With Friends Like These

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Was Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and then his body cut up with a bone saw and flown to Riyadh in Gulfstream jets owned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman?

So contend the Turks, who have video from the consulate, photos of 15 Saudi agents who flew into Istanbul that day, Oct. 2, and the identity numbers of the planes.

Supporting the thesis of either a murder in the consulate or a “rendition,” a kidnaping gone horribly bad, is a Post story that U.S. intel intercepted Saudi planning, ordered by the prince, to lure Khashoggi from his suburban D.C. home back to Saudi Arabia. And for what beneficent purpose?

If these charges are not refuted by Riyadh, there will likely be, and should be, as John Bolton said in another context, “hell to pay.”

And the collateral diplomatic damage looks to be massive.

Any U.S.-backed “Arab NATO” to face down Iran, with Riyadh as central pillar, would appear dead. Continued U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen would now be in question.

The special relationship the crown prince and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have established could be history.

Congress could cancel U.S. arms sales to the kingdom that keep thousands of U.S. defense workers employed, and impose sanctions on the prince who is heir apparent to the throne of his 82-year-old father, King Salman.

Today, the Saudi prince has become toxic, and his ascension to the Saudi throne seems less inevitable than two weeks ago. Yet, well before Khashoggi’s disappearance in the consulate, Crown Prince Mohammed’s behavior had seemed wildly erratic.

Along with the UAE, he charged Qatar with supporting terrorism, severed relations, and threatened to build a ditch to sever Qatar from the Arabian Peninsula. To protest criticism of his country’s human rights record by Canada’s foreign minister, he cut all ties to Ottawa.

Last year, he summoned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh, held him for a week, and forced him to resign his office and blame it on Iranian interference in Lebanon. Released, Hariri returned home to reclaim his office.

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A professed reformer, Crown Prince Mohammed opened movie theaters to women and allowed them to drive, and then jailed the social activists who had called for these reforms.

Three years ago, he initiated the war on the Houthis, after the rebels ousted a pro-Saudi president and took over most of the country.

And, since 2015, the crown prince has conducted a savage air war that has brought Houthi missiles down on his own country and capital.

Yemen has become Saudi Arabia’s Vietnam.

That our principal Arab ally in our confrontation with Iran, which could lead to yet another U.S. war, is a regime headed by so unstable a character should raise serious concerns about where it is we are going in the Middle East.

Have we not wars already?

Do we not have enough enemies in the region — Taliban, al-Qaida, ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Iran — to be starting another war?

As for our regional allies, consider.

NATO ally Turkey, which is pressing the case against our Saudi allies, leads the world in the number of journalists jailed. Our Egyptian ally, Gen. al-Sissi, came to power in a military coup, and has imprisoned thousands of dissidents of the Muslim Brotherhood.

While we have proclaimed Iran the “world’s greatest state sponsor of terror,” it is Yemen, where Saudi Arabia intervened in 2015, that is regarded as the world’s great human rights catastrophe.

Moreover, Iran is itself suffering from terrorism.

Last month, a military parade in the city of Ahvaz in the southwest was attacked by gunmen who massacred 25 soldiers and civilians in the deadliest terror attack in Iran in a decade.

And like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, Iran suffers, too, from tribalism, with Arab secessionists in its southwest, Baloch secessionists in its southeast, and Kurd secessionists in its northwest.

The U.S. cannot look aside at a royal Saudi hand in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist in its consulate in Istanbul. But before we separate ourselves from the Riyadh regime, we should ask what is the alternative if the House of Saud should be destabilized or fall?

When Egypt’s King Farouk was overthrown in 1952, we got Nasser.

When young King Faisal was overthrown in Baghdad in 1958, we eventually got Saddam Hussein. When King Idris in Libya was ousted in 1969, we got Qaddafi. When Haile Selassie was overthrown and murdered in Ethiopia in 1974, we got Col. Mengistu and mass murder. When the Shah was overthrown in Iran in 1979, we got the Ayatollah.

As World War I, when four empires fell, testifies, wars are hell on monarchies. And if a new and larger Middle East war, with Iran, should break out in the Gulf, some of the Arab kings, emirs and sultans will likely fall.

And when they do, history shows, it is not usually democrats who rise to replace them.

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Israel at 70: Bibi’s Troubled Hour of Power

Israel at 70: Bibi's Troubled Hour of Power

By Patrick J. Buchanan

For Bibi Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister save only founding father David Ben-Gurion, it has been a week of triumph.

Last Tuesday, President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal as Bibi had demanded. Thursday, after Iran launched 20 missiles at the Golan Heights, Bibi answered with a 70-missile attack on Iran in Syria.

“If it rains on us, it will storm on them. I hope we have finished the episode,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, boasting that Israel’s raids hit “nearly all Iranian infrastructure in Syria.”

The day before, Bibi was in Moscow, persuading Vladimir Putin to cancel the sale of Russia’s S-300 air defense system to Damascus.

Yesterday, in an event televised worldwide, the U.S. embassy was transferred to Jerusalem, with Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner doing the honors in what Bibi called a “glorious day.” Few can recall a time when Israel seemed in so favorable a position.

The White House and the Republican Party that controls Congress are solidly behind Israel. Egypt is cooperating to battle terrorists in Sinai.

Israel has a de facto alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf royals. And the Palestinians have never been more divided, isolated and alone.

Yet, there is another side to this story, also visible this last week.

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As the transfer ceremony of the Jerusalem embassy was taking place, TV split screens showed pictures of protesting Palestinians, 52 of whom were shot dead Monday, with thousands wounded by snipers. Some 40,000 had rallied against the U.S. embassy move.

Even before Monday’s body count, the Gaza Health Ministry said that, over the previous six Fridays of “March of Return” protests, 49 Palestinians had been killed and 2,240 hit by live fire from Israeli troops.

Those dead and wounded Palestinians are not likely to be forgotten in Gaza. And while Israel has never had so many Arab regimes willing to work with her in pushing back against Iran, Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit called the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, a “clear violation of international law.”

Gheit added: “The fall of Palestinian martyrs by the bullets of the Israeli occupation must ring an alarm … bell to any state that does not find anything wrong with the immoral and illegal stance that we are watching.”

Last week, Hezbollah, which arose in resistance to the 1982 Israeli occupation of Lebanon, and expelled the Israeli army 18 years later, won Lebanon’s elections. A Hezbollah-backed coalition will likely form the new government in Beirut.

Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S. and Bibi ally, said that any attack by Hezbollah, which fought Israel to a standstill in 2006, should bring an Israeli declaration of war — on Lebanon.

While Israel launched some 100 strikes on Syria in recent years, Syrian President Bashar Assad has survived and, with the aid of Hezbollah, Iran and Russia, won his civil war.

Assad and his army and allies are far stronger now, while President Trump, Israel’s indispensable ally, speaks of bringing U.S. troops home from Syria. In polls, a majority of Americans lines up behind Israel in its clashes, but a majority also wants no more U.S. wars in the Middle East.

Also, Sunday, the U.S. sustained another major political defeat.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi lost his re-election bid. Based on early results, the winning coalition was that of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, against whose forces U.S. troops fought a decade ago.

Running second was a ticket led by a Shiite militia general close to Iran. When a new government is formed in Baghdad, the orientation of Iraq seems certain to shift away from the United States.

While the Israelis are the most powerful nation in the region, how long can they keep 2 million Palestinian Arabs confined in the penal colony that is the Gaza Strip? How long can they keep the 2 million Palestinians of the West Bank living in conditions even Israeli leaders have begun to compare to apartheid?

Across the West, especially in universities, a BDS movement to have students, companies and consumers boycott, divest and sanction Israeli-produced products has been gaining ground.

The Palestinians may have been abandoned by Arab rulers and the wider world. Yet, history teaches that people forced to survive in such conditions eventually rise in rebellion and revolution, take revenge, and exact retribution for what was done to them and their own.

Republican leaders often say that we cannot permit “any daylight” between the U.S. position and that of Israel.

But can the country that decried for decades the panicked reaction of an Ohio National Guard that shot and killed four students at Kent State University sit silent as scores of unarmed protesters are shot to death and thousands are wounded by Israeli troops in Gaza?

Bibi and Israel appear to be on a winning streak. It is difficult to see how, over the long run, it can be sustained.

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Their War, Not Ours

Their War, Not Ours

By Patrick J. Buchanan

As the Islamic warriors of ISIS rolled down the road from Mosul, John McCain was an echo of French Premier Paul Reynaud, when word reached Paris that Rommel had broken through in the Ardennes:

“We are now facing an existential threat to the security of the United States of America,” said McCain.

But nothing that happens in Mesopotamia is going to threaten the existence of the United States. As for the terrorist threat from ISIS, for us it is neither greater nor less than it was a week ago.

The existential threat here is to Iraq. Its survival as one nation is now in question, with the possibility it could be torn apart in a civil and sectarian war. But this is preeminently Iraq’s problem, not ours.

And if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his 900,000-man army, and Shia militia cannot defend Baghdad from a few thousand Islamist warriors, America is under no obligation to do it for them.

Maliki told us to go home three years ago. We did. And before we plunge back into that misbegotten war, let us consider what the real threats are — to America.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria consists of fanatics who seek to carve a caliphate out of territory they now control from Aleppo in Syria to 60 miles north of Baghdad.

Yet they have halted before Baghdad. And among the reasons is that Iraq’s Shia majority is not going to allow Sunni zealots to capture their cities, smash their shrines, and murder their fellow Shia.

They will fight, as the Iraqi army did not.

Secondly, ISIS has as allies in the north and west of Iraq Sunnis who detest Maliki and wish to be rid of him. But these Sunni are not demanding a Taliban regime to abolish smoking and drinking. Nor are they fighting to cut off the heads of their Shia countrymen.

If ISIS goes beyond the liberation of the Sunni triangle to trying to take over all of Iraq, they will lose many Sunni allies and find themselves facing Iraq’s Shia majority, backed up by Iranian forces, virtually alone.

But while the Iraqi army and Shia militia may well hold Baghdad, it is hard to see how Maliki can soon reconquer the Sunni provinces. For the Sunnis want no part of him or his regime.

Nor does Maliki seem capable of taking back Kirkuk, which the Kurds seized in the chaos as a step toward independence.

What should America do? Take a hard look at our entire Middle East policy.

Consider. We are now providing weapons to the Free Syrian Army to oust Bashar Assad. “Assad must go!” blared Barack Obama in one of his many ignored ultimata.

But should Assad fall, the result will be the persecution of the Syrian Christians, a massacre of the Alawites, and a possible takeover of the country by the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and ISIS.

Is any of that in America’s interests?

Vladimir Putin lately raised a valid question: Why, in Syria, are the Americans on the same side as the people who took down the twin towers? Indeed, why are we?

And who is fighting al-Qaida and ISIS in Syria, battling those McCain calls an “existential threat” to American security?

Bashar Assad. Hezbollah. Iran. Russia.

Tehran has reportedly volunteered to work with us in providing military aid to prop up the Maliki regime and keep ISIS out of Baghdad.

If we regard the survival of the Maliki regime to be in our national interests, why would we not green-light the Iranians to do this?

When Hitler turned on his partner Stalin, the United States rushed military aid to save the monster whom FDR and Truman took to calling “Good Old Joe” and “Uncle Joe” at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam.

Is the Ayatollah somehow worse than Stalin?

Yet, consider, too, how our allies in the Gulf and Middle East have behaved in Syria.

The Turks, clamoring for the overthrow of Assad, looked the other way as jihadists moved into Syria. The Gulf states and Saudis have reportedly sent money and military aid to the extremists.

Are the Turks and Gulf Arabs aiding these jihadists in the belief they will not turn on them, if and when Assad and Maliki fall? Do they think that by feeding this tiger ISIS, it will eat them last?

We may be entering the early stages of a sectarian war between Sunni and Shia across the Middle East. The ISIS claim of having executed 1,700 captured Shia soldiers in Iraq is surely intended to ignite one.

If it happens, this war could spread to Lebanon, Jordan and down into the Gulf states where Shia outnumber Sunnis in Bahrain and in the oil-producing provinces of the Saudi northeast.

Does the Middle East today — Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon — look like what we were promised by George Bush and his neocon advisers when they were beating the drums for a U.S. invasion of Iraq?

Stay out of the Syrian Maelstrom

Stay Out of Syria

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“In Syria, I will work … to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters and fighter jets.”

This commitment by Mitt Romney in his VMI address has thrilled the neocons as much as it has unsettled the realists in his camp.

And the reasons for the latter’s alarm are apparent.

Last year, U.S. planes scrambled to defend Benghazi against the “tanks, helicopters and fighter jets” of Col. Gadhafi. Now we are investigating the murders of our ambassador and three Americans in the city we saved.

To bring down helicopters and fighter jets would require U.S. F-16s over Syria or putting surface-to-air missiles in rebel hands. Do we really want to be passing Stingers around a no man’s land where al-Qaida agents could buy up a few to bring down U.S. airliners?

What Romney proposes is an act of war. Before we get into our fourth war in 12 years, let us consider the antagonists.

This is first a religious war with the Shia regimes — Hezbollah, Iran and the Iraqis we brought to power — lined up behind Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Aligned against are Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who have been sending arms to the rebels, and Turkey, which has allowed the transfer of arms.

Egypt has not gotten involved, but President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood has demanded that Assad stand down.

Among the rebels fighting Assad, however, are Islamic jihadists from across the Middle East and al-Qaida. And should Assad fall, his successor would likely be a Sunni favorite of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Does the Brotherhood “share our values”?

If Damascus falls to the Brotherhood, the Christians Assad sheltered would face the fate of the Copts in Egypt and Christians in Iraq: terror, persecution, expulsion. The Alawites, the Shia minority whence Assad comes, would go to the wall.

There is also an ethnic component to this war. If the regime and state collapse, Syria‘s Kurds could emulate their cousins in Iraq and Turkey and unite to fight for a separate Kurdistan in the heart of the Middle East.

Then there are the strategic stakes. If Assad falls, the Shia crescent — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon — is severed. Vladimir Putin’s navy, whose last base in the Mediterranean is Tartus on Syria‘s coast, would suffer a strategic defeat.

Thursday, the Turks forced down a Syrian airliner flying from Moscow to Damascus and removed what the Turks described as military equipment. An angry Moscow has protested.

And Israel? While nothing would please Israelis more than a strategic defeat for Tehran, Assad and his father kept the peace on the Golan for 40 years. And as the Sinai is turning into a no man’s land with Hosni Mubarak gone and the Muslim Brotherhood in power, might not the same happen on the Golan when Assad falls?

And how have the Turks benefited from their involvement? By siding against Assad, they made a mortal enemy of a friend. Assad in retaliation loosened the reins on Syria‘s Kurds, whose kinsmen are 20 percent of Turkey‘s population. The Alawites in Turkey, ethnic Arabs, number another 15 million. The hard line taken by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming increasingly unpopular with his people.

How long would Americans support an administration that embroiled us in this maelstrom?

In the last week, shells from Syria have landed on Turkish soil. Is the Syrian army doing this deliberately? That makes no sense.

Are these mortar shells landing in Turkey a result of artillery duels between the Syrian army and rebels? Or are the rebels doing it deliberately to provoke Turkey into entering the war?

The Turkish line toward Syria is growing more belligerent. Are the Turks seeking a clash with the Syrian army so Ankara can invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty and force the United States to join Turkey in ousting Assad, if not on a march to Damascus?

In an Arab world that does not fondly recall an Ottoman Empire whose heartland Turkey was, that would not sit well.

The Syrian civil war could end suddenly with the fall of Assad. But it could also widen with Turkey and Hezbollah becoming directly involved, and Russia, Iran and Iraq sending military aid to prop up their ally. The whole region could go up in flames.

Yet what vital American interest is there in who rules in Damascus to justify yet another U.S. war in the Middle East?

While the Assads are despotic, George H.W. Bush made the father an ally in Desert Storm and Ehud Barak offered to return to Hafez Assad the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace deal.

If America has a vital interest in this multisided war, that interest is served by staying out, as we have done for its duration.

And how exactly have we suffered by not plunging in?

The Irreconcilable Conflict

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

“Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat.”

Thus did Kipling, the Poet of Empire, caution the British about the Eastern world the Victorians and Edwardians believed to be theirs.

And with that world so inflamed against us, perhaps we should inspect more closely our irreconcilable conflict — what Harvard’s Michael Ignatieff calls “the fatal dialectic between Islamic rage and Western free speech.” Consider first American values, as seen from an ACLU point of view.

Our establishment holds that not only is there to be a wall of separation between church and state, all symbols of religious belief are to be expunged from public institutions and the public square.

And what do devout Muslims believe?

That there is no God but Allah, that Muhammad is his Prophet, that sharia shows the way to a moral life in this world and paradise in the next.

Many Muslims put their Islamic faith ahead of their national identity and forbid preachers from other religions from coming into their countries to convert their young. Apostasy is treason to Allah. Heresy has no rights.

From America’s schools, religion has been relentlessly purged. No prayers, no Bibles, no Christian symbols, no Ten Commandments. And into these godless madrassas of modernity has come compulsory sex education starting in the early grades, with condoms handed out to the sexually active.

Devout Muslims demand that children be immersed in their Islamic faith in their schools and believe that teachers who condone or encourage sexual activity among their young are and should be treated as perverts.

In Charlotte, the Democratic Party came out for “marriage equality” and subsidized abortions into the ninth month of pregnancy with the woman the sole decider as to whether the unborn child lives or dies.

In many Muslim countries, men caught in homosexual activity risk mutilation and women’s rights do not exist. What do we think is going to happen to those girls’ schools in Afghanistan when we come home and the Taliban return?

When we proclaim that our First Amendment protects Quran-burning and denigrating the Prophet in books, magazines, videos and films, devout Muslims reply unapologetically: Under Quranic law, we kill people like that.

In America, Christians have futilely protested insults to their faith like the “Piss Christ” and depiction of a Madonna adorned with elephant dung.

Muslim protests appear more effective, as Salman Rushdie, the Danish cartoonist who portrayed Muhammad with a bomb for a turban and Theo van Gogh, ritually slaughtered in Holland, could testify.

We preach pluralism. Some Muslim countries take the same attitude toward religious pluralism as Henry VIII and Torquemada.

In our own country in 1844, the founder of Mitt Romney’s faith discovered that Protestant America was not all that tolerant, when a mob lynched him right there in the land of Lincoln.

Our elite believe in a new trinity of equality, democracy and diversity. Indeed, after the Cold War, we declared the spread of democracy worldwide to be our historic mission and national goal.

But, down deep, do we really believe what we say? When U.S. vital interests clash with democratist ideology, do we not put those interests first?

The king of Bahrain has been in power for 10 years. Have we ever called for free elections there, which would likely produce a Shia government friendly to Iran and far less receptive to remaining as the Persian Gulf base for the Fifth Fleet?

Have we ever demanded that the king of Saudi Arabia hold free elections? When one-man, one-vote produced victories for Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, did not George W. Bush, the great Democracy Crusader himself, put it on the shelf for a while?

We proclaim that we cherish the First Amendment. Do we?

If so, whose version of that amendment? How many Americans would willingly die for the constitutional right to produce pornographic films? Or for some nutball’s right to insult the Prophet? Or the right of “artists” to befoul and denigrate Christian images of our own Lord and Savior?

Our Founding Fathers who created this republic did not believe in democracy. When did we come to worship this idol? Wrote T.S. Eliot:

“The term ‘democracy,’ as I have said again and again, does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces that you dislike — it can easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God), you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.”

Worldwide, there are a billion and a half Muslims. Their numbers are exploding, while the post-Christian West stares at demographic death by century’s end.

While we remain infinitely superior militarily and materially, what will be the ultimate outcome of the clash of civilizations? Kipling’s prediction:

“And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,

“And the epitaph drear: ‘A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.'”

Syria’s Insurrection Is Not America’s War

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In pushing for U.S. military intervention in Syria — arming the insurgents and using U.S. air power to “create safe zones” for anti-regime forces “inside Syria’s borders” — The Washington Post invokes “vital U.S. interests” that are somehow imperiled there.

Exactly what these vital interests are is left unexplained.

For 40 years, we have lived with a Damascus regime led by either Bashar Assad or his father, Hafez Assad. Were our “vital interests” in peril all four decades?

In 1991, George H.W. Bush recruited the elder Assad into his Desert Storm coalition that liberated Kuwait. Damascus sent 4,000 troops. In gratitude, we hosted a Madrid Conference to advance a land-for-peace deal between Assad and Israel.

It failed, but it could have meant a return of the Golan Heights to Assad and Syria’s return to the eastern bank of the Sea of Galilee.

We could live with that but cannot live with Bashar?

Comes the reply: The reason is the Houla massacre, where more than 100 Syrians were slaughtered, mostly women and children, the most horrid atrocity in a 15-month war that has taken 10,000 lives.

We Americans cannot stand idly by and let this happen.

That massacre was indeed appalling, and apparently the work of rogue militias aligned with the regime. But in 1982, Bashar’s father rolled his artillery up to the gates of Hama and, to crush an insurrection by the Muslim Brotherhood, fired at will into the city until 20,000 were dead.

What did America do? Nothing.

In Black September, 1970, Jordan’s King Hussein used artillery on a Palestinian camp, killing thousands and sending thousands fleeing into Lebanon. During Lebanon’s civil war from 1975 to 1990, more than 100,000 perished. In the 1980s, Iraq launched a war on Iran that cost close to a million dead.

We observed, content that our enemies were killing one another.

In 1992, Islamists in Algeria won the first round of voting and were poised to win the second. Democracy was about to produce a result undesired by the Western democracies. So Washington and Paris gave Algiers a green light to prevent the Islamists from coming to power. That Algerian civil war cost scores of thousands dead.

If Arab and Muslim peoples believe Americans are hypocrites who cynically consult their strategic interests before bemoaning Arab and Muslim victims of terror and war, do they not have a point?

As for the Post‘s idea of using U.S. air power to set up “safe zones” on Syrian soil, those are acts of war. What do we do if the Syrian army answers with artillery strikes on those safe zones or overruns one, inflicting a stinging defeat on the United States?

Would we accept the humiliation — or escalate? What if Syrian air defenses start bringing down U.S. planes? What would we do if Syria’s Hezbollah allies start taking Americans hostage in Lebanon?

Ronald Reagan sent the Marines into Lebanon in 1983. His intervention in that civil war resulted in our embassy being blown up and 241 Marines massacred in the bombing of the Beirut barracks. Reagan regarded it as the worst mistake of his presidency. Are we going to repeat it because Bashar has failed to live up to our expectations?

Consider the forces lining up on each side in what looks like a Syrian civil war and dress rehearsal for a regional sectarian war.

Against Assad’s regime are the United States, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, the Turks and Saudis, and Sunni states of the Persian Gulf.

On Assad’s side are his 300,000-strong army, the Alawite Shia in Syria, Druze, Christians, and Kurds, all of whom fear a victory of the Brotherhood, and Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah.

The question for our bellicose interventionists is this:

How much treasure should be expended, how much American blood shed so the Muslim Brotherhood can depose the Assad dynasty, take power, and establish an Islamist state in Syria?

“Tell me how this thing ends,” said Gen. David Petraeus at the onset of our misbegotten Iraq War. If we begin providing weapons to those seeking the overthrow of Assad, as the Post urges, it will be a fateful step for this republic.

We will be morally responsible for the inevitable rise in dead and wounded from the war we will have fueled. We will have committed our prestige to Assad’s downfall. As long as he survives, it will be seen as a U.S. defeat and humiliation.

And once the U.S. casualties come, the cry of the war party will come — for victory over Assad, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia! We will be on our way into another bloody debacle in a region where there is no vital U.S. interest but perhaps oil, which these folks have to sell to survive.

Before the religious and ethnic conflicts of Europe were sorted out, it took centuries of bloodletting, and our fathers instructed us to stay out of these quarrels that were none of our business.

Syria in 2012 is even less our business.

Who Commissioned Us to Remake the World?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, Obama’s man in Moscow, who just took up his post, has received a rude reception. And understandably so.

In 1992, McFaul was the representative in Russia of the National Democratic Institute, a U.S. government-funded agency whose mission is to promote democracy abroad.

The NDI has been tied to color-coded or Orange revolutions such as those that dethroned regimes in Serbia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Lebanon. The project miscarried in Belarus.

The NDI is one of several agencies, dating to the 1980s, that were set up to subvert communist regimes. With the end of the Cold War, however, these agencies were not decommissioned, but recommissioned to serve as something of an American Comintern.

Where the old Comintern of Lenin sought to instigate communist revolutions across the West and its empires, post-Cold War America decided to promote democratic revolutions to remake the world in the image of late 20th century America.

In 2002, McFaul wrote a book: “Russia‘s Unfinished Revolution.”

Vladimir Putin’s men are not unreasonably asking if he was sent to Moscow to finish that revolution. Putin has already accused Hillary Clinton of flashing the signal for street demonstrations to begin — to protest Russia‘s December’s elections.

Nor is it surprising the Putin’s people are suspicious of McFaul, who added to his problems by meeting with anti-Putin dissidents the day after he presented his credentials.

McFaul says this is part of his “dual-track engagement” with Russian society. Before leaving for Moscow, he told NPR’s “Morning Edition”: “We’re not going to get into the business of dictating (Russia‘s) path (to democracy). … We’re just going to support what we like to call ‘universal values’ — not American values, not Western values, universal values.”

But what, exactly, are these “universal values”?

And who are we to impose them on other nations? Did Divine Providence assign us this mission? Who do we Americans think we are?

After all, we do not even agree ourselves on what is moral and immoral, good and evil. Indeed, our own deep disagreements on what is moral and what is not are at the root of the culture wars tearing this country apart.

In America, women have a constitutional right to an abortion. Scores of millions have availed themselves of that right since Roe v. Wade. Yet traditionalists of many faiths — Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish — reject any such woman’s right and regard it as a moral abomination.

Do homosexuals have a right to cohabit, form civil unions and marry?

In a few American states, yes; in others, no. But try to impose those values on nations of the Muslim and Third Worlds, where homosexuality is a moral outrage and even a capital offense, and our ambassadors will find themselves in physical peril.

Does McFaul believe democracy is a universally superior system of government? Yet our own founding fathers detested one-man, one-vote democracy. Democracy does not even get a mention in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the Federalist Papers.

The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, believed society should be ruled by a “natural aristocracy” of “virtue and talent.”

If the promotion of democracy is a mission of our diplomats, are we to subvert the monarchies of Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia?

When we see how democracy empowered the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis in Egypt, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, does it even make sense to insist that it be embraced by nations where the populations are pervasively anti-American?

What is the universally right stand on capital punishment — the Rick Perry position in Texas or the Andrew Cuomo position in New York?

In the United States, all religions — Santeria, Wicca, Islam, Christianity — are to be treated equally and all kept out of the public square and the pubic schools. In a Muslim world that contains a fifth of mankind, Islam is the one true faith. Rival faiths have few or no rights.

Are we going to push the Islamic world to treat all religions equally?

We celebrate religious, racial and ethnic diversity. The Chinese, who persecute Uighurs, Tibetans, Christians and Falun Gong, detest that diversity and fear it will tear their country apart.

We believe in freedom of speech and the press.

Yet, in France, if you deny the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians in 1915, you are guilty of a crime, while in Turkey if you affirm that the Turks committed genocide, you have committed a crime. Should U.S. diplomats battle for repeal of both laws? Or mind our own business?

If America wishes to lead the world, let us do it by example, as we once did, not by hectoring every nation on earth to adopt the American way, which as of now, does not seem to be working all that well for Americans.

McFaul should stick to his diplomatic duties.

Jefferson had it right, “We wish not to meddle with the internal affairs of any country.”

Is the Window Closing on Israel?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In June 1967, with ex-Vice President Richard Nixon, this writer toured an Israeli military hospital full of wounded Egyptian soldiers.

An Israeli officer told us that in the hospital was an Egyptian officer he had captured in the 1956 Sinai campaign, and that he had asked the Egyptian: “We have fought three times now, and three times you have been defeated. Why do you keep fighting us?”

The Egyptian replied, “You may have defeated us three times, and you may defeat us 11 times. But the 12th time we win.”

From that Six-Day War, wise Israelis took away two lessons.

First, they had to remain alert and strong enough to defeat all their neighbors at once. Second, the more important struggle was that they must win the acceptance of the Arab peoples to survive in an Arab sea.

The Israelis were not alert in 1973 when Egypt launched the attack of Yom Kippur that sent their army reeling along the Suez Canal.

President Nixon intervened with a massive airlift to save Israel.

Half a decade later, President Sadat and Menachem Begin agreed at Camp David to a trade of land for peace. Israel would give up all of Sinai captured in 1967 in return for a peace treaty with Cairo.

A treaty with King Hussein of Jordan followed.

Israel was on its way to winning acceptance in the Arab world.

In 1982, after an Israeli diplomat was mortally wounded by an assassin in London, Begin ordered an invasion of Lebanon. Gen. Ariel Sharon swiftly reached the suburbs of Beirut, and Yasser Arafat’s PLO was expelled to Tunis.

But as Yitzhak Rabin ruefully conceded, “We let the Shia genie out of the bottle.”

In the south of Lebanon, quiescent Shiites had begun to fight the Israeli occupation in militias that came to be known as Hezbollah.

Bled for 18 years, the Israelis withdrew in 2000, leaving Hezbollah dominant in Lebanon.

Perhaps more critically, after the Six-Day War, the Israelis had annexed all of Jerusalem and begun to move settlers into East Jerusalem and onto the West Bank. In 1987 came the First Intifada, an uprising of the Palestinians using sticks and stones. Yet the movement of Israeli settlers continued. From a few thousand in the 1970s, the number has grown to half a million.

Having won peace with Egypt and Jordan, the Israelis began secret negotiations with the Palestinians. In 1994 came the Oslo Accords, an agreement to trade land for peace. As Sadat got back the Sinai by making peace with Israel, Palestinians would get a nation of their own in return for recognizing Israel.

Israel had broken out of her isolation and won acceptance from Egypt, Jordan and even Arafat’s PLO.

But in 1995, Prime Minister Rabin, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize for Oslo and had come to believe in the necessity of trading land for peace, was assassinated by an Israeli fanatic determined to prevent any surrender of West Bank land.

When Sharon came to power, he gave up Gaza, but refused to yield on Jerusalem or the West Bank. His successor, Ehud Olmert, like Rabin and Ehud Barak before him, came to believe that Israel had to give up the West Bank for peace, or she would never know peace.

But Olmert failed to negotiate that peace.

Looking back, Israel has prevailed in all her wars, from the War of Independence, to the Sinai campaign, to the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars, to the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, to the first and second intifadas, the Lebanon War of 2006 and the Gaza War of 2008.

But today Israel is more isolated than she has ever been, and the prospects are bleak that she can break out of this isolation.

Hamas rules Gaza. Hezbollah rules Lebanon. The Turks have turned hostile. The Palestinian Authority has given up on Barack Obama and is demanding a state from the Security Council and U.N. General Assembly. Israel’s partner in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, is gone. The Israeli embassy in Cairo has been sacked. Mobs in Amman have sought to do the same.

George W. Bush was persuaded by neocons that an invasion of Iraq would start the dominoes of Arab tyranny falling and usher in an era of pro-Western democracies in the region.

Not quite. The Arab Spring that followed the U.S. invasion by a decade is bringing down the despots but also unleashing the demons of ethnonationalism and Islamic fundamentalism that are anti-American and anti-Zionist.

Israel’s great patron, America, is in retreat from the region, with her army in Iraq home by year’s end and her autocratic allies down in Egypt and Tunisia and tottering in Bahrain and Yemen.

By 2050, Palestinians west of the Jordan will outnumber Israelis two to one. Syria, Jordan and Egypt, which had 40 million people at the time of the Six-Day War, will have 170 million. Militarily, Israel remains dominant, but neither time nor demography seems to be on her side.

And Arab acceptance seems more distant than ever.

Israel in a Post-American Era

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In 1918, the United States proved militarily decisive in the defeat of the Kaiser’s Germany and emerged as first power on earth.

World War II, ending in 1945, produced two truly victorious nations, the Soviet Union of Joseph Stalin and the America of Harry Truman.

Out of the Cold War that lasted from Truman to the disintegration of the Soviet Empire and breakup of the Soviet Union at the end of Ronald Reagan’s term came a lone victor: the last superpower, the United States.

Who emerged triumphant from the post-Cold War era, 1991-2011?

Indisputably, it is China, whose 10-12 percent annual growth vaulted her past Italy, France, Britain, Germany and Japan to become the world’s second largest economy and America’s lone rival for first manufacturing power.

If we use a metric called “purchasing power parity,” China overtakes America in 2016. Says the International Monetary Fund, the American era is over.

Strategically, too, the United States seems in retreat, nowhere more so than in that region that was the focus of George W. Bush’s “global democratic revolution.” And no nation reflects more the relative loss of U.S. power and influence than does Israel, whose isolation is today unprecedented.

A decade ago, Turkey, a NATO ally of 50 years, was a quiet friend and partner to Israel. Today, the Palestinians in Gaza view the Turks as among their staunchest friends in the Middle East.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt scrupulously adhered to the terms of his predecessor’s peace treaty with Israel and maintained the western end of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Since he fell, the interim Egyptian regime has midwifed a unity government of Fatah and Hamas, moved to establish diplomatic relations with Tehran for the first time since the fall of the Shah and begun to lift the Gaza blockade. September’s elections are almost guaranteed to deliver to parliament a huge if not controlling bloc from the Muslim Brotherhood.

While the Brotherhood appears to be the strongest party in Egypt, it has held back from openly seeking the presidency or absolute power in the legislature. It appears to be playing a waiting game. After them, us.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader who had looked to President Obama to bring a halt to new Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and preside over peace talks, appears to have given up on the Americans.

Though the beneficiary of hundreds of millions in U.S. aid, he has entered a coalition with his old enemy Hamas, and together — if they can stay together — they plan to seek recognition of an independent Palestine by vote of the U.N. General Assembly in September.

The likelihood is that the overwhelming majority, including many of America’s allies, will vote to recognize Palestine and seat it in the General Assembly, where it can make demands on Israel, backed by U.N. sanctions, to terminate its occupation and vacate its national territory.

The General Assembly resolution will set as the borders of Palestine those that existed between 1948 and 1967. But, today, beyond those borders live no fewer than 500,000 Israeli Jews.

While the United States vetoed a recent Security Council resolution condemning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued expansion of settlements, we have no veto in the General Assembly. If Obama opposes the U.N. resolution, we and Israel will stand virtually alone.

Nor are these the only crises Israel confronts.

To Israel’s north is Hezbollah, which has become the dominant force in Lebanon. To the south is Gaza, dominated by Hamas, which has never accepted Israel’s existence. Israel has fought wars with both.

To the east is the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority appears to have given up on U.S.-sponsored peace talks. Beyond lies Jordan, whose King Abdullah rules over millions of Palestinians, who is under pressure to take a tougher stand against Israel and who has no love for Bibi Netanyahu.

And what happened Sunday on the 63rd anniversary of Israel’s independence and the Palestinian “nakba,” or “catastrophe,” where 700,000 fled or were driven into exile, is perhaps the most ominous portent of all.

Palestinian protesters approached the fence separating Lebanon and Israel and climbed the fence on the Israeli-occupied Golan heights to come and reclaim Palestinian lands. Fifteen to 20 were shot to death and scores were wounded by Israeli troops.

Though the White House backed Israel, across Europe what Israel did to these protesters seemed exactly what the king of Bahrain and the president of Yemen had done to theirs.

Given the coordination of the Palestinian actions, we may be on the verge either of a Facebook revolution or a “third intifada,” an uprising by Palestinians in Israel, the occupied territories, and Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, where hundreds of thousands of descendants of the original exiles still live.

Such an uprising would divert the attention of Arab peoples from the failures of their own regimes and isolate Israel and her principal — indeed, only — ally, the United States, as they have never been before in the Arab world.

Onward Into Waziristan!

by Patrick J. Buchanan

With Hillary Clinton’s lead growing, Barack Obama appears to be overreaching to keep the spotlight and highlight their differences.

His suggestion that sex education begin in kindergarten seems a great leap forward even for a liberal Democrat. While Barack says it must be “age-appropriate” sex education, one need not be Roger Ailes to imagine what the GOP oppo-research boys can do with this one.

In the CNN-YouTube debate, Barack, asked if he would meet with the leaders of Cuba, Syria, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea in his first year as president “without precondition,” blurted yes.

Should he get the nomination, imagine an ad twinning photos of Obama and Fidel (or brother Raoul), Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong-il and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, titled, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner at Barack’s House?”

At the Woodrow Wilson Center on Wednesday, Barack attacked Hillary from both flanks. By giving Bush a blank check for war, said Barack, with Clinton in mind, “Congress became co-author of a catastrophic war.”

Then, Barack stepped smartly to his right and assumed the stance of tough-minded realist who opposes the Iraq war because he wants to fight the real war, against al-Qaida and Islamic terrorists. Obama pledged to send 7,000 more U.S. troops into Afghanistan and, if Pakistan does not go after al-Qaida in its border provinces, to slash U.S. aid and send in U.S. troops to chase down the terrorists.

“There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans,” said Barack. “They are plotting to strike again. … If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

Now a threat to intervene in a friendly country against the will of its government is serious business, especially when it is a nation of 170 million Muslims, seething with anti-Americanism, which has atom bombs.

If Barack is talking abut covert operatives and special forces slipping into Pakistan, or surgical strikes with Predator drones, that is one thing, best done quietly and with the complicity of Musharraf.

But if Barack is talking about sending U.S. ground forces into Waziristan or Baluchistan, why would this not leave us in another mess like Iraq, with the U.S. Army bleeding and no way out? Would not Osama bin Laden rejoice in a border crossing by U.S. troops into Pakistan, enraging the Pakistani nationalists as well as the border tribes?

After half a decade of fighting in the Islamic world, has not the lesson sunk in with the hawks of both parties? U.S. troops in an Arab or Muslim country are more likely to create an insurgency than quell one.

The primary reason Osama gave for declaring war was that U.S. troops were occupying soil sacred to all Muslims Saudi Arabia, home to Mecca. After 9/11, we pulled our troops out at the request of the king. This was an admission that our vast military presence there did not make the Saudis safer; it made them more vulnerable.

Are we or the Saudis less secure after closing our bases?

The lesson applies to Iraq. For all his wickedness, Saddam was no threat to U.S. strategic interests. Smashed in the Gulf War, his military had lost its navy, air force and much of its armor, none of which had been replaced during the 10-year embargo. And no Iraqi had been found in any terror attacks in the post-Cold War era, save the abortive plot on the first President Bush in Kuwait, which was apparently payback for our countless attempts to kill Saddam.

The same lesson should have been learned from Lebanon. When Ronald Reagan sent Marines into the middle of that civil war, we lost 241 in the barracks bombings.

When the Marines departed, the Hezbollah attacks stopped. What did it avail us to go into Lebanon? How are we less secure after we pulled out?

Undeniably, U.S. combat troops can defend regimes and kill our enemies. Equally undeniably, in the Islamic world, the presence of U.S. troops is an irritant to the population, an instigator of insurrection and a recruiting cause for al-Qaida.

In his famous memo of October 2003, Donald Rumsfeld asked: “Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?”

With 3,000 dead Americans since then, 25,000 wounded, scores of thousands of Iraqis dead, and 150,000 troops still fighting four years later, do we not have the answer to Rumsfeld’s question?

“Is our current situation such that ‘the harder we work, the behinder we get’?” asked Rumsfeld in 2003. Yep, and it is the same in 2007.

Yet, what do we hear? On to Tehran. On to Pakistan. Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.