October 30, 2007

Rudy's Brain On Foreign Policy

Quite a bit has been made of Rudy Giuliani's connection to conservative pioneer Norman Podhoretz and his hard-line approach to Iran. Giuliani's foreign policy chief, however, once worked for the UN and has a different approach to international relations, as Eli Lake reports in the Sun today. Charles Hill will start taking a more active role in the campaign in order to clarify Rudy's perspective on American foreign policy:

For all the recent attention paid to the hawkish circle of foreign policy intellectuals around Mayor Giuliani, the Giuliani campaign's version of Condoleezza Rice is a retired career foreign service officer who once worked as an aide to U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali.

Meet Charles Hill, the former executive assistant to Secretary of State Shultz, who is the Giuliani campaign's chief foreign policy adviser. The campaign says that in the coming days and weeks, the Yale University professor will be setting up meetings with journalists and interviews with television outlets to get the campaign's message across on matters of war and peace.

The move in part is a response to what Mr. Giuliani's campaign sees as a series of inaccurate articles summing up the candidate's foreign policy brain trust as a collection of particularly hawkish neoconservatives, such as the editor at large of Commentary, Norman Podhoretz, who is one of 12 members of the campaign's senior foreign policy team.

"I don't know of a single person on the campaign besides Norman who is a self-identified, card carrying member of this neocon cabal with its secret handshakes," Mr. Hill said in an interview. He praised Mr. Podhoretz in the interview, but made sure also to draw at one point a distinction between the former editor's view that all diplomatic options with Iran were exhausted and that of the candidate, Mr. Giuliani.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Charles Hill in July of this year on Heading Right Radio. In our talk, Hill seemed to take a position somewhere between Norman Podhoretz and Condoleezza Rice, although probably closer to Rice as NSA rather than Rice as Secretary of State. He believes that the UN has faltered badly but still remains an organization in which we must remain engaged, for our own national interests. Hill doesn't think we should go off and bomb Iran unless all other options have been exhausted, as he makes clear in reaction to Podhoretz, who gladly acknowledges his role as one voice among many.

The focus on the hard-liner may have benefits for Giuliani as well as drawbacks. Obviously the campaign has decided that the coverage has started to get out of balance, which is why they want to highlight Hill's role as Rudy's main foreign-policy advisor now. However, with Rudy trying to capture the Republican nomination and needing an inroad to the party's base, a strong dose of Podhoretz now could help win some who will consider national security more important than the social issues on which they part company with Giuliani.

Hill will almost certainly serve as Giuliani's Secretary of State if he wins the election, though, and not Podhoretz. He has a splendid resume and his leadership of this team points more clearly to a Reagan-like approach to foreign policy. I may try to get Hill back on Heading Right Radio, but in the meantime, take a listen to our first talk to get a better measure of Rudy's likely approach to international relations.


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