Encircling Weimar Russia

by Patrick J. Buchanan – March 9, 1998

Have we forgotten the disaster of the century at Versailles? After Berlin had agreed to an armistice based on Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points, the allies divided and dismembered Germany, placing millions of enraged Germans under foreign rule. Humiliated, Berlin turned east to conspire with V.I. Lenin. Overturning Versailles became the most popular plank of the Nazis’ platform. The first seeds of the Hitler-Stalin pact were sown in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles…

When Adolf Hitler seized Prague in 1939, Neville Chamberlain, his Munich pact revealed as folly, abruptly gave a war guarantee to Poland. As Britain could not conceivably save Warsaw, the aging statesman Lloyd George was apoplectic. This guarantee, he said, is “demented…the most reckless commitment any country has ever entered into.”
From that commitment came a world war. In what may prove the most demented and reckless act of our era, the Senate is about to give war guarantees to Poland. When it votes to expand NATO this month, it will commit America to go to war forever — nuclear war if need be — to defend places where we have never fought before.

In the 1960s, Gen. Charles DeGaulle ordered production of a French atom bomb because, he said: Americans will never trade Boston for Berlin — i.e., we would never use atomic weapons on Russia to defend Europe. Last week, the Foreign Relations Committee declared in an 18-2 vote that we are now willing to trade Boston for Bialystok.

Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. We are about to commit American children yet unborn to fight Russians yet unborn over lands no president ever considered vital to the United States.

Why are we doing this?

Well, it is said, inclusion in NATO will lock Eastern Europe into democracy. But inclusion in NATO did not prevent Greece and Turkey from sliding into dictatorship. And the nation we most need to lock into democracy is Russia, with its vast nuclear arsenal. But by bringing into a U.S. alliance lands once part of the czars’ empire, we are rubbing Moscow’s nose in its Cold War defeat.

Have we forgotten the disaster of the century at Versailles?

After Berlin had agreed to an armistice based on Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points, the allies divided and dismembered Germany, placing millions of enraged Germans under foreign rule. Humiliated, Berlin turned east to conspire with V.I. Lenin. Overturning Versailles became the most popular plank of the Nazis’ platform. The first seeds of the Hitler-Stalin pact were sown in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.

History repeats itself. By moving NATO onto Russia’s front porch, we have forced Moscow into the embrace of China. After our Cold War victory, our first foreign policy goal should have been to cement Russia to the West. Instead, we are declaring Moscow an enemy by making military allies of its nearest neighbors.

As one critic put it: To capture a pawn, we have risked a queen.

Expanding NATO, we are told, will strengthen us. But how does an alliance with the Czech Republic strengthen the United States? And what is the gain in security to justify the increased risk of a war with Russia?

“A larger NATO will make us safer by expanding the area of Europe where wars simply do not happen,” says Madeleine Albright. But not in 1,000 years has Eastern Europe known a half century without war.

Facing NATO to the west and Islam to the south, an encircled Russia, like Weimar Germany, is seeking friends where it can find them, in Tehran and Baghdad, and making trouble for America by selling technology for an Iranian nuclear reactor on the Persian Gulf.

In February, Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze was the target of assassins. Suspected motive: Moscow wants to disrupt U.S.-backed plans to move Caspian Sea oil through an Azerbaijani-Georgian pipeline to the Black Sea, cutting Russia out. In Armenia, moderate Levon Ter Petrossian has been ousted, and Russian arms are pouring in. Objective: destabilize the region and block the pipeline.

In the new war in Yugoslavia’s Kosovo, Russia is siding with Serbia against the United States. Equally ominous, Moscow is blasting Riga for the maltreatment of elderly Russians by Latvia’s police. That Baltic republic has 600,000 Russians, many retirees of the Red Army and Soviet Navy. Yet, Bill Clinton plans next to bring Latvia into NATO.

The administration claims NATO expansion can be bought for $1.5 billion over 10 years. Who are we deceiving — ourselves or the Poles? Does anyone think a U.S. protectorate over Eastern Europe can be purchased for less than the price of a B-2 bomber?

“Why the rush to expand NATO?” asks The New York Times.

Answer: Our elites do not want Americans to read the fine print on the incredible promissory note being signed in their name.

To their credit, Republican Bob Smith of New Hampshire and Democrat Tom Harkin of Iowa and 15 other senators have asked to postpone a final vote on NATO expansion until June. Instead of being rushed through, this vote ought to be treated as gravely as a vote on war — for it may well be exactly that.