The World’s Mayor
Aghast, the world watched the horrific events of September 11, unaware that it was a foreshadowing of a barbaric phenomenon that would spread to Istanbul, to Bali, to Riyadh, to Islamabad, to Baghdad, to Moscow, to Madrid and to Beersheba, that civilians the world over would be threatened with random death, beheading and kidnapping within a few years. The atrocities have become commonplace in 2004.
Rudolph Giuliani, “America’s Mayor,” led New Yorkers through their darkest and finest hour unbowed. During his speech at the Republican National Convention, Mr. Giuliani spoke of all America when he said: “The horror, the shock and the devastation of those attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and over the skies of Pennsylvania lifted a cloud from our eyes.”
To a large degree, Mr. Giuliani was speaking to the wider world as well. There is now no safe corner, no alliance of convenience, no policy of appeasement that will protect families when terrorists decide to strike, as the news of nearly any day will attest: “We have carried out the sentence of God against 12 Nepalis who came from their country to fight the Muslims and to serve the Jews and the Christians…believing in Buddha as their God,” said a statement by the Army of Ansar al-Sunna, explaining their execution of 12 workers in Iraq.
The tactic of public brutalization of arbitrary civilians “did not start on September 11, 2001,” Mr. Giuliani said. “It had been festering for many years… and too often the response, particularly in Europe, was accommodation, appeasement and compromise.”
The French had expected a degree of immunity from the terrorists’ wrath in return for their sustained and vocal opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The recent kidnapping of two French journalists proved that expectation misguided. Le Figaro, employer of one of the journalists, pointed out that the Iraq war was “condemned by the president of the French Republic.” The paper says, “France could have hoped to be spared this cruel ordeal.” The hope of a separate peace for France exists no more. Anti-Americanism is no shield from jihadiis.
It does often function though as a shield against domestic political reform, Mr. Giuliani noted: “Rather than trying to grant more freedom, create more income, improve education and basic health care, [some] governments deflect their own failures by pointing to America and Israel and other external scapegoats. But blaming these scapegoats does not improve the life of a single person.”
The protesters gathered outside Madison Square Garden disagreed. A day earlier, 100,000 people marched past the convention site to demonstrate their strong disapproval of U.S. troop deployments in Iraq, Korea and the Philippines, the level of AIDS funding, U.S. policy on Cuba, the Palestinians and illegal immigration. Civil rights, gay rights and abortion rights were also frequent themes. The general message was “Save America, Defeat Bush.”
Mr. Giuliani took the opposite tack: Save the World, Reelect Bush. Like many Republicans, he believes that “[freedom] will overwhelm dictators, and even defeat terrorists. That is what we have done and must continue to do in Iraq… The long-term answer to ending global terrorism [is] governments that are free and accountable.” A successful Iraq, Mr. Giuliani believes, will enhance the security of civilians everywhere.
The political development of Iraq even at this infantile stage has been based on maintaining the approval of the governed. The Iraqi leadership is distinguishing itself from its regional neighbors in many respects. Newly enfranchised Iraqis now expect their voices and their legitimate representatives to be welcomed in the political system and not punished, tortured or imprisoned. Many other nations have begun a dialog on political reform and the strengthening of civil society.
The terrorists’ war against civilians has brought numerous condemnations, although fear of being too closely allied with the United States and President Bush has had a stifling influence. At this late date, Mr. Giuliani reminds the world that Mr. Bush’s declaration, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists” is becoming more self-evident daily.
Speaking as the world’s mayor, as the mayor of every city devastated by terrorism, Mr. Giuliani urged that all survivors say: “We have done all that we could with our lives that were spared…They have heard from us a message of peace through free, accountable, lawful and decent governments giving people hope for a future for themselves and their children.” He received a sustained standing ovation from the Republicans in the New York convention center. Outside, protesters jeered.