Giuliani and History

My latest column on Giuliani’s 2008 presidential prospects is up at the American Spectator site.

An excerpt:

With Rudy Giuliani crisscrossing the country in support of Republican candidates and raising money for his new political action committee, it is beginning to look inevitable that he will seek the presidency in 2008. Despite his lead in many early polls, skeptics still dismiss his chances of winning the Republican nomination given his personal background and liberal views on social issues. There is no doubt that these will be obstacles for Giuliani, but compared to the forces that will propel him into the White House, they are small potatoes.

As the saying goes, read the whole thing.

Hamas Ends Truce

This news is no surprise. The best way that Hamas can win back the support of the West is to kill Israelis so that Israel has no choice but to respond, leading to images of Israeli tanks rolling into Palestinian villages, and using that as propaganda to make Israel look like the aggressor. It also helps them gain an upper hand in the internal struggle against rival Fatah by showing themselves to be more willing to kill Israelis.

According to Hamas, the inciting incident was an errant Israeli artillery shell that killed 7 Palestinian beachgoers in Gaza. A tragedy no doubt, but that’s what happens when Israel is forced to respond to the daily rocket attacks directed toward Israel from Gaza.

It’s also worth contrasting the way Israelis view innocent life, with the way Palestinians do.

In response to the incident, Israelis expressed deep regret, saying:

“Harming innocent civilians is of course totally unacceptable and we will do whatever we can to avoid civilian loss of life,” said Mark Regev, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman.

A skeptic may argue that, “Of course Israel is going to say that publicly for PR reasons, any government would to make themselves look better.”

But I know one government that wouldn’t issue such a statement–the Hamas-led government of the Palestinians. Back in April, Palestinian suicide bombers specifically targeted civilians, killing nine people by a Tel Aviv fast food stand. Far from condemning the attack, the Palestinian government said it was self-defense:

Hamas spokesman Sami abu-Zohari said that the attack was an act of self defense: “Our public is carrying out defensive fighting and it has every right to use all means to defend itself.”

Back then, many Israelis wanted a stronger response to the attack by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s new government, but the government decided to show restraint instead:

Israel’s leaders held the Hamas-led Palestinian government responsible Tuesday for the deadliest suicide bombing in 20 months, but decided against a large-scale military operation in an attempt to avoid escalating violence.

Meanwhile, today the so-called militant “wing” of Hamas has vowed more such suicide bombings are on the way:

“The earthquake in the Zionist towns will start again and the aggressors will have no choice but to prepare their coffins or their luggage.”

Stay tuned.

Gore Redux?

There’s been a lot of talk this week about the possible 2008 presidential candidacy of Al Gore in the wake of his SNL appearance (video link) and ahead of his global warming film “An Inconvenient Truth.” Howard Kurtz rounded up some of the recent commentary on another Gore run.

The idea of another Gore campaign first aroused my interest last October, and I posted a brief item on it.

I certainly wouldn’t rule him out. He has strong name recognition, experience organizing a campaign and the ability to raise money. The left loves him for his unabashedly anti-War and anti-Bush positions and many Democrats still believe he rightfully won the election in 2000. For those who see the Bush presidency as a failure, electing Gore would be a kind of do-over. So yeah, it could happen.

On the other hand…

One of the reasons why people are fond of Gore now is that he isn’t running for anything, which has allowed him to be more comfortable in his own shoes and speak as if he is above the fray. However, from the moment he decides to run for office, he becomes a politician again and needs to pander to different constituencies. Once this happens, the wooden, robotic Gore will return and even his supporters will find him as annoying and boring as ever.

But either way, it’s a story worth keeping an eye on.

Libyan WMD

Judith Miller’s two part WSJ essay on Lybia’s decision to abandon its WMD program is well worth the read. An excerpt:

As U.S. and British troops began flooding into Kuwait, Col. Gadhafi grew agitated, diplomats said. Italian press accounts quote then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as saying that Col. Gadhafi had called him to say he feared he would be America’s next target. “Tell them I will do whatever they want,” said one diplomat, recounting the call. In early March 2003 just days before the start of the Iraq war, Saif and Musa Kusa, a top Libyan intelligence official, contacted the British to say that Col. Gadhafi wanted to “clear the air” about WMD programs in exchange for assurances that the U.S. would not try to topple his regime, according to several accounts.

Gadhafi’s renunciation of WMD was a remarkable event and a big victory for the Bush Administration that has received a relatively small amount of attention in the media. Reading about it got me thinking of one of the real public relations obstacles President Bush faces during the War on Terror. Everything that goes wrong in the world is known, but when a potential threat is eliminated, we can only speculate on whether eliminating that potential threat actually saved American lives. We see very real images of Iraq looking like a mess, but we don’t know what would have happened if Saddam was still in power. We don’t know whether Gadhafi would still be pursuing WMD, and, if so, what he would plan to do with them. People take it for granted that there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11. Now, maybe this is just luck. Or maybe Al Qaeda is taking its time to plan something big. But it’s also a possibility that President Bush’s policies have been effective at thwarting terrorist plots and dissuading state sponsors of terrorism.