Martin Kramer has never met Rudy Giuliani. But the recently named senior Middle East advisor to the Giuliani campaign appears to be having significant influence on how the former mayor views the world.
“I was not added for who I am,” said Mr. Kramer, in a phone interview from Tel Aviv. “Certainly not for my policy experience—I don’t have any experience in government. Not for my personal charm—I don’t know the mayor. I’m there for my ideas. And for me it is an opportunity to give my ideas a wider audience.“
Given Mr. Giuliani’s largely uniform support for the Bush administration’s foreign policy up to this point, those ideas aren’t what one might expect. Mr. Kramer is a self-proclaimed “democratization skeptic,” and subscribes to a distinctly different worldview than that of the idealistic neo-conservatives who promoted democratic elections in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. If his public role on Mr. Giuliani’s foreign policy team says one thing, it is the following: when it comes to the Middle East, Mr. Giuliani is no George W. Bush.
“I saw myself in a debate mode with President Bush,” he said. “I don’t see myself in a debate mode with Rudy Giuliani.”
The international relations philosophy of Mr. Kramer, 52, a dual Israeli-American citizen who is a professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, places him well outside the circle of interventionist would-be regional transformers who have guided America’s Middle East policy for the past seven years.
He is perhaps best known in foreign policy circles for his strong views on the perils of democracy promotion in the Middle East, a belief that a consortium of Islamic and Arab regimes and extremists share a grand vision of a world without Israel and a strong United States, and a faith in what he calls the “consensual Authoritarianism” of strong, stable central governments.
To judge by Mr. Giuliani’s recently articulated plan for U.S. policy abroad, he has already begin appropriating some of Mr. Kramer’s ideas.
“Aspiring dictators sometimes win elections, and elected leaders sometimes govern badly and threaten their neighbors,” Mr. Giuliani wrote in a recent, much-discussed article in Foreign Affairs. “History demonstrates that democracy usually follows good governance, not the reverse.”
Mr. Giuliani then specifically cites the election of Hamas in the Palestinian-controlled territories as an example of democracy gone awry.
“The problem there is not the lack of statehood but corrupt and unaccountable governance,” Mr. Giuliani wrote. “The Palestinian people need decent governance first, as a prerequisite for statehood.”
In the article, Mr. Giuliani also seems to distance himself from Mr. Bush’s core ideological belief in democracy promotion, mentioning it only to point out that it must be tempered by “realism.”
Mr. Kramer very much approves.
“The mayor does talk about security being a prerequisite of democracy in that speech,” he said, referring to the Foreign Affairs article, adding “He did, to me, say things that invoked my ideas.”
Mr. Kramer also said that since he was unexpectedly embraced by the Giuliani campaign, his philosophy – and particularly his web site, MartinKramer.org – has begun receiving a lot more attention.