President George W. Bush's approval ratings may be in the doldrums and he's only got just over another year to go, but before we order the celebratory fireworks here's a thought. The next American president could make this one look like a boy scout.
As the months pass, the next election looks like a race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and the former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani for the Republicans. I'm no fan of the coolly calculating Clinton but given the alternative, she's the one I'll be rooting for.
At the same time, I have serious doubts as to whether certain American states are ready for a woman president and although the American voters have shown they're fed up with Republicans they may reluctantly settle for the usual middle-aged white man over a former First Lady, no matter how bright and formidable she may be.
But here's the problem. Whereas post 9-11 Giuliani was generally considered a competent, nice-guy keen to roll up his sleeves in order to put his city to rights, in recent months the mask has come off. In short, Giuliani is no benign patriotic do-gooder. He's a hawkish, sabre-rattling, pro-Israel, nationalistic neocon.
A clue to Giuliani's leanings emerged during the visit of Prince Al Walid Bin Talal to Ground Zero in October 2001. Bearing a $10 million donation for disaster relief, the Saudi prince suggested the US reexamine its Middle East policies and adopt a balanced stance towards Palestinian aspirations. Giuliani's response was to hand back the cheque.
Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards has joked President Giuliani would be like President Bush on steroids. Unfortunately, this is no joke.
Giuliani makes no bones about the fact he would use military force to set-back Iran's nuclear programme. In September, he promised to use America's military might to prevent Iran pursuing its nuclear ambitions should he be elected president.
His senior foreign policy adviser Norman Podhoretz has spelled out this message, advising that Iran be bombed with cruise missiles and bunker busters. "None of the alternatives to military action - negotiations, sanctions, provoking an internal insurrection - can possibly work," he told The Daily Telegraph.
Giuliani is talking tough when it comes to Pakistan, too. He recently urged the president to be more aggressive in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden within Pakistan even if such a move would result in alienating the Pakistani government.
On Iraq, Giuliani has been consistently gung ho. He supported the war from the outset, backed the so-called surge and believes American troops should stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
And if my worst fears are realised and Giuliani moves into the White House there will be no Palestinian state for the foreseeable future either. He has declared in no uncertain terms his antipathy towards a two-state solution because a Palestinian entity would "support terrorism" and threaten US security.
It's also worth recalling that in 1995, he banned the former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat from attending events held in New York to celebrate the UN's 50th anniversary and ordered his removal from a concert held at the Lincoln Centre. It's not surprising that a panel of eight Israeli experts assembled by the daily Ha'aretz determined Giuliani is the best presidential candidate for Israel.
A recent article on the front page of the New York Times titled "Mid-east hawks help to develop Giuliani's policy" enlightens us as to the former mayor's new best friends. "Mr Giuliani is consulting with, among others, a particularly hawkish group of advisers and neoconservative thinkers," the article reads.
His team, says the article, includes "Norman Podhoretz, a prominent neoconservative who advocates bombing Iran as soon as it is logically possible; Daniel Pipes, the director of the Middle East Forum, who has called for profiling Muslims at airports and scrutinising American Muslims in law enforcement, the military and the diplomatic corps; and Michael Rubin who has written in favour of revoking the United States' ban on assassination".
Giuliani recently took the Democrats to task for avoiding use of the term "Islamic terrorism" during four debates; an omission he describes as taking political correctness to extremes.
A Giuliani presidential tenure would also be extremely bad news for Americans who value the few civil liberties they have left. He strongly backs the controversial Patriot Act; is an advocate for wire-tapping and domestic spying, and isn't sure whether "water-boarding" or sleep deprivation should be considered as "torture".
He has also promised to appoint "strict constructionist" judges to the Supreme Court to allay the fears of conservative Republicans and the religious right that he is pro-abortion.
As things stand, Clinton holds a small tenuous lead over Giuliani in the polls overall. But in some of the states that count, such as Florida, the latter is ahead. Giuliani is also grabbing a large chunk of the evangelical vote despite his penchant for divorcing his wives for girlfriends.
These already dangerous times are becoming even more dangerous. It's a pity that Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore has refused to put his crusade against climate change on hold to join the fray and perhaps even save the day.
We can only stand by helplessly as the American people decide their fate and ours. With the future of the planet in their hands it's time they made the right choice.
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your description of Giuliani's attributes has just converted me into a voter for Giuliani. I was teetering about who to support, but your article has shown me the light. It has highlighted all the positive attributes required of the next president.
From a reader
Posted: October 30, 2007, 05:52
Are you actively trying to win Giuliani the nomination? I don't support Giuliani as the nominee. He is not conservative enough.
Posted: October 30, 2007, 05:47
I don't know women who are set to vote for Hillary. Even I will vote for Rudy over Clinton if they were the only two choices. Clinton has no principles at all.
Posted: October 30, 2007, 05:31