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June 18, 2008

That Wacky, Wacky Rudy Giuliani
Posted by Michael Cohen

Rudy, oh Rudy . . . how we missed you!

Those of who live in the world of snark are rejoicing today now that Rudy Giuliani has returned to the political arena as a key foreign policy spokesperson for the McCain campaign. Indeed today I was watching with the NSN staff as Rudy attacked Barack Obama for his "September 10th mindset" I wondered aloud if at any point Rudy Giuliani ever advocated bombing Al Qaeda . . . you know before September 11th. Turns out that the Washington Post has the goods:

Throughout his career as a Department of Justice official and federal prosecutor -- as well as for most of his tenure as New York mayor, which began shortly after the 1993 bombing, and ended just after the far more destructive 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center -- Giuliani himself viewed terrorism as just one part of a broader crime-fighting agenda. Again and again, he expressed confidence that Islamic extremism could be contained through investigation by local and federal law enforcement, and prosecuted in the courts.

As painful as it is to admit, the old Rudy Giuliani was right. One of the many tragedies of the post-September 11th world is the extent to which this largely correct view about how best to deal with jihadist terror has been replaced by a viewpoint that sees the brute use of military force as the primary tool for keeping America safe.

This is not to say that the use of force should not be a key arrow in our national security quiver. Indeed at the same time that the McCain campaign is criticizing Obama for his "law enforcement" approach to fighting the war on terror they seem to forget that their own candidate, not more than four months ago, attacked Obama for advocating military strikes against Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.

But as we've learned over the past seven years our military is a sledgehammer, when often a scalpel is what is needed in fighting Al Qaeda. Keeping AQ Khan in prison, securing Russia's nuclear material, supporting democracy advocates in undemocratic Arab nations, protecting the homeland, ensuring effective cooperation between all of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies and yes, even adhering to the rule of law by prosecuting terrorists can be as effective (if not more effective) in preventing the next terrorist attack. Raise your hand if you think the war in Iraq has made America one iota safer from jihadist terror.

When one considers how easily the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented by effective coordination among America’s law enforcement agencies, one can’t help but wonder whether treating the war in terror, in part, as a law enforcement issue might not have some resonance. In an era of asymmetric threats and non-state actors, the US military is not necessarily the best means of protecting America’s interests -- sometimes, it’s diplomacy, both private and public, as well as some old-fashioned police work.

These ridiculous attacks on a "September 10th mindset" only set back our efforts to deal forthrightly with terrorism. For all his bluster, if Giuliani had his way; the American people would be far less safe from  the terrorist threat. You know, maybe it's not so great to have Rudy back . . .


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