[quote]Giuliani: U.S. should focus more on Pakistan
Says more action needs to be taken against al-Qaeda
By Susan Page
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa ï¿½?? Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said Thursday that the United States should do more to capture Osama bin Laden and dismantle al-Qaeda operations in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan ï¿½?? even at the expense of an ally, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
While he wasn’t explicitly critical of President Bush, the Republican presidential contender outlined in an interview with USA TODAY a more aggressive stance and a different emphasis than the administration has pursued in the region that spawned the terror network.
The United States has been distracted “for a while” by military setbacks and political heat surrounding the Iraq war, Giuliani said, not focusing enough on al-Qaeda’s resurgence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“This cannot be like a horror movie,” he said. “You know, in the horror movie you kill the monster, and the hand re-emerges. And if you’re not looking, the hand grows back and then the monster’s there again. That cannot be allowed to happen.”
Giuliani, who has led the GOP presidential field in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll through the year, was interviewed near the end of a two-day campaign trip to Iowa. He visited an ethanol plant and promised as president to appoint “strict constructionist” judges who would not reinterpret the Constitution.
His presidential campaign has been tied largely to his leadership in New York after the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. Giuliani was most animated when he turned in the interview to the subject of battling Islamic extremists, with a copy of the National Intelligence Estimate that was released Tuesday at his side. They were his first substantive comments on the formal assessment of the nation’s terrorist threat.
The report warned that al-Qaeda has significantly strengthened its operations over the past two years, creating a “heightened threat environment” for the United States.
Some of Giuliani’s comments echoed critics of the war in Iraq who argue that the invasion drew attention and resources away from the battle against the home base of al-Qaeda, which carried out the 9/11 attacks. Giuliani, however, called the Iraq war “enormously important,” but he said other challenges from Islamic terrorism also demanded attention.
“I said it a long time ago ï¿½?ï¿½ America is too consumed with Iraq,” he said. “We’ve got to be patient and committed (in Iraq), but we’ve got to multitask. We’ve got to have conversations beyond Iraq. We’ve got to talk about Iran ï¿½?? Iran is more dangerous than Iraq ï¿½?? and we have to get the job done in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.”
He said that might involve reorganizing United Nations forces, committing more U.S. resources, considering U.S.-led airstrikes on al-Qaeda targets in northern Pakistan or taking a tougher line with Musharraf ï¿½?? or pursuing all those steps.
Giuliani expressed little patience with the Pakistani president, who last fall brokered a cease-fire with tribal leaders in northern Pakistan that let them police their own territories. The White House said this week that the deal helped open the way for al-Qaeda to rebuild its infrastructure.
“Musharraf is important to us to the extent that he helps us remove this existential threat to him and to us,” Giuliani said.
“And to the extent that he recognizes that it’s an existential threat to us and to him, he’s valuable to us. To the extent that he doesn’t, he isn’t,” Giuliani said.[/quote]
Several interesting aspects. Note the focus on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and bin laden.