Over the last few days we’ve seen a slew of arrows directed at Rudy Giuliani for the hateful, derisive comments he made about Barack Obama’s alleged lack of “love for his country.” There’s even been a few grunts of dissatisfaction from fellow Republicans worried about the impact of Giuliani’s outlandish comments on the 2016 elections.
Few commentators, however, have seen his differences with the president in economic terms.
That’s a mistake: Giuliani’s disgust with our first African-American president is deeply rooted in his own security-business interests, which depend on magnifying the potential danger from terrorism and gang violence to the highest extent possible.
Seen in this context, the Giuliani flap is a simple case of a reactionary businessman angry that his market is threatened by a rival. Kind of like the Mafia.
Specifically, Giuliani seems deeply concerned about Obama’s more conciliatory approach to terrorism and crime, particularly his view (albeit somewhat naïve) that some Islamists may have economic grievances with their Middle East or European governments. That runs counter to the aggressive, warlike tactics Giuliani sells to private clients, oligarchies and governments, especially overseas.
Last Thursday, Obama explained his views in a speech to a White House summit on “Countering Violent Extremism” this way:
“Terrorist groups are all too happy to step into a void. They offer salaries to their foot soldiers so they can support their families. Sometimes they offer social services—schools, health clinics—to do what local governments cannot or will not do,” Obama added. “So if we’re going to prevent people from being susceptible to the false promises of extremism, then the international community has to offer something better.”
To Giuliani, this smacks of treason—or, as he calls it, “ socialism and anti-colonialism.” His approach is always to use the big stick.
“The best answer to terrorist groups and gangs is to confront them,” Giuliani likes to say in his many speeches, according to a recent profile in The Economist. In an address last year to a conservative business association in Guatemala about crime, for example, he warned that “you are not going to solve it with schools, libraries, nice neighborhoods and sports teams. You have to emphasize law enforcement.”