Buchanan: Right Moving Away From Bush II Foreign Policy

Pat Buchanan seems to think the political right is shifting away from Bush II foreign policy. This seems, at best, politically delusional. He rests much of his presumption on the victory of Ron Paul in the pre-2012 GOP presidential nomination straw poll. The poll itself has already been dismissed by the pundits as a non-indicator of the future of the Republican Party.

But what of Buchanan’s other points? How do the so-called budget hawk fiscal conservatives justify budget-busting spending on their foreign policy views? Secondly, how and why is this growing American imperialism good for our country?

Buchanan argued thus:

A decade ago, Oldsmobile went. Last year, Pontiac. Saturn, Saab and Hummer were discontinued. A thousand GM dealerships shut down.

To those who grew up in a “GM family,” where buying a Chrysler was like converting to Islam, what happened to GM was deeply saddening.

Yet the amputations had to be done — or GM would die.

And the same may be about to happen to the American Imperium.

Its birth can be traced to World War II, when America put 16 million men in uniform and sent millions across the seas to crush Nazi Germany and Japan. After V-E and V-J Day, the boys came home.

But with the Stalinization of half of Europe, the fall of China, and war in Korea came NATO and alliances with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan and Australia that lasted through the Cold War.

In 1989, however, the Cold War ended dramatically with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the retirement of the Red Army from Europe, the break-up of the Soviet Union and Beijing’s abandonment of world communist revolution.

Overnight, our world changed. But America did not change.

As Russia shed her alliances and China set out to capture America’s markets, Uncle Sam soldiered on.

We clung to the old alliances and began to add new allies. NATO war guarantees were distributed like credit cards to member states of the old Warsaw Pact and former republics of the Soviet Union.

We invaded Panama and Haiti, smashed Iraq, liberated Kuwait, intervened in Somalia and Bosnia, bombed Serbia, and invaded Iraq again — and Afghanistan. Now we prepare for a new war — on Iran.

Author Lawrence Vance has inventoried America’s warfare state.

We spend more on defense than the next 10 nations combined.

Our Navy exceeds in firepower the next 13 navies combined. We have 100,000 troops in Iraq, 100,000 in Afghanistan or headed there, 28,000 in Korea, over 35,000 in Japan and 50,000 in Germany. By the Department of Defense’s “Base Structure Report,” there are 716 U.S. bases in 38 countries.

Chalmers Johnson, who has written books on this subject, claims DOD is minimizing the empire. He discovered some 1,000 U.S. facilities, many of them secret and sensitive. And according to DOD’s “Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country,” U.S. troops are now stationed in 148 countries and 11 territories.

Estimated combined budgets for the Pentagon, two wars, foreign aid to allies, 16 intelligence agencies, scores of thousands of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our new castle-embassies: $1 trillion a year.

While this worldwide archipelago of bases may have been necessary when we confronted a Sino-Soviet bloc spanning Eurasia from the Elbe to East China Sea, armed with thousands of nuclear weapons and driven by imperial ambition and ideological hatred of us, that is history now.

It is preposterous to argue that all these bases are essential to our security. Indeed, our military presence, our endless wars and our support of despotic regimes have made America, once the most admired of nations, almost everywhere resented and even hated.

Liquidation of this empire should have begun with the end of the Cold War. Now it is being forced upon us by the deficit-debt crisis. Like GM, we can’t kick this can up the road any more, because we have come to the end of the road.

Republicans will fight new taxes. Democrats will fight to save social programs. Which leaves the American empire as the logical lead cow for the butcher’s knife.

Indeed, how do conservatives justify borrowing hundreds of billions yearly from Europe, Japan and the Gulf states — to defend Europe, Japan and the Arab Gulf states? Is it not absurd to borrow hundreds of billion annually from China — to defend Asia from China? Is it not a symptom of senility to borrow from all over the world in order to defend that world?

In their Mount Vernon declaration of principles, conservatives called the Constitution their guiding star. But did not the author of that constitution, James Madison, warn us that wars are the death of republics?

Under Bush II, conservatives, spurning the wisdom of their fathers, let themselves be seduced, neo-conned into enlisting in a Wilsonian crusade that had as its declared utopian goal “ending tyranny in our world.”

How could conservatives whose defining virtue is prudence and who pride themselves on following the lamp of experience have been taken into camp by the hustlers and hucksters of empire?

Yet, now that Barack Obama has embraced neo-socialism, Republicans are about to be given a second chance. And just as Rahm Emanuel said liberal Democrats should not let a financial crisis go to waste, but exploit it to ram through their agenda, the right should use the opportunity of the fiscal crisis to take an axe to the warfare state.

Ron Paul’s victory at CPAC may be a sign the prodigal sons of the right are casting off the heresy of neoconservatism and coming home to first principles.

51 Responses to Buchanan: Right Moving Away From Bush II Foreign Policy

  • First let me say that I agree with Pat Buchanan 110% on American foreign policy, and on a lot of other issues as well.

    Secondly, its just unfair to call him “delusional” on the basis of one paragraph that was cautiously worded anyway. He said “may be a sign of”, not “is absolutely guaranteed by.”

    Thirdly, I think he is onto something even in that; and I can’t believe you’re citing the opinion of the punditocracy as something credible. What they dismiss is most likely to be what the people embrace, or are on the verge of accepting at any rate.

    Now that US foreign policy is in the hands of Obama, a leftist, to some a socialist, it will naturally be cast in a bad light among conservatives, though the goal is for it to gain legitimacy on the other side.

    Of course the establishment conservatives will criticize Obama from an even more aggressive, imperialistic perspective; they will say he doesn’t do enough, in preparation for doing more upon reelection. Many will buy into this, unfortunately. But the populist conservatives can also make great gains during this time by criticizing Obama from an “isolationist” perspective – a non-aggression perspective, perhaps one that calls for resources to be shifted from the overseas empire to boarder security. They can make common cause with a disenchanted progressive left that hasn’t forgotten how much it hates the overseas wars.

    Libertarians can continue to criticize the spending aspects as well. It is simply an objective fact that continued overseas aggression will break the bank. And I think few Americans want a war with Iran, which has nothing to do with the security or prosperity of the American people. I think the American people are fed up with brinkmanship with Russia as well.

  • Buchanan is an isolationist. He thinks that we can survive alone in the world if we simply retreat to Fortress America. Of course, he also believes that should have been our policy in the thirties and forties and that we were wrong to fight Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. For a good takedown of Buchanan’s book Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War by historian Victor Davis Hanson, go to the link below:


    The only people who take Buchanan seriously as a conservative anymore is MSNBC where his clownish views fit right in with their stereotype of a conservative: racist, none too bright and friendly to anti-semites.

  • Don,

    Buchanan is not a racist, an anti-Semite, or stupid. Nor do I think the assumption is ever that “we can survive alone in the world” – that is a pretty far, irrational, and uncharitable leap to make from the simple position that we should not be initiating aggression to the tune of billions of dollars we don’t even have.

    The charge of “anti-Semitism” against anyone who criticizes Israel is the first refuge of a scoundrel.

  • Joe I have been following Buchanan’s career for years. He is everything I have said:

    Here is a compilation of some of his anti-semitic and racist statements up to 1996:


    Then we have William F. Buckley’s in search of anti-semitism (1991) in which Buchanan figures prominently:


    Last year at Easter Time Buchanan compared John Demjanuk, a concentration camp guard to Jesus Christ:


    The list can go on for a long time Joe and I’ll be happy to supply endless links.

    As for being none too bright, just read any of his shoddily researched books.

  • Though I certainly don’t agree with all of the Buchanan quotes, and though he may certainly go too far at times, I do agree with some of them.

    In fact I think it is, yet again, the act of a scoundrel to lump in perfectly legitimate social critique with other statements that are either irresponsible or taken out of context as a provocation.

    It is the work of a scoundrel because it obscures and distorts the truth that is there. It throws enough mud and filth and garbage in the air in the hopes that you won’t see what is good. Much of the fault is Pat’s for speaking poorly.

    Frankly I don’t need any more links, because I don’t see that they are at all logically connected to the arguments he makes that are true. I don’t care about political correctness. And while some of his statements are flat-out wrong, others are right. I am fairly certain, by the way, that John Demjanjuk was not the man people thought he was, and that even the Israeli government acknowledged this recently.

    As for “shoddily researched”, what a surprise – the guy you don’t agree with turns out to have “shoddy research.” Even if its true, the way in which you try to dismiss Buchanan sounds personal and ideological, not fact based.

  • Joe, Buchanan is an embarassment to conservatives. That is why I have kept close tabs on him over the years. The man despises Jews and racial minorities, is friendly to Holocaust Deniers and is an isolationist because of his views of Israel. (He was a hawk on Vietnam and in regard to Central America.) He has a very ugly history and I will always point this out whenever anyone cites this man.

  • In regard to John Demanjanuk he was a guard at Sobibor. The Israelis court in the early nineties found that he was not the guard known as “Ivan the Terrible”. A federal court later found that Demanjanuk had indeed been a guard at Sobibor and other concentration camps. He was deported to Germany and is currently undergoing trial in Munich.


  • Don,

    Better to be an “embarrassment to conservatives” – in your view anyway – than to only speak and act in such a way that will satisfy the demands of political correctness and “respectability.” A man who speaks with conviction and does not mince words, even if he is wrong on the facts sometimes, is infinitely more respectable in my eyes than a person who is too cowardly to say what he believes to be true out of “offending” someone. Such a person is an embarrassment to all honest people.

    I have seen absolutely no evidence that Buchanan “despises Jews” – what he despises is the subordination of US foreign policy to the defense of Israel, and you know what? So do I. That has nothing to do with the Jewish religion or race or whatever. That’s a political issue. And the Israelis and the Evangelicals who support them roll out vicious, hateful, and untrue charges of “anti-Semitism” against their critics on the left and the right, against anyone who dares to suggest that our troops shouldn’t be sacrificed for Israel. I hate this political tactic 1000 times more than anything I’ve heard Pat say over the years. It is a history far uglier and offensive to all that is true and good.

  • Joe, the evidence is overwhelming as to Buchanan’s attitudes toward Jews. Here is a good discussion of Pat Buchanan’s ludicrous claim that there was no Holocaust underway until 1942:


    Buchanan’s loathing for the Jews goes far beyond a critique of the policies of Israel.




  • Look, I think its ridiculous for him or anyone else to be involved in Holocaust denial – though strictly speaking, it isn’t logically connected to anti-Semitism and even one of your links acknowledges that. In other words, Buchanan’s “attitude towards Jews” can’t be deduced merely from his position on the Holocaust.

    I’ve read Pat’s answers to the charges of anti-Semitism and they’re good enough for me. And others have defended him as well. Do people have a right to defend themselves, or have you judged them without even hearing their defense? You’re a lawyer – you tell me what’s right.


    Finally, even if Pat WERE a true anti-Semite, it doesn’t subtract one iota from the validity of his arguments regarding the state of American foreign policy and what it ought to be. That’s a matter of logic and a matter of truth.

    I hate smears Don. I know them when I see them. I can smell them. Only facts and logic, sound premises leading to a conclusion that follows from them, matter when assessing the validity of an argument. Nothing else. To suggest otherwise is an offense against truth and honesty.

  • “When I saw the review of the Ted Kipper’s “Nightline” interview on Friday night, I was appalled at the linkage between Mr. Buchanan’s father’s politics and Pat himself. First of all, it is not true. And secondly, it is wrong. Because Biblically, we know, one is not supposed to visit the sins of the father on the children. That itself is a sin and is very un-American. We judge people as they are as individuals. But I’m here primarily because of the hysteria coming out of the Jewish community declaring that Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite, some even call him a Nazi. Some call him Hitler. This is absolutely not true. I’ve known Pat Buchanan now for about three or four years. Not through his writings, but one on one. Man to man. Face to face. He has been one of the most genuine, decent and warm human beings I know. I deal with people all the time. I can smell someone who is anti-Semitic. Pat Buchanan is like a rose. He has been very genuine and i have never detected any sense of anti-Semitism from him. Moreover, I know his sister Bay, his sister Kathleen, and his brothers Tom and Buck. This is a wonderful and wholesome family. I think there is a bad rap directed at Pat and the family that somehow anti-Semitism was bred in that family.” — Rabbi Array Shapiro

    Stop slandering Pat Buchanan, Don.

  • Geez, now Slate? Amazing what bedfellows you’ll make to attack a populist conservative. None of these links has anything new, or raises any issue that Pat or his supporters haven’t already addressed and completely debunked, or prove at all that he is an “anti-Semite.”

    In my view, an anti-Semite is someone who hates the Jewish people or religion. A different view of America’s entry into WWII or the Holocaust or Israel today doesn’t qualify. To say that it does is to abuse language. It is a smear. It is not truth.

    You obviously have no interest in hearing Pat’s self-defense. And that alone completely discredits your entire argument in my eyes. It shows that your complaint really is ideologically motivated, that it is a smear campaign employed for the sole reason of avoiding a discussion of serious issues. It is unfair and unjust, a sleazy courtroom tactic and not an honorable practice at all.

    Thus I’m sad to say that my respect for you has diminished this morning. Unless you want to address the refutations that Buchanan makes – and dozens of well respected supporters, including some Jewish rabbis – against these allegations.

  • Hmmm, Buchanan defends a concentration camp guard and compares his prosecution to the crucifixion, allows his site to have a forum for holocaust denial until he is attacked for it, completely distorts the history of the Holocaust in his isolationist screed, denies that diesel engines were used to kill Jews at Treblinka, worries about Jewish influence on American policy and constantly attacks Israel. Really difficult to connect the dots isn’t it?

  • Among those who have objected to the characterization of Pat Buchanan as an ‘anti-semite’ is Michael Kinsley, who worked with him closely for a number of years. Kinsley is also Jewish, though that does not seem to influence his views on public policy.

    I think one should distinguish between Pat Buchanan, who is rather crankish on a half-dozen different topics, and Joseph Sobran, who actually does have a manifest and wretched animus to the Jews (among others).

  • And what does Don McClarey do? Refuses to admit a person’s testimony in their own self-defense into evidence, fails to consider that even one of the articles he presents as evidence suggests that the concentration camp guard in question may well have been coerced into serving the Nazis, relies on faulty logic and reasoning in order to link perfectly valid arguments to unsavory claims about various historical topics.

    The links I provided more than amply demonstrate that most of the allegations against Buchanan are simply false. You won’t even look at them. Even prominent Jews have rejected this nonsense. But you won’t even listen to them. Oh yes, the dots are connected alright.

    What you’re doing is immoral, Don. You are spreading lies and slanders without even addressing the claims to the contrary. I really thought you were better than this.

  • Let Pat speak:


    “Now, why did I take up the causes of these men?

    Because I believed they were innocent, or I believed they had not been given a fair chance to prove their innocence. And because no one else would. While I have paid a high price for having done so, I have never regretted it. It was the best journalism I ever did.”

    That’s what makes Buchanan better than you right now.

  • Buchanan’s views on Hitler sometimes have to be read to be believed.


    Yeah, those “Polish colonels” had it coming!

  • Joe, I am not spreading lies. I am merely repeating what Buchanan has said over the years. That you find this objectionable is of no consequence to me. Pat Buchanan is an anti-semite and no amount of obfuscations by him will conceal that.

  • I don’t know the history well enough to affirm or reject his claims. Sorry, I’m not going to revert to some mythological schoolhouse propaganda, ready made for any given historical episode.

    But it is increasingly clear to me that a) Buchanan is interested in pursuing historical truth even if it means he’ll be unpopular, and b) your case against Buchanan is bankrupt.

    I repeat that you are unfair and unjust.

  • Is PB an anti-Semite? Heck, I dunno. As Don points out the evidence suggests that he is, but as Joe reminds us the evidence is not quite proof. It is possible that the dots don’t quite connect the way Don believes, even though I’m inclined to think they probably do. But PB’s very forthright denials deserve weight too, and I’m inclined to think the man deserves the benefit of the doubt.

    That said, PB holds some historical views that are so absurd that he is disqualified as a serious thinker in my view.

    All in all I hold with (my recollection of the views of) WFB,JR, who more or less said that the record is such that a reasonable man could conclude that PB is an anti-Semite, and I agree with that. But I don’t think he ever concluded that a reasonable man *must* reach that conclusion, and I agree with that too. So while I elect to give him the benefit of the doubt on that charge, I nonetheless conclude that his overall record does not allow him to be taken seriously as a thinker.

    Finally, just to be clear, some of PB’s views on WWII and the Holocaust are so ahistorical that they do *suggest* (if not, admittedly, prove) a very unsavory psychology and motivation.

  • ” I am merely repeating what Buchanan has said over the years.”

    And many of those things – the blatantly outrageous things – have been shown to either be false or completely taken out of context, as the links I have provided show. The same thing happened to Rush Limbaugh recently when he tried to buy a football team. Completely fabricated quotes out of thin air, except one, which wasn’t that bad.

    Pat Buchanan is not an anti-Semite. He is an honorable man, and a traditional Catholic. You are wrong. You are unfair and unjust.

  • “I repeat that you are unfair and unjust.”

    And I repeat that Buchanan is an anti-semite Joe, and that your opinion of me giving an airing to Buchanan’s nutty statements is of absolutely no consequence to me.

  • ” I nonetheless conclude that his overall record does not allow him to be taken seriously as a thinker.”

    Oh please. I know you’re trying to be reasonable Mike, but this is such an abusive claim. To not like a person’s arguments is no reason to say they “shouldn’t be taken seriously as a thinker.”

    A person who is manifestly stupid shouldn’t be taken seriously as a thinker.

    A person who uses facts and logic to make a cogent argument, even one that sounds unpleasant, should always be taken seriously.

    This is about respecting truth, logic, and reason. It’s such a petty attack to say he can’t be taken seriously. It’s petty and dehumanizing. The most loathsome atheist materialist liberal hedonist deserves to be taken seriously.

    And speculating on “psychology” and “motivation”? What the heck is the point of that? Why should that be anyone’s concern? What does it have to do with truth or falsehood, validity or invalidity? Absolutely nothing.

  • Yes, another cheap lawyer tactic, thanks!

    “your opinion of me giving an airing to Buchanan’s nutty statements is of absolutely no consequence to me”

    My argument is that it is unfair and unjust to make such statements without allowing or acknowledging a person’s self-defense. That’s not an opinion – that’s moral truth, and you darned well know it. No court of law would tolerate it, no fair and just society would tolerate it, no respectable publication would tolerate it, and no honorable human being should tolerate it.


  • Guys, although this is not my thread, I’d like to take the opportunity to point out that the topic of this thread was nothing to do with anti-Semitism, and this line of discussion is not likely to get anyone anywhere.

    I think any calm estimation would indicate that at least some of Buchanan’s views on history (on issues that relate to Judaism such as the Holocaust) are a little nutty at the very least. And he has certainly shown some poor judgement at times in who he’s chosen to associate with or hire.

    That said, the article here doesn’t really touch on that, and I’d advise moving on.

  • Darwin,

    With all due respect to you my friend, in the first place I reject your argument that a “calm estimation” necessarily leads to the conclusion that his claims are “a little nutty at the very least” – though I am open to the possibility that it very well could lead there.

    In the second place, I absolutely will not allow Don or anyone else to smear Pat Buchanan and just get away with it. It is off topic and I do regret it; if you’ll please note, I addressed the topic before Don decided to make to raise this completely irrelevant topic and these questionable and in some cases absolutely false claims.

  • Joe you obviously take this all a great deal more personally than I do. So, I am going to take Darwin’s advice and move on. Besides, I have “cheap lawyer’s” work to do to pay “cheap lawyer’s” bills.

  • Yes, and now you make it personal, in your final low blow.

    Well, it isn’t personal. I respect Pat Buchanan, yes – but more than I respect any man, I respect honesty and justice. This isn’t about Buchanan. It’s about truth and integrity. It’s about logic and reason. It’s about the things that I value, and that we all say we value when it counts, and toss aside as soon it is politically convenient.

  • At the very least, PB is clueless about race. Defenders point to this statement or that proving that he isn’t a racist or an anti-semite. But none of it proves that he knows what the hell he’s talking about. PB is to race as Sarah Palin is to… well, just about everything. They’ll talk with conviction and you may even agree with some points but their ignorance shines through.

    I also think it’s reasonable to conclude that he’s a racist and anti-semite. Not the KKK “I wanna lynch ‘em” kind of racism. But the “Oh, he must be an affirmative action admittance” kind of racism. The kind that says we’re all equal as human beings but white privilege, at least in Europe and the US, is the natural order and we must fight to maintain it. It’s a view commonly expressed at stormfront where PB is a hero.

  • Joe,

    Let me begin with this: I agree with Pat Buchanan 115%. Second, I said his view (not him) “seems” to be delusional based on my subjective assessment of the political scene. I could easily be wrong, but I haven’t seen anything that would have me think that the political right is shifting away from American imperialist tendencies. Honestly (I hope it’s obvious), I desire like nothing else for Buchanan to be right about this.

    Last point, agreed. Buchanan is a very intelligent man and I have great respect for him, even when we don’t always agree. My point, or the thought behind it, was that the CPAC straw poll hasn’t been a good indicator most recently (Romney being the favorite and McCain taking the nomination, which, I think very few saw coming). But that’s a single instance and who knows? I think the Republican political machine would do everything in can to stop Paul’s momentum, just as the establishment did in 2008. So I am not hopeful. I am not a Ron Paul fan in the slightest, but any sort of wrench thrown into the Republican political machine has my vote.

    And about America wanting war with Iran, I pray we don’t. But you-know-who thinks it’s a great idea and it could get President Obama’s numbers back up: http://rawstory.com/2010/02/palin-war-with-iran-would-help-obama/

    Now that is delusional.

  • I don’t think anyone has argued it, but it is a logical fallacy to assume the merit of an argument based on who said it and not judge the merit of the argument for what it is. We all fail at this, I’m sure. But that’s the point. Buchanan’s views on other matters have nothing to do with whether his assertion is right or wrong. If he’s right, agree. If he’s wrong, simply argue against him. I don’t know why his person is a point of attack unless one can’t substantially refute his points.

  • I think Palin may be correct in her political assessment. She also plainly thinks that O should more aggressively and clearly support Israel and take a tougher stand against Iran. It is not clear from the article whether Palin actually believes that O *should* ask Congress to declare war against Iran. If so, then I think she is gravely mistaken both politically and morally. Politically, because Congress would never go for it and it would just become an embarrassing political failure. That said, if O could induce Congress to declare war, Palin’s political assessment may be correct, which is disturbing in its own right.

  • Eric, your point re logic is absolutely right. That said, I have a friend who believes the earth is 6000 years old. While this goofy view does not mean that his views on economics are necessarily similarly goofy, it does diminish his credibility and my appetite to investigate those views. I admit that it is hard to take him seriously as a thinker.

  • My take on Buchanan’s optimistic interpretation of CPAC is that he’s trying to boost his anti-interventionist allies. Pundits, and many journalists, don’t just report trends. They also try to jumpstart them.

    I’m also doubtful of many of the charges against Buchanan. If he were so extreme, he wouldn’t have a place on the McLaughlin Group or on MSNBC. Never ‘cry wolf’.

  • Pat Buchanan has a lot of good insights, and he’s not racist. He’s a political journalist/entertainer who says sensationalist stuff, sure. That opens him up to all kinds of charges, some of which stick a little. But that doesn’t make him a Nazi.

    Buchanan, in my opinion, has a keen eye for many of the essential problems facing America and the West – issues such as the low birth-rate, multiculturalism, and imperialism. Buchanan also dares to critique what most people hold as sacred – World War II. No wonder people hate him! :)

  • With all due respect to you my friend, in the first place I reject your argument that a “calm estimation” necessarily leads to the conclusion that his claims are “a little nutty at the very least” – though I am open to the possibility that it very well could lead there.

    Well, key phrase “at least some”. For instance, I tend to think that Buchanan’s view, which I’m not sure how seriously he believes, but he’s certainly explored the idea in a couple pieces, that it would have been better if the US had stayed out of WW2, is fairly “nutty”. If he’s making the point simply to be provocative in contrast to the “American hegemony”, maybe there’s some value to it, but I don’t think it’s reasonable or mainstream analysis on its own.

    That said, I don’t think that his points in this article (which I disagree with, but that’s another issue which I’m hoping to have time to address later) rely on his more nutty views or associations, and so I don’t think it’s necessary to attack him on those when discussing his point here, which is basically that the American empire (and should) run out of gas.

  • If he were so extreme, he wouldn’t have a place on the McLaughlin Group or on MSNBC.

    He’s not a hatemonger, he’s very civil, and saves most of his crazy talk for his books.

    It’s possible that his foreign policy is rooted in racism which makes the subject relevant.

  • Eric,

    I’m glad we agree on foreign policy. I must point out that the word “seems” appears nowhere in your original writing. Had it been there, I may not have raised the issue of fairness.


    Maybe Pat is a little racist. He also has valid points to make, and I think his small amount of “racism” is far less dangerous than any amount of fanatical, unthinking, unbending multiculturalism.

    But not on foreign policy. That has nothing to do with race. That’s about putting America’s interests firsts and not know-towing to the Israeli-American lobby, a policy with which I agree 100%. American support of Israel provokes the Muslim world – its even worse than having troops on their sacred soil. I think there are Muslim boys who take up the call of jihad against America solely on the basis of its irrational support of Israel.

    In fact, if anyone is racist, I think it is hordes of duped Americans and the ruthless Israeli government who think that America and Israel have a God-given natural right to visit endless privations and humiliations on the Arab and Muslim world, especially through the brutal and inexcusable oppression of the Palestinian people. There’s a vicious anti-Arab racism that completely strips the Palestinians of their human dignity on our side and no one talks about that. Arabs are Semites too!

    To expect these people to do nothing, and to expect their cause not to draw sympathy from Arabs and Muslims in other countries, is just insane. It’s a total denial of their human nature, it’s like saying I should be able to grab your hand and put it on a burning stove, and instead of screaming in pain you give me a kiss on the cheek.

    And yet we are told by neo-cons that any acknowledgement of the humanity of the Arab and the Muslim is to “side with the enemy.” It is an assault on language, reason and truth every bit as brutal as Israels occupation of Gaza. I am half-Lebanese, and my heritage is Maronite, but at the end of the day I’m “one of those people” too, and if you don’t think I’ve ever faced racism on the count of that, even being a Christian and half-white, you’d be wrong.

    So forgive me if I’m more sympathetic to Pat’s point of view on this.

  • Oh and Eric,

    “I don’t think anyone has argued it, but it is a logical fallacy to assume the merit of an argument based on who said it and not judge the merit of the argument for what it is.”

    I’ve been screaming that from the rooftops until my lungs are hoarse with fatigue.

  • My two cents, Pat Buchanan isn’t a racist, but he’s crass on the subject. He’s so committed to the America First idea that he’s lost his bearings. He didn’t used to be like this, but he’s been drifting in the direction of craziness since Bush I.

    I like the guy. I think he has a good heart and would never conciously espouse bigotry, but he’s missing a filter in his brain. When you associate with extremists, you’re going to hear them out and maybe accept a theory or two of theirs that the rest of us wouldn’t even entertain. He’ll latch onto a story like the CPAC poll, and since it fits into his framework, he’ll embrace it. In a word, he’s gullible.

  • Interesting take, Pinky. Makes sense.

  • Okay, some thoughts:

    – I understand, to an extent, the appeal of the isolationist ideal that Buchanan is working from here. Combined with a sort of Jeffersonian localism, it is a very appealing American to imagine. And yet, it seems to me that it is just that: primarily imaginary. From the wars with the Barbary Pirates and the undeclared naval war with France in the 1790s through the Iraq wars, the Balkans, Afghanistan, etc., the US has consistently been “entangled” in foreign wars through much of its history. There were brief periods of isolationism, and significantly longer periods of populist isolationism, but the US has throughout its history been involved in the world, both as a mercantile power and as a military one. Further, I think the claim that the US was once one of the most admired nations and is increasingly despised because of its military involvements is patently untrue on the face of it. The US remains about as admired as it ever was. Ignore the things people say at international watering-holes for a minute and look at the direction immigration tends to flow. Nor, come to that, was the US ever wholly admired either. “Yankees” and “ugly Americans” were as much a figure of fun and contempt in the 19th and 20th centuries as “dumb Americans” and “cowboys” are today. And, indeed, love and hate of the US often co-exist. One of the things that really struck me in one of the first interviews with an innocent Iraqi man who was abused by American servicemen in Abu Ghraib was when he was asked at the end if there was anything the US could ever do to make up for what had happened to him and he responded that what he most wanted was a green card so he and his family could move to America.

    – I think it’s also worth asking: would the world really be a better place if the US decided to pull back massively on its military spending and presence throughout the world. If the US cut its military by 75%, would the rest of the world remain as relatively demilitarized as it currently is, or is one of the reasons that things are comparatively peaceful in the world to day because it is a mono-polar world? The Romans, often cast as the quintessential imperialist bad guys who should have stuck to their republican roots in Italy rather than having corrupt emperors ruling over the known world via the tramp of marching legions, were arguably one of the most positive influences on world history in a millennium. When Rome did return to being a strictly regional power, the results were not example positive. And, indeed, the 400 years from the end of the Republic to the end of the Empire were comparatively peaceful (despite the fact that Romans were fairly constantly involved in regional conflicts and the occasional civil war). America is far from perfect, but then, so were the Romans. And while one can argue that empire (to the extent that American hegemony can be described as an empire) is not good for America, I’m not sure that retreating from it would be all that good for America either.

  • Mr Buchanan is not an antisemite but he is a sly Jew baiter when it suits his purpose. Anyone reading his output on the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts will come away impressed with this Catholic’s solicitude for Muslim claims on Temple Mount and his sympathetic understanding for the Hamas suicide bombers. Mind you he doesn’t condone suicide bombing or Iranian nuclear developments, no, not at all but he can well understand the fears and motivations of Sheikh Yassin and the mullahs. Buchanan’s shtick is to string a series of incidents and quotes devoid of context, which are again few in number when compared to the mass of material available, to fit a preconceived narrative in the manner of Dan Brown. This gives him the status of an historian in some circles. In fact he is nothing of the kind, his book ‘An Unnecessary War’ has the same relation to truth as John Cornwall’s ‘Hitler’s Pope’ has.

  • Darwin,

    If you want to ignore all the international opinion polls, not to mention what the fact of international terrorism directed against the United Sates in itself says about how the world views us, not to mention the tensions that existed and continue to exist since the unilateral decision to invade Iraq among the great power blocs – go right ahead.

    The argument was never, in any case, that the whole world hates America all at once. It is that Americas actions have provoked violence in some, distrust in others.

    I don’t even know what this absurd phrase “isolationist” means. Neither Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan is proposing that America hermetically seal herself off from the world like Japan once did. They are pointing to the ruinous effects of the wars on our budget, our economy, our national unity, our political system, our international prestige, and every other facet of American life.

    It is easy to dismiss arguments that have been deliberately made to look ridiculous and that have been misrepresented by people who either have not fully considered them, or who have, but use deceit and lies and other dishonorable, disgraceful tactics to smear and malign their opponents. That’s not you, Darwin, to be clear – but it is what people who take some of these views do.

    Frankly much of what you bring up has little if anything to do with the arguments of Paul or Buchanan.

    “And while one can argue that empire (to the extent that American hegemony can be described as an empire) is not good for America, I’m not sure that retreating from it would be all that good for America either.”

    At least you admit that it can be called that. A good place to start. But it is no longer a question of if, but when. The notion that America, through the force and triumph of the will, can maintain indefinitely an overseas empire is a delusion that makes anything coming out of the so-called “tin foil hat” crowd look like a Harvard dissertation.

    The so-called “isolationists” – word that I reject but what will have to do for the moment – simply recognize this objective reality and propose to pull out sooner while we still have some control over the situation rather than later when things spiral out of control.

    American foreign policy is irrational. It is too expensive in terms of money, blood, and prestige. And its aims are dubious if not dishonorable: a desperate bid to retain control over large reserves of oil and natural gas, an absurd Wilsonian crusade to spread democracy by the sword, and the protection and appeasement of the state of Israel, which few Americans have any objective interest or stake in – and which is unjust in light of Israel’s ruthless human rights violations, which the rest of the entire globe recognizes and condemns, and would sanction and punish, if not for the protection of the United States.

  • The argument was never, in any case, that the whole world hates America all at once. It is that Americas actions have provoked violence in some, distrust in others.

    The divergence of interests between states, national atavisms, and ideological frenzies provide ample fodder for publics to maintain a subjective sense that they have been ‘provoked’ if the supposed provacateur is large enough to be within their field of vision (which we are and which Ecuador is not).

    The conception of what constitutes ‘provoking violence’ among domestic critics of American foreign policy can be rather idiosyncratic as well. About ten years ago an al Queda cell bombed a U.S. Navy ship taking on fuel in Aden; Joseph Sobran offered that it served them right as we had no business having a ship sailing in the Indian Ocean. Joseph Sobran has also instructed his readers that Osama bin Laden’s political demands are eminently reasonable: he just wants American troops out of Saudi Arabia and American aid to Israel discontinued. One might ask why an uber-isolationist thinks it ‘reasonable’ for a man from Saudi Arabia to fancy he has a dog in property disputes in Hebron; one might also ask how often private citizens fancy they should be able dictate to their government the contours of the country’s foreign alliances; one might ask in addition just what was so bothersome about American troops out in the middle of nowhere providing extra security for Saudi Arabia. One might ask; but do not expect a serious answer.

    The notion that America, through the force and triumph of the will, can maintain indefinitely an overseas empire is a delusion that makes anything coming out of the so-called “tin foil hat” crowd look like a Harvard dissertation.

    Look at the atlas. Our overseas dependencies are as follows: Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, a portion of Samoa, and three of the Virgin Islands. I think Puerto Rico has a population of around 4.5 million; the sum of the remainder is a tenth of that; separatist sentiment in our overseas dependencies is marginal.

    We do have an extensive and global naval force and garrisons abroad. However, about 70% of our Armed Forces are stationed in the continental United States (and that is where 85% of our military installations are located), another 14% are in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 6% are in Germany and Japan. Our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is intended to be temporary and Germany and Japan hardly count as protectorates.


    The remaining 10% covers the rest of the globe. Andrew Bacevich went on a tear a while back about the injustice and imprudence of even having such a thing as a ‘Southern Command’, and how our relations with Latin America should have ‘matured’ sufficiently to obviate the need of such a thing. Well, there are about 2,000 American military personnel stationed in Latin America and the Caribbean, most of them in possessions of the United States (Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guantanamo Bay). The principal collaborative activity between the U.S. Military and foreign governments is … drug interdiction.

    There is no empire.

    American foreign policy is irrational. It is too expensive in terms of money, blood, and prestige.

    Currently, military expenditure amounts to about 5% of gross domestic product; prior to the ascent of Dr. Orszag and various other drunken sailors, about 15% of all public expenditure was devoted to the military. The sum total of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq is < 6,000, or about as many killed in any six month period during the Korean War. You might want to reduce that sum. Considering that in my lifetime this country devoted 5% of its public and private resources to medical care and now devotes 14%, I can think of more obtrusive loci of unsustainable expenditure.

    And its aims are dubious if not dishonorable: a desperate bid to retain control over large reserves of oil and natural gas

    We do have troops in Kuwait and Iraq and the presence of petroleum is part of what makes those places of interest. Petroleum exporters will happily sell you their oil; a troop presence is hardly necessary to acquire it absent the sort of generalized warfare you have not seen in this world since 1945.

    an absurd Wilsonian crusade to spread democracy by the sword

    Actually, we have troops working toward this end in Iraq and Afghanistan, period. Our committment of troops to these locales was derived from reasons of state, not a Wilsonian crusade. Erecting democratic institutions has been undertaken faux de mieux. I suppose we could have followed Daniel Pipes’ advice: appoint Ayad Allawi dictator and then leave.

    and the protection and appeasement of the state of Israel, which few Americans have any objective interest or stake in – and which is unjust in light of Israel’s ruthless human rights violations, which the rest of the entire globe recognizes and condemns, and would sanction and punish, if not for the protection of the United States.

    Given all the trouble in the world, Joe, and given how intractable various and sundry Arab parties have been in the Middle East, remarks such as this send up red flags.

  • I had a reply to this up, but I have deleted it. I don’t see the point in having this discussion anymore, so I will leave it at this:

    We disagree, we will always disagree, and some things are better left unsaid. Good day and God Bless.

  • Well, I wouldn’t say I “ignore all the international opinion polls”, but I do think one has to take them in context. America is frequently unpopular, regardless of how well advised its current involvements are. We were massively unpopular in Western Europe in the 60s, and it was common to express fear that the US would provoke an unnecessary nuclear war with the Soviets. Even with the Balkan war (a peacekeeping operation which even John Paul II endorsed) we were massively unpopular. I was staying Greece over the summer of ’99 during the height of that, and there were massive crowds marching through Athens to protest outside of the American embassy (and clash with the Greek police who would march out in riot gear and teargas them) on a daily basis.

    Basically, I think that Iraq and Afghanistan will permanently destroy America’s reputation in the world to exactly the same extent as the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq I, the Balkans, etc.

    I do get that modern “isolationism” is not suggesting an American Shogunate or anything — at the same time, I think there’s a legitimate case to be made that American “empire” has far more benefits than ills for the wider world. With the American “empire” we’re talking about neither a direct colonial rule on the British model (though, frankly, I think the modern trend in scholarship that points out British colonial rule generally helped the Anglosphere more than hurt it is correct) nor is it a callously extractive empire such as the various European colonies in Africa (think what Belgian Congo did to that region). It’s not as if the US is showing up with troops and extracting Arab oil on its own — the most shocking thing we’ve done is keep regional despots under some kind of control in order to prevent any one petty dictator with ambitions of regional domination from choking off the world’s oil supply. But the oil itself remains very much the property of the local states — though as with many other countries cursed with excessively valuable natural resources, it’s arguable this has been more a burden than a benefit in overall development.

    At the very least, I think there are strong cases to be made either way in regards to Buchanan and Paul’s arguments about foreign entanglements. And as for the financial argument, I think it’s a bit off base in that current US military expenditures are really not off of trend with what the US has traditionally spend on the military since WW2. It’s not continuing to maintain the military which is the major drain on resources which is the problem, it’s that both parties keep trying to increase government parties, while cutting taxes on “most working Americans”. Needless to say, you can’t but cut taxes and spend more at the same time indefinitely without running into financial problems. And so here we are.

  • Once again,

    I must state that I disagree with much of this analysis, mostly in what it omits and de-contextualizes – but, I have no interest in debating it anymore.

  • There seems to be a lot of discussion as to whether Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite, and if so, then he must be completely isolated and ignored as a political voice. Interesting. Is this the bottom-line?

    It could definitely color his view of American support for the State of Israel- but what about all those folks out there who are Protestant Christian Zionists- they have hardcore religious beliefs that the Palestinians simply don’t matter or exist in God’s eyes- they don’t belong to the land, no matter how long they can trace back ancestry and property records- should any Protestan Christian Zionist out there in the public way be given the Buchanan treatment- would that include potentially Huckabee, George W. and probably quite a few prominent politicos?

    And what about all the Protestant American political leaders who believe that the Catholic Church behaved badly throughout history and the Protestant Reformation saved things by restoring the Bible to it';s rightful place of priority? Do those who “hate” the Catholic Church’s history and find the Catholic assertions of being the One, True Church repugnant and false- should we ostracize all of these folks from having any legit political voice in America- at least in American Catholic circles?

    In fact, I’m not convinced that Pat Buchanan is some kind of hardcore anti-Semite, I am pretty convinced that there are a lot of folks who take a position on Islam that isn’t in keeping with the official Catholic view- for one that Muslims are worshipping the same God as we do- and many just seem to really, really dislike Islam inherently- similar to how some Christians really don’t like how Jews disregard Jesus Christ and disrespect the Catholic Church- so they harbor biases against Jews for these slights. And many people take the current spate of Middle EAstern suicide bombings to draw broad conclusions about the following: Islam, Arabs, Palestinians, etc..

    Ok- so maybe nearly everyone is guilty of using broad strokes politically, most everyone has some biases, and people could use something like 9-11 to go public with their latent dislike or mistrust of a whole religion or region of people- and if it is somewhat acceptable in the larger world, then it must be ok. So anti-Semitism is definitely out, but subtle anti-Catholicism among Protestants and Secularists, that is tolerable and to be expected in our imperfect Republic, and anti-Islam, anti-Arab attitudes would be ok as long as there continues to be notorious bad behavior on the part of enough individuals and regimes that can somehow be considered emblematic of Islam or Arab people in general.

    Of course, we have to be allowed to have our religious and theological preferences- we aren’t going to find salvation taking the Unitarian cop-out path- oops- I have my own biases! The question is when do these biases become something racist or nationalist or anti- ? When we question the history of Israel/Palestine? The Crusades? The Inquisition? The Reformation? American Foreign Policies and Wars? The Slave Trade?

    I think we will find it difficult to find pure individuals with no strong biases or views about very important matters like history, politics, economics- that’s another one where if one complains about the distribution of wealth one can be quickly dismissed by some as a Class Warfare advocate- a real hater of successful people. Well- dismiss away- out with Pat Buchanan, and probably anyone with strong views on any of the above. I would advise that we hold back the tide of instant condemnation and try to look at the factual case, the appeal to commonsense, reason, Scripture, or the Church’s mind as reflected in teachings, letters from the Popes, etc.. When you paint everything and everyone in really big broad brushes, it tends to look like some child’s work- that is what ideologies do- they turn us into children easily swayed by emotional appeal to our baser instincts.

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