Is Tide Going Out on Hillary?

Is Tide Going Out on Hillary?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Were the election held today, Hillary Clinton would probably win a clear majority of the Electoral College.

Her problem: The election is two months off.

Sixty days out, one senses she has lost momentum — the “Big Mo” of which George H. W. Bush boasted following his Iowa triumph in 1980 — and her campaign is in a rut, furiously spinning its wheels.

The commander in chief forum Wednesday night should have been a showcase for the ex-secretary of state’s superior knowledge and experience.

Instead, Clinton looked like a witness before a grand jury, forced to explain her past mistakes and mishandling of classified emails at State.

“Of the two candidates,” The New York Times reported, “Mrs. Clinton faced by far the tougher and most probing questions from the moderator, Matt Lauer of NBC, and from an audience of military veterans about her use of private email, her vote authorizing the Iraq war, her hawkish foreign policy views…”

On defense most of the time, Clinton scored few points.

And with a blistering attack on Lauer, the Times all but threw in the towel and conceded that the Donald won the night.

“Moderator of Clinton-Trump Forum Fields A Storm of Criticism,” was the headline as analyst Michael Grynbaum piled on:

“Mr. Lauer found himself besieged on Wednesday evening by critics of all political stripes, who accused the anchor of unfairness, sloppiness, and even sexism in his handling of the event.”

When your allies are ripping the refs, you’ve probably lost the game.

Indeed, in this dress rehearsal for the debates, Donald Trump played Trump, while Clinton was cast in the role of Mexican President Pena Nieto, who just fired the finance minister who told him to invite the Donald to Mexico City for a talk.

There are other indices the tide is turning against Clinton.

Consider the near hysteria of a media that has taken to airing charges, in echo of “Tail Gunner Joe” McCarthy, that Donald Trump is somehow the conscious agent of a Kremlin conspiracy.

Why? Because Trump accepts the compliments of Vladimir Putin and refuses to call the Russian ruler a “thug,” which is now apparently the mark of a statesman.

Moreover, when it comes to her strongest suit, foreign policy, before Clinton can elaborate on her vision, she is forced to answer for her blunders.

Why did she vote for the war in Iraq? Why did she push for the war in Libya that produced this hellish mess? Does she still defend her handling of the Benghazi massacre? What happened to her “reset” with Russia?

Most critically, when facing the press, which she has begun to do after eight months of stonewalling, she is invariably dragged into the morass of the private server, the lost-and-found emails, her inability to understand or abide by State Department rules on classified and secret documents, and FBI accusations of extreme carelessness and duplicity.

Then there are the steady stream of revelations about the Clinton Foundation raking in hundreds of millions from dictators and despots who did business with Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

Bill Clinton now describes himself as a “Robin Hood” of Sherwood Forest who took from the rich to give to the poor, with Hillary Clinton presumably cast in the role of Maid Marian of Goldman Sachs.

It is all too much to absorb.

To get her “message” out, Clinton has to punch it though a media filter. But many in this ferociously competitive and diverse media market today know that the way to the front page or top of the website is to find a new angle on the plethora of scandals, minor and major, surrounding Hillary and Bill.

And with thousands of emails still out there, the contents of which are known to her adversaries, she will likely have IEDs going off beneath her campaign all the way to November.

Consider the coughing fits, a repeated distraction from her message. Should they go away, no problem. But if they recur, people will rightly demand to know from a physician what is the cause.

Because of her own blunders, Clinton’s adversaries have achieved a large measure of control over how her campaign is reported.

In a sense this is like Watergate, where, no matter that Richard Nixon might be managing well a Yom Kippur War or a strategic summit in Moscow, the press and prosecutors cared only about the tapes.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s message has begun to come through — loud, clear and consistent.

He will secure the border. He will renegotiate the trade deals that have been killing U.S. manufacturing and costing American jobs. He will be a law-and-order president who will put America first. He will keep us out of wars like Iraq. He will talk to Vladimir Putin, smash ISIS, back the cops and the vets, and rebuild the military.

Other than being the first woman president, what is the great change that Hillary Clinton offers America?

The Clinton campaign has a big, big problem.

Who Got Us Into These Endless Wars?

Who Got Us Into These Endless Wars?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Isolationists must not prevail in this new debate over foreign policy,” warns Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “The consequences of a lasting American retreat from the world would be dire.”

To make his case against the “Isolationist Temptation,” Haass creates a caricature, a cartoon, of America First patriots, then thunders that we cannot become “a giant gated community.”

Understandably, Haass is upset. For the CFR has lost the country.

Why? It colluded in the blunders that have bled and near bankrupted America and that cost this country its unrivaled global preeminence at the end of the Cold War.

No, it was not “isolationists” who failed America. None came near to power. The guilty parties are the CFR crowd and their neocon collaborators, and liberal interventionists who set off to play empire after the Cold War and create a New World Order with themselves as Masters of the Universe.

Consider just a few of the decisions taken in those years that most Americans wish we could take back.

After the Soviet Union withdrew the Red Army from Europe and split into 15 nations, and Russia held out its hand to us, we slapped it away and rolled NATO right up onto her front porch.

Enraged Russians turned to a man who would restore respect for their country. Did we think they would just sit there and take it?

How did bringing Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into NATO make America stronger, safer and more secure? For it has surely moved us closer to a military clash with a nuclear power.

In 2014, with John McCain and U.S. diplomats cheering them on, mobs in Independence Square overthrew a pro-Russian government in Kiev that had been democratically elected and installed a pro-NATO regime.

Putin’s response: Secure Russia’s naval base at Sevastopol by retaking Crimea, and support pro-Russian Ukrainians in Luhansk and Donetsk who preferred secession to submission to U.S. puppets.

Fortunately, our interventionists failed to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Had they succeeded, we almost surely would have been in a shooting war with Russia by now.

Would that have made us stronger, safer, more secure?

After the attack on 9/11, George W. Bush, with the nation and world behind him, took us into Afghanistan to eradicate the nest of al-Qaida killers.

After having annihilated some and scattered the rest, however, Bush decided to stick around and convert this wild land of Pashtuns, Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks into another Iowa.

Fifteen years later, we are still there.

And the day we leave, the Taliban will return, undo all we have done, and butcher those who cooperated with the Americans.

If we had to do it over, would we have sent a U.S. army and civilian corps to make Afghanistan look more like us?

Bush then invaded Iraq, overthrew Saddam, purged the Baath Party, and disbanded the Iraqi army. Result: A ruined, sundered nation with a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad, ISIS occupying Mosul, Kurds seceding, and endless U.S. involvement in this second-longest of American wars.

Most Americans now believe Iraq was a bloody trillion-dollar mistake, the consequences of which will be with us for decades.

With a rebel uprising against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. aided the rebels. Now, 400,000 Syrians are dead, half the country is uprooted, millions are in exile, and the Damascus regime, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, is holding on after five years.

Meanwhile, we cannot even decide whether we want Assad to survive or fall, since we do not know who rises when he falls.

Anyone still think it was a good idea to plunge into Syria in support of the rebels? Anyone still think it was a good idea to back Saudi Arabia in its war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which has decimated that country and threatens the survival of millions?

Anyone still think it was a good idea to attack Libya and take down Moammar Gadhafi, now that ISIS and other Islamists and rival regimes are fighting over the carcass of that tormented land?

“The Middle East is arguably the most salient example of what happens when the U.S. pulls back,” writes Haass.

To the CFR, the problem is not that we plunged headlong into this maelstrom of tyranny, tribalism and terrorism, but that we have tried to extricate ourselves.

Hints that America might leave the Middle East, says Haass, have “contributed greatly to instability in the region.”

So, must we stay indefinitely?

To the CFR, America’s role in the world is to corral Russia, defend Europe, contain China, isolate Iran, deter North Korea, and battle al-Qaida and ISIS wherever they may be, bleeding our country’s military.

Nor is that all. We are also to convert Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan into pro-Western preferably democratic countries, and embrace “free trade,” accepting the imported merchandise of all mankind, even if that means endless $800 billion trade deficits, bleeding our country’s economy.

Otherwise, you are just an isolationist.

Has Trump Found the Formula?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Stripped of its excesses, Donald Trump’s Wednesday speech contains all the ingredients of a campaign that can defeat Hillary Clinton this fall.

Indeed, after the speech ended Clinton was suddenly defending the Clinton Foundation against the charge that it is a front for a racket for her family’s enrichment.

The specific charges in Trump’s indictment of Clinton: She is mendacious, corrupt, incompetent and a hypocrite.

“Hillary Clinton … is a world-class liar,” said Trump. She faked a story about being under fire at a Bosnia airport, the kind of claim for which TV anchors get fired. She has lied repeatedly about her email server.

She lied to the families of victims of the Benghazi massacre by implying the atrocity was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islamic video, not the premeditated act of Islamist terror she knew it to be.

Drop “world-class” and Trump’s case is open and shut.

His second charge: “Hillary has perfected the politics of personal profit and theft” and “may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”

Particulars?

Bill Clinton got $750,000 for a speech from a telecom company facing State Department sanctions for providing technology to Iran. The Clintons got the cash; the telecom company got no sanctions.

“Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while 9 investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.”

Trump added, “She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund — doing favors for oppressive regimes … for cash.”

Together, she and Bill have raked in $153 million since 2001 in speaking fees from “lobbyists, CEOs and foreign governments.”

These figures are almost beyond belief.

Sherman Adams had to resign as Ike’s chief of staff for accepting a vicuna coat from Bernard Goldfine, who had problems with federal regulators.

When ex-President Reagan, after brain surgery, visited Japan to receive that nation’s highest honor, The Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, and got a $2 million fee from the media company that hosted his nine-day visit, our liberal editorial pages vomited out their revulsion and disgust.

Where are those media watchdogs today?

Rather than condemning the Clintons’ greed, their conflicts of interest and their egregious exploitation of their offices, the media are covering for Hillary and digging for dirt on Trump.

To substantiate his charge of incompetence, Trump notes that Clinton as Senator voted for arguably the greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history, the invasion of Iraq.

She pushed the attack that ousted Col. Gadhafi and unleashed terrorists who took over much of Libya and murdered our ambassador.

She played a leading role in launching the insurrection against Bashar Assad that has left hundreds of thousands dead, uprooted half of Syria and sent millions of refugees to seek asylum in Europe.

Primary beneficiary: ISIS, with its capital in Raqqa.

And the hypocrisy charge?

Though Hillary and Bill Clinton profess to be the fighting champions of women’s equality and gay rights, they have banked millions in speaking feels and tens of millions in contributions to the Clinton Foundation from Islamic regimes under whose rule women are treated as chattel and homosexuals are flogged, beheaded and stoned to death.

Why do major media let them get away with such hypocrisy?

Because, ideologically, politically, socially, morally and culturally, the major media are with them.

While making the case for the indictment of Hillary Clinton, Trump also outlined an agenda with appeal not only to nationalists, populists and conservatives but working-class and minority Democrats.

If Trump is elected, an economic system “rigged” to enable big corporations to leave and take factories and jobs abroad, and bring their goods back free of charge to kill companies that stay in America, will end.

“Globalism” will be replaced by “Americanism.”

Trade and tax policies will be rewritten to provide incentives for companies to bring jobs and factories here. Was this not also Bernie Sanders’ message? He stood against NAFTA in the 1990s when the Clintons colluded with Bush Republicans to impose it.

In his peroration, Trump spoke of what we Americans had done, how we had lost our way, but how we could, together, make her great again. His finale was surprisingly aspirational, hopeful, inclusive.

In the political year just ended, several unmistakable messages have been delivered.

First, the record turnout for Trump and remarkable turnout for Ted Cruz represented a repudiation of Beltway Republicanism.

Second, the amazing success of 74-year-old Socialist Bernie Sanders in keeping Clinton embattled until California, showed that the Democratic young have had enough of Clintonism.

A majority of the nation said loud and clear: We want change.

Hillary Clinton’s vulnerability is that Americans distrust her; no one believes she represents change; and she has no agenda and no vision.

Her campaign for president is all about her.

As Trump noted, even her slogan is, “I’m with her.”

Rough and raw as it was in parts, Donald Trump’s speech on Wednesday contains the elements of a campaign that can win.

Hillary Rejects ‘America First’

Hillary Rejects America First

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Clinton to Paint Trump as a Risk to World Order.”

Thus did page one of Thursday’s New York Times tee up Hillary Clinton’s big San Diego speech on foreign policy.

Inside the Times, the headline was edited to underline the point:

“Clinton to Portray Trump as Risk to the World.”

The Times promoted the speech as “scorching,” a “sweeping and fearsome portrayal of Mr. Trump, one that the Clinton campaign will deliver like a drumbeat to voters in the coming months.”

What is happening here?

As Donald Trump is splitting off blue-collar Democrats on issues like America’s broken borders and Bill Clinton’s trade debacles like NAFTA, Hillary Clinton is trying to peel off independents and Republicans by painting Trump as “temperamentally unfit” to be commander in chief.

Clinton contends that a Trump presidency would be a national embarrassment, that his ideas are outside the bipartisan mainstream of U.S. foreign policy, and that he is as contemptuous of our democratic allies as he is solicitous of our antidemocratic adversaries.

In portraying Trump as an intolerable alternative, Clinton will find echoes in the GOP establishment and among the Kristol-Kagan neocons, many of whom have already signed an open letter rejecting Trump.

William Kristol has recruited one David French to run on a National Review-Weekly Standard line to siphon off just enough votes from the GOP nominee to tip a couple of swing states to Clinton.

Robert Kagan contributed an op-ed to a welcoming Washington Post saying the Trump campaign is “how fascism comes to America.”

Yet, if Clinton means to engage on foreign policy, this is not a battle Trump should avoid. For the lady has an abysmal record on foreign policy and a report card replete with failures.

As senator, Clinton voted to authorize President Bush to attack and invade a nation, Iraq, that had not attacked us and did not want war with us.

Clinton calls it her biggest mistake, another way of saying that the most important vote she ever cast proved disastrous for her country, costing 4,500 U.S. dead and a trillion dollars.

That invasion was the worst blunder in U.S. history and a contributing factor to the deepening disaster of the Middle East, from which, it appears, we will not soon be able to extricate ourselves.

As secretary of state, Clinton supported the unprovoked U.S.-NATO attack on Libya and joked of the lynching of Moammar Gadhafi, “We came. We saw. He died.”

Yet, even Barack Obama now agrees the Libyan war was started without advance planning for what would happen when Gadhafi fell. And that lack of planning, that failure in which Clinton was directly involved, Obama now calls the worst mistake of his presidency.

Is Clinton’s role in pushing for two wars, both of which resulted in disasters for her country and the entire Middle East, something to commend her for the presidency of the United States?

Is the slogan to be, “Let Hillary clean up the mess she helped to make?”

Whether or not Clinton was complicit in the debacle in Benghazi, can anyone defend her deceiving the families of the fallen by talking about finding the evildoer who supposedly made the videotape that caused it all?

Even then, she knew better.

How many other secretaries of state have been condemned by their own inspector general for violating the rules for handling state secrets, for deceiving investigators, and for engaging, along with that cabal she brought into her secretary’s office, in a systematic stonewall to keep the department from learning the truth?

Where in all of this is there the slightest qualification, other than a honed instinct for political survival, for Clinton to lead America out of the morass into which she, and the failed foreign policy elite nesting around her, plunged the United States?

If Trump will stay true to his message, he can win the foreign policy debate, and the election, because what he is arguing for is what Americans want.

They do not want any more Middle East wars. They do not want to fight Russians in the Baltic or Ukraine, or the Chinese over some rocks in the South China Sea.

They understand that, as Truman had to deal with Stalin, and Ike with Khrushchev, and Nixon with Brezhnev, and Reagan with Gorbachev, a U.S. president should sit down with a Vladimir Putin to avoid a clash neither country wants, and from which neither country would benefit.

The coming Clinton-neocon nuptials have long been predicted in this space. They have so much in common. They belong with each other.

But this country will not survive as the last superpower if we do not shed this self-anointed role as the “indispensable nation” that makes and enforces the rules for the “rules-based world order,” and that acts as first responder in every major firefight on earth.

What Trump has hit upon, what the country wants, is a foreign policy designed to protect the vital interests of the United States, and a president who will — ever and always — put America first.

Suicide of the GOP — or Rebirth?

Suicide of the GOP -- or Rebirth-?

By Patrick Buchanan

“If his poll numbers hold, Trump will be there six months from now when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four, and he will likely be in the finals.”

My prediction, in July of 2015, looks pretty good right now.

Herewith, a second prediction. Republican wailing over his prospective nomination aside, Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton like a drum in November.

Indeed, only the fear that Trump can win explains the hysteria in this city.

Here is The Washington Post of March 18: “As a moral question it is straightforward. The mission of any responsible Republican should be to block a Trump nomination and election.”

The Orwellian headline over that editorial: “To defend our democracy, the GOP must aim for a brokered convention.”

Beautiful. Defending democracy requires Republicans to cancel the democratic decision of the largest voter turnout of any primaries in American history. And this is now a moral imperative for Republicans.

Like the Third World leaders it lectures, the Post celebrates democracy — so long as the voters get it right.

Whatever one may think of the Donald, he has exposed not only how far out of touch our political elites are, but how insular is the audience that listens to our media elite.

Understandably, Trump’s rivals were hesitant to take him on, seeing the number he did on “little Marco,” “low energy” Jeb and “Lyin’ Ted.”

But the Big Media — the Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times — have been relentless and ruthless.

Yet Trump’s strength with voters seemed to grow, pari passu, with the savagery of their attacks. As for National Review, The Weekly Standard and the accredited conservative columnists of the big op-ed pages, their hostility to Trump seems to rise, commensurate with Trump’s rising polls.

As the Wizard of Oz was exposed as a little man behind a curtain with a big megaphone, our media establishment is unlikely ever again to be seen as formidable as it once was.

And the GOP?

Those Republicans who assert that a Trump nomination would be a moral stain, a scarlet letter, the death of the party, they are most likely describing what a Trump nomination would mean to their own ideologies and interests.

Barry Goldwater lost 44 states in 1964, and the GOP fell to less than a third of Congress. “The Republican Party is dead,” wailed the Rockefeller wing. Actually, it wasn’t. Only the Rockefeller wing was dead.

After the great Yellowstone fire in the summer of ’88, the spring of ’89 produced astonishing green growth everywhere. 1964 was the Yellowstone fire of the GOP, burning up a million acres of dead wood, preparing the path for party renewal. Renewal often follows rebellion.

Republican strength today, on Capitol Hill and in state offices, is at levels unseen since Calvin Coolidge. Turnout in the GOP primaries has been running at levels unseen in American history, while turnout in the Democratic primaries is below what it was in the Obama-Clinton race of 2008.

This opportunity for Republicans should be a cause for rejoicing, not all this weeping and gnashing of teeth. If the party in Cleveland can bring together the Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich forces, the White House, Supreme Court and Congress are all within reach.

Consider. Clinton was beaten by Bernie Sanders in Michigan, and pressed in Ohio and Illinois, on her support for NAFTA and the trade deals of the Clinton-Bush-Obama era that eviscerated American manufacturing and led to the loss of millions of factory jobs and the stagnation of wages.

Sanders’ issues are Trump’s issues.

A Trump campaign across the industrial Midwest, Pennsylvania and New Jersey featuring attacks on Hillary Clinton’s support for NAFTA, the WTO, MFN for China — and her backing of amnesty and citizenship for illegal immigrants, and for the Iraq and Libyan debacles — is a winning hand.

Lately, 116 architects and subcontractors of the Bush I and II foreign policy took their own version of the Oxford Oath. They will not vote for, nor serve in a Trump administration.

Talking heads are bobbing up on cable TV to declare that if Trump is nominee, they will not vote for him and may vote for Clinton.

This is not unwelcome news. Let them go.

Their departure testifies that Trump is offering something new and different from the foreign policy failures this crowd did so much to produce.

The worst mistake Trump could make would be to tailor his winning positions on trade, immigration and intervention — to court such losers.

While Trump should reach out to the defeated establishment of the party, he cannot compromise the issues that brought him where he is, or embrace the failed policies that establishment produced. This would be throwing away his aces.

The Trump campaign is not a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. It is a rebellion of shareholders who are voting to throw out the corporate officers and board of directors that ran the company into the ground.

Only the company here is our country.

How Republics Perish

By Patrick J. Buchanan

If you believed America’s longest war, in Afghanistan, was coming to an end, be advised: It is not.

Departing U.S. commander Gen. John Campbell says there will need to be U.S. boots on the ground “for years to come.” Making good on President Obama’s commitment to remove all U.S. forces by next January, said Campbell, “would put the whole mission at risk.”

“Afghanistan has not achieved an enduring level of security and stability that justifies a reduction of our support. … 2016 could be no better and possibly worse than 2015.”

Translation: A U.S. withdrawal would risk a Taliban takeover with Kabul becoming the new Saigon and our Afghan friends massacred.

Fifteen years in, and we are stuck.

Nor is America about to end the next longest war in its history: Iraq. Defense Secretary Ash Carter plans to send units of the 101st Airborne back to Iraq to join the 4,000 Americans now fighting there,

“ISIS is a cancer,” says Carter. After we cut out the “parent tumor” in Mosul and Raqqa, we will go after the smaller tumors across the Islamic world.

When can Mosul be retaken? “Certainly not this year,” says the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart.

Vladimir Putin’s plunge into the Syrian civil war with air power appears to have turned the tide in favor of Bashar Assad.

The “moderate” rebels are being driven out of Aleppo and tens of thousands of refugees are streaming toward the Turkish border.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is said to be enraged with the U.S. for collaborating with Syrian Kurds against ISIS and with Obama’s failure to follow through on his dictate — “Assad must go!”

There is thus no end in sight to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, nor to the U.S.-backed Saudi war in Yemen, where ISIS and al-Qaida have re-arisen in the chaos.

Indeed, the West is mulling over military intervention in Libya to crush ISIS there and halt the refugee flood into Europe.

Yet, despite America’s being tied down in wars from the Maghreb to Afghanistan, not one of these wars were among the three greatest threats identified last summer by Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

“Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security” said Dunford, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I would have to point to Russia … if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

Dunford agreed with John McCain that we ought to provide anti-tank weapons and artillery to Ukraine, for, without it, “they’re not going to be able to protect themselves against Russian aggression.”

But what would we do if Putin responded by sending Russian troops to occupy Mariupol and build a land bridge to Crimea? Send U.S. troops to retake Mariupol? Are we really ready to fight Russia?

The new forces NATO is moving into the Baltic suggests we are.

Undeniably, disputes have arisen between Russia, and Ukraine and Georgia which seceded in 1991, over territory. But, also undeniably, many Russians in the 14 nations that seceded, including the Baltic states, never wanted to leave and wish to rejoin Mother Russia.

How do these tribal and territorial conflicts in the far east of Europe so threaten us that U.S. generals are declaring that “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security”?

Asked to name other threats to the United States, Gen. Dunford listed them in this order: China, North Korea, ISIS.

But while Beijing is involved in disputes with Hanoi over the Paracels, with the Philippines over the Spratlys, with Japan over the Senkakus — almost all of these being uninhabited rocks and reefs — how does China threaten the United States?

America is creeping ever closer to war with the other two great nuclear powers because we have made their quarrels our quarrels, though at issue are tracts and bits of land of no vital interest to us.

North Korea, which just tested another atomic device and long-range missile, is indeed a threat to us.

But why are U.S. forces still up the DMZ, 62 years after the Korean War? Is South Korea, with an economy 40 times that of the North and twice the population, incapable of defending itself?

Apparently slipping in the rankings as a threat to the United States is that runaway favorite of recent years, Iran.

Last fall, though, Sen. Ted Cruz reassured us that “the single biggest national security threat facing America right now is the threat of a nuclear Iran.”

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded,” wrote James Madison, “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Perhaps Madison was wrong.

Otherwise, with no end to war on America’s horizon, the prospect of this free republic enduring is, well, doubtful.

Hagel Didn’t Start the Fire

Hagle Didn't Start the Fire

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam war veteran and the lone Republican on Obama’s national security team, has been fired.

And John McCain’s assessment is dead on.

Hagel, he said, “was never really brought into that real tight circle inside the White House that makes all the decisions which has put us into the incredible debacle that we’re in today throughout the world.”

Undeniably, U.S. foreign policy is in a shambles. But what were the “decisions” that produced the “incredible debacle”?

Who made them? Who supported them?

The first would be George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, a war for which Sens. John McCain, Joe Biden, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton all voted. At least Sen. Hagel admitted he made a mistake on that vote.

With our invasion, we dethroned Saddam and destroyed his Sunni Baathist regime. And today the Islamic State, a barbaric offshoot of al-Qaida, controls Mosul, Anbar and the Sunni third of Iraq.

Kurdistan is breaking away. And a Shia government in Baghdad, closely tied to Tehran and backed by murderous anti-American Shia militias, controls the rest. Terrorism is a daily occurrence.

Such is the condition of the nation which we were promised would become a model of democracy for the Middle East after a “cake-walk war.” The war lasted eight years for us, and now we are going back — to prevent a catastrophe.

A second decision came in 2011, when a rebellion arose against Bashar Assad in Syria, and we supported and aided the uprising. Assad must go, said Obama. McCain and the neocons agreed.

Now ISIS and al-Qaida are dominant from Aleppo to the Iraqi border with Assad barely holding the rest, while the rebels we urged to rise and overthrow the regime are routed or in retreat.

Had Assad fallen, had we bombed his army last year, as Obama, Kerry and McCain wanted to do, and brought down his regime, ISIS and al-Qaida might be in Damascus today. And America might be facing a decision either to invade or tolerate a terrorist regime in the heart of the Middle East.

Lest we forget, Vladimir Putin pulled our chestnuts out of the fire a year ago, with a brokered deal to rid Syria of chemical weapons.

The Turks, Saudis and Gulf Arabs who aided ISIS’ rise are having second thoughts, but sending no Saudi or Turkish troops to dislodge it.

So the clamor arises anew for U.S. “boots on the ground” to reunite the nations that the wars and revolutions we supported tore apart.

A third decision was the U.S.-NATO war on Col. Gadhafi’s Libya.

After deceiving the Russians by assuring them we wanted Security Council support for the use of air power simply to prevent a massacre in Benghazi, we bombed for half a year, and brought down Gadhafi.

Now we have on the south shore of the Mediterranean a huge failed state and strategic base camp for Islamists and terrorists who are spreading their poison into sub-Sahara Africa.

The great triumphs of Reagan and Bush 41 were converting Russia into a partner, and presiding over the liberation of Eastern Europe and the dissolution of the old Soviet Union into 15 independent nations.

Unfulfilled by such a victory for peace and freedom, unwilling to go home when our war, the Cold War, was over, Bush 43 decided to bring the entire Warsaw Pact, three Baltic states, and Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. For this project, Bush had the enthusiastic support of McCain, the neocons and the liberal interventionists.

Since 1991, we sought to cut the Russians out of the oil and gas of the Caspian basin with a pipeline through the Caucasus to Turkey, bombed Serbia to tear off its cradle province of Kosovo, and engineered color-coded revolutions in Belgrade, Tbilisi and other capitals to pull these new nations out of Russia’s sphere of influence.

Victoria Nuland of State and McCain popped up in Maidan Square in Kiev, backing demonstrations to bring down the democratically elected (if, admittedly, incompetent) regime in Ukraine.

The U.S.-backed coup succeeded. President Viktor Yanukovych fled, a pro-Western regime was installed, and a pro-Western president elected.

Having taken all this from his partner, Putin retrieved the Crimea and Russia’s Black Sea naval base at Sebastopol. When pro-Russia Ukrainians rose against the beneficiaries of the coup in Kiev, he backed his team, as we backed ours.

Now, we are imposing sanctions, driving Russia further from the West and into a realliance with Beijing, with which Putin has completed two long-term deals for oil and gas running over $700 billion dollars.

As the U.S. and NATO send planes, ships and troops to show our seriousness in the Baltic and Ukraine, Russian planes and ships test Western defenses from Finland to Sweden to Portugal to Alaska and the coast of the continental United States.

Who made these decisions that created the debacle?

Was it those isolationists again?