Why Are We Still in Korea?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

This writer was 11 years old when the shocking news came on June 25, 1950, that North Korean armies had crossed the DMZ.

Within days, Seoul had fallen. Routed U.S. and Republic of Korea troops were retreating toward an enclave in the southeast corner of the peninsula that came to be known as the Pusan perimeter.

In September came Gen. MacArthur’s masterstroke: the Marine landing at Inchon behind enemy lines, the cut-off and collapse of the North Korean Army, recapture of Seoul and the march to the Yalu.

“Home by Christmas!” we were all saying.

Then came the mass intervention of a million “volunteers” of the People’s Liberation Army that had, in October 1949, won the civil war against our Nationalist Chinese allies. Suddenly, the U.S. Army and Marines were in headlong retreat south. Seoul fell a second time.

There followed a war of attrition, the firing of MacArthur, the repudiation of Harry Truman and his “no-win war,” the election of Ike and, in June 1953, an armistice along the DMZ where the war began.

Fifty-seven years after that armistice, a U.S. carrier task force is steaming toward the Yellow Sea in a show of force after the North fired 80 shells into a South Korean village.

We will stand by our Korean allies, says President Obama. And with our security treaty and 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea, many on the DMZ, we can do no other. But why, 60 years after the first Korean War, should Americans be the first to die in a second Korean War?

Unlike 1950, South Korea is not an impoverished ex-colony of Japan. She is the largest of all the “Asian tigers,” a nation with twice the population and 40 times the economy of the North.

Seoul just hosted the G-20. And there is no Maoist China or Stalinist Soviet Union equipping Pyongyang’s armies. The planes, guns, tanks and ships of the South are far superior in quality.

Why, then, are we still in South Korea? Why is this quarrel our quarrel? Why is this war, should it come, America’s war?

High among the reasons we fought in Korea was Japan, then a nation rising from the ashes after half its cities had been reduced to rubble. But, for 50 years now, Japan has had the second largest economy and is among the most advanced nations on earth.

Why cannot Japan defend herself? Why does this remain our responsibility, 65 years after MacArthur took the surrender in Tokyo Bay?

The Soviet Empire, against which we defended Japan, no longer exists, nor does the Soviet Union. Russia holds the southern Kurils, taken as spoils from World War II, but represents no threat. Indeed, Tokyo is helping develop Russia’s resources in Siberia.

Why, when the Cold War has been over for 20 years, do all these Cold War alliances still exist?

Obama has just returned from a Lisbon summit of NATO, an alliance formed in 1949 to defend Western Europe from Soviet tank armies on the other side of the Iron Curtain that threatened to roll to the Channel. Today, that Red Army no longer exists, the captive nations are free, and Russia’s president was in Lisbon as an honored guest of NATO.

Yet we still have tens of thousands of U.S. troops in the same bases they were in when Gen. Eisenhower became supreme allied commander more than 60 years ago.

Across Europe, our NATO allies are slashing defense to maintain social safety nets. But Uncle Sam, he soldiers on.

We borrow from Europe to defend Europe. We borrow from Japan and China to defend Japan from China. We borrow from the Gulf Arabs to defend the Gulf Arabs.

To broker peace in Palestine, Obama began his presidency with a demand that Israel halt all new construction of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Today, as his price for a one-time-only 90-day freeze on new construction on the West Bank, but not East Jerusalem, “Bibi” Netanyahu is demanding 20 F-35 strike fighters, a U.S. commitment to a Security Council veto of any Palestinian declaration of independence, and assurances the U.S. will support a permanent Israeli presence on the Jordan river. And the Israelis want it all in writing.

This, from a client state upon which we have lavished a hundred billion dollars in military aid and defended diplomatically for decades.

How to explain why America behaves as she does?

From 1941 to 1989, she played a great heroic role as defender of freedom, sacrificing and serving mankind, a role of which we can be forever proud. But having won that epochal struggle against the evil empire, we found ourselves in a world for which we were unprepared. Now, like an aging athlete, we keep trying to relive the glory days when all the world looked with awe upon us.

We can’t let go, because we don’t know what else to do. We live in yesterday — and our rivals look to tomorrow.

Is GOP Risking a New Cold War?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Before Republican senators vote down the strategic arms reduction treaty negotiated by the Obama administration, they should think long and hard about the consequences.

In substance, New START has none of the historic significance of Richard Nixon’s SALT I or ABM treaty, or Jimmy Carter’s SALT II, or Ronald Reagan’s INF treaty removing all intermediate-range missiles from Europe, or the strategic arms reductions treaties negotiated by George Bush I and Bush II.

The latter cut U.S. and Russian arsenals from 10,000-12,000 nuclear warheads targeted on each nation to 2,000 — a huge cut.

If Republicans could back those treaties, what is the case for rejecting New START? Barack Obama’s treaty reduces strategic warheads by 450, leaving each side 1,550.

Is this not enough to deter when we consider what the Chernobyl disaster did to the Soviet Union and what the knockdown of two buildings in New York has done to this country? Ten hydrogen bombs on the United States or Russia could set us back decades, let alone 1,000.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona is holding up the treaty until he gets more assurances that the administration will do the tests and upgrades necessary to maintain the reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons. He should receive those assurances.

Maintaining the credibility of the U.S. deterrent is a vital national interest. But does this justify holding the treaty hostage?

Without a treaty, we lose our right and our ways and means to verify that Russia is carrying out the terms of arms treaties already agreed upon.

How does leaving the United States in the dark about who is doing what with Moscow’s nuclear weapons enhance our security?

Not only are our allies behind this treaty — as are Republican secretaries of state and defense and ex-national security advisers — so, too, is the Pentagon.

If the joint chiefs say this treaty is good for America, what do the reluctant Republican senators believe is wrong with it? Have they considered the impact of the treaty’s defeat on Russia?

In Russia today, there is a widespread belief that when the Soviet Union gave up its global empire, allowed itself to be split apart into 15 nations and brought the Red Army home from Europe, America exploited her weakness by moving NATO onto her front porch.

We brought the Baltic states, all former republics of the USSR, into an alliance aimed against Russia. George W. Bush sought to bring in Ukraine and Georgia, thereby surrounding a Russia that had sought our friendship with U.S. power.

Among Russia’s elite, there is an understandable distrust of the intentions of their old superpower rival. For Republicans in the Senate to kill New START would clinch the case of the anti-Americans in Moscow that we are not interested in nuclear parity but seek strategic superiority.

Killing the treaty would morally disarm those Russians who see their future with the West.

On taking office, Obama put the Ukraine-Georgia accession to NATO on a back burner and canceled the anti-missile missile system planned for Poland and the Czech Republic. His policy has paid dividends.

Half of the U.S. supplies going to the war in Afghanistan go through Russia. Moscow has backed U.N. sanctions on Iran and refused to deliver to Iran the A-300 surface-to-air missile system it had promised. President Dmitri Medvedev is interested in Russia’s participation in a missile defense for all of Europe.

Behind the Obama policy lies this reality. The best way, the only credible way to secure the freedom and independence of former Soviet republics like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Georgia is not by threatening Russia with war, but by bringing Russia in from the cold and giving Russia a growing stake in aligning with the West.

No matter the NATO war guarantees we have given to the Baltic republics, we are not going to war with Russia over Estonia. For the first result of such a war would be the annihilation of Estonia.

Moreover, many of Russia’s concerns are our concerns. Moscow does not want to see a Taliban triumph in Afghanistan, as that would embolden Islamic secessionist movements across the North Caucasus that have conducted terror attacks inside Russia itself.

Russia is also deep into a demographic crisis, with more than 500,000 Russians disappearing every year. That this should happen is both a human tragedy and a strategic disaster, for Siberia and the Russian Far East, and all their resources could wind up under the de facto control of 1.4 billion Chinese.

Richard Nixon would have supported this treaty. Ronald Reagan would have supported this treaty, as he loathed nuclear weapons and wished to rid the world of them. And simply because this treaty is “Obama’s treaty” does not mean it is not in America’s interest.

If Republicans should kill New StART, and Vladimir Putin responds by using U.S. rejection to rev up Russian nationalism to terminate the “reset” and return to a policy of cooperating with America’s enemies from Pyongyang to Tehran to Caracas, does the Republican Party wish to be held responsible for that?

19th Century Americans

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Thank you, Hu Jintao, and thank you, China,” said Hugo Chavez, as he announced a $20 billion loan from Beijing, to be repaid in Venezuelan oil.

The Chinese just threw Chavez a life-preserver. For Venezuela is reeling from 25 percent inflation, government-induced blackouts to cope with energy shortages and an economy that shrank by 3.3 percent in 2009.

Where did China get that $20 billion? From us. From consumers at Wal-Mart. That $20 billion is 1 percent of the $2 trillion in trade surpluses Beijing has run up with the United States over two decades.

Beijing is using its trillions of dollars in reserves, piled up from exports to America, to cut deals to lock up strategic resources for the coming struggle with the United States for hegemony in Asia and the world.

She has struck multibillion-dollar deals with Sudan, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Russia, Iran and Australia to secure a steady supply of oil, gas and vital minerals to maintain the 10-12 percent annual growth China has been racking up since Deng Xiaoping dispensed with Maoism and set his nation out on the capitalist road.

China has dozens of nuclear power plants under construction, has completed the Three Gorges Dam — the largest power source on earth — and is tying the nation together with light rail, bullet trains and highways in infrastructure projects unlike any the world has ever seen.

Contrast what China is doing with what we are about. We have declared vast regions of our country, onshore and offshore, off-limits to drilling for oil and gas. We have not built a nuclear power plant in 30 years or a refinery in 25 years. We have declared war on fossil fuels to save the planet from global warming.

Given the power of the environmental lobby to tie up projects in endless litigation, we could never today build our Interstate Highway System, Hoover Dam, the TVA or the Union Pacific Railroad.

Determined to take America’s title as the world’s first manufacturing nation, as she has taken Germany’s title as the world’s leading exporter, China keeps her currency undervalued and demands of those who sell to China that they also produce in China. As America’s share of the world economy steadily falls, China’s share has doubled. This year, China will overtake Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.

Having seen the Soviet Union disintegrate into 15 nations and fearing the ethno-nationalism of Tibetans and Uighurs, Beijing floods her border provinces with Han Chinese. America, declaring racial, ethnic and religious diversity a strength, invites the world to come and swamp its native-born. And mostly poor, unskilled and uneducated, they are coming by the millions.

China puts savings ahead of spending, production ahead of consumption, manufacturing ahead of finance. Embracing free trade, Americans declare that it makes no difference who produces what, where. What’s good for the Global Economy is good for America.

Before the financial collapse, the U.S. savings rate stood at zero percent of family income. In China, it ranged between 35 percent and 50 percent.

Since the Cold War, the United States has been playing empire — intervening to punish evil-doers and advance democracy in Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

We have expanded NATO to include Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and much of the Balkan Peninsula. We have not let a single alliance lapse from the Cold War. And we have fewer friends and more adversaries than at the end of the Cold War. What has all this intervention availed us?

China, having fought no one, has rapidly built up her military power and developed ties to the growing number of nations at odds with America, from Russia to Iran to Sudan to Venezuela.

The Chinese of 2010 call to mind 19th century Americans who shoved aside Mexicans, Indians and Spanish to populate a continent, build a mighty nation, challenge the British Empire — superpower of the day — and swiftly move past her in manufacturing to become first nation on earth. Men were as awed by America then as they are by China today.

America seems a declining superpower. She cannot defend her borders, balance her budgets or win her wars. Her educational system at the primary and secondary level is a shambles. In the first decade of the century, she lost one of every three manufacturing jobs. In this second decade, she is looking at trillion-dollar deficits to 2020. The world is losing confidence in her ability to manage her surging national debt.

While we are finally extricating ourselves after seven years from an unnecessary war in Iraq, we are heading deeper into an Afghan war that has lasted a decade, the end of which it is impossible to see.

During the Cold War, China was in the grip of a millenarian ideology that blinded her to her true interests. Today, it is we who are captive to a utopian ideology that is becoming perilous to the republic.

Obama at the Rubicon

by Patrick J. Buchanan

If the aphorism holds — the guerrilla wins if he does not lose — the Taliban are winning and America is losing the war in Afghanistan.

Well into the eighth year of war, the Taliban are more numerous than ever, inflicting more casualties than ever, operating in more provinces than ever and controlling more territory than ever. And their tactics are more sophisticated. Continue reading “Obama at the Rubicon”

Unwinnable War?

by Patrick J. Buchanan

“Taliban Are Winning: U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Warns of Rising Casualties.” Thus ran the startling headline on the front-page of The Wall Street Journal. The lead paragraph ran thus:

“The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home.”

Source for the story: Gen. Stanley McChrystal himself.

The general’s spokesman in Kabul was swift to separate him from that headline and lead. They “go too far,” he said: The general does not believe the Taliban are winning or “gaining the upper hand.”

Nevertheless, in the eighth year of America’s war, the newly arrived field commander concedes that U.S. casualties, now at record levels, will continue to be high or go higher, and that our primary mission is no longer to run down and kill Taliban but to defend the Afghan population.

What went wrong?

Though U.S. force levels are higher than ever, the U.S. military situation is worse than ever. Though President Karzai is expected to win re-election, he is regarded as the ineffectual head of a corrupt regime. Though we have trained an Afghan army and police force of 220,000, twice that number are now needed. The Taliban are operating not only in the east, but in the north and west, and are taking control of the capital of the south, Kandahar.

NATO’s response to Obama’s request for more troops has been pathetic.

Europeans want to draw down the troops already sent. And Western opinion has soured on the war.

A poll commissioned by The Independent found 52 percent of Britons wanting to pull out and 58 percent believing the war is “unwinnable.”

U.S. polls, too, have turned upside down.

A CBS-New York Times survey in late July found 33 percent saying the war was going well and 57 percent saying it was going badly or very badly. In a CNN poll in early August, Americans, by 54 percent to 41 percent, said they oppose the Afghan war that almost all Americans favored after 9-11 and Obama said in 2008 was the right war for America to fight.

The president is now approaching a decision that may prove as fateful for him and his country as was the one made by Lyndon Johnson to send the Marines ashore at Da Nang in December 1965.

Obama confronts a two-part question:

If, after eight years of fighting, the Taliban is stronger, more capable and closer to victory than it has ever been, what will it cost in additional U.S. troops, casualties, years and billions to turn this around? And what is so vital to us in that wilderness land worth another eight years of fighting, bleeding and dying, other than averting the humiliation of another American defeat?

From Secretary Gates to Gen. Petraeus, U.S. military and political leaders have been unanimous that the Afghan war does not lend itself to a military victory. Unfortunately, the Taliban does seem to believe in a military victory and triumphal return to power, and imposing upon the United States the same kind of defeat their fathers imposed upon the Soviet Union.

Whatever we may say of them, Taliban fighters have shown a greater willingness to die for a country free of us Americans than our Afghan allies have shown to die for the future we Americans envision for them.

In days, McChrystal is to provide the president with an assessment of what will be required for America to prevail.

Almost surely, the general’s answer will be that success will require thousands more U.S. troops, billions more dollars, many more years of casualties. And if Obama yet believes this is a war of necessity we cannot lose, and he must soldier on, his decision will sunder his party and country, and put at risk his presidency.

If he refuses to deepen the U.S. commitment, it is hard to see how the United States can avoid what is at best a bloody stalemate.

But if he chooses to cut America’s losses and get out, Obama risks a strategic debacle that will have our enemies rejoicing and open him up to the charge that he, the first African-American president, lost the war that America began as retribution for 9-11 and fought to prevent a second 9-11.

Had we gone into Afghanistan in 2001, knocked over the Taliban, driven out al-Qaida and departed, we would not be facing what we do today.

But we were seduced by the prospect of converting a backward tribal nation of 25 million, which has resisted every empire to set foot on its inhospitable soil, into a shining new democracy that would be a model for the Islamic world.

Now, whatever Obama decides, we shall pay a hellish price for the hubris of the nation-builders.

Has Obama’s Luck Run Out?

by Patrick J. Buchanan

“The sound alone was worth the $24 billion!”

So said fellow Nixon speechwriter Ray Price as the mighty Saturn V rocket lifted Apollo 11 and Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins off the launch pad, three miles away, on the start of their voyage to the moon.

It was a splendid moment in that first year of the Nixon presidency, a year that had gone remarkably well for a minority president who had come to office with both houses held by the opposition.

Within weeks of taking office, Nixon had taken a grand tour of the European capitals. He had proposed a Family Assistance Plan, cooked up in Pat Moynihan’s shop, to wide applause. He had announced a withdrawal of 100,000 troops from Vietnam.

He would greet the astronauts on the aircraft carrier in the Pacific on their return, travel to Guam to announce the Nixon Doctrine, journey on to Vietnam and visit the troops, thence to Romania — the first U.S. president to travel behind the Iron Curtain.

Returning in triumph, Nixon departed for his August vacation.

When he returned to D.C., the storm clouds had gathered.

In mid-October, hundreds of thousands of protesters surrounded the White House demanding an immediate withdrawal from Vietnam, egged on by a media establishment that had cheered JFK and LBJ all the way into liberalism’s war.

With David Broder writing of the “breaking of the president,” Nixon went on national television to implore the “great silent majority” to stand with him for peace with honor in Vietnam.

The networks trashed the speech. But Vice President Spiro Agnew launched a counter-attack on media power and prejudice. By December, after another 500,000 had marched on Washington, Nixon was at 68 percent approval and Agnew, after Nixon and Billy Graham, was the third most admired man in America.

Though elected in November 1968, it was November 1969 that made the Nixon presidency and produced the New Majority Republicans would rely on for decades. Obama is approaching such a moment of truth.

The universal health insurance plans being advanced all appear too complex, costly, and non-credible to pass both houses. The cap-and-trade carbon emissions bill, with its huge costs to be passed on to U.S. producers and consumers, as China opts out, seems an act of national masochism.

The $787 billion stimulus bill has done zip to stimulate the economy. Less than 10 percent of the money has gone out the door, which makes one wonder why it was called a stimulus package. Unemployment is at 9.5 percent, well above what the Obamaites predicted, and rising.

As worrisome is the situation in Afghanistan. The United States has 66,000 troops in country or on the way, as our NATO allies look for the exit ramp. We are seven and a half years in and the Afghan army is not remotely capable of defending the nation or regime.

Afghanistan is now Obama’s war. He made the decision to deepen U.S. involvement as we headed out of Iraq. Yet, it is unclear how many U.S. troops will be needed, for how long, to create a stable government and army that can secure the national territory and prevent a return of Al Qaeda.

Moreover, Kabul continues to protest U.S. air strikes that continue to kill civilians, as Pakistan protests the Marine offensive in Helmand that is driving the Taliban into Baluchistan, where a secessionist movement is developing.

Pakistan also seems more worried about shifting its army away from the border with India than about defeating an Afghan Taliban with whom it had a working relationship before 9/11.

We are thus today pushing the Afghan regime to do what it is not capable of doing, and the Pakistani government and army into doing what it would prefer not to do. This does not appear a formula for victory.

Also looming is the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.

Obama has moved up from December to September the deadline for serious discussions to begun. If they have not begun by October, will Obama go to the U.N. for sanctions? If the Russians and Chinese object, will Obama and NATO impose sanctions of their own? Will Obama step on an escalator leading inexorably to war? Or authorize Israel to launch an attack?

Does Obama have the authority to take us to war against a nation that has not attacked us? If so, where did he get this authority? While Congress would readily agree to sanctions, would it sign off on yet another war?

From North Korea to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Honduras, and from the economy to health care to carbon emissions, things are not going Obama’s way. He is 10 points below where Nixon was after a full year, and on economic issues — unemployment, the deficit, spending — he is under 50 percent.

This presidency is not yet in trouble. But it is sure headed that way.