NATO-Russia Collision Ahead?

NATO-Russia Collision Ahead?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe: A Message to Russia,” ran the headline in The New York Times.

“In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries,” said the Times. The sources cited were “American and allied officials.”

The Pentagon’s message received a reply June 16. Russian Gen. Yuri Yakubov called the U.S. move “the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War.” When Moscow detects U.S. heavy weapons moving into the Baltic, said Yakubov, Russia will “bolster its forces and resources on the western strategic theater of operations.”

Specifically, Moscow will outfit its missile brigade in Kaliningrad, bordering Lithuania and Poland, “with new Iskander tactical missile systems.” The Iskander can fire nuclear warheads.

The Pentagon and Congress apparently think Vladimir Putin is a bluffer and, faced by U.S. toughness, will back down.

For the House has passed and Sen. John McCain is moving a bill to provide Ukraine with anti-armor weapons, mortars, grenade launchers and ammunition. The administration could not spend more than half of the $300 million budgeted, unless 20 percent is earmarked for offensive weapons.

Congress is voting to give Kiev a green light and the weaponry to attempt a recapture of Donetsk and Luhansk from pro-Russian rebels, who have split off from Ukraine, and Crimea, annexed by Moscow.

If the Pentagon is indeed moving U.S. troops and heavy weapons into Poland and the Baltic States, and is about to provide arms to Kiev to attack the rebels in East Ukraine, we are headed for a U.S.-Russian confrontation unlike any seen since the Cold War.

And reconsider the outcome of those confrontations.

Lest we forget, while it was Khrushchev who backed down in the Cuban missile crisis, President Eisenhower did nothing to halt the crushing of the Hungarian rebels, Kennedy accepted the Berlin Wall, and Lyndon Johnson refused to lift a finger to save the Czechs when their “Prague Spring” was snuffed out by Warsaw Pact tank armies.

Even Reagan’s response to the crushing of Solidarity was with words not military action.

None of these presidents was an appeaser, but all respected the geostrategic reality that any military challenge to Moscow on the other side of NATO’s Red Line in Germany carried the risk of a calamitous war for causes not justifying such a risk.

Yet we are today risking a collision with Russia in the Baltic States and Ukraine, where no vital U.S.
interest has ever existed and where our adversary enjoys military superiority.

As Les Gelb writes in The National Interest, “the West’s limp hand” in the Baltic and “Russia’s military superiority over NATO on its Western borders,” is “painfully evident to all.”

“If NATO ups the military ante, Moscow can readily trump it. Moscow has significant advantages in conventional forces — backed by potent tactical nuclear weapons and a stated willingness to use them to sustain advantages or avoid defeat. The last thing NATO wants is to look weak or lose a confrontation.”

And NATO losing any such confrontation is the likely outcome of the collision provoked by the Pentagon and John McCain.

For if Kiev moves with U.S. arms against the rebels in the east, and Moscow sends planes, tanks and artillery to annihilate them, Kiev will be routed. And what we do then?

Send carriers into the Black Sea to attack the Russian fleet at Sevastopol, and battle Russian missiles and air attacks?

Before we schedule a NATO confrontation with Russia, we had best look behind us to see who is following America’s lead.

According to a new survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, fewer than half of the respondents in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain thought NATO should fight if its Baltic allies were attacked by Russia. Germans, by a 58-38 margin, did not think military force should be used by NATO to defend Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, though that is what Article 5 of the NATO charter requires of Germany.

Americans, by 56-37, favor using force to defend the Baltic States. On military aid to Ukraine, America is divided, 46 percent in favor, 43 percent opposed. However, only 1 in 5 Germans and Italians favor arming Ukraine, and in not a single major NATO nation does the arming of Ukraine enjoy clear majority support.

In Washington, Congressional hawks are primed to show Putin who is truly tough. But in shipping weapons to Ukraine and sending U.S. troops and armor into the Baltic States, they have behind them a divided nation and a NATO alliance that wants no part of this confrontation.

Unlike the Cuban missile crisis, it is Russia that has regional military superiority here, and a leader seemingly prepared to ride the escalator up right alongside us.

Are we sure it will be the Russians who blink this time?

The Fall of the House of Labor

Union Workers

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In 1958, Senate Minority Leader William Knowland, his eye on the 1960 GOP nomination coveted by fellow Californian Richard Nixon, went home and declared for governor.

Knowland’s plan: Ride to victory on the back of Proposition 18, the initiative to make right-to-work the law in the Golden Land. Prop. 18 was rejected 2 to 1. Knowland’s career was over, and the Republicans were decimated nationally for backing right-to-work.

Badly burned, the party for years ran away from the issue.

This history makes what happened in Michigan, cradle of the United Auto Workers, astonishing. A GOP legislature passed and Gov. Rick Snyder signed a right-to-work law as libertarian as any in Red State America.

The closed shop, where a worker must belong to the union before being hired, is dead. The union shop, where an individual must join the union once hired, is dead. The agency shop, where a worker cannot be made to join a union but can be required to pay dues if the union is the agent negotiating the contract for all workers, is dead.

Michigan just legislated the open shop.

And behind the blue-collar bellicosity in Lansing is this new reality. Non-union workers can now “free ride” on union contracts. This is close to a non-survivable wound for labor.

Workers who do not belong to unions will cease paying dues, and union members will begin quietly to quit and pocket their dues money.

Why pay dues if you don’t have to? Why contribute a dime to a union PAC if you don’t have to, or don’t like labor’s candidates?

Michigan workers are not going to suffer. They have simply been given the freedom to join or not join a union, to pay or not pay dues. And while wages in right-to-work states such as Virginia, Tennessee, Texas and Florida are slightly below those of other states, employment in right-to-work states is higher.

For these are the states where domestic and foreign investors look to site new plants. The BMW assembly plant is in Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the Volkswagen and Nissan plants in Tennessee. As Gov. Rick Perry boasts, Texas has been the biggest job creator in the Obama recession.

But union power is going to be circumscribed as non-union workers elect to free-ride and union members start resigning. And just as Michigan saw Indiana creating jobs after passing right-to-work, other states may observe Michigan and go forth and do likewise.

There are now 24 right-to-work states. But while these laws arrested the rise of the house of labor, there was an inevitability to its fall. Who are the collective killers? Like the murder on the Orient Express, just about everyone on the train.

First came automation. A third of U.S. workers were unionized in the 1950s. But with new technologies, we discovered we did not need so many men to dig coal, make steel or print newspapers. We did not need firemen riding in the cabs of diesel locomotives.

A second blow came with the postwar rise of Germany and Japan. Their plants and equipment were all newer than ours. Their wages were far lower, as they did not carry the burden of defending the Free World. Under our defense umbrella, they began to invade and capture our markets.

And Uncle Sam let them do it.

A third blow to Big Labor, concentrated in the Frost Belt, came from the Sun Belt. With air conditioning making summers tolerable, the South offered less expensive and more reliable labor than a North where union demands were constant and strikes common.

But the mortal blow to American unions came from globalization.

With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and China propelling hundreds of millions of new workers into the global hiring hall, U.S. multinationals saw historic opportunity.

If they could move factories out of the U.S.A., they would be free of union demands, wage-and-hour laws, occupational health and safety laws, environmental laws and civil rights law. By outsourcing, they could produce for a fraction of the cost of doing so in the U.S.A.

And if they could get the U.S. political class, in return for corporate generosity at election time, to let them bring their foreign-made goods back to the U.S.A., tax and tariff free, profits would explode, and salaries and bonuses with them.

The corporate establishment and political establishment shook hands, the deed was done, and the fate of U.S. industrial unions sealed. So came NAFTA, GATT, the World Trade Organization, MFN for China, free trade with all.

And with globalization came trade deficits unlike any the world had ever seen, a loss of one-third of U.S. manufacturing jobs in the last decade, a U.S. dependence on foreign-made goods almost as great as in colonial days, the enrichment of our corporate and financial elites beyond the dreams of avarice, and the decline and fall of the house of labor.

Unions are dying because, in America, economic patriotism is dead.

America’s Ideologue in Chief

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“The war we fight today is more than a military conflict,” said President Bush to the American Legion. “It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.”

But if the ideology of our enemy is “Islamofascism,” what is the ideology of George W. Bush? According to James Montanye, writing in The Independent Review, it is “democratic fundamentalism.” Montanye borrows Joseph Schumpeter’s depiction of Marxism to describe it.

Like Marxism, he writes, democratic fundamentalism “presents, first, a system of ultimate ends that embody the meaning of life and are absolute standards by which to judge events and actions; and, secondly, a guide to those ends which implies a plan of salvation and the indication of the evil from which mankind, or a chosen section of mankind, is to be saved. … It belongs to that subgroup (of ‘isms’) which promises paradise this side of the grave.”

Ideology is substitute religion, and Bush’s beliefs were on display in his address to the Legion, where he painted the “decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century” in terms of good and evil.

“On the one side are those who believe in the values of freedom … the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism, the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest.”

Casting one’s cause in such terms can be effective in wartime. In his Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural, Lincoln converted a war to crush Southern secession into a crusade to end slavery and save democracy on earth.

Wilson recast a European war of imperial powers as a ” war to end war” and “make the world safe for democracy.” FDR and Churchill in the Atlantic Charter talked of securing “the Four Freedoms,” but were soon colluding to hand over Eastern Europe to the worst tyrant and mass murderer of the 20th century.

The peril of ideology is that it rarely comports with reality and is contradicted by history, thus leading inevitably to disillusionment and tragedy. Consider but a few of the assertions in Bush’s address.

Said Bush, we know by “history and logic” that “promoting democracy is the surest way to build security.” But history and logic teach, rather, what George Washington taught: The best way to preserve peace is to be prepared for war and to stay out of wars that are none of the nation’s business.

“Democracies don’t attack each other or threaten the peace,” said Bush. How does he then explain the War of 1812, when we went to war against Britain, when she was standing up to Napoleon? What about the War Between the States? Were not the seceding states democratic? What about the Boer War, begun by the Brits? What about World War I, fought between the world’s democracies, which also happened to be empires ruling subject peoples?

In May 1901, a 26-year-old Tory member of Parliament rose to issue a prophetic warning: “Democracy is more vindictive than Cabinets. The wars of peoples will be more terrible than the wars of kings.” Considering the war that came in 1914 and the vindictive peace it produced, giving us Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler, was not Churchill more right than Bush?

“Governments accountable to the people focus on building roads and schools — not weapons of mass destruction,” said Bush. But is it not the democracies — Israel, India, Britain, France, the United States — that possess a preponderance of nuclear weapons? Are they all disarming? Were not the Western nations first to invent and use poison gas and atom bombs?

Insisting it is the lack of freedom that fuels terrorism, Bush declares, “Young people who have a say in their future are less likely to search for meaning in extremism.” Tell it to Mussolini and the Blackshirts. Tell it to the Nazis, who loathed the free republic of Weimar, as did the communists.

“Citizens who can join a peaceful political party are less likely to join a terrorist organization.” But the West has been plagued by terrorists since the anarchists. The Baader-Meinhoff Gang in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy, the Puerto Ricans who tried to kill Harry Truman, the London subway bombers were all raised in freedom.

“Dissidents with the freedom to protest around the clock,” said the president, “are less likely to blow themselves up at rush hour.” But Hamas and Islamic Jihad resort to suicide bombing because they think it a far more effective way to overthrow Israeli rule than marching with signs.

What Bush passed over in his speech is that it is the autocratic regimes in Cairo, Riyadh and Amman that hold back the pent-up animosity toward America and Israel, and free elections that have advanced Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

In Iraq, we see the inevitable tragedy of ideology, of allowing some intellectual construct, not rooted in reality, to take control of the minds of men.