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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Giuliani, Rudy

  • Giuliani Partners: Founder

  • 2008 GOP Presidential Candidate

  • Former Mayor of New York

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Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani is a former Republican politician who served as mayor of New York City during 1994-2001. His tenure ended shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Giuliani leveraged his recognition as “America’s Mayor” to launch a lucrative consulting practice as well as an unsuccessful campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. He has remained a vocal advocate for U.S. intervention in the Middle East and a militaristic “war on terror.”

The former mayor has transparently used 9/11 as a rationale for promoting hawkish policies, including during the 2008 campaign. His efforts to capitalize on his role in the aftermath of the attacks spurred then-Sen. Joe Biden to famously quip, “There's only three things [Giuliani] mentions in a sentence—a noun, a verb, and 9/11. There's nothing else!”[1]

Because of his relatively liberal views on abortion, gun control, immigration, and (to a lesser extent) gay rights, Giuliani is often considered a political moderate by Republican Party standards. However, on matters of foreign policy, Giuliani has been described as a “hard-line neoconservative.” Indeed, foreign policy advisers to his presidential campaign included many notable hawks, including Norman Podhoretz, Martin Kramer, and Steven Rosen, in addition to his chief foreign policy adviser Charles Hill, a former diplomat who has espoused a host of hawkish foreign policy views. Daniel Pipes, a well-known Middle East hawk and anti-Islamic commentator, also appeared to advise the campaign informally.[2]

Criticisms of Obama Admininistration

Giuliani has been an ardent opponent of President Barack Obama and has gone so far as to declare in February 2015 that he does “not believe that the president loves America.”[3] He has also claimed that ISIS is an “Obama creation” because President Obama oversaw the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. “If we had 50 or 60,000 troops in Iraq, we would have been getting the intelligence that would have told us about the development of ISIS,” he opined in November 2015.[4]

After the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, Giuliani called for greater surveliance of U.S. Muslims and mosques. Calling for police officers to monitor mosque services, he exclaimed: “If you’re uncomfortable with police officers at your services, you must be saying things that are dangerous.”[5]

Giuliani’s comments on Middle East policy during the Obama administration have cemented his militarist reputation. In February 2012, for example, Giuliani called President Obama a “weakling” for supposedly failing to persuade Iran that the United States will “bomb the hell out of them” if Iran attempts to develop a nuclear weapon. “We are the largest military in the entire world, they are a small, tiny little military power compared to us,” Giuliani said.[6]

Giuliani lambasted the July 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and major world powers as “putting the nuclear button in the hands of mad men.”[7] He has also supported the controversial Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian dissident group that was on the State Department’s list of terrorist organization until 2012, saying in 2015 that the United States “should not just be on your side, it should be enthusiastically on your side.”[8]

Giuliani has been a vocal supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stating in February 2015 that “unlike our president,” Netanyahu is a “man who fights for his people.”[9]

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Giuliani echoed the false claims of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump that Muslims in United States celebrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “We did have some celebrating. That is true. We had pockets of celebration, some in Queens, some in Brooklyn,” he stated at the time.[10]

In 2010, Giuliani called the proposal to build an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in Manhattan a “desecration.” Speaking to ultra-conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, Giuliani said: “It not only is exactly the wrong place, right at ground zero, but it's a mosque supported by an imam who has a record of support for causes that were sympathetic with terrorism. Come on! We're gonna allow that at ground zero? … This is a desecration. Nobody would allow something like that at Pearl Harbor. … I mean, they died there because of Islamic extremist terrorism. They are our enemy, we can say that.”

2008 Presidential Campaign

Giuliani’s views toward the Middle East during his 2008 presidential campaign were criticized as crude and simple-minded. Michael Desch, a writer for the American Conservative who attended a Giuliani event at Texas A&M, criticized Giuliani’s “simplistic message that terrorists were attacking us because they ‘oppose our freedom and … want to impose their ideology on us.’”[11]

Alluding to Giuliani’s long-standing support for Israel, Desch added: “[W]hile U.S. attorney in New York, Giuliani tried to close the PLO’s New York office. As mayor, he made headlines in 1995, when he had Arafat ejected from a concert at Lincoln Center. … In a speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention, Giuliani struck the ‘Israel’s war is our war’ note by claiming that the war on terror began in Munich in 1972. His September 2007 proposal to expand NATO to include Israel is part and parcel of this approach.”[12]

A 2006 Haaretz panel of Israeli commentators declared Giuliani the "best for Israel" of all the potential 2008 candidates.[13]

During his campaign, Guliani also expressed support for the George W. Bush administration’s troop surge in Iraq, a war that Giuliani supported and continued to link to the September 11 attacks long after such links had been discredited. “They're at war with us. They want to come here and kill us,” he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “And they did on September 11, and they did a long time before September 11. Way back in 1993, they came to this city and killed people. So we've got to put Iraq in the context of a much broader picture than just Iraq. And getting Iraq correctly, in other words, getting stability there is real important. And I support what the president asked for support to do.”[14]

Similarly, Giuliani posited that Iran and al-Qaeda have “a similar objective in their anger at the modern world,” even implying that they would act in concert. “Their movement,” he told an Iowa audience in 2007, “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies [than Iraq] by coming here and killing us.”[15]

Such inattention to nuance made Giuliani the subject of criticism during his presidential campaign, especially after it was revealed that he had joined the Iraq Study Group in 2006 but had resigned after failing to attend a single meeting, choosing instead to give paid speeches around the country. “I doubt that I would have forgone six figures of easy income for the privilege of yakking about Iraq with a roomful of graybeards all day long,” wrote columnist Fred Kaplan. “Then again, I wasn't about to run for president—the highest office of public service—on a résumé bereft of a single foreign-policy credential. Rudy's choice—to go for the money—speaks proverbial volumes about his priorities.”[16]

Giuliani’s busines interests also garnered scrutiny during the 2008 campaign. A Vanity Fair overview of the former mayor’s consulting firm, Giuliani Partners—which was set up in 2002 and proceeded to earn some $100 million in the ensuing six years—revealed a version of Giuliani who “has brazenly built a business on his 9/11 fame.” Noting in particular the group’s work to wind down a federal investigation of the prescription drug OxyContin (which has been responsible for a wave of addiction-related overdoses) and its dealings with a penny-stock firm connected to “an S.E.C.-disciplined stock swindler,” among many other cases, author Michael Shnayerson concluded, “In doing business with these companies, Giuliani has sometimes created at least an appearance of poor judgment, or greed, or both.”[17]

Especially controversial was Giuliani’s relationship with Bernard Kerik, a former driver for Giuliani’s mayoral campaign who was promoted to police commissioner during the mayor’s administration. By 2004, Giuliani and Kerik were jointly running Giuliani-Kerik, a security consulting firm, when the former mayor personally recommended to President Bush that Kerik be nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security. However, Kerik’s nomination promptly came to an end in the wake of a raft of allegations of impropriety ranging from extramarital affairs to tax fraud to public corruption. “If Kerik had landed the job,” wonders Shnayerson, “would he not have been in the perfect position, on behalf of the federal government, to buy lots of the very security products and services that Giuliani Partners had been nursing along and investing in?”[18]

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[1] Huffington Post, “Biden: Rudy's Sentences Consist Of "A Noun, A Verb, And 9/11," Mach 25, 2008,http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/10/30/biden-rudys-sentences-con_n_70509.html.

[2] Michael C. Desch, “Declaring Forever War,” The American Conservative, January 14, 2008,http://www.theamericanconservative.com/article/2008/jan/14/00006/.

[3] Elias Groll, “Rudy Giuliani Loves America, Except When He’s Consulting for Qatar,” Foreign Policy, February 23, 2015,http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/23/rudy_giuliani_loves_america_except_when_hes_consulting_for_qatar/?wp_login_redirect=0.

[4] Jack Davis, “Giuliani Just Revealed EXACTLY What ISIS Is In 5 Words Obama Won’t Want You To Hear,” Western Journalism, November 19, 2015, http://www.westernjournalism.com/giuliani-just-revealed-exactly-what-isis-is-in-5-words-obama-wont-want-you-to-hear/.

[5] YourNewsWire, “Rudy Giuliani – U.S. Needs To Be A Police State After Paris Attacks,” January 10, 2015,http://yournewswire.com/rudy-giuliani-u-s-needs-to-be-a-police-state-after-paris-attacks/.

[6] David Taintor, “Giuliani: We Need a President Who Can Say ‘Bomb Iran,’” Talking Points Memo, February 24, 2012,http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/giuliani-we-need-a-president-who-can-say-bomb-iran.php.

[7] Rich Schapiro, “Rudy Giuliani knocks Iran nuclear deal during homeland security hearing at Ground Zero, Daily News, September 8, 2015, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/rudy-giuliani-knocks-iran-nuclear-deal-ground-zero-article-1.2351837.

[8] Brian Montopoli, “Rudy Giuliani Denies Supporting Terrorist Organization,” CBS News, January 10, 2011,http://www.cbsnews.com/news/rudy-giuliani-denies-supporting-terrorist-organization/.

[9] Algemeiner, “Livid Guiliani Contrasts Obama With Netanyahu: ‘That’s a Man Who Fights for His People, Unlike Our President,” February 17, 2015, http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/02/17/livid-giuliani-contrasts-netanyahu-with-obama-thats-a-man-who-fights-for-his-people-unlike-our-president-video/.

[10] NBC New York, “Rudy Guiliani: There was ‘Some Celebrating’ in NYC after 9/11,” http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Rudy-Giuliani-Pockets-of-Cheering-Sept-11-911-Terrorist-Attacks-360021151.html.

[11] Michael C. Desch, “Declaring Forever War,” The American Conservative, January 14, 2008,http://www.theamericanconservative.com/article/2008/jan/14/00006/.

[12] Michael C. Desch, “Declaring Forever War,” The American Conservative, January 14, 2008,http://www.theamericanconservative.com/article/2008/jan/14/00006/.

[13] Haaretz, "Israeli panel: Giuliani is 'best' presidential candidate for Israel," May 9, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/news/israeli-panel-giuliani-is-best-presidential-candidate-for-israel-1.196603.

[14] FoxNews.com, “He's Ready! Rudy Giuliani Talks with Sean Hannity,” February 6, 2007,http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,250497,00.html#ixzz1oJMpzLaY.

[15] Marc Santora, “Giuliani Says Nation at War Requires Him,” New York Times, April 7, 2007,http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/07/us/politics/07rudy.html?_r=1.

[16] Fred Kaplain, “The Man Who Knows Too Little,” Slate, June 21, 2007,http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2007/06/the_man_who_knows_too_little.single.html.

[17] Michael Shnayerson, “A Tale of Two Giulianis,” Vanity Fair, January 2008,http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/01/giuliani200801.print.

[18] Michael Shnayerson, “A Tale of Two Giulianis,” Vanity Fair, January 2008,http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/01/giuliani200801.print.

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Giuliani, Rudy Résumé


  • 2008 GOP Presidential Candidate

  • Former Iraq Study Group Member


  • New York City Mayor (1994-2001)

  • U.S. Attorney (1983-1989)

  • Associate Attorney General (1981-1983)


  • Giuliani Partners: Founder

  • Bracewell & Giuliani: Principal

  • Giuliani-Kerik: Former principal


  • New York University, JD

  • Manhattan College, BA


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