Jacob Heilbrunn, author of the soon-to-be-released They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons, has a devastating critique of the mutually exploitive relationship between co-czar of the neocon establishment, Norman Podhoretz, and former New York mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani titled “Norman’s Conquest.”
There are two clips in particular that I want to highlight, but I highly recommend reading the entire piece.
First on neither Podhoretz or Giuliani having any substantial foreign policy experience at all:
In June, the former New York City mayor named Podhoretz a senior advisor to his campaign. It is no ceremonial post. Podhoretz speaks regularly with the candidate and trumpets their association.
“As far as I can tell there is very little difference in how [Giuliani] sees the war and how I see it,” Podhoretz told the New York Observer in October. And indeed there isn’t much daylight between what Podhoretz has written and what Giuliani is saying on the stump. Podhoretz has judged the war in Iraq an “amazing success”; Giuliani in November declared that he “never had any doubt” about the wisdom of invading Iraq.
On Iran, Podhoretz has said, “The choice before us is either bomb those nuclear facilities or let them get the bomb.” Giuliani told an audience in October: “If I’m president of the United States, I guarantee you we will never find out what [Iran] will do if they get nuclear weapons, because they’re not going to get nuclear weapons.”
As a foreign policy guru, Podhoretz is hardly an obvious choice for Giuliani. The mayor has virtually no direct foreign policy experience, and neither does Podhoretz — he is an editor, polemicist, and literary critic who has never worked in government. Podhoretz is certainly a prominent hawk, and Giuliani needs hawks in his camp to help insulate him from attacks on the right, particularly from social conservatives.
But there are plenty of foreign policy heavyweights who could play that role, from Henry Kissinger to Robert Kagan. And if the candidate wished to put some distance between himself and the unpopular current occupant of the White House, Podhoretz is no help; his son-in-law, Elliott Abrams, is Bush’s deputy national security adviser.
And then this exceedingly juicy exchange between Newsweek International editor and leading realist Fareed Zakaria and Podhoretz:
In short, arguing over the finer points of foreign policy doesn’t especially interest Giuliani or, at this point, his advisor. Like George W. Bush, they don’t do nuance, and both men are less about debate now than about attitude. Increasingly, Podhoretz has been making his points by resorting to tired analogies and questioning the character of his opponents.
Appearing with Fareed Zakaria on the NewsHour With Jim Lehrer in late October, Podhoretz said, “I want to say that I think the attitude expressed by Fareed Zakaria represents an irresponsible complacency that I think is comparable to the denial in the early ’30s of the intentions of Hitler that led to what Churchill called an unnecessary war involving millions and millions of deaths that might have been averted if the West had acted early enough.”
Zakaria responded, “Norman, perhaps instead of calling me names, you could just explain why the arguments are right or wrong.”
Zakaria was wasting his breath. Real men don’t explain. They seek to intimidate and cow their opponents into abject submission — which is why Podhoretz and Giuliani were probably fated to join forces. In becoming Rudy’s maven, Norman has made his greatest conquest.
Again, this is why I really hope, though doubt, that Giuliani wins the Republican nomination. There is no one better to have a genuine battle with over the future of this country’s national security direction.
– Steve Clemons