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War on Terror Conversations: Rudolph Giuliani [Video]

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Transcribed for use only by PAJAMASMEDIA

by Sharona Shapiro, eScribers

SIMON: Whoa, slow down, you. Hey, this is Roger Simon coming to you from the headquarters of Segway here in Bedford, New Hampshire, where Claudia Rosett and I have just had the opportunity to speak with presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani in the second Pajamas Media conversation on the War on Terror. Let’s have a look.

SIMON: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, welcome.

GIULIANI: Thank you, Roger, Rosett, thank you.

SIMON: For our first question, Mayor, we’ve been reading your speech in Wolfeboro the other night, which is sort of a major foreign policy statement. And you talk about recommending a new surge, in Afghanistan, in this case. Now, does that mean just Afghanistan, or does that mean areas like Waziristan where, as we know, the Taliban and Al Qaeda are hiding out.

GIULIANI: Well, it means putting a new emphasis on eliminating, as best we can, the influence of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, making a renewed effort to make permanent the gains that we obtained in 2001, 2002, making sure that they don’t come back, they don’t re-emerge. And it would seem to me that if we increased our troops in Afghanistan, we would be able to have that impact, if we would do a surge there.

Now, the dimension is not as great as in Iraq, because we’re talking about, you know, a lot less troops. But still, I think a surge, double the number of troops under American command, a fifty percent increase right away, maybe you do some more later, something like that I think would help right now. And wherever else is necessary, our job has to be to limit and then eliminate Al Qaeda and whatever is left of, you know, the old Taliban leadership.

SIMON: Well, when you say whatever else is necessary, the implication is Waziristan, I would think.

GIULIANI: Well, I think you take this a step at a time. And the thing that’s necessary right now is we should put more troops into Afghanistan. That’ll give us a lot more options. You know, putting more troops in also makes a statement. I think it might be a useful thing also in Pakistan to show how serious we are about making sure that Al Qaeda doesn’t grow in a way in which, you know, we thought we had basically eliminated in 2001, 2002.

ROSETT: I’m going to jump in with an unplanned question here. If there is a coup in Pakistan on your watch and somebody, the bad guys, get those nuclear bombs, what would you do?

GIULIANI: Well, I don’t think we should, you know, get into hypotheticals about what military action America would take or not take in the case of — I mean, let’s just put it this way, America would have to take very seriously nuclear weapons being in the hands of terrorists or organizations that support terrorists or countries that sponsor terrorism. That’s the reason why we take such a strong position on Iran. We don’t want Iran to get there. So if Pakistan were in that situation, we would have to take some significant action. But at this point that isn’t the case and we shouldn’t be getting into hypotheticals about it.

ROSETT: Okay. We ask you about something potentially tougher than dealing with Waziristan, and that is the State Department. As president, there is not a great record of presidents being able to — especially recently — being able to really control what goes on in the bureaucracies. We’ve seen State, sort of, going its own way. We’ve seen the recent national intelligence estimate on Iran. What would you do — I mean, very concretely, to try and get control over the institutions you would have to depend on?

GIULIANI: Well, you know, it’s something I have a lot of experience in. New York City is a huge bureaucracy; many different bureaucracies from the police to fire to sanitation to teachers, and part of the — welfare workers — part of governing is being able to get the bureaucracy to move in the policy direction that you believe is necessary. So you’ve got —

ROSETT: How?

GIULIANI: Well, in the case of the State Department, I would emphasize greatly the following as the principal role of our State Department employees, including our ambassadors. Their principal role is to support the reputation of the United States of America, to make America more popular. That’s why we have a State Department, to make things more understandable in foreign countries about America, what we’re for, what we’re about. This whole issue about America’s reputation being in some question, you know, in Europe and other parts of the world, I’d give that mission to the State Department to turn around, because the reality is America should have a good reputation. We’re a country that — I mean, we’re a country that has good motives. We’re a country that has a certain set of problems, but we’re one of the fairest, most law abiding countries in the world.

ROSETT: And if you try it and it doesn’t work, what do you do? I mean, literally —

GIULIANI: Try again.

ROSETT: — to get it under control. Okay?

GIULIANI: You try it again. I’ve had situations where I tried it and it didn’t work the first time and you had to go back a second and third time to get it done. You’ve got — part of being a leader is to move these bureaucracies around to following your lead. And part of it is getting into the bureaucracy itself and convincing them that they have to do that.

SIMON: I mean, that has been a real difficulty for the Bush administration apparently. I mean, I just read Kenneth Timmerman’s book, the “Shadow Warriors”. Now, I don’t know how reliable it is, this book. But in that instance, apparently after 2004 when Bush ran and did very well in the election, Colin Powell went to the State Department and said we have to follow his policies, and many people just walked upstairs and told their people it was nonsense —

GIULIANI: Well, I think —

SIMON: — according to this book.

GIULIANI: Yeah, I think it’s a — I think that that is something that has to be a major focus, meaning making sure that these agencies — after all, you know, we call them bureaucracies, they’re agencies, they’re employees. They’re very qualified. They’re very good people. They need to be motivated. They need to know what the direction is. They need to be pointed in that direction. And you’ve got to give them incentives for achieving some of these things. You’ve got to work within the organization in order to accomplish that. And a lot of it has to do with your selection of a secretary, deputy secretary, under secretary, assistant secretaries. How well do they get control of their agencies? How well do they get them to support the policy changes that you think are necessary?

ROSETT: You get a — something like the recent national intelligence estimate we saw in Iran, do you turn around and fire somebody? Do you — again, concretely, what do you do with something like that?

GIULIANI: Well, I mean, I would ask some very tough questions about the national intelligence estimate, because it had a lot of ambiguity to it. Now, what I’d want to know, is the ambiguity necessary because of the lack of quality information, or is the ambiguity because, you know, sixteen people wrote it or sixteen organizations wrote it, and it’s a, you know, a book or a paper composed by a committee.

SIMON: Right.

GIULIANI: So I’d want to know that. I’d want to know the answer to that. And the reality is I don’t know the answer to that, because I don’t have that inside information. But that’s the focus of how I would go about it.

SIMON: Changing the topic slightly. Right now, as you know, oil has finally hit 100 dollars a barrel.

GIULIANI: Yeah.

SIMON: And part of the War on Terror, obviously, is that we’re sending trillions of dollars to our adversaries. Would you back a Manhattan Project for energy independence?

GIULIANI: Absolutely. I believe we have to have something of that magnitude. I compare it more to, you know, putting a man on the moon, because I see it as a multi-administration objective, man on the moon were two Republican presidents, two Democratic presidents and they achieved an American result, not Republican or Democrat.

Here the president has to start us on the road to energy independence. You’re probably not going to complete it in one presidency. It’s probably going to take another one at least. But you’ve got to start in the right direction, supporting all of these alternative technologies to foreign oil. And that should be with a major emphasis from the president.

SIMON: How come we haven’t been hearing of this from the presidential candidates in either party very much? I mean —

GIULIANI: I talk about it a lot. It’s one of my major commitments to the American people. I made twelve commitments to the American people, and one of those is to bring America to energy independence. We’ve made some speeches about it. We’ve done position papers on it. We visited ethanol plants and plants that create windmills and other —

SIMON: And Segway.

GIULIANI: And Segway, which is another way to approach it. Hybrid vehicles, something that are very important from the point of view of removing our dependence on gasoline.

ROSETT: Jumping to another topic, your old bailiwick, the United Nations — in your old bailiwick. Do you trust the United Nations to deal reasonably with American interests, to do things that are good for this country?

GIULIANI: Well, my concern with the United Nations is that it’s not — it hasn’t been effective in dealing with the big issues over the last thirty years, forty years. The reality is that the U.N, as envisioned, would have been dealing with the cold war. It would have been dealing with the transformations that went on in Eastern Europe in the ’90s. It would have been dealing with the War on Terror and this whole terrorist movement.

The idea of the United Nations was to bring peace to the world and a forum where countries could discuss these disputes and accomplish it. But the United Nations now really has a different purpose. It’s a humanitarian purpose and a purpose where there’s discussion, but it is never even thought of as an organization to deal with these very big disputes.

ROSETT: Except it’s become the go-to place for dealing with formerly Iraq, sanctions on Iran, discussion on North Korea. Actually, in fact, the Bush administration has increasingly been going back there. Would you do that? We have the interesting situation that we’re turning to an organization where —

GIULIANI: I actually think that to the extent that progress is made, it’s made within other organizations. Like, let’s take North Korea. I think the reason for whatever success has so far taken place in North Korea, and the talks about nuclear arms, has taken place because of the group that America put together involving China, Japan, North Korea, the United States, I think that — and particularly China — bringing China into that probably had a big impact, and South Korea, probably had a big impact on being able to move those discussions along. Now, we don’t know how they’re going to end up, and we don’t know — when you look at these, there are people who are somewhat cynical about whether progress is going to be made. I think you’ve got to go along with it and push it as far as you can, because it’s so important. But I wouldn’t think of that as being a United Nations led effort. Or you look at in Afghanistan we’re using NATO. When President Clinton wanted to deal with eastern Europe, he used NATO rather than the United Nations. So, you know, United Nations has been helpful in Africa. United Nations can be helpful with dealing with nuclear proliferation on a major scale.

ROSETT: They just voted 142 to 1, the 1 being the United States, for the biggest budget ever there. And we have a whole series of things on the record where all of this hasn’t actually moved the ball in any of the major terror issues.

GIULIANI: Right.

ROSETT: The thing I’m trying to get a handle on or trying to ask here, precisely, is to what extent would you take real crises there? We saw with Iraq this tremendous debate before the U.S. led a coalition into Baghdad. Would you, in similar circumstances, go to the U.N, have the debate, defy them anyway? How big are they here?

GIULIANI: Well, America has to make its decisions in its own interests, and that’s not inconsistent with going to the U.N., seeing if you can get agreement, getting as much agreement as you can, and then if you have to, move ahead in the direction that you think is necessary.

I guess what I was getting to is, if you go back to the creation of the U.N., in the minds of the people who founded the U.N., they probably would have expected that the U.N. would be involved in helping to solve all these disputes. And, in fact, over the last, you know, twenty, thirty years, they’ve basically been on the sidelines.

SIMON: Looking for a president today, in the era of the War on Terror or the war of the terrorists against us, as you call it —

GIULIANI: Right.

SIMON: — Americans are looking for someone who can lead us in this situation. Are there any people in the Republican party that you would be scared to have lead us?

GIULIANI: Well, you know, there are only — there are three, four realistic Republican candidates at this stage, and all of them are very responsible people and very good people. I don’t know, if you go over the whole big broad Republican party, that’s different. But we’re talking about — we’re talking about John McCain and Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson and myself as being probably the, you know, principal candidates, just like on the Democratic side it’s basically John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. So I would say —

SIMON: I noticed you omitted Mike Huckabee on the Republican side.

GIULIANI: Oh, and Mike Huckabee. I did not omit Mike Huckabee. It was just — I was trying to think of all of them. So there are five on the Republican side. All five are good people and would be good presidents. I believe I’d be the best. On the Democratic side, they’re also good people, and I have great respect for them; I just disagree with them. And among those candidates, Huckabee, Romney, Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson, there is a significant set of agreements. We probably agree on eight out of ten issues. And in some cases there are different areas of disagreement. And with the Democratic candidates, we probably disagree on eight out of ten, if not all. So this is going to be interesting. I think all the Republican candidates are very good. I think they all represent their party well. I think I would do the best job of doing that. I think — and most importantly, I think I’d have the best chance of winning.

ROSETT: One of the great difficulties, as the years have gone by and this country has remained safe, fortunately, with inside its borders, has been that in their daily lives, a lot of Americans don’t feel the War on Terror. You go through airport security checks, but it’s not there like a war in the in your face in the — how do you communicate to people the urgency that needs to be felt over real threats when life in so many ways is so good in this country.

GIULIANI: That’s — I mean, that’s a definite issue because not only is it conceived of as far away, it’s conceived of as sporadic. You know, during the Second World War, the war was far away, but it was literally being fought every day. And I’m sure there still was some of that separation, people at home feeling a lot more safe, obviously, than the people who were on the battlefields. So that really is an exercise in leadership and communication. I mean, you’ve got to find ways to keep the American people informed that we are at war, that there are consequences to that, that we’ve got to be prepared at home for almost anything the terrorists might throw at us.

ROSETT: You must have played out in your head how you would do that. I mean, you were in New York — it’s interesting, you now walk around where the World Trade Center was, and life is very normal. It’s — there are tourists there, but it’s hard to bring it all back.

GIULIANI: Right.

ROSETT: And without getting into all of that, just how do you — as you think how do I explain why it’s important when you talk about having a bigger military, when you talk about a surge in Afghanistan. How do you get across to somebody who says well, six years have gone by, whatever’s going on I’m okay.

GIULIANI: You go to the American people and communicate. Have your whole administration doing it, the way Ronald Reagan did it. Ronald Reagan did a very good job, his administration did, of communicating at the grass roots level the values and the programs and the ideas that he had. You’ve got to keep the American people on your side, and you have to have a communications program that does that, that reminds them that there are consequences to all of this.

ROSETT: And there was one more important thing, in New York you started with the squeegee guys, right?

GIULIANI: Um-hum.

ROSETT: In the global war, the war you call the terrorist war on us, who are the squeegee guys? Does it translate?

GIULIANI: No, it doesn’t. I mean, it’s a different kind of thing. But what you want to do immediately is to make sure that you’ve got all the proper emphasis on the terrorist organizations all around the world and that you’re getting human intelligence, make sure we’ve made progress there. And that our emergency plans within the United States are all up to a level of capability so there are no weak spots.

And then I would think you need some immediate action toward energy independence. I think in the first day or two a new president should begin that, and every single day stick on that, because energy independence would be enormously important to us. And there aren’t as many partisan divisions about that as there are in a few other areas like taxes, which we’re going to have to accomplish – lowering them, but there are partisan divisions on that, or health care. I think on energy independence there’s a growing national consensus. So on day one, even day one, the day after you’re elected, an American president has to start moving on energy independence.

SIMON: On that note, we’ll all move on energy independence by getting onto our Segways and taking leave. Thank you very much, Mayor Giuliani.

GIULIANI: I appreciate it. Thank you.