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President Rudy's War Council | The Nation

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President Rudy's War Council

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GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani recently named Norman Podhoretz, godfather of neoconservatism and former editor of Commentary magazine, and Daniel Pipes, director of the neoconservative Middle East Forum, to his foreign policy team. The following scene imagines a conversation between Podhoretz and Pipes at Giuliani's victory party. Each line of dialogue is a real quote from either Podhoretz or Pipes.

About the Author

Peter C. Baker
Peter C. Baker lives in Chicago and Wilmington, North Carolina.

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[A crowded room full of Giuliani campaign staffers, balloons and confetti as Rudy is anointed the GOP presidential nominee. Podhoretz and Pipes sit in a corner, drinks in hand, talking eagerly above the din of music and celebration.]

PODHORETZ

: We are only in the very early stages of what promises to be a very long war--

PIPES

: A profound war and long-term war, in which Afghanistan and Iraq are sideshows.

PODHORETZ

: Iraq is only the second front to have been opened in that war: the second scene, so to speak, of the first act of a five-act play.

PIPES

: I already predicted failure for an American-led military occupation of Iraq in February 1991.... [Podhoretz frowns] But President George W. Bush is right to insist on keeping troops in Iraq.

PODHORETZ

: I think Iraq has gone not badly but well, is not a disaster or a crime or a delusion, but what's more is a noble, necessary effort.

PIPES

[apologetic]: Oh, it was a success.... That six-week victory remains a glory of American foreign policy.... The ingratitude of the Iraqis. [He raises his glass and takes a long, mournful swig. A tear wells in his eye.]

PODHORETZ

[nodding sympathetically]: We've paid an extraordinarily small price by any reasonable historical standard for a huge accomplishment. It's unseemly to be constantly whining.

PIPES

[as the previously welled tear drops to the floor]: Probably those weapons were well hidden; maybe some were latterly destroyed.

PODHORETZ

: They were shipped to Syria.

PIPES

: They might well still appear.

PODHORETZ

: The only reason in my opinion that we're having as much trouble as we're having in Iraq is that we're not getting intelligence.... You can only get that kind of intelligence by squeezing it out of prisoners. Both domestic opposition and the international community, unhappily, are defining torture down. The things they're calling "torture" now have never been and have no business being considered torture.

PIPES

: Is there not something deeply flawed about the US government consistently siding with terrorists?

PODHORETZ

: Even a lot of my neoconservative friends have either lost heart and deserted the cause or devoted themselves mostly to bitching about this and that and the other thing and everything else.

[An awkward pause. Both men look at the floor. After a few seconds, Podhoretz suddenly looks up.]

PODHORETZ:

Which brings us back to Ahmadinejad.

[Pipes makes a fist, and pumps it furiously in the air.]

PIPES

: Ahmadinejad threatens the elimination of the United States as well as Israel.

PODHORETZ

: The old American foreign-policy establishment and many others say that these dreams are nothing more than the fantasies of a madman.

PIPES

[Leaning in conspiratorially, sweating slightly]: The real story is Giuliani's fresh start in foreign policy.

PODHORETZ

: As far as I can tell there is very little difference in how he sees the war and how I see it.

[Both men jump from their chairs.]

PIPES

[sweating slightly]: The war is against radical Islam.

PODHORETZ

: I call this new war World War IV.

PIPES

[sweating more, and panting]: A profound and long-term war.

PODHORETZ

: There's no alternative to military action.

PIPES

: Will we act in time?

PODHORETZ

: Even though Hitler in Mein Kampf had explicitly spelled out the goals he was now preparing to pursue, scarcely anyone took him seriously.

[They sit back down, switching seats.]

PIPES

: What we need are changes in policy.

PODHORETZ

: There's no way of stopping them short of military action.

PIPES

: Burqas and niqabs should be banned in all public spaces because they present a security risk. Anyone might lurk under those shrouds... with who knows what evil purposes.

PODHORETZ

: The choice before us is either bomb those nuclear facilities or let them get the bomb.

PIPES

: Covered women and their breast-fed children lack sufficient amounts of vitamin D (which the skin absorbs from sunlight) and are at serious risk of rickets.

PODHORETZ

: None of the alternatives to military action--negotiations, sanctions, provoking an internal insurrection--can possibly work.

PIPES

: Muslim government employees in law enforcement, the military and the diplomatic corps need to be watched for connections to terrorism.

PODHORETZ

: It continues. It never ends.

PIPES

: Who knows whence the next jihadi? How can one be confident a law-abiding Muslim will not suddenly erupt in a homicidal rage?

PODHORETZ

: I would say it would take five minutes. You'd wake up one morning and the strikes would have been ordered and carried out during the night. All the President has to do is say go.

[Podhoretz and Pipes pause, breathless. They realize they are in the wrong seats, get up and awkwardly switch chairs.]

PODHORETZ

: I'm getting old. I am old.

[Pipes takes Podhoretz's hands. They look into each other's eyes.]

____


Sources

: All of Daniel Pipes's statements quoted here are archived in his writings on his website. Norman Podhoretz's lines were taken from two articles in Commentary, one from 2004 and another from 2007, a 2006 interview in the Wall Street Journal Online, and a 2007 interview with the New York Observer.

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