Is Bolton Steering Trump into War with Iran?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Stop the ENDLESS WARS!” implored President Donald Trump in a Sunday night tweet.

Well, if he is serious, Trump had best keep an eye on his national security adviser, for a U.S. war on Iran would be a dream come true for John Bolton.

Last September, when Shiite militants launched three mortar shells into the Green Zone in Baghdad, which exploded harmlessly in a vacant lot, Bolton called a series of emergency meetings and directed the Pentagon to prepare a menu of targets, inside Iran, for U.S. air and missile strikes in retaliation.

The Wall Street Journal quoted one U.S. official as saying Bolton’s behavior “rattled people. … People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”

Bolton’s former deputy, Mira Ricardel, reportedly told a gathering the shelling into the Green Zone was “an act of war” to which the U.S. must respond decisively.

Bolton has long believed a U.S. confrontation with Iran is both inevitable and desirable. In 2015, he authored a New York Times op-ed whose title, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,” said it all. He has urged that “regime change” in Iran be made a declared goal of U.S. foreign policy.

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When Trump announced his decision to withdraw the 2,000 U.S. troops now in Syria, Bolton swiftly imposed conditions: ISIS must first be eliminated, Iranian forces and allied militias must leave, and the Kurds must be protected.

Yet enforcing such red lines would require a permanent presence of American troops. For how, without war, would we effect the removal of Bashar Assad’s Iranian allies, if he declines to expel them and the Iranians refuse to go?

Bolton has an ally in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In Cairo last week, Pompeo declared it U.S. policy “to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria.

And though Hezbollah has been a “major presence” in Lebanon for several decades, “we won’t accept this as the status quo,” said Pompeo, for Hezbollah is a “wholly owned subsidiary of the Iranian regime.”

But how does the secretary of state propose to push Hezbollah out of Lebanon peacefully when the Israelis could not do it in a month-long war in 2006?

Pompeo’s purpose during his tour of the Middle East? Build a new Middle East Strategic Alliance, a MESA, an Arab NATO, whose members are to be Egypt, Jordan and the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

There are other signs a confrontation is coming soon. The U.S. has objected to Iran’s pending launch of two space satellites, saying these look like tests of missiles designed to deliver nuclear warheads. Yet Iran has never produced weapons-grade uranium or plutonium and never tested an ICBM.

Pompeo has also called for a conclave in Poland in February to bring together an anti-Iran alliance to discuss what is to be done about what he calls “our common enemy.”

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu boasted of Israel’s latest strike in Syria: “Just in the last 36 hours, the air force attacked Iranian warehouses with Iranian weapons at the international airport in Damascus. The accumulation of recent attacks proves that we are determined more than ever to take action against Iran in Syria, just as we promised.”

Israel brags that it has hit 200 targets inside Syria in recent years. The boasting may be connected to Bibi’s desire to strengthen his credentials as a security hawk for the coming Israeli election. But it is also a provocation to the Iranians and Syrians to retaliate, which could ignite a wider war between Israel and Syrian and Iranian forces.

What does the U.S. think of the Israeli strikes? Said Pompeo: “We strongly support Israel’s efforts to stop Iran from turning Syria into the next Lebanon.”

In short, forces are moving in this country and in Israel to bring about a U.S. confrontation with Iran — before our troops leave Syria.

But the real questions here are not about Bolton or Pompeo.

They are about Trump. Was he aware of Bolton’s request for a menu of targets in Iran for potential U.S. strikes? Did he authorize it? Has he authorized his national security adviser and secretary of state to engage in these hostile actions and bellicose rhetoric aimed at Iran? And if so, why?

While Trump has urged that the U.S. pull out of these Mideast wars, Pompeo has corrected him, “When America retreats, chaos often follows.”

Is Trump looking for a showdown with Iran, which could result in a war that might vault his approval rating, but be a disaster for the Middle East and world economy and do for him what Operation Iraqi Freedom did for George W. Bush?

One thing may confidently be said of the rhetoric and actions of Bolton and Pompeo: This is not what brought out the new populists who made Donald Trump president, the people who still share his desire to “stop the endless wars.”

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No, This Is Not JFK’s Democratic Party

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House has more women, persons of color and LGBT members than any House in history — and fewer white males.

And Thursday, the day Rashida Tlaib was sworn in, her hand on a Quran, our first Palestinian-American congresswoman showed us what we may expect. As a rally of leftists lustily cheered her on, Tlaib roared, “We’re gonna impeach the (expletive deleted)!”

Not only was no apology forthcoming, the host of the New American Leaders event where Tlaib spoke warmly endorsed her gutter language.

Her remarks, said Sayu Bhojwani, “were raw and honest, and came straight from the heart. … a refreshing break from the canned comments our elected leaders usually make. Tlaib spoke … with the fire that so many at our event wanted to hear.”

Sunday, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, 29, the youngest member of the new House, told CNN there is “no question” President Donald Trump is a “racist,” for he regularly uses “historic dog whistles of white supremacy.”

While the Democratic Party is celebrating a diversity that insists that the more women, persons of color and gays in leadership ranks, and the fewer white males, the stronger and better the party, has all of America embraced this as an ideal?

Is there no limit to the ideological, political, religious, racial and ethnic diversity a party and nation can tolerate before it comes apart?

Are Democrats inviting an eventual Balkanization of their party and country?

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Consider. This week, Julián Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and HUD secretary, appeared about to enter the race for the Democratic nomination. Castro has seen fellow Texan Robert F. O’Rourke, who goes by the nickname “Beto,” walk off with his Hispanic constituency in a 2018 Senate race. Castro intends to win it back it in the Democratic primaries.

Former Congressman O’Rourke has been accused of trying to pass himself off as Hispanic, though he is of Irish descent. Elizabeth Warren suffered a near-fatal wound trying to pass herself off as part Cherokee Indian.

In December, Maze Jackson, morning host of a radio station that reaches into Chicago’s black community, said of the mayoral election to succeed Rahm Emanuel, where 21 candidates have filed and a black woman and a Hispanic woman are the front-runners, “This thing is going to get so tribal.”

The Democratic front-runners for the presidential nomination — Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Beto — are all white males. Ranked just below them are black Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

South Carolina is a state where a large slice of the Democratic vote is African-American — Jesse Jackson won the caucuses in 1988 — and Harris and Booker should expect to do well if they do not split that vote.

While racial and ethnic voting is not new, it appears much more intense.

In the last Congress, the 33 U.S. congressional districts with the largest concentrations of black voters almost all elected African-Americans who became members of the racially exclusive Black Caucus.

The first two battles of 2020, Iowa and New Hampshire, are in states predominantly white. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has made several stops in Iowa with impressive turnouts, putting pressure on Biden and Sanders to decide soon.

But while Biden is the front-runner, consider how far away the ex-vice president is from the new realities in his party.

Though millennials are one voting bloc Democrats are courting most, Biden would be the oldest president ever elected. He was in the Senate for a decade before Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib were even born.

Biden is an old white male in a party that wants the torch passed to women and minorities. He backed George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in voting for the war in Iraq. He backed an anti-crime bill in the early 1990s that incarcerated individuals now gaining release by the latest crime bill. As Judiciary Committee chair, he presided over the hearings that resulted in a vote to elevate Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

The Republican Party, even with the never-Trumpers gone, still seems more united than a Democratic Party where the differences are not only ideological but also racial, religious and tribal.

Ocasio-Cortez is backing a hike in the top federal income tax rate to 70 percent. Castro has suggested taking a look at a top rate of 90 percent. How will this sit with the big Democratic donors?

Joe Biden, like Pelosi, was raised Catholic in a Church that taught that homosexuality was immoral and abortion was the killing of the innocent unborn for which the sanction was automatic excommunication.

Today, the Democratic Party celebrates same-sex marriage as social progress and regards abortion as a cherished constitutional right. A floor battle erupted at its 2012 Charlotte, North Carolina, convention over whether God should even be mentioned in the party platform.

Yet Nancy Pelosi did last week denounce as “immoral” the idea of building a security wall along America’s border with Mexico.

No, this is not JFK’s party anymore. That party is long dead.

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How the War Party Lost the Middle East

How the War Party Lost the Middle East

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Assad must go, Obama says.”

So read the headline in The Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2011.

The story quoted President Barack Obama directly:

“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. … the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain’s David Cameron signed on to the Obama ultimatum: Assad must go!

Seven years and 500,000 dead Syrians later, it is Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron who are gone. Assad still rules in Damascus, and the 2,000 Americans in Syria are coming home. Soon, says President Donald Trump.

But we cannot “leave now,” insists Sen. Lindsey Graham, or “the Kurds are going to get slaughtered.”

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Question: Who plunged us into a Syrian civil war, and so managed our intervention that were we to go home after seven years our enemies will be victorious and our allies will “get slaughtered”?

Seventeen years ago, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban for granting sanctuary to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad is today negotiating for peace talks with that same Taliban. Yet, according to former CIA director Mike Morell, writing in The Washington Post today, the “remnants of al-Qaeda work closely” with today’s Taliban.

It would appear that 17 years of fighting in Afghanistan has left us with these alternatives: Stay there, and fight a forever war to keep the Taliban out of Kabul, or withdraw and let the Taliban overrun the place.

Who got us into this debacle?

After Trump flew into Iraq over Christmas but failed to meet with its president, the Iraqi Parliament, calling this a “U.S. disregard for other nations’ sovereignty” and a national insult, began debating whether to expel the 5,000 U.S. troops still in their country.

George W. Bush launched Operation Iraq Freedom to strip Saddam Hussein of WMD he did not have and to convert Iraq into a democracy and Western bastion in the Arab and Islamic world.

Fifteen years later, Iraqis are debating our expulsion.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the cleric with American blood on his hands from the fighting of a decade ago, is leading the charge to have us booted out. He heads the party with the largest number of members in the parliament.

Consider Yemen. For three years, the U.S. has supported with planes, precision-guided munitions, air-to-air refueling and targeting information, a Saudi war on Houthi rebels that degenerated into one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the 21st century.

Belatedly, Congress is moving to cut off U.S. support for this war. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, its architect, has been condemned by Congress for complicity in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate in Istanbul. And the U.S. is seeking a truce in the fighting.

Who got us into this war? And what have years of killing Yemenis, in which we have been collaborators, done to make Americans safer?

Consider Libya. In 2011, the U.S. attacked the forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi and helped to effect his ouster, which led to his murder.

Told of news reports of Gadhafi’s death, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joked, “We came, we saw, he died.”

The Libyan conflict has since produced tens of thousands of dead. The output of Libya’s crucial oil industry has collapsed to a fraction of what it was. In 2016, Obama said that not preparing for a post-Gadhafi Libya was probably the “worst mistake” of his presidency.

The price of all these interventions for the United States?

Some 7,000 dead, 40,000 wounded and trillions of dollars.

For the Arab and Muslim world, the cost has been far greater. Hundreds of thousands of dead in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, civilian and soldier alike, pogroms against Christians, massacres, and millions uprooted and driven from their homes.

How has all this invading, bombing and killing made the Middle East a better place or Americans more secure? One May 2018 poll of young people in the Middle East and North Africa found that more of them felt that Russia was a closer partner than was the United States of America.

The fruits of American intervention?

We are told ISIS is not dead but alive in the hearts of tens of thousands of Muslims, that if we leave Syria and Afghanistan, our enemies will take over and our friends will be massacred, and that if we stop helping Saudis and Emiratis kill Houthis in Yemen, Iran will notch a victory.

In his decision to leave Syria and withdraw half of the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, Trump enraged our foreign policy elites, though millions of Americans cannot get out of there soon enough.

In Monday’s editorial celebrating major figures of foreign policy in the past half-century, The New York Times wrote, “As these leaders pass from the scene, it will be left to a new generation to find a way forward from the wreckage Mr. Trump has already created.”

Correction: Make that “the wreckage Mr. Trump inherited.”

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How Democracy Is Losing the World

How Democracy Is Losing the World

By Patrick J. Buchanan

If Donald Trump told Michael Cohen to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels about a one-night stand a decade ago, that, says Jerome Nadler, incoming chair of House Judiciary, would be an “impeachable offense.”

This tells you what social media, cable TV and the great herd of talking heads will be consumed with for the next two years — the peccadillos and misdeeds of Trump, almost all of which occurred before being chosen as president of the United States.

“Everywhere President Trump looks,” writes The Washington Times’ Rowan Scarborough, “there are Democrats targeting him from New York to Washington to Maryland… lawmakers, state attorneys general, opposition researchers, bureaucrats and activist defense lawyers.

“They are aiming at Russia collusion, the Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, a Trump hotel, Trump tax returns, Trump campaign finances and supposed money laundering.”

The full-court press is on. Day and night we will be hearing debate on the great question: Will the elites that loathe him succeed in bringing Trump down, driving him from office, and prosecuting and putting him in jail?

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Says Adam Schiff, the incoming chair of the House intelligence committee: “Donald Trump may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.”

And what will a watching world be thinking when it sees the once-great republic preoccupied with breaking yet another president?

Will that world think: Why can’t we be more like America?

Does the world still envy us our free press, which it sees tirelessly digging up dirt on political figures and flaying them with abandon?

Among the reasons democracy is in discredit and retreat worldwide is that its exemplar and champion, the USA, is beginning to resemble France’s Third Republic in its last days before World War II.

Also, democracy no longer has the field largely to itself as to how to create a prosperous and powerful nation-state.

This century, China has shown aspiring rulers how a single-party regime can create a world power, and how democracy is not a necessary precondition for extraordinary economic progress.

Vladimir Putin, an autocratic nationalist, has shown how a ruined nation can be restored to a great power in the eyes of its people and the world, commanding a new deference and respect.

Democracy is a bus you get off when it reaches your stop, says Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After the attempted coup in the summer of 2017, Erdogan purged his government and military of tens of thousands of enemies and jailed more journalists than any other nation.

Yet he is welcomed in the capitals of the world.

What does American democracy now offer the world as its foremost attribute, its claim to greatness?

“Our diversity is our strength!” proclaims this generation.

We have become a unique nation composed of peoples from every continent and country, every race, ethnicity, culture and creed on earth.

But is not diversity what Europe is openly fleeing from?

Is there any country of the Old Continent clamoring for more migrants from the Maghreb, sub-Sahara or Middle East?

Broadly, it seems more true to say that the world is turning away from transnationalism toward tribalism, and away from diversity and back to the ethno-nationalism whence the nations came.

The diversity our democracy has on offer is not selling.

Ethnic, racial and religious minorities, such as the Uighurs and Tibetans in China, the Rohingya in Myanmar, minority black tribes in sub-Sahara Africa and white farmers in South Africa, can testify that popular majority rule often means mandated restrictions or even an end to minority rights.

In the Middle East, free elections produced a Muslim Brotherhood president in Egypt, Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon. After this, a disillusioned Bush 43 White House called off the democracy crusade.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, relates how one minority is treated in much of the Muslim world:

“Christians face daily the threat of violence, murder, intimidation, prejudice and poverty…”

“In the last few years, they have been slaughtered by so-called Islamic State. … Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. Many have been killed, enslaved and persecuted or forcibly converted. Even those who remain ask the question, ‘Why stay?’

“Christian communities that were the foundation of the universal Church now face the threat of imminent extinction.”

And all the while this horror is going on, Ronald Reagan’s treaty that banned all U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles faces collapse. And President Trump’s initiative to bring about a nuclear-free North Korea appears in peril.

Yet, for the next two years, we will be preoccupied with whether paying hush money to Stormy Daniels justifies removing a president, and exactly when Michael Cohen stopped talking to the Russians about his boss building a Trump Tower in Moscow.

We are an unserious nation, engaged in trivial pursuits, in a deadly serious world.

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Are the Saudi Princes True Friends?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

The 633-word statement of President Donald Trump on the Saudi royals’ role in the grisly murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi is a remarkable document, not only for its ice-cold candor.

The president re-raises a question that has roiled the nation since Jimmy Carter: To what degree should we allow idealistic values trump vital interests in determining foreign policy?

On the matter of who ordered the killing of Khashoggi, Trump does not rule out the crown prince as prime suspect:

“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder… (but) it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge.”
Continue reading “Are the Saudi Princes True Friends?”

Macron to Trump: ‘You’re No Patriot!’

Macron to Trump: 'You're No Patriot!'

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In a rebuke bordering on national insult Sunday, Emmanuel Macron retorted to Donald Trump’s calling himself a nationalist.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism; nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.”

As for Trump’s policy of “America first,” Macron trashed such atavistic thinking in this new age: “By saying we put ourselves first and the others don’t matter, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.”

Though he is being hailed as Europe’s new anti-Trump leader who will stand up for transnationalism and globalism, Macron reveals his ignorance of America.

Trump’s ideas are not ideological but rooted in our country’s history.
Continue reading “Macron to Trump: ‘You’re No Patriot!’”

Has Russia Given Up on the West?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

By the end of his second term, President Ronald Reagan, who had called the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” was strolling through Red Square with Russians slapping him on the back.

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.

And how have we husbanded the fruits of our Cold War triumph?

This month, China’s leader-for-life Xi Jinping stood beside Vladimir Putin as 3,000 Chinese troops maneuvered with 300,000 Russians, 1,000 planes and 900 tanks in Moscow’s largest military exercise in 40 years.

An uncoded message to the West from the East.

Richard Nixon’s great achievement in bringing Peking in from the cold, and Reagan’s great achievement of ending the Cold War, are history.

Bolshevism may be dead, but Russian nationalism, awakened by NATO’s quick march to Russia’s ancient frontiers, is alive and well.

Russia appears to have given up on the West and accepted that its hopes for better times with President Donald Trump are not to be.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is berating Russia for secretly trading with North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions, saying, “Lying, cheating, and rogue behavior have become the new norm of the Russian culture.”

Cold wars don’t get much colder than defaming another country’s culture as morally debased.

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The U.S. has also signaled that it may start supplying naval and anti-aircraft weaponry to Ukraine, as Russia is being warned to cease its inspections of ships passing from the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov.

The three-mile-wide strait lies between Crimea and Kerch Peninsula. In Russia’s eyes, both banks of the strait are Russian national territory.

With U.S. backing, Ukraine has decided to build a naval base on the Sea of Azov to “create conditions for rebuffing the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation in this region.”

Kiev has several patrol boats in the Sea of Azov, with a few more to be transferred there in coming months. Russia’s navy could sink those boats and wipe out that base in minutes.

Are we going to send our Navy across the Black Sea to protect Ukraine’s naval rights inside a sea that has been as historically Russian as the Chesapeake Bay is historically American?

Poland this week invited the U.S. to establish a major base on its soil, for which Poland would pay two billion dollars, to be called “Fort Trump.”

Trump seemed to like the idea, and the name.

Yet, the Bush II decision to install a missile defense system in Poland brought a Kremlin counter-move: the installation of nuclear-capable Iskander cruise missiles in Kaliningrad, the former German territory on Poland’s northern border annexed by Stalin at the end of World War II.

In the Balkans, over Russian protests, the U.S. is moving to bring Macedonia into NATO. But before Macedonia can join, half its voters have to come out on Sept. 30 to approve a change in the nation’s name to North Macedonia. This is to mollify Greece, which claims the birthplace of Alexander the Great as it own.

Where are we going with all this?

With U.S. warships making regular visits into the Eastern Baltic and Black Sea, the possibility of a new base in Poland, and growing lethal aid to Ukraine to fight pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass and the Russian navy on the Sea of Azov, are we not crowding the Russians a bit?

Are we confident the Russians will always back down?

When Georgia, believing it could kick Russian peacekeepers out and re-annex its seceded province of South Ossetia, attacked in August 2008, the Russian Army came crashing in and ran the Georgians out in 48 hours.

George W. Bush wisely decided not to issue an ultimatum or send troops. He ignored the hawks in his own party who had helped goad him into the great debacle of his presidency: Iraq.

So, what exactly is the U.S. grand strategy with regard to Russia?

What might be called the McCain wing of the Republican Party has sought to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, which would make the containment of Russia America’s policy in perpetuity.

Are the American people aware of the costs and risks inherent in such a policy? What are the prospects of Russia yielding always to U.S. demands? And are we not today stretched awfully thin?

Our share of the global economy is much shrunken from Reagan’s time. Our deficit is approaching $1 trillion. Our debt is surging toward 100 percent of GDP. Entitlements are consuming our national wealth.

We are committed to containing the two other greatest powers, Russia and China. We are tied down militarily in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, with the War Party beating the drums for another and larger war — with Iran. And we are sanctioning adversaries and allies for not following our leadership of the West and the world.

In looking at America’s global commitments, greatly expanded since our Cold War victory, one word come to mind: unsustainable.

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