My take on Giuliani’s Foreign Affairs article is up on the main site. It’s worth noting that the piece has already been savaged by liberals trying to portray him as a cross between Attila the Hun and Jughead. Via TPM I learned that “Fred Kaplan offers a comprehensive analysis of Rudy’s ridiculous Foreign Affairs article.” But Kaplan’s analysis over at Slate left me with the impression that he either intentionally responded to arguments Giuliani wasn’t even making, or he has a serious reading comprehension problem. Though I don’t have time to refute each one of Kaplan’s misleading assertions, I’ll pick out a few to demonstrate what I mean. Rudy’s statement in italics, followed by Kaplan’s commentary:
Why? The biggest worry about al-Qaida after 9/11 was that it had essentially taken over a nation-state, Afghanistan. Giuliani’s (and President George W. Bush’s) stated fear now is that it might take over Iraq. The rise of transnational terrorist movements adds a twist to the system of nation-states but hardly supersedes it or nullifies the main assumptions about conflict. Giuliani contradicts his own point halfway into the essay when he writes, “There is no realistic alternative to the sovereign state system.”
Kaplan seems to read Giuliani’s statement as if he’s arguing that nation-states were no longer a threat post-9/11, but if you look at the context of Giuliani’s remarks, what he’s arguing is that because terrorism is an asymmetric threat posed by irrational actors, we can no longer count on some of the stabilizing forces that we have in past conflicts such as the Cold War in which our enemies participated in the international system and were interested in self preservation. This should be clear from the sentence following the one Kaplan quotes in which Giuliani writes, “Civilization itself, and the international system, had come under attack by a ruthless and radical Islamist enemy.” If that’s not clear enough, a few paragraphs later, Giuliani writes, “These enemies wear no uniform. They have no traditional military assets.” And further down, when he declares, “America can no longer rely on Cold War doctrines such as ‘mutual assured destruction’ in the face of threats from hostile, unstable regimes.” As for Giuliani’s comment about sovereign states that Kaplan sees as a contradiction, viewed in context, the point that Giuliani was making was that we need a strong sovereign state system, because terrorists tend to thrive when the state is weak.
Here’s another point of Kaplan’s analysis (again with Rudy first in Italics):
…. It is unclear what Giuliani means by his last sentence-that “the era of cost-free anti-Americanism must end.” Are we to penalize or attack other countries simply because they don’t like us?
Any honest person reading Giuliani’s paragraph will understand that Giuliani is talking about no longer allowing anti-American attacks to persist abroad without U.S. refutation. At no point does Giuliani come close to suggesting that he wants to attack countries that don’t like us.
Kaplan concludes his assault by writing:
It seems that for Kaplan, “imagined” is the operative word.