Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Giuliani's Napoleon complex

The presidential candidate overcompensates for his lack of military experience by talking tough on national security and scorning the law.
Ian Williams

GUARDIAN Comment is Free
October 15, 2007 9:30 PM | Printable version

At a primary debate in Michigan, presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggested, as obliquely as possible, that before starting another disastrous war, this time with Iran, he would want legal advice.

"You sit down with your attorneys and they tell you what you have to do, but obviously, the president of the United States has to do what's in the best interest of the United States to protect us," Romney said when he was asked if he would go to Congress first. Naturally, he blithely added that no option should be taken off the table against Iran.

Of course New York's own suburban Bonaparte was quick to jump on this seemingly unmilitary pose for a would-be commander-in-chief. Giuliani told ABC News: "That's one of those moments in a debate where you say something and you go like this," he said, quickly putting his hand over his mouth "[oops,] wish I can get that one back."

"Basically right out of the box, first thing, you're faced with imminent attack on the United States, I don't think you call in the lawyers first. I think maybe the generals, the ones you call in first, they're the ones you want to talk to," Giuliani added.

In case anyone forgot, Rudy forwent a career as a general by getting a draft deferment while he studied to be a lawyer. He clearly should have studied harder, perhaps trying a term paper on the 1973 War Powers Act, which mandates that the president needs congressional approval before taking the country to war.

However, no one can accuse him of inconsistency. His disregard for the law, or perhaps his assumption that "La Loi, c'est moi" was apparent during his career as New York's mayor where, if he consulted lawyers, he should have fired them, since so many of his arbitrary diktats were overturned in the courts - especially when it came to first amendment issues.

Of course, with his endorsement of the war on terrorism, he would consider that Congress has already given the emperor, first consul, president or whatever all the powers he needs. On the campaign trail he has already indicated that he could see no difference between al-Qaida and Iran. "Their movement has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us," he told supporters in New Hampshire, blithely ignoring the fact that if there is one group that the ultra-Sunni Osama bin Laden hates more than Americans it is the Shia Iranians.

Taxed with this technical detail he responded: "They have a similar objective, in their anger at the modern world."

It is an interesting point, since the same logic would surely recruit to his notion of al-Qaida the anti-Darwin, anti-gay, anti-divorce, anti-family planning, nativist and anti-civil liberty crowd that he is wooing for his primary election.

They are bound to love his refusal to rule out using tactical nukes against Iran in the cause of anti-terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation, and that his insouciance about international law matches his scorn for the US constitution.

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