Tell Europe: ‘It’s Your Problem’

by Patrick J. Buchanan – November 28, 1995

Los Angeles Times

The U.S. can hold the torch of liberty high
without becoming involved in every military skirmish…

His mentors at Georgetown and Oxford would be proud.
For Bill Clinton last night emerged as the true heir of Woodrow Wilson. In the name of “democracy” and “peace,” he committed the U.S. Army to a blood-soaked Balkan peninsula where no vital U.S. interest is at risk — to advance his vision of a new world order.

Whatever may be said of him, Clinton put his presidency on the line, boldly. And our Republican Congress?

Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole, like umpires in a college debate, urge that the President be given a chance to make his case for going in.

But what do they themselves believe? Well, they have doubts, but are open to persuasion.

There are several ways to characterize the Republican posture. Leadership, however, is not one of them.

History will look back on this Bosnian adventure as turning point. With the Cold War over, the Soviet empire dissolved, the United States decided on a permanent military presence in Europe, accepting prime responsibility, in perpetuity, for Europe’s security and peace.

No referendum was ever held on this momentous decision.

Why are we doing it? Because we are admonished; If we do not, U.S. global leadership is gone and NATO itself will perish. But does anyone believe that Europeans, free riders for 50 years on U.S. defense, will inform us that we may no longer protect them, if we do not put 20.000 troops into Bosnia?

This Bosnian crisis is the time to tell the Europeans what they should have been told years ago: Defense of their continent is now their responsibility. Why must 260 million Americans defend forever 300 million Europeans from 160 million Russians mired in poverty and despair? How long must their damnable dependency endure?

Our foreign policy Establishment is behaving with all the hubris of The Best and The Brightest who marched us into Vietnam. Under interventionists of both parties, U.S. foreign policy is being driven headlong toward bankruptcy.

Strategic liabilities — commitments to go to war to defend other nations — are annually expanded, as the assets to cover those liabilities — U.S. military power are drawn down. Since the Gulf War, U.S. armed forces have mustered out the equal of the entire Army of Desert Storm.

Yet consider our recent war guarantees: We are committed to defend Kuwait, to “dual containment” of Iran and Iraq, to protect Iraq’s Shiites and Kurds. We have put 2,000 troops in Haiti, 500 in Macedonia, as a trip wire to involve us in any war that erupts in the Southern Balkans and have pledged troops for the Golan Heights.

Clinton is sending 20,000 into Bosnia.

Among the NATO “expansionists,” moderates want war guarantees given to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic; the militants want war guarantees given to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine. Should Russian nationalist Alexander Lebed become president and seek to reassert Moscow’s influence, a U.S.-Russia collision would be certain. To enhance its probability, we have approved introduction of Russian combat troops, alongside Serbs, in Bosnia. Add our old Cold War commitments to defend 15 NATO allies, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the SEATO nations and Israel, and we have virtually ensured that no major war can break out, anywhere, without U.S. involvement, from Day One.

This is not statesmanship; It is imperial overstretch. We are inviting a day when our enemies, seeing that we cannot conceivably cover all our IOUs, are going to make a concerted run on the bank.

After our Cold War triumph, some of us pleaded for a complete review of all extraordinary Cold War commitments and a return to a traditional foreign policy rooted in U.S. national interests.

For this we are derided as “isolationists.”

But we say: Keep America the greatest power on earth, first on land, sea, in the air and space. Strike hard any enemy that strikes us. Hold high the torch of liberty, republicanism. But keep the bravest of America’s young out of wars where no vital interest is at risk, and do not send our wealth abroad in foreign aid to balance the budgets of foreign regimes when we cannot even balance our own.

This is not isolationism; it is Americanism. And if Clinton is set upon plunging us into Bosnia, we demand that Congress assert its rightful role in U.S. foreign policy and keep America out.