qaeda or Iran, obviously they are different strands but different strands of the same grand idea, which is that Islam does not enjoy the dominant power that it enjoyed throughout most of history and it should rightfully enjoy again.”
Asked whether Mr. Giuliani, whom he hopes to meet next month at Harvard, truly understands that threat, Mr. Kramer seemed certain.
“It is one of the things he gets,” he said. “He also understands that this is a long-term struggle.”