Republican presidential candidate and current front-runner, Rudi Giuliani, has named seven more people, including four prominent neo-conservatives, to his already-neocon-dominated foreign policy team. The neo-conservatives include Ruth Wedgwood of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; “terrorism analyst” and free-lance writer often published in the Weekly Standard and the National Review Online, Thomas Joscelyn; and two “scholars” at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and protégés of Richard Perle – Michael Rubin and David Frum (with whom Perle wrote the ultra-hawkish “An End to Evil” in 2004). Combined with such incumbent team members as Norman Podhoretz, Martin Kramer, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Kasten, the team increasingly resembles the cheer-leading squad for the U.S. section of the international Bibi Netanyahu fan club.
What is really remarkable about the new choices is their announcement during the same week that the latest edition of Newsweek featured a three-page rundown of Giuliani’s foreign-policy team, entitled “Would you Buy a Used Hawk From this Man?” “Neocons can’t help but slink around Washington, D.C.,” it began. (In an amazing screw-up, the magazine mismatched the captions with the photos of four of the members.) “The Iraq War has given the neoconservatives …something of a bad name, and several of the Republican candidates seem less than eager to hire them as advisers. But Rudi Giuliani apparently never got the memo.”
In any event, Wedgwood, who worked with Perle on Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board and more recently published an impassioned defense of Paul Wolfowitz’s promotion of his girlfriend at the World Bank, is listed as an international law and organizations adviser, while Joscelyn, who is associated with ultra-Straussian Claremont Institute and holds a B.A. in economics from the University of Chicago, will act as Giuliani’s “senior terrorism advisor,” (presumably in place of the mayor’s old sidekick, the scandal-ridden former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik). Despite a total lack of foreign-policy-making experience, Frum, who also writes regularly for the National Review Online, will be a “senior foreign policy adviser,” while Rubin, who worked on the Iran and Iraq desks at the Pentagon under Douglas Feith before being sent to Baghdad after the invasion, will act as both the “senior Iran and Turkey Advisor,” as well as a member of the “Middle East Advisory Board.” (Like Rubin, a fifth new member of Giuliani’s team, John Agresto, also worked for Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) where he was assigned to rebuild the Iraqi higher education system, a job at which he reportedly failed utterly, as indicated by the name of his recent book, ‘Mugged by Reality.’ It’s comforting to note that he has been made a member of Giuliani’s “Iraqi (sic) Advisory Board.”)
It’s probably good that Rubin will not serve on the “Iraqi” board if only because he was an outspoken critic of the counter-insurgency tactics of neo-con hero Gen. David Petraeus during the latter’s service in Iraq immediately after the invasion. Along with AEI fellows Reuel Marc Gerecht, Perle, and Danielle Pletka, Rubin has long been among the most vehement U.S. advocates of “de-Baathification” in Iraq (which another AEI fellow, Joshua Muravchik, now insists neo-cons had absolutely nothing to do with). In several articles entitled, respectively, “Failed Model,” “Betrayal”, and “The Price of Compromise” published in 2004 and 2005, Rubin singled out Petraeus’ efforts to “appease” Baathists in his efforts to pacify Mosul and al-Anbar. Indeed, as recently as a year ago, when neo-cons began their clamor for the “Surge”, Rubin was still complaining – in the Financial Times no less — about Petraeus’ efforts to rehabilitate former Baathists. With Giuliani squarely lined up behind the general, Rubin’s deployment to the Iraq board would naturally raise uncomfortable questions about what the mayor really thinks of the Surge and Petraeus’ efforts to co-opt the Sunni population.
The addition of Frum and Rubin to Giuliani’s team suggests that the foreign-policy staff at AEI, particularly those closest to Perle, has decided that Fred Thompson, who has long-standing links to the think tank, isn’t going anywhere and now see Giuliani as their return ticket to power, especially now that Newt has ruled out a run. It will be interesting to see if other AEI colleagues enlist in the mayor’s campaign.