Islamists have, for a long time, been singing a Siren song to Europe: “If you stop support for Israel, we’ll leave you alone and make nice with everyone.” (Tra la la!) A lot of people have actually be seduced into believing that, if they abandon Israel to the Muslim countries surrounding her (a people who have made no secret about their desire to slaughter all of Israel’s inhabitants), every grievance in the Muslim world will magically be resolved, oil will flow cheaply, and peace and light will descend on the world. This belief is so deeply entrenched that people are willing to believe it despite the fact that Islamists are increasingly abandoning the pretense that the takeover of Israel is the sum total of their desires, and are demanding worldwide a Caliphate and spilling blood in places that are themselves hostile to Israel.
Sadly, as Americans find themselves in the Islamists’ sights, the Muslim induced fantasy of “just let us kill a few million Jews and then we’ll leave you alone” is finding more traction at home too, at places ranging from the extremist (Kos) to what used to be mainstream (Harvard).
In light of this canard’s strength, I can’t give enough credit to Rudy Giuliani for looking at the core issue, which is “Islamists versus the West,” rather than the smoke screen, which is “Israel, the greedy trouble maker.” In a much touted article in Foreign Affairs, Rudy has this to say:
The first step toward a realistic peace is to be realistic about our enemies. They follow a violent ideology: radical Islamic fascism, which uses the mask of religion to further totalitarian goals and aims to destroy the existing international system. These enemies wear no uniform. They have no traditional military assets. They rule no states but can hide and operate in virtually any of them and are supported by some.
Above all, we must understand that our enemies are emboldened by signs of weakness. Radical Islamic terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, the Khobar Towers facility in Saudi Arabia in 1996, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. In some instances, we responded inadequately. In others, we failed to respond at all. Our retreat from Lebanon in 1983 and from Somalia in 1993 convinced them that our will was weak.
America has a clear interest in helping to establish good governance throughout the world. Democracy is a noble ideal, and promoting it abroad is the right long-term goal of U.S. policy. But democracy cannot be achieved rapidly or sustained unless it is built on sound legal, institutional, and cultural foundations. It can only work if people have a reasonable degree of safety and security. Elections are necessary but not sufficient to establish genuine democracy. Aspiring dictators sometimes win elections, and elected leaders sometimes govern badly and threaten their neighbors. History demonstrates that democracy usually follows good governance, not the reverse. U.S. assistance can do much to set nations on the road to democracy, but we must be realistic about how much we can accomplish alone and how long it will take to achieve lasting progress.
The election of Hamas in the Palestinian-controlled territories is a case in point. The problem there is not the lack of statehood but corrupt and unaccountable governance. 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.
Because I think Israel is the canary in the coal mine, and because I think the Islamists have skillfully used Israel’s existence to flimflam the West about their real agenda, I’ve made the top focus of my post Rudy’s willingness to say that conceding all to the Palestinians, which will merely create another terrorist state, is not the answer. My narrow focus shouldn’t give you the impression that Rudy has comments only about the Palestinian question. Instead, he’s written a very far reaching article that has an almost Rooseveltian quality to it: Teddy, not FDR. That is, he would have us speak softly and carry a big stick. He is also unusually willing to identify real friends and false:
Finally, we need to look realistically at America’s relationship with the United Nations. The organization can be useful for some humanitarian and peacekeeping functions, but we should not expect much more of it. The UN has proved irrelevant to the resolution of almost every major dispute of the last 50 years. Worse, it has failed to combat terrorism and human rights abuses. It has not lived up to the great hopes that inspired its creation. Too often, it has been weak, indecisive, and outright corrupt. The UN’s charter and the speeches of its members’ leaders have meant little because its members’ deeds have frequently fallen short. International law and institutions exist to serve peoples and nations, but many leaders act as if the reverse were true — that is, as if institutions, not the ends to be achieved, were the important thing.
Despite the UN’s flaws, however, the great objectives of humanity would become even more difficult to achieve without mechanisms for international discussion. History has shown that such institutions work best when the United States leads them. Yet we cannot take for granted that they will work forever and must be prepared to look to other tools.
And yes, I know that the last paragraph sounds weasley, but he’s right. At all times in history, world powers have been forced to create mechanisms for communication and, right now, the UN is it. At least Rudy doesn’t think the UN is a good thing, with useful objectives. He recognizes it for the functional tool it could be.
Rudy also attacks the “realist” school for foreign policy, rightly pointing out that it basically announces our weaknesses to the world (and we do have them), and then says “the Hell with it; take advantage of those weaknesses.”
Idealism should define our ultimate goals; realism must help us recognize the road we must travel to achieve them. The world is a dangerous place. We cannot afford to indulge any illusions about the enemies we face. The Terrorists’ War on Us was encouraged by unrealistic and inconsistent actions taken in response to terrorist attacks in the past. A realistic peace can only be achieved through strength.
A realistic peace is not a peace to be achieved by embracing the “realist” school of foreign policy thought. That doctrine defines America’s interests too narrowly and avoids attempts to reform the international system according to our values. To rely solely on this type of realism would be to cede the advantage to our enemies in the complex war of ideas and ideals. It would also place too great a hope in the potential for diplomatic accommodation with hostile states. And it would exaggerate America’s weaknesses and downplay America’s strengths. Our economy is the strongest in the developed world. Our political system is far more stable than those of the world’s rising economic giants. And the United States is the world’s premier magnet for global talent and capital.
As Rudy notes, realism is useful in assessing any given situation, but that does not mean that it should be used to confine our nation in a box, usually a box defined by nations that do not share our interests.
Anyway, I think Rudy (and his advisors, of course) have come up with a very impressive piece of thinking and I urge you to read the whole thing and draw your own conclusions about Rudy’s formally announced approach to foreign policy. While you may not agree with him on all points, we could certainly do a lot worse. And as I keep saying, he has a singular advantage: alone amongst the Republican contenders, I think he has the best chance of beating the feminist identity politics that might otherwise see Hillary return to the White House.
UPDATE: Jonathan Schanzer shows us what the newest Islamic state (that would be Hamasitan) looks like and it’s hideously ugly, anti-Democratic, violent, and repressive.