A WORLD OF NAILS

There are some things I prefer to avoid in my quest to dissect/ridicule everything on the face of the Earth that deserves it. Picking low-hanging fruit holds no allure for me. Posting repeatedly about topics like "Sean Hannity is stupid" or "Supply-side economics do not seem to work" would be remarkably tedious for both you and I. It's the political equivalent of "incisive" social commentators who write about how the Spice Girls are crap. If commentary makes every reader with an IQ over 90 say "Well, duh" at its conclusion, it isn't contributing anything to the collective discourse.

As with all declarations of principle, the preceding paragraph indicates that I am about to violate said principle.

Rudy Giuliani is stupid.

If you have 20 minutes and the content of your stomach to spare, check out America's Mayor ™ doing some soapboxing for the usually-respected journal Foreign Affairs. His tutorial on Rudy Style foreign policy, bearing the appallingly inaccurate title "Toward a Realistic Peace," may just be the most intellectually dishonest, factually errant, and flat-out delusional assessment of reality I have ever seen. I don't even know where to begin. Let's start with Rudyvisionist History of the Cold War:

Our cultural and commercial influence can also have a positive impact. They did during the Cold War. The steadfast leadership of President Reagan, working alongside British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, helped the Soviet Union understand that it could not bully the West into submission. Although such leadership was essential, alone it might not have toppled the Soviet Union in the time that it did. But it was effective because it came with Western economic investment and cultural influence that inspired people in the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries. Companies such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Levi's helped win the Cold War by entering the Soviet market. Cultural events, such as Van Cliburn's concerts in the Soviet Union and Mstislav Rostropovich's in the United States, also hastened change.

Pretty standard right-wing Reagan and the Pope Defeated Communism tripe with a new twist…our Dear Leaders only softened up the Soviets. It was McDonald's and KFC that applied the killing blow. Try cracking a fucking history book, Rudy. If you read about, for example, Able Archer 83 (which I suspect America's Mayor has never even heard of) it would become perfectly clear that Reagan "help(ing) the Soviet Union understand that it could not bully the West into submission" is apparently Conservative Speak for "Bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war as a result of juvenile grandstanding combined with crushing ignorance of Soviet beliefs and motives." And Pope JP2 applauded the nice anti-Communists in Eastern Europe while suppressing enough troublemaking Latin American bishops to remind the world's uppity plebians that the fight against oppression of the soul has acceptable limits that suspiciously resemble the mission statement of the Cato Institute.

While you have that history book open, Rudy, you might want to double-check some of this:

America must remember one of the lessons of the Vietnam War. Then, as now, we fought a war with the wrong strategy for several years. And then, as now, we corrected course and began to show real progress. Many historians today believe that by about 1972 we and our South Vietnamese partners had succeeded in defeating the Vietcong insurgency and in setting South Vietnam on a path to political self-sufficiency. But America then withdrew its support, allowing the communist North to conquer the South. The consequences were dire, and not only in Vietnam: numerous deaths in places such as the killing fields of Cambodia, a newly energized and expansionist Soviet Union, and a weaker America. The consequences of abandoning Iraq would be worse.

Before one starts lecturing the nation on remembering the lessons of Vietnam, it might be a good idea to learn what those lessons actually are. Ignoring the more obvious and "fact-based" lessons about the incompatibility of using a large, mechanized military for counterinsurgency operations or trying to dictate the outcome of indigenous conflicts by winning "hearts and minds," Rudy jumps straight to George Bush's classic "We lost because we quit" trope. The moral of Iraq, according to Giuliani, is apparently that we'll win as long as we stick it out for 20 or 30 years – long enough to kill off the entire adult population and replace them with a generation raised on the Cold War essentials like KFC and Coke.

But let's get off of history for a moment. OK, Rudy doesn't understand history. What about his vision for the future?

The U.S. Army needs a minimum of ten new combat brigades. It may need more, but this is an appropriate baseline increase while we reevaluate our strategies and resources. We must also take a hard look at other requirements, especially in terms of submarines, modern long-range bombers, and in-flight refueling tankers. Rebuilding will not be cheap, but it is necessary. And the benefits will outweigh the costs.

And do what with it, Rudy? Just build up a massive, utterly unrealisitically large military (aren't we having some trouble recruiting?) and then hand it over to neocons. Right. That's what we need: to give these nitwits more troops, more weapons, and more money. Second, note his (typical middle-aged white guy) fascination with hardware. America just needs more toys. More space-aged technological marvels. Long-range bombers. Subs. ICBMs. Laser ray-guns. For what, Rudy? To fight a guerilla enemy? Are we failing in Iraq and Afghanistan because of a dearth of long-range bombers and submarines? No, Rudy doesn't want to spend unfathomable amounts of money (leaving a bill to everyone under 30) on these toys because we need them for any specific "reason" or "objective." It's just the usual suburban conservative obsession with things that fly high, explode and, eventually, make great new episodes of Wings and stock footage for everything else on the Military Channel. Rudy's subs-and-bombers agenda isn't about winning wars. It's about providing shiny erectile dysfunction aids to lard-assed suburban white guys who can't get enough of watching bombs fall.

In summary, Rudy uses this extended piece to showcase the fact that he knows absolutely nothing about history, the present, or foreign policy…right before he lays out a plan to give himself more military power and capability than any human has ever had. More "long-range bombers" are the last thing we need in the hands of people whose tiny minds already can't conceive of any solutions to problems that don't involve air strikes. When all you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail.

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3 Responses to “A WORLD OF NAILS”

  1. Matthew Says:

    I was pretty disturbed by this article, as well.

    Fred Kaplan from Slate had this to say on the subject: "Rudy Giuliani's essay in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, laying out his ideas for a new U.S. foreign policy, is one of the shallowest articles of its kind I've ever read. Had it been written for a freshman course on international relations, it would deserve at best a C-minus (with a concerned note to come see the professor as soon as possible)."

    Also, there's a fairly thorough documentation of some of Rudy's most bald-faced lies at the village voice: http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0732,barrett,77463,6.html/1

    If only it was being printed somewhere where some conservative might read it.

  2. Batocchio Says:

    Well, is he stupid or just courting the neocon vote? Or both? Norman Podhoertz is his foreign policy advisor!

    There's been some good analysis of that appalling piece at Slate and by the liberal blogosphere. The article Matthew cites is also great (I was going to try to write a post on Giuliani soon using both). The real question is how much mainstream America will get to know the real Giuliani.

    Meanwhile, obviously revisionist history of Vietnam is all the rage these days.

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