The Saudi-Canada Clash: A Values War

The Saudi-Canada Clash: A Values War

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Is it any of Canada’s business whether Saudi women have the right to drive?

Well, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland just made it her business.

Repeatedly denouncing Riyadh’s arrest of women’s rights advocate Samar Badawi, Freeland has driven the two countries close to a break in diplomatic relations.

“Reprehensible” said Riyadh of Freeland’s tweeted attack. Canada is “engaged in blatant interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs.”

The Saudis responded by expelling Canada’s ambassador and ordering 15,000 Saudi students to end their studies in Canada and barred imports of Canadian wheat. A $15 billion contract to provide armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia may be in jeopardy.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has been backsliding on his promises to modernize the kingdom, appears to have had enough of Western lectures on democratic values and morality.

A week after Pope Francis denounced the death penalty as always “impermissible,” Riyadh went ahead and crucified a convicted murderer in Mecca. In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality can get you a death sentence.

Neither President Donald Trump nor the State Department has taken sides, but The Washington Post has weighed in with an editorial: “Human Rights Are Everyone’s Business.”

“What Ms. Freeland and Canada correctly understand is that human rights … are universal values, not the property of kings and dictators to arbitrarily grant and remove on a whim. Saudi Arabia’s long-standing practice of denying basic rights to citizens, especially women — and its particularly cruel treatment of some dissidents — such as the public lashes meted out to (Ms. Badawi’s brother) — are matters of legitimate concern to all democracies and free societies.

“It is the traditional role of the United States to defend universal values everywhere they are trampled upon and to show bullying autocrats they cannot get away with hiding their dirty work behind closed doors.”

The Post called on the foreign ministers of all Group of Seven nations to retweet Freeland’s post saying, “Basic rights are everybody’s business.”

But these sweeping assertions raise not a few questions.

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Who determines what are “basic rights” or “universal values”?

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that has never permitted women to drive and has always whipped criminals and had a death penalty.

When did these practices first begin to contradict “universal values”?

When did it become America’s “traditional role” to defend women’s right to drive automobiles in every country, when women had no right to vote in America until after World War I?

In the America of the 1950s, homosexuality and abortion were regarded as shameful offenses and serious crimes. Now abortion and homosexuality have been declared constitutional rights.

Are they basic human rights? To whom? Do 55 million abortions in the U.S. in 45 years not raise an issue of human rights?

Has it become the moral duty of the U.S. government to champion abortion and LGBT rights worldwide, when a goodly slice of America still regards them as marks of national decadence and decline?

And if the Saudis are reactionaries whom we should join Canada in condemning, why are we dreaming up an “Arab NATO” in which Saudi Arabia would be a treaty ally alongside whom we would fight Iran?

Iran, at least, holds quadrennial elections, and Iranian women seem less restricted and anti-regime demonstrations more tolerated than they are in Saudi Arabia.

Consider our own history.

From 1865 to 1965, segregation was the law in the American South. Did those denials of civil and political rights justify foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the United States?

How would President Eisenhower, who used troops to integrate Little Rock High, have responded to the British and French demanding that America end segregation now?

In a newly de-Christianized America, all religions are to be treated equally and none may be taught in any public school.

In nearly 50 nations, however, Muslims are the majority, and they believe there is but one God, Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet, and all other religions are false. Do Muslims have no right to insist upon the primacy of their faith in the nations they rule?

Is Western interference with this claim not a formula for endless conflict?

In America, free speech and freedom of the press are guaranteed. And these First Amendment rights protect libel, slander, filthy language, blasphemy, pornography, flag burning and published attacks on religious beliefs, our country itself, and the government of the United States.

If other nations reject such freedoms as suicidal stupidity, do we have some obligation to intervene in their internal affairs to promote them?

Recently, The Independent reported:

“Since last year, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of innocent Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region in northwest China have been unjustly arrested and imprisoned in what the Chinese government calls ‘political re-education camps.’ Thousands have disappeared. There are credible reports of torture and death among the prisoners. … The international community has largely reacted with silence.”

Anyone up for sanctioning Xi Jinping’s China?

Or do Uighurs’ rights rank below those of Saudi feminists?

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Are Globalists Plotting a Counter-Revolution?

Are Globalists Plotting a Counter-Revolution?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

On meeting with the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker last month, Donald Trump tweeted: “Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be Free Market and Fair Trade.”

Did Larry Kudlow somehow get access to Trump’s phone?

We know not. But, on hearing this, Steve Forbes, Stephen Moore and Arthur Laffer broke into the “Hallelujah” chorus of Handel’s “Messiah.”

“Amen,” they thundered in The New York Times.

Trump should declare “total trade disarmament” to be national policy and make free trade his “legacy” to America. Such a proclamation, they wrote, would assure Trump the “moral high ground” in the global debate and transform him from “evil disrupter of international commerce to potential savior.”

For free trade is always and ever a “win-win for trading partners.”

To read the Times op-ed is to appreciate that what we are dealing with here is an ideology, a political religion, a creed, a cult.

For consider the fruits of free trade policy during the last 25 years: the frozen wages of U.S. workers, $12 trillion in U.S. trade deficits, 55,000 factories lost, 6 million manufacturing jobs gone, China surpassing the U.S in manufacturing, all causing a backlash that pushed a political novice to the Republican nomination and into the presidency.

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To maintain a belief in the superiority of free trade to economic patriotism, in the face of such results, is to recognize that this belief system is impervious to contradictory proof.

Still, the enduring enthusiasm of free trade zealots is not the only sign that GOP globalists, having learned nothing and forgotten nothing, are looking to a post-Trump era to resurrect their repudiated dogmas.

In USA Today, Jeffrey Miron, director of economic studies at the libertarian flagship think tank Cato Institute, wrote last week:

“The solution to America’s immigrant problems is open borders. … Open borders means no walls, fences, screenings at airports, ICE … deportations, detention centers or immigration courts.”

And what would happen after we declare open borders?

“Immigrants will not flood into America. … Crime will not skyrocket. … Even if values and culture change, so what? … Who says America’s current values — some of them deeply evil — are the right ones?”

Bottom line for Cato’s Miron: If we throw open America’s borders and invite the world to come in and to remake who we are as a nation, “Think about the money we could save and make.”

This is truly economics uber alles, economy before country.

Other open borders and free trade true believers have begun speaking out. Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, a megadonor to the GOP, has just lashed out at Trump as “divisive” and denounced the “rise in protectionism.”

Nations, organizations and individuals, said Koch, “are doing whatever they can to close themselves off from the new, hold onto the past and prevent change.”

He added, “This is a natural tendency, but it is a destructive one.”

In a pair of tweets, Trump fired back:

“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas. I made them richer.

“Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn. They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First and the American Worker — a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas. Make America Great Again!”

The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, are threatening to have their network, Americans for Prosperity, withhold funding from GOP candidates who echo Trump on immigration and trade.

The open borders, free trade ideology of the Kochs, the Cato Institute, and such supply-siders as Moore, Forbes and Laffer, have deep roots in the Republican Party establishment.

Milton Friedman was of this school, as was the longtime editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, Bob Bartley, who for years pushed for a constitutional amendment declaring, “There shall be open borders.”

Bartley, somewhat prematurely, predicted that the nation-state was “finished” in the New World Order. Yet, today, as tribalism and nationalism are making a comeback, it looks more like the transnational “New World Order” that may be headed for the dumpster.

As long as Trump is in the White House and the party base is so viscerally behind him and his America First agenda, a renunciation of tariffs or a return to globalism is dead.

But what happens after Trump? Who and what comes next?

Republican recidivism — a return to the rejected open borders, free trade agenda of the Bush Republicans — would ignite a firestorm of protest that would tear the party of Trump apart.

Yet, while these ideas have lost Middle America, they are alive and well among the establishment elites of both parties, who have also not given up on a foreign policy of using America’s economic and military power to attempt to convert mankind to democracy.

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Would War With Iran Doom Trump?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

A war with Iran would define, consume and potentially destroy the Trump presidency, but exhilarate the neocon never-Trumpers who most despise the man.

Why, then, is President Donald Trump toying with such an idea?

Looking back at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, wars we began or plunged into, what was gained to justify the cost in American blood and treasure, and the death and destruction we visited upon that region? How has our great rival China suffered by not getting involved?

Oil is the vital strategic Western interest in the Persian Gulf. Yet a war with Iran would imperil, not secure, that interest.

Mass migration from the Islamic world, seeded with terrorist cells, is the greatest threat to Europe from the Middle East. But would not a U.S. war with Iran increase rather than diminish that threat?

Would the millions of Iranians who oppose the mullahs’ rule welcome U.S. air and naval attacks on their country? Or would they rally behind the regime and the armed forces dying to defend their country?

“Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail,” warned President Hassan Rouhani in July: “War with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

But he added, “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace.”

Rouhani left wide open the possibility of peaceful settlement.

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Trump’s all-caps retort virtually invoked Hiroshima: “Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the like of which few throughout history have suffered before.”

When Trump shifted and blurted out that he was open to talks — “No preconditions. They want to meet? I’ll meet.” — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo contradicted him: Before any meeting, Iran must change the way they treat their people and “reduce their malign behavior.”

We thus appear to be steering into a head-on collision.

For now that Trump has trashed the nuclear deal and is reimposing sanctions, Iran’s economy has taken a marked turn for the worse.

Its currency has lost half its value. Inflation is surging toward Venezuelan levels. New U.S. sanctions will be imposed this week and again in November. Major foreign investments are being canceled. U.S. allies are looking at secondary sanctions if they do not join the strangulation of Iran.

Tehran’s oil exports are plummeting along with national revenue.

Demonstrations and riots are increasingly common.

Rouhani and his allies who bet their futures on a deal to forego nuclear weapons in return for an opening to the West look like fools to their people. And the Revolutionary Guard Corps that warned against trusting the Americans appears vindicated.

Iran’s leaders have now threatened that when their oil is no longer flowing freely and abundantly, Arab oil may be blocked from passing through the Strait of Hormuz out to Asia and the West.

Any such action would ignite an explosion in oil prices worldwide and force a U.S. naval response to reopen the strait. A war would be on.

Yet the correlation of political forces is heavily weighted in favor of driving Tehran to the wall. In the U.S., Iran has countless adversaries and almost no advocates. In the Middle East, Israelis, Saudis and the UAE would relish having us smash Iran.

Among the four who will decide on war, Trump, Pompeo and John Bolton have spoken of regime change, while Defense Secretary James Mattis has lately renounced any such strategic goal.

With Israel launching attacks against Iranian-backed militia in Syria, U.S. ships and Iranian speedboats constantly at close quarters in the Gulf, and Houthi rebels in Yemen firing at Saudi tankers in the Bab el-Mandeb entrance to the Red Sea, a military clash seems inevitable.

While America no longer has the ground forces to invade and occupy an Iran four times the size of Iraq, in any such war, the U.S., with its vastly superior air, naval and missile forces, would swiftly prevail.

But if Iran called into play Hezbollah, the Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq, and sectarian allies inside the Arab states, U.S. casualties would mount and the Middle East could descend into the kind of civil-sectarian war we have seen in Syria these last six years.

Any shooting war in the Persian Gulf could see insurance rates for tankers soar, a constriction of oil exports, and surging prices, plunging us into a worldwide recession for which one man would be held responsible: Donald Trump.

How good would that be for the GOP or President Trump in 2020?

And when the shooting stopped, would there be installed in Iran a liberal democracy, or would it be as it was in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, with first the religious zealots taking power, and then the men with guns.

If we start a war with Iran, on top of the five in which we are engaged still, then the party that offers to extricate us will be listened to, as Trump was listened to, when he promised to extricate us from the forever wars of the Middle East.

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Is Putin’s Russia an ‘Evil Empire’?

Is Putin's Russia an 'Evil Empire'?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce,” a saying attributed to Karl Marx, comes to mind in this time of Trump.

To those of us raised in the Truman era, when the Red Army was imposing its bloody Bolshevik rule on half of Europe, and NATO was needed to keep Stalin’s armies from the Channel, the threat seemed infinitely more serious. And so it was.

There were real traitors in that time.

Alger Hiss, a top State Department aide, at FDR’s side at Yalta, was exposed as a Stalinist spy by Congressman Richard Nixon. Harry Dexter White, No. 2 at Treasury, Laurence Duggan at State, and White House aide Lauchlin Currie were all exposed as spies. Then there was the Rosenberg spy ring that gave Stalin the secrets of the atom bomb.

Who do we have today to match Hiss and the Rosenbergs? A 29-year-old redheaded Russian Annie Oakley named Maria Butina, accused of infiltrating the National Rifle Association and the National Prayer Breakfast.

Is Putin’s Russia really a reincarnation of Stalin’s Soviet Union? Is Russia a threat of similar magnitude?

Russia is “our No. 1 geopolitical foe,” thundered Mitt Romney in 2012, now cited as a sage by liberals who used to castigate Republicans for any skepticism of detente during the Cold War.

Perhaps it is time to contrast the USSR of Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev with the Russia of Vladimir Putin.

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By the beginning of Reagan’s tenure in 1981, 400,000 Red Army troops were in Central Europe, occupying the eastern bank of the Elbe.

West Berlin was surrounded by Russian troops. East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria were all ruled by Moscow’s puppets. All belonged to a Warsaw Pact created to fight NATO. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine were inside the USSR.

By the end of the Jimmy Carter era, Moscow had driven into Ethiopia, Mozambique and Angola in Africa, Cuba in the Caribbean, and Nicaragua in Central America, in the greatest challenge ever to the Monroe Doctrine.

The Soviets had invaded and occupied Afghanistan. The Soviet navy, built up over 25 years by Adm. Sergey Gorshkov, was a global rival of a U.S. Navy that had sunk to 300 ships.

And today? The Soviet Empire is history. The Soviet Union is history, having splintered into 15 nations. Russia is smaller than it was in the 19th century. Russia is gone from Cuba, Grenada, Central America, Ethiopia, Angola and Mozambique.

The Warsaw Pact is history. The Red Army is gone from Eastern Europe. The former Warsaw Pact nations of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria all belong to NATO, as do the former Soviet “republics” of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

When the flagship of Russia’s navy, the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, sailed from Murmansk to Syria, it had to pass through the North Sea, the Channel, the east Atlantic, the Straits of Gibraltar, and then sail the length of the Med to anchor off Latakia.

Coming and going, the Kuznetsov was within range of anti-ship missiles, aircraft, submarines and surface ships of 20 NATO nations, among them Norway, Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal, and many U.S. bases and warships.

Entering the Med, the Kuznetsov had to travel, without a naval base to refuel, within range of the missiles, planes and ships of Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Along the banks of the Adriatic and Aegean there are only NATO nations, except for Kosovo, which is home to the largest U.S. base in the Balkans, Camp Bondsteel.

To sail from St. Petersburg through the Baltic Sea to the Atlantic, Russian warships must pass within range of 11 NATO nations — the three Baltic republics, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Britain and France.

The Black Sea’s western and southern shores are now controlled entirely by NATO: Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey. Russia’s lone land passage to its naval base in Crimea is a narrow bridge from the Kerch Peninsula.

With the breakup of the USSR, Russia has been reduced to two-thirds of the territory and half the population of the Soviet Union.

Its former republics and now neighbors Georgia and Ukraine are hostile. Its space launches are now done from a foreign land, Kazakhstan. Its economy has shrunk to the size of Italy’s.

It has one-tenth the population and one-fifth the economy of its looming neighbor, China, and, except for territory, is even more dwarfed by the United States with a GDP of $20 trillion, and troops, bases and allies all over the world.

Most critically, Russia’s regime is no longer Communist. The ideology that drove its imperialism is dead. There are parties, demonstrations and dissidents in Russia, and an Orthodox faith that is alive and promoted by Putin.

Where, today, is there a vital U.S. interest imperiled by Putin?

Better to jaw-jaw, than war-war, said Churchill. He was right, as is President Trump to keep talking to Putin — right through the Russophobia rampant in this city.

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Is a Coming NATO Crisis Inevitable?

Is a Coming NATO Crisis Inevitable?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Of President Donald Trump’s explosion at Angela Merkel’s Germany during the NATO summit, it needs to be said: It is long past time we raised our voices.

America pays more for NATO, an alliance created 69 years ago to defend Europe, than do the Europeans. And as Europe free-rides off our defense effort, the EU runs trade surpluses at our expense that exceed $100 billion a year.

To Trump, and not only to him, we are being used, gouged, by rich nations we defend, while they skimp on their own defense.

At Brussels, Trump had a new beef with the Germans, though similar problems date back to the Reagan era. Now we see the Germans, Trump raged, whom we are protecting from Russia, collaborating with Russia and deepening their dependence on Russian natural gas by jointly building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea.

When completed, this pipeline will leave Germany and Europe even more deeply reliant on Russia for their energy needs.

To Trump, this makes no sense. While we pay the lion’s share of the cost of Germany’s defense, Germany, he said in Brussels, is becoming “a captive of Russia.”

Impolitic? Perhaps. But is Trump wrong? While much of what he says enrages Western elites, does not much of it need saying?

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Germany spends 1.2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, while the U.S. spends 3.5 percent. Why?

Why — nearly three decades after the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the crackup of the Soviet Union and the overthrow of the Communist dictatorship in Moscow — are we still defending European nations that collectively have 10 times the GDP of Vladimir Putin’s Russia?

Before departing Brussels, Trump upped the ante on the allies, urging that all NATO nations raise the share of their GDPs that they devote to defense to 4 percent.

Brussels may dismiss this as typical Trumpian bluster, but my sense is that Trump is not bluffing. He is visibly losing patience.

Though American leaders since John Foster Dulles in the 1950s have called for a greater defense effort from our allies, if the Europeans do not get serious this time, it could be the beginning of the end for NATO.

And not only NATO. South Korea, with an economy 40 times that of North Korea, spends 2.6 percent of its GDP on defense, while, by one estimate, North Korea spends 22 percent, the highest share on earth.

Japan, with the world’s third-largest economy, spends an even smaller share of its GDP on defense than Germany, 0.9 percent.

Thus, though Seoul and Tokyo are far more menaced by a nuclear-armed North Korea and a rising China, like the Europeans, both continue to rely upon us as they continue to run large trade surpluses with us.

We get hit both ways. We send troops and pay billions for their defense, while they restrict our access to their markets and focus on capturing U.S. markets from American producers.

We are giving the world a lesson in how great powers decline.

America’s situation is unsustainable economically and politically, and it’s transparently intolerable to Trump, who does not appear to be a turn-the-other-cheek sort of fellow.

A frustrated Trump has already hinted he may accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea as he accepted Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem.

And he appears earnest about reducing our massive trade deficits in goods that have been bleeding jobs, plants, equipment, capital and technology abroad.

The latest tariffs Trump has proposed, on $200 billion worth of Chinese-made goods, would raise the price of 40 percent of China’s exports to the U.S. and begin to shrink the $375 billion trade surplus Beijing ran in 2017.

Trump said upon departing Brussels he had won new commitments to raise European contributions to NATO. But Emmanuel Macron of France seemed to contradict him. The commitments made before the summit, for all NATO nations to reach 2 percent of GDP for defense by 2024, said Macron, stand, and no new commitments were made.

As for Trump’s call for a 4 percent defense effort by all, it was ignored. Hence the question: If Trump does not get his way and the allies hold to their previous schedule of defense commitments, what does he do?

One idea Trump floated last week was the threat of a drawdown of the 35,000 U.S. troops in Germany. But would this really rattle the Germans?

A new poll shows that a plurality of Germans favor a drawdown of U.S. troops, and only 15 percent believe that Germany should raise its defense spending to 2 percent of GDP.

While Trump’s pressure on NATO to contribute more is popular here, apparently Merkel’s resistance comports with German opinion.

Since exiting the Iranian nuclear deal, President Trump has demanded that our European allies join the U.S. in reimposing sanctions. Now he is demanding that the Europeans contribute more to defense.

What does he do if they defy us? More than likely, we will find out.

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The Never-Trumpers Are Never Coming Back

The Never-Trumpers Are Never Coming Back

By Patrick J. Buchanan

With never-Trump conservatives bailing on the GOP and crying out for the Party of Pelosi to save us, some painful truths need to be restated.

The Republican Party of Bush I and II, of Bob Dole and John McCain, is history. It’s not coming back. Unlike the Bourbons after the Revolution and the Terror, after Napoleon and the Empire, no restoration is in the cards.

It is over. The GOP’s policies of recent decades — the New World Order of George H.W. Bush, the crusades for democracy of Bush II — failed, and are seen as having failed. With Trump’s capture of the party they were repudiated.

There will be no turning back.

What were the historic blunders?

It was not supporting tax cuts, deregulation, conservative judges and justices, or funding a defense second to none. Donald Trump has delivered on these as well as any president since Reagan.

The failures that killed the Bush party, and that represented departures from Reaganite traditionalism and conservatism, are:

First, the hubristic drive, despite the warnings of statesmen like George Kennan, to exploit our Cold War victory and pursue a policy of permanent containment of a Russia that had lost a third of its territory and half its people.

We moved NATO into Eastern Europe and the Baltic, onto her doorstep. We abrogated the ABM treaty Nixon had negotiated and moved defensive missiles into Poland. John McCain pushed to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, and even to send U.S. forces to face off against Russian troops.

Thus we got a second Cold War that need never have begun and that our allies seem content to let us fight alone.

Europe today is not afraid of Vladimir Putin reaching the Rhine. Europe is afraid of Africa and the Middle East reaching the Danube.

Let the Americans, who relish playing empire, pay for NATO.

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Second, in a reflexive response to 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, dumped over the regime in Libya, armed rebels to overthrow Bashar Assad in Syria, and backed Saudi intervention in a Yemeni civil war, creating a humanitarian crisis in that poorest of Arab countries that is exceeded in horrors only by the Syrian civil war.

Since Y2K, hundreds of thousands in the Middle East have perished, the ancient Christian community has all but ceased to exist, and the refugees now number in the millions. What are the gains for democracy from these wars, all backed enthusiastically by the Republican establishment?

Why are the people responsible for these wars still being listened to, rather than confessing their sins at second-thoughts conferences?

The GOP elite also played a crucial role in throwing open U.S. markets to China and ceding transnational corporations full freedom to move factories and jobs there and ship their Chinese-made goods back here, free of charge.

Result: In three decades, the U.S. has run up $12 trillion in merchandise trade deficits — $4 trillion with China — and Beijing’s revenue from the USA has more than covered China’s defense budget for most of those years.

Beijing swept past Italy, France, Britain, Germany and Japan to become the premier manufacturing power on earth and a geo-strategic rival. Now, from East Africa to Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, and from the South and East China Sea to Taiwan, Beijing’s expansionist ambitions have become clear.

And where are the Republicans responsible for building up this potentially malevolent power that thieves our technology? Talking of building a Reagan-like Navy to contain the mammoth they nourished.

Since the Cold War, America’s elites have been exhibiting symptoms of that congenital blindness associated since Rome with declining and falling empires.

While GOP grass roots have begged for measures to control our bleeding southern border, they were regularly denounced as nativists by party elites, many of whom are now backing Trump’s wall.

For decades, America’s elites failed to see that the transnational moment of the post-Cold War era was passing and an era of rising nationalism and tribalism was at hand.

“We live in a time,” said U2’s Bono this week, “when institutions as vital to human progress as the United Nations are under attack.”

The institutions Bono referenced — the U.N., EU, NATO — all trace their roots to the 1940s and 1950s, a time that bears little resemblance to the era we have entered, an era marked by a spreading and desperate desire of peoples everywhere to preserve who and what they are.

No, Trump didn’t start the fire.

The world was ablaze with tribalism and was raising up authoritarians to realize nationalist ends — Xi Jinping, Putin, Narendra Modi in India, Erdogan in Turkey, Gen. el-Sissi in Egypt — before he came down that escalator.

And so the elites who were in charge when the fire broke out, and who failed to respond and refused even to recognize it, and who now denounce Trump for how he is coping with it, are unlikely to be called upon again to lead this republic.

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Trump’s Bold Historic Gamble

By Patrick J. Buchanan

President Donald Trump appears to belong to what might be called the Benjamin Disraeli school of diplomacy.

The British prime minister once counseled, “Everyone likes flattery; and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel.”

At his Singapore summit, Trump smartly saluted a North Korean general and then lavished praise on Kim Jong Un as a “strong guy” with a “good personality” and a “great negotiator.” “He’s funny, and … very, very smart … and a very strategic kind of a guy. … His country does love him.”

Predictably, Trump is being scourged for this.

Yet, during his trip to Peking in 1972, Richard Nixon did not confront Chairman Mao on his history of massacres and murder, though Nixon’s visit came in the midst of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, a nationwide pogrom.

Nor did Churchill or FDR at their wartime summits confront their ally Stalin for his legendary crimes against humanity. Both gushed over “Uncle Joe.”

Still, if the Trump-Kim camaraderie goes south and the crisis of 2017, when war seemed possible, returns, Trump, as he concedes, will be charged with naivety for having placed his trust in such a tyrant.

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Yet, to Trump’s credit, we are surely at a better place than we were a year ago when Kim was testing hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, and he and Trump were trading threats and insults in what seemed the prelude to a new Korean War.

Whatever one may think of his diplomacy, Trump has, for now, lifted the specter of nuclear war from the Korean peninsula and begun a negotiating process that could lead to tolerable coexistence.

The central questions to emerge from the summit are these: What does Kim want, and what is he willing to pay for it?

Transparently, he does not want a war with the United States. That black cloud has passed over. Second, Kim and North Korea have emerged from their isolation in as dramatic a fashion as did Mao’s China in 1972.

In 2018, the North was invited to the Seoul Olympics. Kim met twice with South Korea’s president and twice with China’s Xi Jinping. Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister stopped by. And Kim had a face-to-face summit with a U.S. president, something his grandfather and father never came close to achieving.

It is unlikely Kim will be retreating back into the cloisters of the Hermit Kingdom after being courted by the world’s foremost powers.

What does Trump have on offer to induce Kim to end the lifetime of hostility? It is a long menu of what Kim can expect if he will surrender his nuclear weapons and dismantle the factories and facilities that produce them.

Among the benefits proffered: recognition of his dynasty and U.S. security guarantees, an end of sanctions, foreign investment, a peace treaty signed by the United States to replace the 65-year-old armistice and the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula.

Trump has already attended to one of Kim’s complaints. The joint military exercises we have conducted annually with South Korea for decades have been declared by Trump to be “war games” and “very provocative” and have been suspended.

What is being asked of Kim in return?

He must provide an inventory of all nuclear weapons and where they are hidden, surrender them all, dismantle his plutonium and uranium production plants, and shut down his testing sites, all under the watch of U.S.-approved inspectors.

He must renounce any and all nuclear weapons forever, and accept a regime of international inspections that would guarantee he never cheats on that commitment.

Here is where the crunch comes. Kim is being told that he must give up the weapons whose very possession by him are the reason why the world powers are paying him heed.

As leader of a country with a per capita income smaller than Haiti’s, Kim is being told he must surrender the weapons that placed him and North Korea in the world’s most exclusive club, to which only eight other nations belong: the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan and Israel.

Will Kim, whose nuclear weapons have enabled him to strut on the world stage and trade insults with the president of the United States, give them up to become the leader of a poor backward nation, with half the population of South Korea and not even 4 percent of the economy of the South?

Will he give up his most reliable deterrent against an attack by the United States or China?

In the Kim-Trump relationship, this is where the rubber meets the road. Kim has seen how Americans treat nations — like Gadhafi’s Libya, Saddam’s Iraq, and Iran — that decline to develop or surrender the kind of weapons his country took decades to plan, test, produce and deploy.

Should Kim give up his nukes, what U.S. president would fly halfway around the world to meet him one-to-one?

Hence the crucial question: Will he ever really give them up?

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