Jay Reding.com

Hard vs. Soft

Milblogger Dadmanly takes a long look at both John Edwards’ and Rudy Giuliani’s recent essays in Foreign Policy. There couldn’t be a bigger difference in the approach of the two:

Herewith Edwards transposes familiar liberal “crime fighting” orthodoxy onto the challenge of terrorism. Poverty causes crime, therefore poverty causes terror. Never mind that most Jihadis come from educated and privileged elites – except of course for those unfortunates that get fooled into serving as “suicide” bombers or children or the handicapped used as bomb camouflage.

If that’s not perverse enough, Edwards goes ahead and heaps on the rest of progressive orthodoxy: education as the “cure” for poverty, “Clean water and sanitation are also necessary to improve health, education, and economic prosperity,” universal (as in, worldwide) access to drugs and medical treatment. Mention of the Global Development Act, described as a kind of bureaucratic solution for redundant and ineffective global development efforts. Think DHS for global poverty, a “Global Poverty Czar” and the like.

Guiliani takes a different approach:

Note that Edwards and Giuliani point to the same ultimate goal for the US, better relations with the world. For Edwards and the Democrats, the strategy is to do whatever it takes to bring that about: the US must change. For Giuliani, the key to better relations is a common basis and acceptance of democratic norms and human rights: those who oppress and terrorize must change, or be overwhelmed.

Ultimately, the debate between Edwards and Giuliani is the same debate that’s been brewing for some time now — should the United States take a more servient role to international institutions, or should the United States take a more aggressive role? Or, in a more simplistic fashion, should the US be a leader or a follower?

Edwards demonstrates that he’s a foreign policy lightweight. If more international aid were key to defeating terrorism, why is Egypt, the #1 recipient of US foreign aid still a source for Islamic radicalism and the home of both Mohammad Atta and Ayman al-Zawahiri? Why does Egyptian state television continue to push anti-Western and anti-Semitic viewpoints? If poverty is really the root cause of terrorism why do most terrorists seem to come disproportionately from the middle to upper classes?

Edward’s foreign policy ideas are drawn from the same stagnant well as the failed ideas of the early 1990s. Now that the world is more astutely aware of the danger posed by terrorist groups, returning to those failed policies would be nothing short of disastrous. As Mayor Giuliani points out, al-Qaeda’s history indicates that each time the United States showed weakness in the face of their provocations, they hit back harder the next time. Strength does not breed terrorism, weakness does, and even bin Laden himself has said as much.

Edwards’ foreign policy is as free of real substance as the rest of his campaign. While there’s a real debate about how the US should conduct its foreign power and relate to international institutions, that debate can’t be conducted based upon fundamentally faulty premises. Giuliani seems to understand the way in which the world works — not the way in which some would like it to work, and in terms of crafting American foreign policy, naivete is fatal. Giuliani’s view of the world is the more realistic one, and his choice of foreign policy course is the one most likely to preserve the security of the United States.

3 responses to “Hard vs. Soft”

  1. Mark says:

    “Edwards’ foreign policy is as free of real substance as the rest of his campaign.”

    Do you have any idea how delusionally laughable this statement is? Particularly in comparison to Rudy Giuliani, the guy whose entire national profile was built upon standing on the rubble of Ground Zero with a bullhorn six years ago. Whatever you may think of Edwards’ foreign policy, the guy has the kind of bold proposals that represent the antithesis of your “free of real substance” claim. Compare this to would-be disgraced former New York City Mayor whose entire political career was saved by the incompetence of his predecessor in the executive branch and the fact that the terrorists decided to murder thousands of New Yorkers in September 2001 rather than January 2002.

    When there’s one candidate unwilling to sugarcoat the fact that his new health care plan will require increasing taxes…and another candidate promising to END all illegal immigration, it’s pretty obvious which one is substance-free.

  2. Jay Reding says:

    Whatever you may think of Edwards’ foreign policy, the guy has the kind of bold proposals that represent the antithesis of your “free of real substance” claim.

    If this is what you mean by “bold proposals”…

    Edwards doesn’t have anything resembling a decent policy portfolio — just more cheesy campaign promises and more government spending. His domestic agenda is as wrongheaded as his foreign policy agenda.

    Thank heaven the only way that man will get to the White House is as part of a tour…

  3. Jeff Nuding says:

    Jay,

    Thanks for the link, now reciprocated. I like your quick formulation: hard versus soft.
    Terrorism isn’t hairstyling, and counterterrorism ain’t hairgel.