With Friends Like These

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Was Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and then his body cut up with a bone saw and flown to Riyadh in Gulfstream jets owned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman?

So contend the Turks, who have video from the consulate, photos of 15 Saudi agents who flew into Istanbul that day, Oct. 2, and the identity numbers of the planes.

Supporting the thesis of either a murder in the consulate or a “rendition,” a kidnaping gone horribly bad, is a Post story that U.S. intel intercepted Saudi planning, ordered by the prince, to lure Khashoggi from his suburban D.C. home back to Saudi Arabia. And for what beneficent purpose?

If these charges are not refuted by Riyadh, there will likely be, and should be, as John Bolton said in another context, “hell to pay.”

And the collateral diplomatic damage looks to be massive.

Any U.S.-backed “Arab NATO” to face down Iran, with Riyadh as central pillar, would appear dead. Continued U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen would now be in question.

The special relationship the crown prince and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have established could be history.

Congress could cancel U.S. arms sales to the kingdom that keep thousands of U.S. defense workers employed, and impose sanctions on the prince who is heir apparent to the throne of his 82-year-old father, King Salman.

Today, the Saudi prince has become toxic, and his ascension to the Saudi throne seems less inevitable than two weeks ago. Yet, well before Khashoggi’s disappearance in the consulate, Crown Prince Mohammed’s behavior had seemed wildly erratic.

Along with the UAE, he charged Qatar with supporting terrorism, severed relations, and threatened to build a ditch to sever Qatar from the Arabian Peninsula. To protest criticism of his country’s human rights record by Canada’s foreign minister, he cut all ties to Ottawa.

Last year, he summoned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh, held him for a week, and forced him to resign his office and blame it on Iranian interference in Lebanon. Released, Hariri returned home to reclaim his office.

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A professed reformer, Crown Prince Mohammed opened movie theaters to women and allowed them to drive, and then jailed the social activists who had called for these reforms.

Three years ago, he initiated the war on the Houthis, after the rebels ousted a pro-Saudi president and took over most of the country.

And, since 2015, the crown prince has conducted a savage air war that has brought Houthi missiles down on his own country and capital.

Yemen has become Saudi Arabia’s Vietnam.

That our principal Arab ally in our confrontation with Iran, which could lead to yet another U.S. war, is a regime headed by so unstable a character should raise serious concerns about where it is we are going in the Middle East.

Have we not wars already?

Do we not have enough enemies in the region — Taliban, al-Qaida, ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Iran — to be starting another war?

As for our regional allies, consider.

NATO ally Turkey, which is pressing the case against our Saudi allies, leads the world in the number of journalists jailed. Our Egyptian ally, Gen. al-Sissi, came to power in a military coup, and has imprisoned thousands of dissidents of the Muslim Brotherhood.

While we have proclaimed Iran the “world’s greatest state sponsor of terror,” it is Yemen, where Saudi Arabia intervened in 2015, that is regarded as the world’s great human rights catastrophe.

Moreover, Iran is itself suffering from terrorism.

Last month, a military parade in the city of Ahvaz in the southwest was attacked by gunmen who massacred 25 soldiers and civilians in the deadliest terror attack in Iran in a decade.

And like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, Iran suffers, too, from tribalism, with Arab secessionists in its southwest, Baloch secessionists in its southeast, and Kurd secessionists in its northwest.

The U.S. cannot look aside at a royal Saudi hand in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist in its consulate in Istanbul. But before we separate ourselves from the Riyadh regime, we should ask what is the alternative if the House of Saud should be destabilized or fall?

When Egypt’s King Farouk was overthrown in 1952, we got Nasser.

When young King Faisal was overthrown in Baghdad in 1958, we eventually got Saddam Hussein. When King Idris in Libya was ousted in 1969, we got Qaddafi. When Haile Selassie was overthrown and murdered in Ethiopia in 1974, we got Col. Mengistu and mass murder. When the Shah was overthrown in Iran in 1979, we got the Ayatollah.

As World War I, when four empires fell, testifies, wars are hell on monarchies. And if a new and larger Middle East war, with Iran, should break out in the Gulf, some of the Arab kings, emirs and sultans will likely fall.

And when they do, history shows, it is not usually democrats who rise to replace them.

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Is Trump Going Neocon in Syria?

Is Trump Going Neocon in Syria?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Is President Donald Trump about to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war? For that is what he and his advisers seem to be signaling.

Last week, Trump said of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s campaign to recapture the last stronghold of the rebellion, Idlib province: “If it’s a slaughter, the world is going to get very, very angry. And the United States is going to get very angry, too.”

In a front-page story Monday, “Assad is Planning Chlorine Attack, U.S. Says,” The Wall Street Journal reports that, during a recent meeting, “President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib.”

Idlib contains three million civilians and refugees and 70,000 rebels, 10,000 of whom are al-Qaida.

Friday, The Washington Post reported that Trump is changing U.S. policy. America will not be leaving Syria any time soon.

The 2,200 U.S. troops in Syria will remain until we see “the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces and the establishment of a stable, non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians.”

“We are not in a hurry to go,” said James Jeffrey, the retired Foreign Service officer brought back to handle the Syria account. “The new policy is we’re no longer pulling out by the end of the year.”

President Obama had a red line against Syria’s use of poison gas, which Trump enforced with bombing runs. Now we have a new red line. Said Jeffrey, the U.S. “will not tolerate an attack. Period.”

In an editorial Friday, the Post goaded Trump, calling his response to Assad’s ruthless recapture of his country “pathetically weak.” To stand by and let the Syrian army annihilate the rebels in Idlib, said the Post, would be “another damaging abdication of U.S. leadership.”

What Trump seems to be signaling, the Post demanding, and Jeffrey suggesting, is that, rather than allow a bloody battle for the recapture of Idlib province to play out, the United States should engage Russian and Syrian forces militarily and force them to back off.

On Friday, near the U.S. garrison at Tanf in southern Syria, close to Iraq, U.S. Marines conducted a live-fire exercise. Purpose: Warn Russian forces to stay away. The Americans have declared a 35-mile zone around Tanf off-limits. The Marine exercise followed a Russian notification, and U.S. rejection, of a plan to enter the zone in pursuit of “terrorists.”

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Is Trump ready to order U.S. action against Russian and Syrian forces if Assad gives his army the green light to take Idlib? For the bombing of Idlib has already begun.

What makes this more than an academic exercise is that Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at a meeting in Tehran last Friday, told President Erdogan of Turkey that the reconquest of Idlib is going forward.

Erdogan fears that the Syrian army’s recapture of Idlib would send hundreds of thousands more refugees streaming to his border.

Turkey already hosts millions of refugees from Syria’s civil war.

Yet the massing of the Syrian army near Idlib and the Russian and Syrian bombing now begun suggest that the Assad-Putin-Rouhani coalition has decided to accept the risk of a clash with the Americans in order to bring an end to the rebellion. If so, this puts the ball in America’s court.

Words and warnings aside, is Trump prepared to take us into the Syrian civil war against the forces who, absent our intervention, will have won the war? When did Congress authorize a new war?

What vital U.S. interest is imperiled in Idlib, or in ensuring that all Iranian forces and Shiite allies are removed, or that a “non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the international community” is established in Damascus?

With these conditions required before our departure, we could be there for eternity.

The Syrian civil war is arguably the worst humanitarian disaster of the decade. The sooner it is ended the better. But Assad, Russia and Iran did not start this war. Nor have Syria, Russia or Iran sought a clash with U.S. forces whose mission, we were repeatedly assured, was to crush ISIS and go home.

Trump has struck Syria twice for its use of poison gas, and U.S. officials told the Journal that Assad has now approved the use of chlorine on the rebels in Idlib. Moscow, however, is charging that a false-flag operation to unleash chlorine on civilians in Idlib is being prepared to trigger and justify U.S. intervention.

Many in this Russophobic city would welcome a confrontation with Putin’s Russia, even more a U.S. war on Iran. But that is the opposite of what candidate Trump promised.

It would represent a triumph of the never-Trumpers and President Trump’s relinquishing of his foreign policy to the interventionists and neoconservatives.

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Balance Sheet of the Forever War

Balance Sheet of the Forever War

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end,” said Gen. John Nicholson in Kabul on his retirement Sunday after a fourth tour of duty and 31 months as commander of U.S. and NATO forces.

Labor Day brought news that another U.S. serviceman had been killed in an insider attack by an Afghan soldier.

Why do we continue to fight in Afghanistan?

“We continue to fight simply because we are there,” said retired Gen. Karl Eikenberry who preceded Gen. Nicholson.

“Absent political guidance and a diplomatic strategy,” Eikenberry told The New York Times, “military commanders have filled the vacuum by waging a war all agree cannot be won militarily.”

This longest war in U.S. history has become another no-win war.

Yet, if the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan were pulled out, the regime would fall, the Taliban would take over, and the massacres would begin.

So America stays in and soldiers on. For how long?

The 17th anniversary of 9/11, now imminent, appears a proper time to take inventory of our successes and failures in the forever wars of the Middle East into which America was plunged in this new century.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban presence is more pervasive in more provinces than at any time since the regime was overthrown in 2001.

In the seven-year Syrian civil war we helped to ignite by arming rebels to overthrow President Assad, the conflict appears headed for its largest, bloodiest and most decisive battle.

The Syrian army, backed by Russia and Iran, is preparing to attack Idlib province. Three million people live there and 70,000 rebels are encamped, including 10,000 al-Qaida fighters.

In a Monday tweet, President Donald Trump warned Syria against attacking Idlib, and warned Iran and Russia against joining any such attack: “The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.” America and Russia both have warships in the Eastern Med.

National Security Adviser John Bolton has warned that Syria’s use of gas in Idlib would trigger a U.S. military response. This is an invitation for the rebels in Idlib to conduct a false-flag gas attack to lure U.S. air power to their side.

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Monday in Damascus, the Iranian foreign minister said the time had come to eradicate the terrorist enclave in Idlib. If the Syrians, Russians and Iranians are not bluffing, and the U.S. warnings are serious, we may be headed for a U.S.-Russia clash inside Syria.

Yet, again, what vital interest of ours is imperiled in Idlib province?

On Monday, Saudi Arabia admitted to having made a mistake when, using a U.S.-made fighter-bomber, a school bus was attacked on Aug. 9, killing dozens of Yemeni children in that humanitarian horror of a war.

The Saudi campaign to crush the Houthi rebels and return the previous regime to power in Sanaa could never succeed were it not for U.S.-provided planes, missiles, bombs and air-to-air refueling.

We are thus morally responsible for what is happening.

In Libya, where we overthrew Moammar Gadhafi, rival factions now control Benghazi in the east and Tripoli in the west. August saw fighting break out in the capital, threatening the U.N.-backed unity government there.

In Iraq, which we invaded in 2003 to strip of weapons of mass destruction it did not have, and to bring the blessings of democracy to Mesopotamia, rival factions are struggling for power after recent elections saw pro-Iranian and anti-American forces gain ground.

Meanwhile, the Iranian currency is sinking as a November deadline approaches for Europe to choose between cutting ties to Iran or losing U.S. markets. While the Tehran regime has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if its oil is denied access to world markets, it faces economic strangulation if it does not submit to U.S. demands.

When one adds up the U.S. dead and wounded from the wars we have launched since 2001 with the Arab and Muslim wounded, killed, orphaned, widowed, uprooted and turned into refugees, as well as the trillions of dollars lost, what benefits are there on the other side of the ledger?

Now we appear to be moving to confront Russia in Ukraine.

In an interview with The Guardian last week, U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker said Washington is ready to build up Ukraine’s naval and air defense forces, given Russia’s continued support for separatists in the Donbass. The administration is “absolutely” prepared to supply new lethal weaponry, beyond the Javelin anti-tank missiles delivered in April.

But if a Ukrainian army moves against pro-Russian rebels in Luhansk and Donetsk, and Russia intervenes on the side of the rebels, are we really prepared to come to the aid of the Ukrainian army?

President Trump has yet to withdraw us from any of the wars he inherited, but he has kept us out of any new wars — a record worth preserving.

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Are the Interventionists Now Leaderless?

Are the Interventionists Now Leaderless?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“McCain’s Death Leaves Void” ran The Wall Street Journal headline over a front-page story that began:

“The death of John McCain will leave Congress without perhaps its loudest voice in support of the robust internationalism that has defined the country’s security relations since World War II.”

Certainly, the passing of the senator whose life story will dominate the news until he is buried at his alma mater, the Naval Academy, on Sunday, leaves America’s interventionists without their greatest champion.

No one around has the prestige or media following of McCain.

And the cause he championed, compulsive intervention in foreign quarrels to face down dictators and bring democrats to power, appears to be a cause whose time has passed.

When 9/11 occurred, America was united in crushing the al-Qaida terrorists who perpetrated the atrocities. John McCain then backed President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, which had no role in the attacks.

During Barack Obama’s presidency, he slipped into northern Syria to cheer rebels who had arisen to overthrow President Bashar Assad, an insurgency that led to a seven-year civil war and one of the great humanitarian disasters of our time.

McCain supported the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe and the Baltic, right up to Russia’s border. When Georgia invaded South Ossetia in 2008, and was expelled by the Russian army, McCain roared, “We are all Georgians now!”

He urged intervention. But Bush, his approval rating scraping bottom, had had enough of the neocon crusades for democracy.

McCain’s contempt for Vladimir Putin was unconstrained. When crowds gathered in Maidan Square in Kiev to overthrow an elected pro-Russian president, McCain was there, cheering them on.

He supported sending arms to the Ukrainian army to fight pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass. He backed U.S. support for Saudi intervention in Yemen. And this war, too, proved to be a humanitarian disaster.

John McCain was a war hawk, and proud of it. But by 2006, the wars he had championed had cost the Republican Party both houses of Congress.

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In 2008, when he was on the ballot, those wars helped cost him the presidency.

By 2016, the Republican majority would turn its back on McCain and his protege, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and nominate Donald Trump, who said he would seek to get along with Russia and extricate America from the wars into which McCain had helped plunge the country.

Yet, while interventionism now has no great champion and has proven unable to rally an American majority, it retains a residual momentum. This compulsion is pushing us to continue backing the Saudi war in Yemen and to seek regime change in Iran.

Yet if either of these enterprises holds any prospect of bringing about a more peaceful and prosperous Middle East, no one has made the case.

While the foreign policy that won the Cold War, containment, was articulated by George Kennan and pursued by presidents from Truman to Bush I, no grand strategy for the post-Cold War era has ever been embraced by a majority of Americans.

Bush I’s “New World Order” was rejected by Ross Perot’s economic patriots and Bill Clinton’s baby boomers who wanted to spend America’s peace dividend from our Cold War victory on America’s homefront.

As for the Bush II crusades for democracy “to end tyranny in our world,” the fruits of that Wilsonian idealism turned into ashes in our mouths.

But if the foreign policy agendas of Bush I and Bush II, along with McCain’s interventionism, have been tried and found wanting, what is America’s grand strategy?

What are the great goals of U.S. foreign policy? What are the vital interests for which all, or almost all Americans, believe we should fight?

“Take away this pudding; it has no theme,” said Churchill. Britain has lost an empire, but not yet found a role, was the crushing comment of Dean Acheson in 1962.

Both statements appear to apply to U.S. foreign policy in 2018.

We are bombing and fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, partly John McCain’s legacy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sent a virtual ultimatum to Iran. We have told North Korea, a nuclear power with the world’s fourth-largest army, either to denuclearize or the U.S. may use its military might to get the job done.

We are challenging Beijing in its claimed territorial waters of the South China Sea. From South Korea to Estonia, we are committed by solemn treaty to go to war if any one of dozens of nations is attacked.

Now one hears talk of an “Arab NATO” to confront the ayatollah’s Iran and its Shiite allies. Lest we forget, ISIS and al-Qaida are Sunni.

With all these war guarantees, the odds are excellent that one day we are going to be dragged in yet another war that the American people will sour upon soon after it begins.

Where is the American Kennan of the new century?

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America’s Lengthening Enemies List

America's Lengthening Enemies List

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Friday, deep into the 17th year of America’s longest war, Taliban forces overran Ghazni, a provincial capital that sits on the highway from Kabul to Kandahar.

The ferocity of the Taliban offensive brought U.S. advisers along with U.S. air power, including a B-1 bomber, into the battle.

“As the casualty toll in Ghazni appeared to soar on Sunday,” The Wall Street Journal reported, “hospitals were spilling over with dead bodies, corpses lay in Ghazni’s streets, and gunfire and shelling were preventing relatives from reaching cemeteries to bury their dead.”

In Yemen Monday, a funeral was held in the town square of Saada for 40 children massacred in an air strike on a school bus by Saudis or the UAE, using U.S.-provided planes and bombs.

“A crime by America and its allies against the children of Yemen,” said a Houthi rebel leader.

Yemen is among the worst humanitarian situations in the world, and in creating that human-rights tragedy, America has played an indispensable role.

The U.S. also has 2,000 troops in Syria. Our control, with our Kurd allies, of that quadrant of Syria east of the Euphrates is almost certain to bring us into eventual conflict with a regime and army insisting that we get out of their country.

As for our relations with Turkey, they have never been worse.

President Erdogan regards our Kurd allies in Syria as collaborators of his own Kurdish-terrorist PKK. He sees us as providing sanctuary for exile cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan says was behind the attempted coup in 2016 in which he and his family were targeted for assassination.

Last week, when the Turkish currency, the lira, went into a tailspin, President Trump piled on, ratcheting up U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel. If the lira collapses and Turkey cannot meet its debt obligations, Erdogan will lay the blame at the feet of the Americans and Trump.

Which raises a question: How many quarrels, conflicts and wars, and with how many adversaries, can even the mighty United States sustain?

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In November, the most severe of U.S. sanctions will be imposed on Iran. Among the purposes of this policy: Force as many nations as possible to boycott Iranian oil and gas, sink its economy, bring down the regime.

Iran has signaled a possible response to its oil and gas being denied access to world markets. This August, Iranian gunboats exercised in the Strait of Hormuz, backing up a regime warning that if Iranian oil cannot get out of the Gulf, the oil of Arab OPEC nations may be bottled up inside as well. Last week, Iran test-fired an anti-ship ballistic missile.

Iran has rejected Trump’s offer of unconditional face-to-face talks, unless the U.S. first lifts the sanctions imposed after withdrawing from the nuclear deal.

With no talks, a U.S. propaganda offensive underway, the Iranian rial sinking and the economy sputtering, regular demonstrations against the regime, and new sanctions scheduled for November, it is hard to see how a U.S. collision with Tehran can be avoided.

This holds true as well for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Last week, the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Russia for its alleged role in the nerve-agent poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British town of Salisbury.

Though the U.S. had already expelled 60 Russian diplomats for the poisoning, and Russia vehemently denies responsibility — and conclusive evidence has not been made public and the victims have not been heard from — far more severe sanctions are to be added in November.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is warning that such a U.S. move would cross a red line: “If … a ban on bank operations or currency use follows, it will amount to a declaration of economic war. … And it will warrant a response with economic means, political means and, if necessary, other means.”

That the sanctions are biting is undeniable. Like the Turkish lira and Iranian rial, the Russian ruble has been falling and the Russian people are feeling the pain.

Last week also, a U.S. Poseidon reconnaissance plane, observing China’s construction of militarized islets in the South China Sea, was told to “leave immediately and keep out.”

China claims the sea as its national territory.

And North Korea’s Kim Jong Un apparently intends to hold onto his arsenal of nuclear weapons.

“We’re waiting for the North Koreans to begin the process of denuclearization, which they committed to in Singapore and which they’ve not yet done,” John Bolton told CNN last week.

A list of America’s adversaries here would contain the Taliban, the Houthis of Yemen, Bashar Assad of Syria, Erdogan’s Turkey, Iran, North Korea, Russia and China — a pretty full plate.

Are we prepared to see these confrontations through, to assure the capitulation of our adversaries? What do we do if they continue to defy us?

And if it comes to a fight, how many allies will we have in the battles and wars that follow?

Was this the foreign policy America voted for?

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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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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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