Rudy Giuliani excoriates POTUS

On February 13 the Iranian American Community of Arizona held a symposium in Phoenix  on Countering Islamic Fundamentalism. One of the speakers was Rudy Giuliani, and he became mighty passionate.

This post follows one in which George Galloway, in the British parliament on 29 January, spoke very passionately about the war in Iraq; so we find ourselves with a double bill of passionate politicians. Anyone would think I’d planned it.

Giuliani is introduced by the symposium’s moderator, Linda Chavez. Before we move on, I want to point out how effective it is for Ms Chavez to personalize this introduction. Their political careers cause them to have been acquainted for many years, and she uses reminiscence to make the introduction much more interesting than it might have been.

OK, hold on to your hat. You are in for a storm. He doesn’t burst out of the starting stalls. That would be cheap, a waste of energy, and Giuliani shows himself to be far too skillful a speaker to make that mistake. He starts with quiet intensity, building from a slow burn all the way up to thunder. Surely it is not just chance that the first powerful auxesis hits its summit  at 4:06 with his crying out the words, “Is there no passion?”

There’s passion all right, and he is exhibiting it.

He plays this audience like a skilled angler. He reels them in, building up to mighty shouts, calming down to let them get their breath back, building up again, introducing long pauses for them to reflect, etc.  Also note how he never uses the top volume ‘at’ his audience. Sometimes it’s the big rhetorical question like “Is there no passion?” addressed – as it were – to  the sky: sometimes he is shouting (so to speak) at the US President. It’s a very good technique, because he is not seen to be ranting at his audience, but with them on their behalf – being their spokesperson. And they are loving it – check out the applause. This guy is good!

Having started with what he sees as the President’s weakness towards Islamism, and having then moved into the President’s weakness towards the untrustworthiness of Iran’s theocratic regime it’s time for a third prong to his attack. At 15:30 he moves into a different arena.

Most of this audience will know a lot about Camp Liberty in Iraq. In case my reader doesn’t, but wants to understand this section of the speech better, here is a link to an article published in the British Sunday Telegraph. In the article you will see that Giuliani does not come new to this story, but marched in a protest about it in Paris in June 2013. The story does not make pretty reading, nor does it represent the proudest moment for the USA or the UN – or Britain, come to that. Small wonder some of us come close to despair over our representatives.

Loud or soft, this speech is constantly intense and, of course, shot from the hip. Giuliani (I’m changing metaphors here) plays it like a symphony. Agree with him or not, he’s some speaker!

At 21:10 he asks, “Where are the moderate Muslims?” He is speaking about the M.E.K. but if I had scripted the question for him, I could not have arranged a better cue for the blog posting that will follow this in a few days. it is going to be difficult to write because it concerns a video that is arguably one of the most important on YouTube at the moment.  I hope I can do it justice.

Nikolai Tolstoy enters the ‘Queen and Country’ fray

The Oxford Union recently held a debate to mark the 80th anniversary of probably the most (in)famous debate the Union has ever held – “This House would under no circumstances fight for its King and country”. As happened in 1933 the debate was opened by the Union’s librarian, in this case Ben Sullivan. The opposition was kicked off by a superb speech from Rory Stewart which was followed by a bitter and brilliant diatribe from Ben Griffin for the proposition.

Today, speaking against the motion, we hear from Nikolai Tolstoy.

Dandified though he may be (Where did he get that collar? For that matter, why did he get that collar?) Nikolai Tolstoy is nobody’s fool. He is following two speeches whose power would eclipse most offerings. He knows the rule that you should always play to your strength. His strength is very clear. He is a historian with a string of books to his name, many dealing with war.

He launches straight in to an analysis of the 1933 Oxford Union debate with particular reference to its background, the most immediate ingredient in which was The Great War which had ended merely fifteen years earlier. He holds that Britain entered it for a noble cause, and supplies us with a wealth of reasons. In the process he readily concedes that war in general is horrible and that not all wars are for a noble cause. Not for the first time in this debate we are steered towards the unmistakeable inference that Iraq and Afghanistan are ghastly errors.

Not only dandified, but patrician and speaking in opposition to the motion!  How easily could we assume him to be a mindless Establishment glove puppet. Big mistake: the author of Victims of Yalta is not blind to his country’s capacity for moral crime.

Queen and Country! Tolstoy turns to the first of these, and immediately seems to make the distinction between the institution and the person. The institution – the Crown – supplies the focal point by which to identify the nation. Its existence also holds at bay any overweening political ambition with ideas above its station. When turning to the person who currently wears it, he admits to having been in love with her. He narrates a story from his days in the army. I shall not spoil it, except to congratulate him on the excellent laugh it harvested from what could easily have been a resistant audience.

He closes with a well chosen quotation. Up to that moment he had prompted himself with merely occasional glances at paper beside him on the box. Now he unashamedly picks up the paper to read words by Hilaire Belloc. That is the correct way to use paper if you use it at all.

This is a good speech: well considered, well balanced and well delivered. It maintains the gratifyingly high standard this debate has set.