The Empire Strikes Back

by Patrick J. Buchanan – February 16, 1998

The precise issue will be a demand by President Clinton for a huge increase in funding and borrowing power for the International Monetary Fund…On Feb. 11, the establishment returned with its warships. In both The New York Times and Washington Post was published an “Open Letter to the Congress of the United States.” The two-page document is a naked ultimatum: Congress is to re-declare allegiance to the New World Order or face the wrath of America’s power elite…

In 1773, American patriots, enraged at George III’s grant of a monopoly of their tea trade to the British East India Company, dressed up as Mohawks, boarded three British ships and dumped their tea into Boston harbor, an astonishing act of colonial defiance.

When word reached England, the king wrote Lord North: “The die is now cast… The Colonies must either submit or triumph.” The harbor of Boston was soon so crowded with British warships, said one patriot, you could walk across it without getting your feet wet.

Last fall, a commensurate act of American defiance took place. The president’s demand that Congress surrender its right to amend trade treaties (“fast track”) was rejected. Congress then rebuffed White House demands for $1 billion for the United Nations and $3.5 billion for the International Monetary Fund. Not in 50 years had a Congress so boldly declared its independence. It was an exhilarating and wonderful week.

But, as I said at the time, the global elite simply cannot accept these defeats; it must come back, or it is finished: “Before the cherry blossoms bloom, there will take place in Washington one of the great political clashes of our era. It will determine whether nations decide their own economic destiny or those decisions are to be transferred to supranational institutions. The future of the New World Order will be at stake. The precise issue will be a demand by President Clinton for a huge increase in funding and borrowing power for the International Monetary Fund.” That moment has now arrived.

On Feb. 11, the establishment returned with its warships. In both The New York Times and Washington Post was published an “Open Letter to the Congress of the United States.” The two-page document is a naked ultimatum: Congress is to re-declare allegiance to the New World Order or face the wrath of America’s power elite.

The letter was signed by two ex-presidents, two ex-chairmen of the Federal Reserve, four ex-secretaries of state, four ex-national security advisers, four former treasury secretaries and a host of ex-Cabinet officers. But the signatures that carry the threat are those of 100 of America’s corporate elite and money power: the chairmen and CEOs of AT&T, General Electric, General Motors, IBM, ITT, Exxon, Chase Manhattan, BankAmerica and the media mega-empires of Time Warner and Times Mirror.

Decrying isolationism, these corporate chieftains of America’s keiretsu make four demands:

1. Congress must deliver $18 billion, now, to the IMF to continue an Asian bailout that has already cost $117 billion.

2. Congress must impose no restrictions on Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin’s use of the United States’ $40 billion Exchange Stabilization Fund.

3. Congress must pay $1 billion in arrears to the United Nations.

4. Congress must undo last fall’s defiance and grant Clinton fast-track authority.

Congress is thus being ordered not only to embrace globalism but to abandon conservative principles, to emasculate itself and to surrender powers specifically given to it by the founding fathers.

Fast track means surrender of Congress’ constitutional power to amend trade treaties to a White House whose most recent treaty triumph was the global warming monstrosity Al Gore brought home from Kyoto. To send the United Nations $1 billion in back dues means Congress’ capitulation to wastrels who refuse to reduce our 25 percent share of their bloated budget but who just cut annual dues for their Third World cronies to $13,000 a year — about the cost of a Honda.

The ESF contains three times the entire foreign aid budget. For Congress to convert this $40 billion fund for protecting the dollar into Robert Rubin’s piggy bank would be an abject surrender of Congress’ constitutional power of the purse.

As for the IMF, conservatives from the Heritage Foundation to the Cato Institute to the American Enterprise Institute have denounced it for decades as a bailout bank for incompetent and corrupt regimes and the idiot-investors invariably fleeced by those regimes. Only last week, former Treasury Secretary William Simon and ex-Secretary of State George Shultz wrote, “The IMF is ineffective, unnecessary and obsolete. … Once the Asian crisis is over, we should abolish (it).”

Does the Republican Party have the courage of its convictions? Do Republicans truly believe in free markets where those who take the risks and reap the rewards also take the losses? Or is Congress led by blowhards who bash the United Nations and IMF back home but snap to attention when Henry Kissinger calls? How Congress reacts to the non-negotiable demands of the establishment will tell us if the GOP is led by men of kidney and courage — or congenital capitulators.

Meanwhile, it’s time to get out the feathers and war paint, and get down to the harbor. His majesty’s tea has just arrived!