...Giuliani buys the idea that since 9/11, the U.S. has been fighting World War III. You know how this routine goes. Al Qaeda is made up of Islamo-fascists; 9/11 was Pearl Harbor; Saddam Hussein was the Arab Hitler; the fall of Baghdad would be like the liberation of Paris. And so on. Now it's Giuliani's turn. "We should try to accomplish [in Iraq] what we accomplished in Japan or in Germany," he says. What, like bombing the place flat? The reality is that the threat posed by Islamist terrorism today is wholly different from the threat posed by the Axis powers in 1941-42. To judge by Osama bin Laden's latest rant, he aims at mass conversion, not conquest (with low-interest loans as the latest inducement). The Islamists have thousands rather than millions of trained warriors. Their most dangerous weapons are land mines and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, not aircraft carriers and guided missiles. The total number of American fatalities that can be attributed to this supposed world war is about 6,000 (adding together 9/11 victims with U.S. passports and the service personnel killed in action in Iraq). On average, the Axis powers killed about 20,000 Allied soldiers and civilians a day. The trouble is that the more Americans imagine they are in a world war, the less attention they pay to the more profound strategic threats their country faces. I can think of four in particular: • the descent of the greater Middle East into a large-scale war; • the disintegration of the system of nuclear nonproliferation; • the escalating competition between developed and emerging economies over scarce raw materials; • the breakdown of the system of multilateral trade liberalization. Taken together, these challenges will sorely test whoever occupies the White House after Bush. Has Giuliani given any of them serious thought? Does he have any strategic vision beyond preventing another 9/11 (his nightmare, he says, is an Iranian-made dirty bomb "in London or Rome or America")? Applied to cleaning up the mean streets of New York, Giuliani's offensive approach worked pretty well (though it eventually ended in overkill). How well it can work as foreign policy is another matter altogether.And read the discussion from tonight's PBS News Hour w/ Norman "Nuke 'em All" Podhoretz, one of Giuliani's advisers, & Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International.
Commentary magazine editor Norman Podhoretz wrote in June that military force was "required" to stop Iran from getting a bomb and offered this description of Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Quote, "Like Hitler, he is a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism," end quote. Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria responded recently to Podhoretz, writing, "For this staggering proposition, Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence." And Zakaria wrote, "The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality." [...] JUDY WOODRUFF: ... I do want to ask you both, because I think it's important. Mr. Podhoretz, do you think that, as you wrote a few months ago, this administration, this president intends before he leaves office to strike Iran? NORMAN PODHORETZ: Yes, I do believe he will, because he has said many times -- or at least two times that I know of in public -- that, if we allow Iran to get the bomb, people 50 years from now will look back at us the way we look back at the men who made the Munich pact with Hitler in 1938 and say, "How could they have let this happen?" Well, unlike Fareed Zakaria and the foreign policy establishment that is complacent and irresponsible, in my opinion, I think the president recognizes the danger. I think he knows that time is short, that time is not on our side. And I think he will take military action, not an invasion, but air strikes before he leaves office. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Fareed Zakaria, if you would, a brief response. FAREED ZAKARIA: Oh, I would doubt it. Look, in the early 1980s, Norman Podhoretz and the neoconservatives believed the Soviet Union was going to take over the world and Finlandize Europe. When Reagan started talking to the Soviets, started talking to Gorbachev, Mr. Podhoretz excoriated him, called it the "Reagan road to detente" and such. It turned out he was wrong. It turned out that the Soviets were not that powerful, and that history was on our side, and that things were going to work out as long as we kept our cool. I believe in just the way that we have deterred the Soviet Union, Mao's China, Kim Jong Il, history will prove that we can use deterrence and containment to contain the problem of Iran and that we do not need to launch a third unilateral invasion just to do that. JUDY WOODRUFF: Fareed Zakaria and Norman Podhoretz... NORMAN PODHORETZ: God help us if we follow that counsel.Who'll help us if we attack yet another country, Norm? The 101st Keyboard Kommandos? The 82nd Chairborne? Space Elves?