How Trump’s Presidency Will Be Judged

How Trump's Presidency Will Be Judged

By Patrick J. Buchanan

On many issues — naming Scalia-like judges and backing Reagan-like tax cuts — President Trump is a conventional Republican.

Where he was exceptional in 2016, where he stood out starkly from his GOP rivals, where he won decisive states like Pennsylvania, was on his uniquely Trumpian agenda to put America and Americans first — from which the Bush Republicans recoiled.

Trump alone pledged to kill amnesty and secure the border with a 30-foot wall to halt the invasion of our country.

Trump alone pledged to end the de-industrialization of America and bring back our lost factories and lost jobs.

Trump alone pledged to end the democracy-crusading and extricate us from the endless Mideast wars into which George Bush, Barack Obama and the War Party had plunged the nation.

And, upon how he delivers on these three uniquely Trumpian issues will hang his political fate and history’s assessment of whether he was a good, great or failed president.

Where this city stands is not in doubt. It is salivating to see Trump’s presidency broken, his agenda trashed, and him impeached. This city looks to Robert Mueller as the Moses of its deliverance from the tyrant whom an uncomprehending electorate imposed upon it.

While Trump’s support among his deplorables is holding — indeed, he is creeping back up in the polls — the outcome of the battle to bring him down remains in doubt.

Consider. Trump’s border wall was treated like a disposable bauble in the GOP Congress’ $1.6 trillion budget deal. Cities and whole states are declaring themselves sanctuaries for people here illegally and defying U.S. authorities’ requests for help in deporting accused criminals.

A “caravan” of a thousand Central Americans is passing through Mexico, aided by the authorities, and headed for the U.S. border.

When they arrive, rely upon it, the anti-Trump media will be there to bewail any transgressions by the Border Patrol.

The hysterical reaction to news that the 2020 census will include a question, “Are you a U.S. citizen?” testifies to what this is all about.

America’s elites are adamant that our country should vanish inside a new Third World nation that resembles in its racial, religious and ethnic composition the U.N. General Assembly. The old God-and-country America the people loved they detest.

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Trump is likely the last president who will try to preserve that country. If he leaves office with the border unsecured, it is hard to see what stops the Third World invasion, even as it is also coming across the Mediterranean into Europe.

The Camp of the Saints” is no longer a dystopian novel.

Enoch Powell’s warning, 50 years ago, about mass migration into Europe, “Et thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno,” “I see the River Tiber foaming with much blood,” is now seen as prophecy.

And Trump’s agenda of economic nationalism — restoring the industrial dynamism and self-sufficiency America knew from Lincoln to Reagan — faces relentless hostility from institutionalized power.

Against Trump stand corporate elites, whose profits and stock options depend on producing outside America, and the managerial class of a New World Order that runs the EU, U.N., IMF, World Bank and WTO.

Yet if global elites are hoarding the largest slice of the wealth of nations and a goodly slice of their political power, one senses that they are an unloved crowd, and they are sitting on a volcano.

The third unique Trump issue was his commitment to extricate us from the Middle East wars into which Bush and Obama had entrenched us, and to keep us out of any new wars. Trump also pledged to reach out to Vladimir Putin and to Russia to avoid a second Cold War.

Those who voted for him voted for that foreign policy.

And if Trump is drawn into new wars with Iran or North Korea, or reaches 2020 with U.S. forces still fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya, he will be perceived as having failed.

Yet the resistance of this city to giving up its vision of U.S. global hegemony is broad and deep, for that vision is almost a defining mark of our foreign policy elites. For them to give it up would be like death itself.

The stunned reaction to Trump’s suggestion last week that we will be leaving Syria after ISIS’s caliphate is destroyed, testifies to how much their identify is tied up in this vision.

That Trump would accept an end to Syria’s civil war, with Bashar Assad still in power, is intolerable. Yet how we can reverse that reality without putting thousands of U.S. combat troops into Syria is unexplained. In the last analysis, then, it is upon three questions that the Trump presidency will be judged:

Did he secure America’s borders? Did he restore the industrial might of America? Did he take us out of and keep us out of any more neocon wars?

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Time to Get Over the Russophobia

Time to Get Over the Russophobia

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Unless there is a late surge for Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, who is running second with 7 percent, Vladimir Putin will be re-elected president of Russia for another six years on March 18.

Then we must decide whether to continue on course into a second Cold War, or engage Russia, as every president sought to do in Cold War I.

For our present conflict, Vladimir Putin is not alone at fault. His actions have often been reactions to America’s unilateral moves.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, we brought all of the Warsaw Pact members and three former republics of the USSR into our military alliance, NATO, to corral Russia. How friendly was that?

Putin responded with his military buildup in the Baltic.

George W. Bush abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that Richard Nixon had negotiated, Putin responded with a buildup of the offensive missiles he put on display last week.

The U.S. helped to instigate the Maidan Square coup that dumped over the elected pro-Russian government in Ukraine.

To prevent the loss of his Sebastopol naval base on the Black Sea, Putin countered by annexing the Crimean Peninsula.

After peaceful protests in Syria were put down by Bashar Assad, we sent arms to Syrian rebels to overthrow the Damascus regime.

Seeing his last naval base in the Med, Tartus, imperiled, Putin came to Assad’s aid and helped him win the civil war.

The Boris Yeltsin years are over.

Russia is acting again as a great power. And she sees us as a nation that slapped away her hand, extended in friendship in the 1990s, and then humiliated her by planting NATO on her front porch.

Yet, what is also clear is that Putin hoped and believed that, with the election of Trump, Russia might be able to restore respectful if not friendly relations with the United States.

Clearly, Putin wanted that, as did Trump.

Yet, with the Beltway hysteria over hacking of the DNC and John Podesta emails, and the Russophobia raging in this capital, we appear to be paralyzed when it comes to engaging with Russia.

The U.S. political system, said Putin this week, “has been eating itself up.” Is his depiction that wide of the mark?

What is the matter with us?

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Three years after Nikita Khrushchev sent tanks into Budapest to drown the Hungarian revolution in blood, Eisenhower was hosting him on a 10-day visit to the USA.

Two years after the Berlin Wall went up, and eight months after Khrushchev installed missiles in Cuba, Kennedy reached out to the Soviet dictator in his widely praised American University speech.

Lyndon Johnson met with Russian President Alexei Kosygin in Glassboro, New Jersey, just weeks after we almost clashed over Moscow’s threat to intervene in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.

Six months after Leonid Brezhnev sent tank armies to crush the Prague Spring in August 1968, an inaugurated Nixon was seeking detente.

In those years, no matter who was in the White House or Kremlin, the U.S. establishment favored engagement with Moscow. It was the right that was skeptical or hostile.

Again, what is the matter with this generation?

True, Vladimir Putin is an autocrat seeking a fourth term, like FDR.

But what Russian leader, save Yeltsin, has not been an autocrat? And Russians today enjoy freedoms of speech, assembly, religion, travel, politics, and the press that the generations before 1989 never knew.

China, not Russia, has the more repressive single-party Communist state.

Indeed, which of these U.S. allies shows greater tolerance than Putin’s Russia? The Philippines of Rodrigo Duterte, the Egypt of Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the Turkey of President Erdogan, or the Saudi Arabia of Prince Mohammad bin Salman?

Russia is nowhere near the strategic or global threat the Soviet Union presented. As Putin conceded this week, with the breakup of the USSR, his nation “lost 23.8 percent of its national territory, 48.5 percent of its population, 41 percent of its gross domestic product and 44.6 percent of its military capacity.”

How would Civil War Unionists have reacted if the South had won independence and then, to secure the Confederacy against a new invasion, Dixie entered into an alliance with Great Britain, gave the Royal Navy bases in New Orleans and Charleston, and allowed battalions of British troops to deploy in Virginia?

Japan negotiates with Putin’s Russia over the southern Kuril Islands lost at the end of World War II. Bibi Netanyahu has met many times with Putin, though he is an ally of Assad, whom Bibi would like to see ousted, and has a naval and air base not far from Israel’s border.

We Americans have far more fish to fry with Russia than Bibi.

Strategic arms control. De-escalation in the Baltic, Ukraine and the Black Sea. Ending the war in Syria. North Korea. Space. Afghanistan. The Arctic. The war on terror.

Yet all we seem to hear from our elite is endless whining that Putin has not been sanctioned enough for desecrating “our democracy.”

Get over it.

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Is US Being Sucked Into Syria’s War?

Is US Being Sucked Into Syria's War?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Candidate Donald Trump may have promised to extricate us from Middle East wars, once ISIS and al-Qaida were routed, yet events and people seem to be conspiring to keep us endlessly enmeshed.

Friday night, a drone, apparently modeled on a U.S. drone that fell into Iran’s hands, intruded briefly into Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights, and was shot down by an Apache helicopter.

Israel seized upon this to send F-16s to strike the airfield whence the drone originated. Returning home, an F-16 was hit and crashed, unleashing the most devastating Israeli attack in decades on Syria. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu says a dozen Syrian and Iranian bases and antiaircraft positions were struck.

Monday’s headline on The Wall Street Journal op-ed page blared:

“The Iran-Israel War Flares Up: The fight is over a Qods Force presence on the Syria-Israeli border. How will the U.S. respond?”

Op-ed writers Tony Badran and Jonathan Schanzer, both from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, closed thus:

“The Pentagon and State Department have already condemned Iran and thrown their support behind Israel. The question now is whether the Trump administration will go further. … Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (has) affirmed that the U.S. seeks not only to ensure its allies’ security but to deny Iran its ‘dreams of a northern arch’ from Tehran to Beirut. A good way to achieve both objectives would be back Israel’s response to Iran’s aggression — now and in the future.”

The FDD is an annex of the Israeli lobby and a charter member of the War Party.

Chagai Tzuriel, who heads the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence, echoed the FDD: “If you (Americans) are committed to countering Iran in the region, then you must do so in Syria — first.”

Our orders have been cut.

Iran has dismissed as “lies” and “ridiculous” the charge that it sent the drone into Israeli airspace.

If Tehran did, it would be an act of monumental stupidity. Not only did the drone bring devastating Israeli reprisals against Syria and embarrass Iran’s ally Russia, it brought attacks on Russian-provided and possibly Russian-manned air defenses.

Moreover, in recent months Iranian policy — suspending patrol boat harassment of U.S. warships — appears crafted to ease tensions and provide no new causes for Trump to abandon the nuclear deal Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani regards as his legacy.

Indeed, why would Iran, which, with Assad, Russia and Hezbollah, is among the victors in Syria’s six-year civil war, wish to reignite the bloodletting and bring Israeli and U.S. firepower in on the other side?

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In Syria’s southeast, another incident a week ago may portend an indefinite U.S. stay in that broken and bleeding country.

To recapture oil fields lost in the war, forces backed by Assad crossed the Euphrates into territory taken from ISIS by the U.S. and our Kurd allies. The U.S. response was a barrage of air and artillery strikes that killed 100 soldiers.

What this signals is that, though ISIS has been all but evicted from Syria, the U.S. intends to retain that fourth of Syria as a bargaining chip in negotiations.

In the northwest, Turkey has sent its Syrian allies to attack Afrin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened Manbij, 80 miles to the east, where U.S. troops commingle with the Kurd defenders and U.S. generals were visible last week.

Midweek, Erdogan exploded: “(The Americans) tell us, ‘Don’t come to Manbij.’ We will come to Manbij to hand over these territories to their rightful owners.”

The U.S. and Turkey, allies for six decades, with the largest armies in NATO, may soon be staring down each other’s gun barrels.

Has President Trump thought through where we are going with this deepening commitment in Syria, where we have only 2,000 troops and no allies but the Kurds, while on the other side is the Syrian army, Hezbollah, Russia and Iran, and Shiite militias from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Clearly, we have an obligation not to abandon the Kurds, who took most of the casualties in liberating eastern Syria from ISIS. And we have a strategic interest in not losing Turkey as an ally.

But this calls for active diplomacy, not military action.

And now that the rebels have been defeated and the civil war is almost over, what would be the cost and what would be the prospects of fighting a new and wider war? What would victory look like?

Bibi and the FDD want to see U.S. power deployed alongside that of Israel, against Iran, Assad and Hezbollah. But while Israel’s interests are clear, what would be the U.S. vital interest?

What outcome would justify another U.S. war in a region where all the previous wars in this century have left us bleeding, bankrupt, divided and disillusioned?

When he was running, Donald Trump seemed to understand this.

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A US-Turkish Clash in Syria?

A US-Turkish Clash in Syria?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

The war for dominance in the Middle East, following the crushing of ISIS, appears about to commence in Syria — with NATO allies America and Turkey on opposing sides.

Turkey is moving armor and troops south to Syria’s border enclave of Afrin, occupied by Kurds, to drive them out, and then drive the Syrian Kurds out of Manbij further south as well.

Says President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “We will destroy all terror nests, one by one, in Syria, starting from Afrin and Manbij.”

For Erdogan, the Kurdish YPG, the major U.S. ally in Syria, is an arm of the Kurdish PKK in Turkey, which we and the Turks have designated as a terrorist organization.

While the Kurds were our most effective allies against ISIS in Syria, Turkey views them as a mortal peril and intends to deal with that threat.

If Erdogan is serious, a clash with the U.S. is coming, as our Kurdish allies occupy most of Syria’s border with Turkey.

Moreover, the U.S. has announced plans to create a 30,000-man Border Security Force of Kurds and Arabs to keep ISIS out of Syria.

Erdogan has branded this BSF a “terror army,” and President Bashar Assad of Syria has called BSF members “traitors.”

This U.S. plan to create a BSF inside Syria, Damascus declared, “represents a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity and unity of Syria, and a flagrant violation of international law.”

Does not the Syrian government have a point?

Now that ISIS has been driven out of Raqqa and Syria, by what authority do U.S. forces remain to arm troops to keep the Damascus government from reimposing its authority on its own territory?

Secretary of State Tillerson gave Syria the news Wednesday.

The U.S. troop commitment to Syria, he said, is now open-ended.

Our goals: Guarantee al-Qaida and ISIS do not return and set up sanctuary; cope with rising Iranian influence in Damascus; and pursue the removal of Bashar Assad’s ruthless regime.

But who authorized this strategic commitment, of indefinite duration, in Syria, when near two decades in Afghanistan have failed to secure that nation against the return of al-Qaida and ISIS?

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Again and again, the American people have said they do not want to be dragged into Syria’s civil war. Donald Trump won the presidency on a promise of no more unnecessary wars.

Have the American people been had again?

Will they support a clash with NATO ally Turkey, to keep armed Kurds on Turkey’s border, when the Turks regard them as terrorists?

Are we prepared for a shooting war with a Syrian army, backed by Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Shiite militias from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to hold onto a fourth of Syria’s territory in alliance with Kurds?

The U.S. coalition in Syria said this week the BSF will be built up “over the next several years” and “be stationed along the borders … to include portions of the Euphrates river valley and international borders to the east and north.”

Remarkable: A U.S.-created border army is going to occupy and control long stretches of Syria’s borders with Turkey and Iraq, over Syria’s objections. And the U.S. military will stand behind the BSF.

Are the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria really up to that task, should the Turks decide to cleanse the Syrian border of Kurds, or should the Syrian regime decide to take back territory occupied by the Kurds?

Who sanctioned this commitment to a new army, which, if Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies, and the Turks, do not all back down, risks a major U.S. war with no allies but the Kurds?

As for Syria’s Kurds casting their lot with the Americans, one wonders: Did they not observe what happened when their Iraqi cousins, after helping us drive ISIS out of Mosul, were themselves driven out of Kirkuk by the Iraqi army, as their U.S. allies watched?

In the six-year Syrian civil war, which may be about to enter a new phase, America faces a familiar situation.

While our “allies” and adversaries have vital interests there, we do not. The Assads have been in power for the lifetime of most Americans. And we Americans have never shown a desire to fight there.

Assad has a vital interest: preservation of his family regime and the reunification of his country. The Turks have a vital interest in keeping armed Kurds out of their border regions adjacent to their own Kurdish minority, which seeks greater independence.

The Israelis and Saudi royals want the U.S. to keep Iran from securing a land bridge from Tehran to Damascus to Lebanon.

The U.S. War Party wants us to smash Iran and remain in the Middle East forever to assure the hegemony of its favorites.

Have the generals taking us into Syria told the president how and when, if ever, they plan to get us out?

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The Nutball the Neocons Wanted in NATO

The Nutball the Neocons Wanted in NATO

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Even interventionists are regretting some of the wars into which they helped plunge the United States in this century.

Among those wars are Afghanistan and Iraq, the longest in our history; Libya, which was left without a stable government; Syria’s civil war, a six-year human rights disaster we helped kick off by arming rebels to overthrow Bashar Assad; and Yemen, where a U.S.-backed Saudi bombing campaign and starvation blockade is causing a humanitarian catastrophe.

Yet, twice this century, the War Party was beaten back when seeking a clash with Putin’s Russia. And the “neo-isolationists” who won those arguments served America well.

What triggered this observation was an item on Page 1 of Wednesday’s New York Times that read in its entirety:

“Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of Georgia, led marchers through Kiev after threatening to jump from a five-story building to evade arrest. Page A4”

Who is Saakashvili? The wunderkind elected in 2004 in Tbilisi after a “Rose Revolution” we backed during George W. Bush’s crusade for global democracy.

During the Beijing Olympics in August 2008, Saakashvili sent his army crashing into the tiny enclave of South Ossetia, which had broken free of Georgia when Georgia broke free of Russia.

In overrunning the enclave, however, Saakashvili’s troops killed Russian peacekeepers. Big mistake. Within 24 hours, Putin’s tanks and troops were pouring through Roki Tunnel, running Saakashvili’s army out of South Ossetia, and occupying parts of Georgia itself.

As defeat loomed for the neocon hero, U.S. foreign policy elites were alive with denunciations of “Russian aggression” and calls to send in the 82nd Airborne, bring Georgia into NATO, and station U.S. forces in the Caucasus.

“We are all Georgians!” thundered John McCain.

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Not quite. When an outcry arose against getting into a collision with Russia, Bush, reading the nation right, decided to confine U.S. protests to the nonviolent. A wise call.

And Saakashvili? He held power until 2013, and then saw his party defeated, was charged with corruption, and fled to Ukraine. There, President Boris Poroshenko, beneficiary of the Kiev coup the U.S. had backed in 2014, put him in charge of Odessa, one of the most corrupt provinces in a country rife with corruption.

In 2016, an exasperated Saakashvili quit, charged his patron Poroshenko with corruption, and fled Ukraine. In September, with a band of supporters, he made a forced entry back across the border.

Here is the Times’ Andrew Higgins on his latest antics:

“On Tuesday … Saakashvili, onetime darling of the West, took his high-wire political career to bizarre new heights when he climbed onto the roof of his five-story apartment building in the center of Kiev…

“As … hundreds of supporters gathered below, he shouted insults at Ukraine’s leaders … and threatened to jump if security agents tried to grab him.

“Dragged from the roof after denouncing Mr. Poroshenko as a traitor and a thief, the former Georgian leader was detained but then freed by his supporters, who … blocked a security service van before it could take Mr. Saakashvili to a Kiev detention center and allowed him to escape.

“With a Ukrainian flag draped across his shoulders and a pair of handcuffs still attached to one of his wrists, Mr. Saakashvili then led hundreds of supporters in a march across Kiev toward Parliament. Speaking through a bullhorn he called for ‘peaceful protests’ to remove Mr. Poroshenko from office, just as protests had toppled the former President, Victor F. Yanukovych, in February 2014.”

This reads like a script for a Peter Sellers movie in the ’60s.

Yet this clown was president of Georgia, for whose cause in South Ossetia some in our foreign policy elite thought we should go to the brink of war with Russia.

And there was broad support for bringing Georgia into NATO. This would have given Saakashvili an ability to ignite a confrontation with Russia, which could have forced U.S. intervention.

Consider Ukraine. Three years ago, McCain was declaring, in support of the overthrow of the elected pro-Russian government in Kiev, “We are all Ukrainians now.”

Following that coup, U.S. elites were urging us to confront Putin in Crimea, bring Ukraine, as well as Georgia, into NATO, and send Kiev the lethal weapons needed to defeat Russian-backed rebels in the East.

This could have led straight to a Ukraine-Russia war, precipitated by our sending of U.S. arms.

Do we really want to cede to folks of the temperament of Mikhail Saakashvili an ability to instigate a war with a nuclear-armed Russia, which every Cold War president was resolved to avoid, even if it meant accepting Moscow’s hegemony in Eastern Europe all the way to the Elbe?

Watching Saakashvili losing it in the streets of Kiev like some blitzed college student should cause us to reassess the stability of all these allies to whom we have ceded a capacity to drag us into war.

Alliances, after all, are the transmission belts of war.

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Red Lines & Lost Credibility

By Patrick J. Buchanan

A major goal of this Asia trip, said National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, is to rally allies to achieve the “complete, verifiable and permanent denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Yet Kim Jong Un has said he will never give up his nuclear weapons. He believes the survival of his dynastic regime depends upon them.

Hence we are headed for confrontation. Either the U.S. or North Korea backs down, as Nikita Khrushchev did in the Cuban missile crisis, or there will be war.

In this new century, U.S. leaders continue to draw red lines that threaten acts of war that the nation is unprepared to back up.

Recall President Obama’s, “Assad must go!” and the warning that any use of chemical weapons would cross his personal “red line.”

Result: After chemical weapons were used, Americans rose in united opposition to a retaliatory strike. Congress refused to authorize any attack. Obama and John Kerry were left with egg all over their faces. And the credibility of the country was commensurately damaged.

There was a time when U.S. words were taken seriously, and we heeded Theodore Roosevelt’s dictum: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”

After Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1991, George H.W. Bush said simply: “This will not stand.” The world understood that if Saddam did not withdraw from Kuwait, his army would be thrown out. As it was.

But in the post-Cold War era, the rhetoric of U.S. statesmen has grown ever more blustery, even as U.S. relative power has declined. Our goal is “ending tyranny in our world,” bellowed George W. Bush in his second inaugural.

Consider Rex Tillerson’s recent trip. In Saudi Arabia, he declared, “Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against … ISIS is coming to a close … need to go home. Any foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home.”

The next day, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi responded:

“We wonder about the statements attributed to the American secretary of state about the popular mobilization forces. … No side has the right to intervene in Iraq’s affairs or decide what Iraqis do.”

This slap across the face comes from a regime that rules as a result of 4,500 U.S. dead, tens of thousands wounded and $1 trillion invested in the nation’s rebuilding after 15 years of war.

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Earlier that day, Tillerson made a two-hour visit to Afghanistan. There he met Afghan officials in a heavily guarded bunker near Bagram Airfield. Wrote The New York Times’ Gardiner Harris:

“That top American officials must use stealth to enter these countries after more than 15 years of wars, thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars spent was testimony to the stubborn problems still confronting the United States in both places.”

Such are the fruits of our longest wars, launched with the neo-Churchillian rhetoric of George W. Bush.

In India, Tillerson called on the government to close its embassy in North Korea. New Delhi demurred, suggesting the facility might prove useful to the Americans in negotiating with Pyongyang.

In Geneva, Tillerson asserted, “The United States wants a whole and unified Syria with no role for Bashar al-Assad … The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”

Well, perhaps? But our “rebels” in Syria were routed and Assad not only survived his six-year civil war but with the aid of his Russian, Iranian, Shiite militia, and Hezbollah allies, he won that war, and intends to remain and rule, whether we approve or not.

We no longer speak to the world with the assured authority with which America did from Eisenhower to Reagan and Bush 1. Our moment, if ever it existed, as the “unipolar power” the “indispensable nation” that would exercise a “benevolent global hegemony” upon mankind is over.

America needs today a recognition of the new realities we face and a rhetoric that conforms to those realities.

Since Y2K our world has changed.

Putin’s Russia has reasserted itself, rebuilt its strategic forces, confronted NATO, annexed Crimea and acted decisively in Syria, re-establishing itself as a power in the Middle East.

China, thanks to its vast trade surpluses at our expense, has grown into an economic and geostrategic rival on a scale that not even the USSR of the Cold War reached.

North Korea is now a nuclear power.

The Europeans are bedeviled by tribalism, secessionism and waves of seemingly unassimilable immigrants from the South and Middle East.

A once-vital NATO ally, Turkey, is virtually lost to the West. Our major Asian allies are dependent on exports to a China that has established a new order in the South China Sea.

In part because of our interventions, the Middle East is in turmoil, bedeviled by terrorism and breaking down along Sunni-Shiite lines.

The U.S. pre-eminence in the days of Desert Storm is history.

Yet, the architects of American decline may still be heard denouncing the “isolationists” who opposed their follies and warned what would befall the republic if it listened to them.

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Are Our Mideast Wars Forever?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“The Kurds have no friends but the mountains,” is an old lament. Last week, it must have been very much on Kurdish minds.

As their U.S. allies watched, the Kurdish peshmerga fighters were run out of Kirkuk and all the territory they had captured fighting ISIS alongside the Americans. The Iraqi army that ran them out was trained and armed by the United States.

The U.S. had warned the Kurds against holding the referendum on independence on Sept. 25, which carried with 92 percent. Iran and Turkey had warned against an independent Kurdistan that could be a magnet for Kurdish minorities in their own countries.

But the Iraqi Kurds went ahead. Now they have lost Kirkuk and its oil, and their dream of independence is all but dead.

More troubling for America is the new reality revealed by the rout of the peshmerga. Iraq, which George W. Bush and the neocons were going to fashion into a pro-Western democracy and American ally, appears to be as close to Iran as it is to the United States.

After 4,500 U.S. dead, scores of thousands wounded and a trillion dollars sunk, our 15-year war in Iraq could end with a Shiite-dominated Baghdad aligned with Tehran.

With that grim prospect in mind, Secretary Rex Tillerson said Sunday, “Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against … ISIS is coming to a close … need to go home. Any foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home.”

Tillerson meant Iran’s Quds Force in Iraq should go home, and the Shiite militia in Iraq should be conscripted into the army.

But what if the Baghdad regime of Haider al-Abadi does not agree? What if the Quds Force does not go home to Iran and the Shiite militias that helped retake Kirkuk refuse to enlist in the Iraqi army?

Who then enforces Tillerson’s demands?

Consider what is happening in Syria.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, largely Kurdish, just annihilated ISIS in Raqqa and drove 60 miles to seize Syria’s largest oil field, al-Omar, from ISIS. The race is now on between the SDF and Bashar Assad’s army to secure the border with Iraq.

Bottom line: The U.S. goal of crushing the ISIS caliphate is almost attained. But if our victory in the war against ISIS leaves Iran in the catbird seat in Baghdad and Damascus, and its corridor from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut secure, is that really a victory?

Do we accept that outcome, pack up and go home? Or do we leave our forces in Syria and Iraq and defy any demand from Assad to vacate his country?

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Sunday’s editorial in The Washington Post, “The Next Mideast Wars,” raises the crucial questions now before us.

Would President Trump be willing to fight a new war to keep Iran from consolidating its position in Iraq and Syria? Would the American people support such a war with U.S. troops?

Would Congress, apparently clueless to the presence of 800 U.S. troops in Niger, authorize a new U.S. war in Syria or Iraq?

If Trump and his generals felt our vital interests could not allow Syria and Iraq to drift into the orbit of Iran, where would we find allies for such a fight?

If we rely on the Kurds in Syria, we lose NATO ally Turkey, which regards Syria’s Kurds as collaborators of the PKK in Turkey, which even the U.S. designates a terrorist organization.

The decision as to whether this country should engage in new post-ISIS wars in the Mideast, however, may be taken out of our hands.

Saturday, Israel launched new air strikes against gun positions in Syria in retaliation for shells fired into the Golan Heights.

Damascus claims that Israel’s “terrorist” allies inside Syria fired the shells, to give the IDF an excuse to attack.

Why would Israel wish to provoke a war with Syria?

Because the Israelis see the outcome of the six-year Syrian civil war as a strategic disaster.

Hezbollah, stronger than ever, was part of Assad’s victorious coalition. Iran may have secured its land corridor from Tehran to Beirut. Its presence in Syria could now be permanent.

And only one force in the region has the power to reverse the present outcome of Syria’s civil war — the United States.

Bibi Netanyahu knows that if war with Syria breaks out, a clamor will arise in Congress to have the U.S. rush to Israel’s aid.

Closing its Sunday editorial the Post instructed the president:

“A failure by the United States to defend its allies or promote new political arrangements for (Syria and Iraq) will lead only to more war, the rise of new terrorist threats, and, ultimately, the necessity of more U.S. intervention.”

The interventionist Post is saying: The situation is intolerable. Confront Assad and Iran now, or fight them later.

Trump is being led to the Rubicon. If he crosses, he joins Bush II in the history books.

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