Buchanan Against the Conservatives

It’s not just the liberals who are against Pat Buchanan. When it comes to the issue of foreign policy, the conservatives are against him as well. Most all of them. With the exception of Ron Paul, the current and former Republican presidential candidates are against him – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain. And so are previous candidates like John McCain and Sarah Palin Conservative magazines are against him. Publications like National Review and the Weekly Standard. Conservative think tanks are against him. Organizations like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. Conservative talk show hosts are against him. Levin, Hannity, O’Reilly, Limbaugh – take your pick. Republicans in the House are against him, including the leaders: John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy. Republicans in the Senate are against him, including the leaders: Mitch McConnell and John Kyl. Other members of Congress are against him – like interventionist, warmonger, and imperial vulture Lindsey Graham.

Conservatives in general are against him. At the recent CPAC presidential straw poll, Ron Paul received only 12 percent of the vote. It is Congressman Paul’s views on foreign policy – which are very similar to Buchanan’s – that are unconscionable to most of the conservatives in attendance. Republican primary voters in general are against him. Most of them are picking warmonger A, imperialist B, or militarist C instead of noninterventionist Ron Paul. Pat Buchanan has been a conservative fixture in politics and the media for decades. His new book, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?, has much in it that conservatives will agree with. However, it also has some gems in it that are anathema to most conservatives and music to the ears of libertarians. True, the book has some things in it that libertarians will question, but back in 1991, when George H. W. Bush invaded Iraq the first time, Buchanan was a sane and consistent voice for nonintervention while some libertarians were defending Bush’s foray into the Middle East. In the last two chapters of Suicide of a Superpower, Buchanan is at his best. The first cause of America’s recent decline is the “wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have cost us 6,000 dead, 40,000 wounded, and over $1 trillion.” These wars “destroyed our post 9/11 national unity, alienated the Islamic world, and enlarged the pool in which al-Qaeda fishes.” These wars “have bled us for a decade and done less to make us safe than to inflame the Islamic world against us.” Buchanan understands exactly why the United States is hated by many in the Muslim world: We came to Afghanistan as liberators, but are seen now as occupiers, imposing our ideas, values, and satraps. After eight years of war in Iraq and ten in Afghanistan, we are coming home with Iraq going its own way and Afghanistan tipping toward the Taliban. . . . We failed to understand what motivated our attackers. They did not come to kill us because they abhor our Constitution, or wish to impose Sharia on Oklahoma. They were over here because we are over there. They came to kill us in our country because we will not get out of their countries. . . . . Osama bin Laden ordered 9/11 because U.S. troops were stationed on sacred Saudi soil that is home to Mecca. We will never end terrorist attacks on this country, until we remove our soldiers from those countries.

We fight them over there, it is said, so we will not have to fight them over here. Yet not Afghan or Iraqi or Somali or Yemeni or member of Hezbollah or Hamas ever attacked us – over here. September 11 was largely the work of fifteen Saudis sent by a Saudi, Osama. And while we are able to smash armies and depose despots, we have proven incapable of building nations or winning the hearts of peoples whose lands we have occupied. . . . Across the Islamic world, we have broadened and deepened the reservoir of hate in which Al Qaeda fishes. But not only must “the United States must bring an end to its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” once these troops come home “the U.S. bases in Central Asia should be closed.” The empire must be ended: This worldwide archipelago of bases may have been justified when we confronted a Communist bloc spanning Eurasia from the Elbe to the East China Sea, armed with thousands of nuclear weapons and driven by imperial ambition and ideological animus against the United States. But the Cold War is history. It is absurd to contend that 1,000 overseas bases are vital to U.S. security. Indeed, it is our pervasive military presence abroad, our support of despotic regimes, and our endless interventions and wars that have made America, once the most admired of nations, among the world’s most resented and detested. Why are scores of thousands of U.S. troops still stationed in Europe when the “evil empire” against which they were to defend Europe collapsed twenty years ago? Why can’t Europe defend itself from a Russia whose army is but a fraction of the Red Army of 1990 and whose western border is hundreds of miles east of where it was under Nicholas II? The United States should declare its intent to withdraw from NATO, transfer leadership of the alliance to the Europeans, and begin to vacate air and naval bases. The United States should also renegotiate its security treaties with South Korea and Japan and remove U.S. ground troops from both countries. We are not going to fight another land war with China or North Korea. No vital interest could justify such a war, and the American people would not support sending an army to Korea like the 330,000 soldiers we sent in the 1950s.

The empire should have been dismantled after the Cold War: Liquidation of this empire should have begun at the end of the Cold War. Now it is being forced upon us by a deficit-debt crisis that the cost of that empire helped to produce. We cannot continue to kick the can up the road, for we have come to the end of the road. As Russia had gone home, some of us urged back then, America should come home, cede NATO and all the U.S. bases in Europe to the Europeans, and become again what UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick called “a normal country in a normal time.” But instead, George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan, declared Iran, Iraq, and North Korea an “axis of evil,” warned the world that we would maintain military supremacy in every vital region of the globe, declared a Bush Doctrine of preventive war and used it to invade and occupy an Iraq that had never threatened or attacked us, and launched a global crusade for democracy that feature demonstrations to dump over governments install pro-American regimes in Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Lebanon, as Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA had done in Iran in 1953. Clinton and Bush II pushed NATO right up to Russia’s front porch, bringing six former Warsaw Pact nations – East Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Romania – and three Baltic states that had been part of the Soviet Union into an alliance created to contain Russia. Only European resistance stopped Bush II from putting Ukraine and Georgia on a fast track to NATO membership, which would have meant that should there be a Moscow-Tbilisi clash, American would instantly be eyeball to eyeball with a nation possessing thousands of nuclear weapons. Barack Obama doubled U.S. forces in Afghanistan, began done strikes in Pakistan, and launched a war on Libya. Buchanan then asks: “And what has all this compulsive interventionism availed us?” And then answers: “We are less secure, less respected, less confident, and less powerful than we were in 1991.” And then asks again: “And is the world a better place?” The answer, of course, is a resounding no.

Recognizing the disastrous consequences of the Iraq and Afghan wars, Buchanan sees no point in threatening Iran over its non-existent nuclear weapon’s program: The immediate goal must be to derail the War Party campaign to have America launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities that would trigger acts of terror against U.S. soldiers and civilians from Baghdad to Beirut. An early result of such a war could be the closing of the Persian Gulf, crippling the U.S. and world economies. If America could deter the Russia of Stalin and the China of Mao, who declared himself willing to lose three hundred million Chinese, why can’t we deter an Iran that has no bomb and no missile to deliver it? In contrast to the sane foreign policy ideas of Buchanan, all we hear in the Republican presidential debates is calls for more war and more bloodshed. Here are Gingrich and Romney at the Fox News Channel–Wall Street Journal debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: We’re in South Carolina. South Carolina in the Revolutionary War had a young 13-year-old named Andrew Jackson. He was sabred by a British officer and wore a scar his whole life. Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear-cut idea about America’s enemies: Kill them. And Speaker Gingrich is right. Of course you take out our enemies, wherever they are. These people declared war on us. They’ve killed Americans. We go anywhere they are, and we kill them. Santorum, of course, is no better, and especially because of his tremendous hostility toward libertarianism. In an interview last October, Santorum made himself perfectly clear: “I am not a libertarian, and I fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.” If conservative warmongers and Republican war party members won’t listen to libertarians like Ron Paul on the subject of foreign policy, then fine. But they will have to deal with their elder statesman Pat Buchanan. And I think they will have their hands full.