Return of American Nationalism

by Patrick J. Buchanan – November 17, 1997

Scoff if you will at the claim, but I believe this fall may rank in historic significance in our time second only to the fall of 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down. Ridiculous, absurd, you say. Well, consider the three signal political events that marked this autumn.

One was the astonishing rout of the president on his highest priority, “fast track,” the bill by which Congress was to give up all rights to amend trade treaties. Standing behind Bill Clinton was a seemingly invincible phalanx: ex-Presidents Bush, Carter and Ford, all the ex-secretaries of state and trade representatives, the think tanks from Heritage to AEI to Cato and Brookings, the Big Media, all the name economists, the prestige punditocracy, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the Council on Foreign Relations and so on. Yet all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not prevail.

Make no mistake: If Clinton at 60 percent approval cannot win a vote where the GOP leadership is 100 percent with him, his cause is lost. Not since the “fighting 80th Congress” of Harry Truman’s time euthanized the International Trade Organization has globalism sustained such a defeat. But that was the last hurrah of GOP protectionism. Defeat of fast track is the first triumph of a blazing new nationalism.

And when the coming tsunami of Asian exports hits America’s shores, flooding our manufacturing base, and drowning industries and factories, the day of the economic nationalist will be at hand.

The second event was the stunning collapse of stock markets and currency values that began in Thailand. From Bangkok, the epidemic spread to Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. From Asia, it leapt the Pacific to Latin America. Now, stock market crashes and currency devaluations are occurring in Russia, the Baltic republics, Eastern Europe and Greece. The Global Economy is proving to be a high-speed transmission belt of global financial disaster. Where is our fire wall?

Nor is the end of this sickening earth slide in sight. But already, it is clear that Asia’s economies and banks are going to be devastated and their ability to repay Western creditors impaired. Thailand has received a $17 billion bailout; Indonesia’s Suharto regime is the beneficiary of a bailout that now exceeds $40 billion. If the Japanese banks start tumbling, the wreckage will be global.

What this crisis will produce is eminently predictable.

Asian regimes will soon inform Western corporate and banking elites they cannot pay their debts. The elites will then raise a great cry that the Asian nations must be bailed out, in the name of “stability” — by having the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the U.S. Treasury lend them hundreds of billions to pay their debts. Thus, the investments of Citibank, Goldman Sachs and all the rest can be made good with fresh loans — backed by U.S. taxpayers.

This globalist racket must be exposed, and ended, once and for all. Now is the time for populists to echo our free-trade friends who endlessly proclaim: “Let the markets work!” Let the investors who pocketed their Asian profits swallow their Asian losses. Let the big banks and their clients work out their problems without putting U.S. taxpayers on the hook.

When Clinton asks Congress for the $3.5 billion for the IMF that the House rejected at session’s end, Congress should just say no. If it does and check-mates Robert Rubin so he cannot bail out transnational corporations and investment banks with Treasury funds, the hollowness, fraudulence and bankruptcy of the Global Economy will be exposed for all the world to see.

The third event was the U.N. Security Council’s craven response to Saddam’s humiliating ouster of American members of the U.N. team searching for his hidden terror-weapons. France, China and Russia all oppose U.S. military action, and our Arab allies have defected. With the exception of the British, the United States stands alone in the Gulf.

What does this portend? Not only is the mighty coalition George Bush assembled to win the Gulf War ancient history, his dream of a New World Order where the United States — aided by allies and sanctioned by the United Nations — would police the planet, arresting outlaws and renegades, is dead. As dead as Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations, as dead as FDR’s dream of the Four Policemen — America, Britain, Russia and China — patrolling the post-fascist world.

What then has autumn wrought? It has brought to an end the liberal illusion of a Global Economy of ever-soaring prosperity and exposed as risible all that neo-conservative blather about a time of America’s “global hegemony.” The New World Order evanesces as the old world of nation-states reappears. Multilateralism has been discredited; a new era of American unilateralism is upon us. That is the message of this historic autumn, and the look of bewilderment on the face of our one-world president says it all.