Is Trump Enlisting in the War Party?

Is Trump Enlisting in the War Party?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

By firing off five dozen Tomahawk missiles at a military airfield, our “America First” president may have plunged us into another Middle East war that his countrymen do not want to fight.

Thus far Bashar Assad seems unintimidated. Brushing off the strikes, he has defiantly gone back to bombing the rebels from the same Shayrat air base that the U.S. missiles hit.

Trump “will not stop here,” warned U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday. “If he needs to do more, he will.”

If Trump fails to back up Haley’s threat, the hawks now cheering him on will begin deriding him as “Donald Obama.”

But if he throbs to the war drums of John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio and orders Syria’s air force destroyed, we could be at war not only with ISIS and al-Qaida, but with Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

A Syrian war would consume Trump’s presidency.

Are we ready for that? How would we win such a war without raising a large army and sending it back into the Middle East?

Another problem: Trump’s missile attack was unconstitutional. Assad had not attacked or threatened us, and Congress, which alone has the power to authorize war on Syria, has never done so.

Indeed, Congress denied President Obama that specific authority in 2013.

What was Trump thinking? Here was his strategic rational:

“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies — with a chemical gas … that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. … And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me … my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”

Two days later, Trump was still emoting: “Beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

Now, that gas attack was an atrocity, a war crime, and pictures of its tiny victims are heart-rending. But 400,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war, among them thousands of children and infants.

Have they been killed by Assad’s forces? Surely, but also by U.S., Russian, Israeli and Turkish planes and drones — and by Kurds, Iranians, Hezbollah, al-Qaida, ISIS, U.S.-backed rebels and Shiite militia.

Assad is battling insurgents and jihadists who would slaughter his Alawite brethren and the Christians in Syria just as those Copts were massacred in Egypt on Palm Sunday. Why is Assad more responsible for all the deaths in Syria than those fighting to overthrow and kill him?

Have something to say about this column?
Visit Pat's FaceBook page and post your comments….

Are we certain Assad personally ordered a gas attack on civilians?

For it makes no sense. Why would Assad, who is winning the war and had been told America was no longer demanding his removal, order a nerve gas attack on children, certain to ignite America’s rage, for no military gain?

Like the gas attack in 2013, this has the marks of a false flag operation to stampede America into Syria’s civil war.

And as in most wars, the first shots fired receive the loudest cheers. But if the president has thrown in with the neocons and War Party, and we are plunging back into the Mideast maelstrom, Trump should know that many of those who helped to nominate and elect him — to keep us out of unnecessary wars — may not be standing by him.

We have no vital national interest in Syria’s civil war. It is those doing the fighting who have causes they deem worth dying for.

For ISIS, it is the dream of a caliphate. For al-Qaida, it is about driving the Crusaders out of the Dar al Islam. For the Turks, it is, as always, about the Kurds.

For Assad, this war is about his survival and that of his regime. For Putin, it is about Russia remaining a great power and not losing its last naval base in the Med. For Iran, this is about preserving a land bridge to its Shiite ally Hezbollah. For Hezbollah it is about not being cut off from the Shiite world and isolated in Lebanon.

Because all have vital interests in Syria, all have invested more blood in this conflict than have we. And they are not going to give up their gains or goals in Syria and yield to the Americans without a fight.

And if we go to war in Syria, what would we be fighting for?

A New World Order? Democracy? Separation of mosque and state? Diversity? Free speech for Muslim heretics? LGBT rights?

In 2013, a great national coalition came together to compel Congress to deny Barack Obama authority to take us to war in Syria.

We are back at that barricade. An after-Easter battle is shaping up in Congress on the same issue: Is the president authorized to take us into war against Assad and his allies inside Syria?

If, after Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, we do not want America in yet another Mideast war, the time to stop it is before the War Party has us already in it. That time is now.

Moral Supremacy and Mr. Putin

Moral Supremacy and Mr. Putin

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Is Donald Trump to be allowed to craft a foreign policy based on the ideas on which he ran and won the presidency in 2016?

Our foreign policy elite’s answer appears to be a thunderous no.

Case in point: U.S. relations with Russia.

During the campaign Trump was clear. He would seek closer ties with Russia and cooperate with Vladimir Putin in smashing al-Qaida and ISIS terrorists in Syria, and leave Putin’s ally Bashar Assad alone.

With this diplomatic deal in mind, President Trump has resisted efforts to get him to call Putin a “thug” or a “murderer.”

Asked during his taped Super Bowl interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly whether he respected Putin, Trump said that, as a leader, yes.

O’Reilly pressed, “But he’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.”

To which Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

While his reply was clumsy, Trump’s intent was commendable.

If he is to negotiate a modus vivendi with a nation with an arsenal of nuclear weapons sufficient to end life as we know it in the USA, probably not a good idea to start off by calling its leader a “killer.”

Mitch McConnell rushed to assure America he believes Putin is a “thug” and any suggestion of a moral equivalence between America and Russia is outrageous.

Apparently referring to a polonium poisoning of KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko, Marco Rubio tweeted, “When has a Democratic political activist ever been poisoned by the GOP? Or vice versa?”

Yet, as we beat our chests in celebration of our own moral superiority over other nations and peoples, consider what Trump is trying to do here, and who is really behaving as a statesmen, and who is acting like an infantile and self-righteous prig.

When President Eisenhower invited Nikita Khrushchev to the United States, did Ike denounce him as the “Butcher of Budapest” for his massacre of the Hungarian patriots in 1956?

Did President Nixon, while negotiating his trip to Peking to end decades of hostility, speak the unvarnished truth about Mao Zedong — that he was a greater mass murderer than Stalin?

While Nixon was in Peking, Mao was conducting his infamous Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that resulted in millions of deaths, a years-long pogrom that dwarfed the two-day Kristallnacht. Yet Mao’s crimes went unmentioned in Nixon’s toast to America and China starting a “long march” together.

John McCain calls Putin a KGB thug, “a murderer, and a killer.”

Have something to say about this column?
Visit Pat's FaceBook page and post your comments….

Yet, Yuri Andropov, the Soviet ambassador in Budapest who engineered the slaughter of the Hungarian rebels with Russian tanks, became head of the KGB. And when he rose to general secretary of the Communist Party, Ronald Reagan wanted to talk to him, as he had wanted to talk to every Soviet leader.

Why? Because Reagan believed the truly moral thing he could do was negotiate to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

He finally met Gorbachev in 1985, when the USSR was occupying Afghanistan and slaughtering Afghan patriots.

The problem with some of our noisier exponents of “American exceptionalism” is that they lack Reagan’s moral maturity.

Undeniably, we were on God’s side in World War II and the Cold War. But were we ourselves without sin in those just struggles?

Was it not at least morally problematic what we did to Cologne, Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki where hundreds of thousands of women and children were blasted and burned to death?

How many innocent Iraqis have perished in the 13 years of war we began, based on falsified or fake evidence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction?

In Russia, there have been murders of journalists and dissidents. Yes, and President Rodrigo Duterte, our Philippine ally, has apparently condoned the deaths of thousands of drug dealers and users since last summer.

The Philippine Catholic Church calls it “a reign of terror.”

Should we sever our treaty ties to the Duterte regime?

Have there been any extrajudicial killings in the Egypt of our ally Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi since he overthrew the elected government?

Has our Turkish ally, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, killed no innocents in his sweeping repression since last summer’s attempted coup?

Some of us remember a Cold War in which Gen. Augusto Pinochet dealt summarily with our common enemies in Chile, and when the Savak of our ally the Shah of Iran was not a 501(c)(3) organization.

Sen. Rubio notwithstanding, the CIA has not been a complete stranger to “wet” operations or “terminating with extreme prejudice.”

Was it not LBJ who said of the Kennedys, who had arranged multiple assassination attempts of Fidel Castro, that they had been “operating a damned Murder Inc. in the Caribbean”?

If Trump’s talking to Putin can help end the bloodshed in Ukraine or Syria, it would appear to be at least as ethical an act as pulpiteering about our moral superiority on the Sunday talk shows.

Trump’s Enemies See an Opening

Trump's Enemies See an Opening

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Fake news!” roared Donald Trump, the work of “sick people.”

The president-elect was referring to a 35-page dossier of lurid details of his alleged sexual misconduct in Russia, worked up by a former British spy. A two-page summary of the 35 pages had been added to Trump’s briefing by the CIA and FBI — and then leaked to CNN.

This is “something that Nazi Germany would have done,” Trump said. Here, basically, is the story.

During the primaries, anti-Trump Republicans hired the ex-spy to do “oppo research” on Trump, i.e., to dig up dirt.

The spy contacted the Russians. They told him that Trump, at a Moscow hotel in 2013, had been engaged in depraved behavior, that they had the films to blackmail him, and that Trump’s aides had been colluding with them.

When Trump won the nomination, Democrats got the dossier and began shopping it around to the mainstream media. Some sought to substantiate the allegations. None could. So none of them published the charges.

In December, a British diplomat gave the dossier to Sen. John McCain, who personally turned it over to James Comey of the FBI.

On Jan. 7, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and his colleagues at the NSA, CIA and FBI decided the new president needed to know about the dossier. They provided him with a two-page synopsis.

Once CNN learned Trump had been briefed, the cable news network reported on the unpublished dossier, without going into the lurid details.

BuzzFeed released all 35 pages. The story exploded.

Besides Trump’s understandable outrage, his Jan. 11 press conference produced related news.

U.S. intelligence agencies had for months contended that it was Russia who hacked the DNC emails and those of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta. Putin’s objectives, they contend, were to damage both U.S. democracy and Hillary Clinton, whom Putin detests, and to aid Trump.

Trump had previously dismissed claims of Russian hacking as unproved conjecture, and also as being advanced to delegitimize his victory.

Wednesday, Trump conceded Russia did it: “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” adding, Vladimir Putin “should not be doing it.”

The stakes in all of this are becoming huge.

Have something to say about this column?
Visit Pat's FaceBook page and post your comments….

Clearly, Trump hopes to work out with Putin the kind of detente that President Nixon achieved with Leonid Brezhnev.

This should not be impossible. For, unlike the 1970s, there is no Soviet Empire stretching from Havana to Hanoi, no Warsaw Pact dominating Central Europe, no Communist ideology steering Moscow into constant Cold War conflict with the West.

Russia is a great power with great power interests. But she does not seek to restore a global empire or remake the world in her image. U.S.-Russian relations are thus ripe for change.

But any such hope is now suddenly impaired.

The howls of indignation from Democrats and the media — that Trump’s victory and Clinton’s defeat were due to Putin’s involvement in our election — have begun to limit Trump’s freedom of action in dealing with Russia. And they are beginning to strengthen the hand of the Russophobes and the Putin-is-Hitler crowd in both parties.

When Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson went before the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio demanded to know why he would not publicly declare Putin a “war criminal.”

The more toxic Putin-haters can make the Russian president, the more difficult for President Trump to deal with him, even if that is in the vital national interest of the United States.

The sort of investigation for which McCain has been clamoring, and the Beltway drums have now begun to beat, could make it almost impossible for President Trump to work with President Putin.

The Washington Post describes the engine it wishes to see built:

“The investigators of Russian meddling, whether a Congressional select committee or an independent commission, should have bipartisan balance, full subpoena authority, no time limit and a commitment to make public as much as possible of what they find.”

What the Post seeks is a Watergate Committee like the one that investigated the Nixon White House, or a commission like the ones that investigated 9/11 and the JFK assassination.

Trump “should recognize,” writes the Post, “that the credibility of his denials of any Russian connections is undermined by his refusal to release tax returns and business records.”

In short, when the investigation begins, Trump must produce the evidence to establish his innocence. Else, he is Putin’s man.

This city is salivating over another Watergate, another broken president. But President-elect Trump should be aware of what is at stake. As The Wall Street Journal writes:

“Mr. Trump’s vehement denials (of collusion with Moscow and corrupt behavior) also mean that if we learn in the future that Russia does have compromising details about him, his Presidency could be over.”

Yes, indeed, very big stakes.

Will Trump Defy McCain & Marco?

Will Trump Defy McCain & Marco?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

When word leaked that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, a holder of the Order of Friendship award in Putin’s Russia, was Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, John McCain had this thoughtful response:

“Vladimir Putin is a thug, a bully, and a murderer and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.”

Yet, Putin is something else, the leader of the largest nation on earth, a great power with enough nuclear weapons to wipe the United States off the face of the earth. And we have to deal with him.

McCain was echoed by the senior Democrat on foreign relations, Bob Menendez, who said naming Tillerson secretary of state would be “alarming and absurd … guaranteeing Russia has a willing accomplice in the (Trump) Cabinet guiding our nation’s foreign policy.”

Sen Marco Rubio chimed in: “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a Secretary of State.”

If just three GOP senators vote no on Tillerson, and Democrats vote as a bloc against him, his nomination would go down. President Trump would sustain a major and humiliating defeat.

Who is Tillerson? A corporate titan, he has traveled the world, represented Exxon in 60 countries, is on a first-name basis with countless leaders, and is endorsed by Condi Rice and Robert Gates.

Dr. Samuel Johnson’s observation — “A man is seldom more innocently occupied than when he is engaged in making money” — may be a bit of a stretch when it comes to OPEC and the global oil market.

Yet there is truth to it. Most businessmen are interested in doing deals, making money, and, if the terms are not met, walking away, not starting a war.

And here is the heart of the objection to Tillerson. He wants to end sanctions and partner with Putin’s Russia, as does Trump. But among many in the mainstream media, think tanks, websites, and on the Hill, this is craven appeasement. For such as these, the Cold War is never over.

The attacks on Tillerson coincide with new attacks on Russia, based on CIA sources, alleging that not only did Moscow hack into the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign, and leak what it found to hurt Hillary Clinton, but Russia was trying to help elect Trump, and succeeded.

Why would Moscow do this?

Monday’s editorial in The New York Times explains: “In Mr. Trump, the Russians had reason to see a malleable political novice, one who had surrounded himself with Kremlin lackeys.”

Backed by Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, McCain has announced an investigation. The goal, said the Times, is to determine “whether anyone within Trump’s inner circle coordinated with the Kremlin and whether Moscow spread fake news to hurt Mrs. Clinton.”

What is going on here? More than meets the eye.

The people who most indignantly condemned Trump’s questioning of Obama’s birth certificate as a scurrilous scheme to delegitimize his presidency, now seek to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.

The Times editorial spoke of a “darkening cloud” already over the Trump presidency, and warned that a failure to investigate and discover the full truth of Russia’s hacking could only “feed suspicion among millions of Americans that … (t)he election was indeed rigged.”

Have something to say about this column?
Visit Pat’s FaceBook page and post your comments….

Behind the effort to smear Tillerson and delegitimize Trump lies a larger motive. Trump has antagonists in both parties who alarmed at his triumph because it imperils the foreign policy agenda that is their raison d’etre, their reason for being.

These people do not want to lift sanctions on Moscow. They do not want an end to the confrontation with Russia. As is seen by their bringing in tiny Montenegro, they want to enlarge NATO to encompass Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

They have in mind the permanent U.S. encirclement of Russia.

They want to provide offensive weapons to Kiev to reignite the civil war in the Donbass and enable Ukraine to move on Crimea. This would mean a war with Russia that Ukraine would lose and we and our NATO allies would be called upon to intervene in and fight.

Their goal is to bring down Putin and bring about “regime change” in Moscow.

In the campaign, Trump said he wanted to get along with Russia, to support all the forces inside Syria and Iraq fighting to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaida, and to stay out of any new Middle East wars — like the disaster in Iraq — that have cost us “six trillion dollars.”

This is what America voted for when it voted for Trump — to put America First and “make America great again.” But War Party agitators are already beating the drums for confrontation with Iran.

Early in his presidency, if not before, Trump is going to have to impose his foreign policy upon his own party and, indeed, upon his own government. Or his presidency will be broken, as was Lyndon Johnson’s.

A good place to begin is by accepting the McCain-Marco challenge and nominating Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. Let’s get it on.

Image edit and remix by Linda Muller at Buchanan.org – Original Photo by Gage Skidmore – CC BY-SA 4.0

Bibi Backs Trump — on Putin

Bibi Backs Trump -- on Putin

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Since Donald Trump said that if Vladimir Putin praises him, he would return the compliment, Republican outrage has not abated.

Arriving on Capitol Hill to repair ties between Trump and party elites, Gov. Mike Pence was taken straight to the woodshed.

John McCain told Pence that Putin was a “thug and a butcher,” and Trump’s embrace of him intolerable.

Said Lindsey Graham: “Vladimir Putin is a thug, a dictator…who has his opposition killed in the streets,” and Trump’s views bring to mind Munich.

Putin is an “authoritarian thug,” added “Little Marco” Rubio.

What causes the Republican Party to lose it whenever the name of Vladimir Putin is raised?

Putin is no Stalin, whom FDR and Harry Truman called “Good old Joe” and “Uncle Joe.” Unlike Nikita Khrushchev, he never drowned a Hungarian Revolution in blood. He did crush the Chechen secession. But what did he do there that General Sherman did not do to Atlanta when Georgia seceded from Mr. Lincoln’s Union?

Putin supported the U.S. in Afghanistan, backed our nuclear deal with Iran and signed on to John Kerry’s plan have us ensure a cease fire in Syria and go hunting together for ISIS and al-Qaida terrorists.

Still, Putin committed “aggression” in Ukraine, we are told.

But was that really aggression, or reflexive strategic reaction?

We helped dump over a pro-Putin democratically elected regime in Kiev, and Putin acted to secure his Black Sea naval base by re-annexing Crimea, a peninsula that has belonged to Russia from Catherine the Great to Khrushchev. Great powers do such things.

When the Castros pulled Cuba out of America’s orbit, did we not decide to keep Guantanamo, and dismiss Havana’s protests?

Moscow did indeed support secessionist pro-Russia rebels in East Ukraine.

But did not the U.S. launch a 78-day bombing campaign on tiny Serbia to effect a secession of its cradle province of Kosovo?

What is the great moral distinction here?

The relationship between Russia and Ukraine goes back to 500 years before Columbus. It includes an ancient common faith, a complex history, terrible suffering and horrendous injustices — like Stalin’s starvation of millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930s.

Yet, before Bush II and Obama, no president thought Moscow-Kiev quarrels were any of our business. When did they become so?

Russia is reportedly hacking into our political institutions. If so, it ought to stop. But have not our own CIA, National Endowment for Democracy, and NGOs meddled in Russia’s internal affairs for years?

Putin is a nationalist who looks out for Russia first. He also heads a nation twice the size of ours with an arsenal equal to our own, and no peace in Eurasia can be made without him.

We have to deal with him. How does it help to call him names?

And what is Putin doing in terms of repression to outmatch our NATO ally, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and our Arab ally, Egypt’s General el-Sissi?

Is Putin’s Russia more repressive than Xi Jinping’s China?

Yet, Republicans rarely use “thug” when speaking about Xi.

During the Cold War, we partnered with such autocrats as the Shah of Iran and General Pinochet of Chile, Ferdinand Marcos in Manila and Park Chung-Hee of South Korea. Cold War necessity required it.

Scores of the world’s 190-odd nations are today ruled by autocrats. How does it advance our interests or diplomacy by having congressional leaders yapping “thug” at the ruler of a nation with hundreds of nuclear warheads?

Where is the realism, the recognition of the realities of the world in which we live, that guided the policies of presidents from Ike to Reagan?

We have been told by senators like Tom Cotton that there must be “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel.

Fine. How does Israel regard Putin “the thug” and Putin “the butcher”?

According to foreign policy scholar Stephen Sniegoski, when Putin first visited Israel in 2005, President Moshe Katsav hailed him as a “friend of Israel” and Ariel Sharon said he was “among brothers.”

In the last year alone, Bibi Netanyahu has gone to Moscow three times and Putin has visited Israel. The two get along wonderfully well.

On the U.N. resolution that affirmed the “territorial integrity” of Ukraine, Israel abstained. And Israel refused to join in sanctions against a friendly Russia. Russian-Israeli trade is booming.

Perhaps Bibi, who just got a windfall of $38 billion in U.S. foreign aid over the next 10 years from a Barack Obama whom he does not even like, can show the GOP how to get along better with Vlad.

Lindsey Graham says that the $38 billion for Israel is probably not enough, that Bibi will need more, and that he will be there to provide it.

Remarkable. Bibi, a buddy of Vlad, gets $38 billion from the same Republican senators who, when Donald Trump says he will repay personal compliments from Vladimir Putin, gets the McCain-Graham wet mitten across the face.

Can the GOP Get Together in Cleveland?

Can the GOP Get Together in Cleveland?

By Patrick Buchanan

After winning only six delegates in Wisconsin, and with Ted Cruz poaching delegates in states he has won, like Louisiana, Donald Trump either wins on the first ballot at Cleveland, or Trump does not win.

Yet, as that huge, roaring reception he received in his first post-Wisconsin appearance in Bethpage, N.Y., testifies, the Donald remains not only the front-runner, but the most exciting figure in the race.

Moreover, after the New York, New England, mid-Atlantic and California primaries, Trump should be within striking distance of the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination.

He will then have to persuade uncommitted delegates to back him, and perhaps do a deal with one of the defeated candidates, Marco Rubio or John Kasich, to win the remaining few needed to go over the top.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan, shy of the delegates he needed to defeat President Ford, offered second place on his ticket to Sen. Richard Schweiker, a moderate from Pennsylvania.

This brainstorm of Reagan campaign manager John Sears did not produce the required delegates, and Reagan received an envelope from a conservative Congressman with 30 dimes in it — 30 pieces of silver.

Still, Reagan was right to roll the dice.

But assume Trump reaches 1,237 on the first ballot.

Would the GOP establishment accept his leadership, back his ticket, and help to bring together all the elements — nationalist, Tea Party, conservative and moderate — of a grand coalition to defeat Hillary Clinton?

Or would the establishment refuse to endorse Trump, ensure his defeat, and hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered party, as Govs. Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney assumed they would do after they deserted Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Prediction: If the GOP establishment does collude to steal the nomination from the candidate who has won the most states, most delegates and most votes, not only could the party be crushed in November, but that establishment could be discredited in perpetuity.

For those who have come out for Trump, and have given the GOP the largest turnouts of any party in a primary season in history, will not be give their allegiance to a Beltway elite that cheated them of the prize they had won.

Sullen and angry, they will be going home, not soon to return.

An establishment embrace of a rule-or-ruin course — Better to lose, than win with Trump! — seems irrational. But it is not irrational if one’s preeminence and position are the summum bonum of one’s political existence.

To avoid the Hobbesian choice — back Trump or abandon Trump — the establishment must block him from a first-ballot victory. And indispensable to the Anybody-But-Trump coalition is Ted Cruz, whom the establishment, if possible, detests even more than Trump.

One testament to the esteem in which Cruz is held is that only two of his 53 Senate GOP colleagues have endorsed him, and one of these, Lindsey Graham, did so as the lesser of two evils.

Here is the second peril for the GOP elites.

If Trump is stopped on the first ballot, the delegates who leave him on the second ballot may go to Cruz, and the stampede could be on.

Yet, it is hard to see how a Cruz nomination is better for the party than a Trump nomination.

For Cruz cannot win in Cleveland, unless the man with the most votes and delegates is deprived of a nomination to which he has a far stronger claim, if this country remains a democratic republic.

A Cruz victory in Cleveland would likely lead to the angry and bitter departure of the Trump delegates, and, in the fall, to a mass defection of the blue-collar, Middle-American Trump voters, especially above the Mason-Dixon line where Cruz is already weak.

The latest poll of Republicans in New York has Trump above 50 percent, with Cruz running third at 17 percent. Even in the South, which was to be Ted Cruz’s firewall, Trump beat him repeatedly.

And while Cruz can claim to be a more reliable conservative than Trump, how does that translate into electoral votes in the fall?

Is the Republican establishment, having been repudiated in the primaries in a historic turnout by the party base, now engaged in a willful act of self-deception?

Can that establishment believe it can rob Trump of a nomination he has all but won, then hold off a right-wing Cruz surge that would ensue, then trot out of the stable one of its own, Speaker Paul Ryan, crown him at the convention, and then win in November?

This is delusional. And what this tells us is, to borrow from The Gipper, that the Republican establishment is not the solution to the party’s problems; the Republican establishment is the problem.

While the GOP appears headed for a train wreck in Cleveland, the principal ingredients of a Republican victory and a Republican future will all be present there: Cruz conservatives and Tea Party types, Trumpite nationalists and populists, Rubio-Kasich-Bush centrists and moderates.

Political statesmanship could yet bring about unity, and victory.

Unfortunately, the smart money is on ego getting in the way.

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.