Behind Trump’s Exasperation

Behind Trump’s Exasperation

By Patrick J. Buchanan

At the G-7 summit in Canada, President Donald Trump described America as “the piggy bank that everybody is robbing.”

After he left Quebec, his director of Trade and Industrial Policy, Peter Navarro, added a few parting words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. … And that’s … what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did. And that comes right from Air Force One.”

In Singapore, Trump tweeted more about that piggy bank.

“Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades … (while) the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade?”

To understand what drives Trump, and explains his exasperation and anger, these remarks are a good place to begin.

Our elites see America as an “indispensable nation,” the premier world power whose ordained duty it is to defend democracy, stand up to dictators and aggressors, and uphold a liberal world order.

They see U.S. wealth and power as splendid tools that fate has given them to shape the future of the planet.

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Trump sees America as a nation being milked by allies who free ride on our defense effort, as they engage in trade practices that prosper their own peoples at America’s expense.

Where our elites live to play masters of the universe, Trump sees a world laughing behind America’s back, while allies exploit our magnanimity and idealism for their own national ends.

The numbers are impossible to refute and hard to explain.

Last year, the EU had a $151 billion trade surplus with the U.S. China ran a $376 billion trade surplus with the U.S., the largest in history. The world sold us $796 billion more in goods than we sold to the world.

A nation that spends more than it takes in from taxes, and consumes more of the world’s goods than it produces itself for export, year in and year out, is a nation on the way down.

We are emulating our British cousins of the 19th century.

Trump understands that this situation is not sustainable. His strength is that the people are still with him on putting America first.

Yet he faces some serious obstacles.

What is his strategy for turning a $796 billion trade deficit into a surplus? Is he prepared to impose the tariffs and import restrictions that would be required to turn America from the greatest trade-deficit nation in history to a trade-surplus nation, as we were up until the mid-1970s?

Americans are indeed carrying the lion’s share of the load of the defense of the West, and of fighting the terrorists and radical Islamists of the Middle East, and of protecting South Korea and Japan.

But if our NATO and Asian allies refuse to make the increases in defense he demands, is Trump really willing to cancel our treaty commitments, walk away from our war guarantees, and let these nations face Russia and China on their own? Could he cut that umbilical cord?

Ike’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles spoke of conducting an “agonizing reappraisal” of U.S. commitments to defend NATO allies, if they did not contribute more money and troops.

Dulles died in 1959, and that reappraisal, threatened 60 years ago, never happened. Indeed, when the Cold War ended, out NATO allies cut defense spending again. Yet we are still subsidizing NATO in Europe and have taken on new allies since the Soviet Empire fell.

If Europe refuses to invest the money in defense Trump demands, or accept the tariffs America needs to reduce and erase its trade deficits, what does he do? Is he prepared to shut U.S. bases and pull U.S. troops out of the Baltic republics, Poland and Germany, and let the Europeans face Vladimir Putin and Russia themselves?

This is not an academic question. For the crunch that was inevitable when Trump was elected seems at hand.

He promised to negotiate with Putin and improve relations with Russia. He promised to force our NATO allies to undertake more of their own defense. He pledged to get out and stay out of Mideast wars, and begin to slash the trade deficits that we have run with the world.

And that’s what America voted for.

Now, after 500 days, he faces formidable opposition to these defining goals of his campaign, even within his own party.

Putin remains a pariah on Capitol Hill. Our allies are rejecting the tariffs Trump has imposed and threatening retaliation. Free trade Republicans reject tariffs that might raise the cost of the items U.S. companies makes abroad and then ships back to the United States.

The decisive battles between Trumpian nationalism and globalism remain ahead of us. Trump’s critical tests have yet to come.

And our exasperated president senses this.

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Boehner’s Right — It’s Trump’s Party Now

Boehner's Right -- It's Trump's Party Now

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump party,” John Boehner told a Mackinac, Michigan, gathering of the GOP faithful last week. “The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.”

Ex-Speaker Boehner should probably re-check the old party’s pulse, for the Bush-Boehner GOP may not just be napping. It could be comatose.

Consider. That GOP was dedicated to free trade, open borders, amnesty and using U.S. power to punish aggressors and “end tyranny in our world.” That GOP set out to create a new world order where dictatorships were threatened with “regime change,” and democratic capitalism was the new order of the ages.

Yet, Donald Trump captured the Republican nomination and won the presidency — by saying goodbye to all that.

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How probable is it that a future GOP presidential candidate will revive the Bush-Boehner agenda the party rejected in 2016, run on it, win, and impose it on the party and nation?

Bush-Boehner Republicanism appears to be as dead today as was Harding-Coolidge Republicanism after 1933. And if Trumpism is not the future of the GOP, it is hard to see what a promising GOP agenda might look like.

A brief history: In seven elections starting in 1992, Republicans won the presidency three times, but the popular vote only once, in 2004, when George W. was still basking in his “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.

What fractured and overwhelmed the Bush-Boehner Republican Party?

First, demography. The mass immigration of Third World peoples that began with the 1965 immigration act, and the decline in the birth rate of native-born Americans, began to swamp the Nixon-Reagan New Majority.

Second, the collapse of the Soviet Empire and USSR removed the party’s great unifying cause from Eisenhower to Bush I — the Cold War.

After the Red Army went home, “America First” had a new appeal!

Third, faithful to the free trade cult in which they were raised, Republicans championed NAFTA, the WTO, and MFN for China.

Historians will look back in amazement at how America’s free trade zealots gave away the greatest manufacturing base the world had ever seen, as they quoted approvingly 18th- and 19th-century scribblers whose ideas had done so much to bring down their own country, Great Britain.

Between 1997 and 2017, the EU ran up, at America’s expense, trade surpluses in goods in excess of $2 trillion, while we also picked up the bill for Europe’s defense.

Between 1992 and 2016, China was allowed to run $4 trillion in trade surpluses at our expense, converting herself into the world’s first manufacturing power and denuding America of tens of thousands of factories and millions of manufacturing jobs.

In Trump’s first year, China’s trade surplus with the United States hit $375 billion. From January to March of this year, our trade deficit with China was running at close to the same astronomical rate.

“Trade deficits do not matter,” we hear from the economists.

They might explain that to Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

And perhaps someone can explain the wisdom of handing 4 percent of our GDP each year to an adversary nation, as U.S. admirals talk tough about confronting that adversary nation over islets and reefs in the South China Sea.

Why are we enriching and empowering so exorbitantly those whom we are told we may have to fight?

Fourth, under Bush II and Obama, the U.S. intervened massively in the Near and Middle East — in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen. And the forces that pushed up into those conflicts, and so disillusioned the nation that it elected Barack Obama, are back, pushing for a new war, on Iran. They may get this war, too.

Yet, given the anti-interventionist and anti-war stance of Trump’s winning campaign, and of the Bernie Sanders campaign, U.S. involvement in Middle East wars seems less America’s future than it does her past.

After his 16 months in office, it appears as though the Trump presidency, no matter how brief, is going to be a watershed moment in U.S. and world history, and in the future of the GOP.

The world is changing. NATO and the EU are showing their age. Nationalism, populism and tribalism are pervasive on the Old Continent. And America’s willingness to bear the burden of Europe’s defense, as they ride virtually free, is visibly waning.

It is hard to see why or how Republicans are ever again going to be the Bush-Boehner party that preceded the rise of Trump.

What would be the argument for returning to a repudiated platform?

Trump not only defeated 16 Bush Republicans, he presented an agenda on immigration, border security, amnesty, intervention abroad, the Middle East, NAFTA, free trade, Putin and Russia that was a rejection of what the Bush-Boehner Party had stood for and what its presidential candidates in 2008 and 2012, John McCain and Mitt Romney, had run on.

If the Republican Party is “napping,” let it slumber on, undisturbed, for its time has come and gone. We are in a new world now.

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Is US Bellicosity Backfiring?

Is US Bellicosity Backfiring?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

U.S. threats to crush Iran and North Korea may yet work, but as of now neither Tehran nor Pyongyang appears to be intimidated.

Repeated references by NSC adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence to the “Libya model” for denuclearization of North Korea just helped sink the Singapore summit of President Trump and Kim Jong Un. To North Korea, the Libya model means the overthrow and murder of Libya strongman Col. Gadhafi, after he surrendered his WMD.

Wednesday, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui exploded at Pence’s invocation of Libya: “Vice-President Pence has made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya … I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks.

“Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.”

Yesterday, Trump canceled the Singapore summit.

Earlier this week at the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out our Plan B for Iran in a speech that called to mind Prussian Field Marshal Karl Von Moltke.

Among Pompeo’s demands: Iran must end all support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Hamas in Gaza, withdraw all forces under Iranian command in Syria, and disarm its Shiite militia in Iraq.

Iran must confess its past lies about a nuclear weapons program, and account publicly for all such activity back into the 20th century.

Iran must halt all enrichment of uranium, swear never to produce plutonium, shut down its heavy water reactor, open up its military bases to inspection to prove it has no secret nuclear program, and stop testing ballistic missiles.

And unless Iran submits, she will be strangled economically.

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What Pompeo delivered was an ultimatum: Iran is to abandon all its allies in all Mideast wars, or face ruin and possible war with the USA.

It is hard to recall a secretary of state using the language Pompeo deployed: “We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them. Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”

But how can Iran “dominate” a Mideast that is home to Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt, as well as U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and Syria?

To Iran’s east is a nuclear-armed Pakistan. To its west is a nuclear-armed U.S. Fifth Fleet and a nuclear-armed Israel. Iran has no nukes, no warships to rival ours and a 1970s air force.

Yet, this U.S.-Iran confrontation, triggered by Trump’s trashing of the nuclear deal and Pompeo’s ultimatum, is likely to end one of three ways:

First, Tehran capitulates, which is unlikely, as President Hassan Rouhani retorted to Pompeo: “Who are you to decide for Iran and the world? We will continue our path with the support of our nation.” Added Ayatollah Khamenei, “Iran’s presence in the region is our strategic depth.”

Second, Iran defies U.S. sanctions and continues to support its allies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen. This would seem likely to lead to collisions and war.

Third, the U.S. could back off its maximalist demands, as Trump backed off Bolton’s demand that Kim Jong Un accept the Libyan model of total and verifiable disarmament before any sanctions are lifted.

Where, then, are we headed?

While our NATO allies are incensed by Trump’s threat to impose secondary sanctions if they do not re-impose sanctions on Tehran, the Europeans are likely to cave in to America’s demands. For Europe to choose Iran over a U.S. that has protected Europe since the Cold War began and is an indispensable market for Europe’s goods would be madness.

Vladimir Putin appears to want no part of an Iran-Israel or U.S.-Iran war and has told Bashar Assad that Russia will not be selling Damascus his S-300 air defense system. Putin has secured his bases in Syria and wants to keep them.

As for the Chinese, she will take advantage of the West’s ostracism of Iran by drawing Iran closer to her own orbit.

Is there a compromise to be had?

Perhaps, for some of Pompeo’s demands accord with the interests of Iran, which cannot want a war with the United States, or with Israel, which would likely lead to war with the United States.

Iran could agree to release Western prisoners, move Shiite militia in Syria away from the Golan Heights, accept verifiable restrictions on tests of longer-range missiles and establish deconfliction rules for U.S. and Iranian warships in the Persian Gulf.

Reward: aid from the West and renewed diplomatic relations with the United States.

Surely, a partial, verifiable nuclear disarmament of North Korea is preferable to war on the peninsula. And, surely, a new nuclear deal with Iran with restrictions on missiles is preferable to war in the Gulf.

Again, we cannot make the perfect the enemy of the good.

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A Trump Doctrine for Singapore and Beyond

By Patrick J. Buchanan

After Pyongyang railed this week that the U.S.-South Korean Max Thunder military drills were a rehearsal for an invasion of the North, and imperiled the Singapore summit, the Pentagon dialed them back.

The B-52 exercises alongside F-22 stealth fighters were canceled.

But Pyongyang had other objections.

Sunday, NSC adviser John Bolton spoke of a “Libyan model” for the North’s disarmament, referring to Moammar Gadhafi’s surrender of all his weapons of mass destruction in 2004. The U.S. was invited into Libya to pick them up and cart them off, whereupon sanctions were lifted.

As Libya was subsequently attacked by NATO and Gadhafi lynched, North Korea denounced Bolton and all this talk of the “Libyan model” of unilateral disarmament.

North Korea wants a step-by-step approach, each concession by Pyongyang to be met by a U.S. concession. And Bolton sitting beside Trump, and across the table from Kim Jong Un in Singapore, may be inhibiting.

What was predictable and predicted has come to pass.

If we expected Kim to commit at Singapore to Bolton’s demand for “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” and a swift follow-through, we were deluding ourselves.

At Singapore, both sides will have demands, and both will have to offer concessions, if there is to be a deal.

What does Kim Jong Un want?

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An end to U.S. and South Korean military exercises and sanctions on the North, trade and investment, U.S. recognition of his regime, a peace treaty, and the eventual removal of U.S. bases and troops.

He is likely to offer an end to the testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, no transfer of nuclear weapons or strategic missiles to third powers, a drawdown of troops on the DMZ, and the opening of North Korea’s borders to trade and travel.

As for his nuclear weapons and the facilities to produce them, these are Kim’s crown jewels. These brought him to the attention of the world and the Americans to the table. These are why President Trump is flying 10,000 miles to meet and talk with him.

And, unlike Gadhafi, Kim is not going to give them up.

Assuming the summit comes off June 12, this is the reality Trump will face in Singapore: a North Korea willing to halt the testing of nukes and ICBMs and to engage diplomatically and economically.

As for having Americans come into his country, pick up his nuclear weapons, remove them and begin intrusive inspections to ensure he has neither nuclear bombs nor the means to produce, deliver or hide them, that would be tantamount to a surrender by Kim.

Trump is not going to get that. And if he adopts a Bolton policy of “all or nothing,” he is likely to get nothing at all.

Yet, thanks to Trump’s threats and refusal to accept a “frozen conflict” on the Korean peninsula, the makings of a real deal are present, if Trump does not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

For there is nothing North Korea is likely to demand that cannot be granted, as long as the security of South Korea is assured to the degree that it can be assured, while living alongside a nuclear-armed North.

Hence, when Kim cavils or balks in Singapore, as he almost surely will, at any demand for a pre-emptive surrender of his nuclear arsenal, Trump should have a fallback position.

If we cannot have everything we want, what can we live with?

Moreover, while we are running a risk today, an intransigent North Korea that walks out would be running a risk as well.

A collapse in talks between Kim and the United States and Kim and South Korea would raise the possibility that he and his Chinese patrons could face an East Asia Cold War where South Korea and Japan also have acquired nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.

In the last analysis, the United States should be willing to accept both the concessions to the North that the South is willing to make and the risks from the North that the South is willing to take.

For, ultimately, they are the one who are going to have to live on the same peninsula with Kim and his nukes.

Trump ran on a foreign policy that may fairly be described as a Trump Doctrine: In the post-post-Cold War era, the United States will start looking out for America first.

This does not mean isolationism or the abandonment of our allies. It does mean a review and reassessment of all the guarantees we have issued to go to war on behalf of other countries, and the eventual transfer of responsibility for the defense of our friends over to our friends.

In the future, the U.S. will stop futilely imploring allies to do more for their own defense and will begin telling them that their defense is primarily their own responsibility. Our allies must cease to be our dependents.

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Don’t Trash the Nuclear Deal!

Don't Trash the Nuclear Deal!

By Patrick J. Buchanan

This next week may determine whether President Trump extricates us from that cauldron of conflict that is the Middle East, as he promised, or plunges us even deeper into these forever wars.

Friday will see the sixth in a row of weekly protests at the Gaza border fence in clashes that have left 40 Palestinians dead and 1,500 wounded by live fire from Israeli troops.

Monday, the U.S. moves its embassy to Jerusalem. Tuesday will see the triumphal celebration of the 70th birthday of the state of Israel.

Palestinians will commemorate May 15 as Nakba, “The catastrophe,” where hundred of thousands of their people fled their homes in terror to live in stateless exile for seven decades.

Violence could begin Friday and stretch into next week.

Yet more fateful for our future is the decision Trump will make by Saturday. May 12 is his deadline to decide whether America trashes the Iran nuclear deal and reimposes sanctions.

While our NATO allies are imploring Trump not to destroy the deal and start down a road that is likely to end in war with Iran, Bibi Netanyahu on Sunday called this a Munich moment:

“Nations that did not act in time against murderous aggression against them paid a much higher price later on.”

From a U.S. standpoint, the Munich analogy seems absurd.

Iran is making no demands on the United States. Its patrol boats have ceased harassing our warships in the Persian Gulf. Its forces in Iraq and Syria do not interfere with our operations against ISIS. And, according to U.N. inspectors, Iran is abiding by the terms of the nuclear deal.

Iran has never tested a nuclear device and never enriched uranium to weapons grade. Under the deal, Iran has surrendered 95 percent of its uranium, shut down most of its centrifuges and allowed cameras and inspectors into all of its nuclear facilities.

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Why Iran is abiding by the deal is obvious. For Iran it is a great deal.

Having decided in 2003 not to build a bomb, Iran terminated its program. Then Tehran decided to negotiate with the U.S. for return of $100 billion in frozen assets from the Shah’s era — by proving they were not doing what every U.S. intelligence agency said they were not doing.

Should Iran rashly decide to go for a nuclear weapon, it would have to fire up centrifuges to enrich uranium to a level that they have never done, and then test a nuclear device, and then weaponize it.

A crash bomb program would be detected almost instantly and bring a U.S. ultimatum which, if defied, could bring airstrikes. Why would Trump risk losing the means to monitor Iran’s compliance with the deal?

Israel, too, has an arsenal of nuclear weapons that can be delivered by Jericho missile, submarine-based cruise missile, and the Israeli air force.

Why then is the world anxiously awaiting a decision by President Trump that could lead to an unnecessary war with Iran?

The president painted himself into this corner. He has called the Iran nuclear deal “insane” and repeatedly pledged to tear it up.

The Israelis, Saudis and Beltway War Party want the deal trashed, because they want a U.S. clash with Iran. They are not afraid of war. Instead, they fear Trump will extricate us from the Middle East before we do our historic duty and effect regime change in Iran.

What is Israel’s motive? Israel fears that the Iranians, having contributed to Bashar Assad’s victory in Syria’s civil war, will stay on and establish bases and a weapons pipeline to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel has launched scores of airstrikes into Syria to prevent this.

The problem for Bibi: While Trump sees no vital U.S. interest in Syria and has expressed his wish to get out when ISIS is demolished and scattered, Bibi has cast us in the lead role in taking down Iran in Syria.

Trump may want to stay out of the next phase of the Syrian civil war. Bibi is counting on the Americans to fight it.

But while Bibi may have a vital interest in driving Iran out of Syria, Iran is no threat to any vital interest of the United States.

Iran’s economy is in dreadful shape. Its youth have voted repeatedly against presidential candidates favored by the Ayatollah. There are regular constant demonstrations against the regime.

Time is not on the side of the Islamic Republic.

Fifty million Persians, leading a Shiite nation of Persians, Azeris, Baloch, Arabs and Kurds, are not going to control a vast Middle East of hundreds of millions of Arabs and Turks in an Islamic world where Shiites are outnumbered five times over by Sunnis.

For the United States, the strategic challenge of this century is not Iran, North Korea or Russia. If it is any nation, it is China.

Trump the dealmaker should find a way to keep the nuclear deal with Iran. We are far better off with it than without it.

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Macron: The Last Multilateralist

Macron: The Last Multilateralist

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Together,” President Macron instructed President Trump, “we can resist the rise of aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world.”

Before Congress he denounced “extreme nationalism,” invoked the U.N., NATO, WTO, and Paris climate accord, and implored Trump’s America to come home to the New World Order.

“The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism,” Macron went on, “you are the one now who has to help preserve and reinvent it.”

His visit was hailed and his views cheered, but, on reflection, the ideas of Emmanuel Macron seem to be less about tomorrow than yesterday.

For the world he celebrates is receding into history.

The America of 2018 is coming to see NATO as having evolved into an endless U.S. commitment to go to war with Russia on behalf of a rich Europe that resolutely refuses to provide for its own defense.

Since the WTO was created in the mid-’90s, the U.S. has run $12 trillion in trade deficits; and among the biggest beneficiaries — the EU.

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Under the Paris climate accord, environmental restrictions are put upon the United States from which China is exempt.

As for the U.N., is that sinkhole of anti-Americanism, the General Assembly, really worth the scores of billions we have plunged into it?

“Aggressive nationalism” is a term that might well fit Napoleon Bonaparte whose Arc de Triomphe sits on the Champs-Elysees. But does it really fit the Hungarians, Poles, Brits, Scots, Catalans and other indigenous peoples of Europe who are now using democratic methods and means to preserve a national home for the unique peoples to whom they belong?

And the United States would seem an odd place to go about venting on “aggressive nationalisms that deny our history.”

Did Macron not learn at the Lycee Henri IV in Paris or the Ecole Nationale d’Administration how the Americans acquired all that land?

General Washington, at whose Mount Vernon home Macron dined, was a nationalist who fought for six years to sever America’s ties to the nation under which he was born.

How does Macron think Andrew Jackson acquired Florida from Spain, Sam Houston acquired Texas from Mexico, and Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor acquired the Southwest? By bartering?

Aggressive nationalism is a good synonym for the Manifest Destiny of a republic that went about relieving Spain of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.

How does Macron think the “New World” was conquered and colonized if not by aggressive British, French and Spanish nationalists determined to impose their rule upon weaker indigenous tribes?

Was it not nationalism that broke up the USSR into 15 nations?

Was not the Zionist movement that resurrected Israel in 1948, and, in 1967, captured the West Bank, and then annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, a manifestation of aggressive nationalism?

Macron is an echo of that George H.W. Bush who, in Kiev in 1991, warned Ukrainians against the “suicidal nationalism” of declaring independence from the Russian Federation.

“Aggressive nationalisms … divide the world,” warns Macron.

Well, yes, they do, which is why we have now 194 members of the U.N., rather than the original 50. Is this a problem?

“Together,” said Macron, “we will build a new, strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy in the face of ill winds.”

Macron belongs to a political class that sees open borders and free trade thickening and tightening the ties of dependency, and eventually creating a One Europe, whose destiny his crowd will forever control.

But if his idea of pluralism is multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural nations, with a multilateral EU overlord, he is describing a future that tens millions of Europeans believe means the death of the nations that give meaning to their lives.

And they will not go gentle into that good night.

In America, too, millions have come to recognize that there is a method to the seeming madness of open borders. Name of the game: dispossessing the deplorables of the country they love.

With open borders and mass migration of over a million people a year into the USA, almost all of them peoples of color from Third World countries who vote 70-90 percent Democratic, the left is foreclosing the future. The left is converting the greatest country of the West into what Teddy Roosevelt called a “polyglot boarding house for the world.” And in that boarding house the left will have a lock on the presidency.

With the collaboration of co-conspirators in the media, progressives throw a cloak of altruism over the cynical seizure of permanent power.

For, as the millions of immigrants, here legally and illegally, register, and the vote is extended to prison inmates, ex-cons and 16-year-olds, the political complexion of America will come to resemble San Francisco.

End goal: Ensure that what happened in 2016, when the nation rose up and threw out a despised establishment, never happens again.

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America’s Unsustainable Empire

America's Unsustainable Empire

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Before President Trump trashes the Iran nuclear deal, he might consider: If he could negotiate an identical deal with Kim Jong Un, it would astonish the world and win him the Nobel Peace Prize.

For Iran has no nuclear bomb or ICBM and has never tested either. It has never enriched uranium to bomb grade. It has shipped 98 percent of its uranium out of the country. It has cameras inside and inspectors crawling all over its nuclear facilities.

And North Korea? It has atom bombs and has tested an H-bomb. It has intermediate-range ballistic missiles that can hit Guam and an ICBM that, fully operational, could hit the West Coast. It has shorter-range missiles that could put nukes on South Korea and Japan.

Hard to believe Kim Jong Un will surrender these weapons, his ticket of admission to the table of great powers.

Yet the White House position is that the Iran nuclear deal should be scrapped, and no deal with Kim Jong Un signed that does not result in the “denuclearization” of the peninsula.

If denuclearization means Kim gives up all his nukes and strategic missiles, ceases testing, and allows inspectors into all his nuclear facilities, we may be waiting a long time.

Trump decides on the Iran deal by May 12. And we will likely know what Kim is prepared to do, and not prepared to do, equally soon.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron is in D.C. to persuade Trump not to walk away from the Iran deal and to keep U.S. troops in Syria. Chancellor Angela Merkel will be arriving at week’s end with a similar message.

On the White House front burner then are these options:

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Will North Korea agree to surrender its nuclear arsenal, or is it back to confrontation and possible war?

Will we stick with the nuclear deal with Iran, or walk away, issue new demands on Tehran, and prepare for a military clash if rebuffed?

Do we pull U.S. troops out of Syria as Trump promised, or keep U.S. troops there to resist the reconquest of his country by Bashar Assad and his Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Shiite allies?

Beyond, the larger question looms: How long can we keep this up?

How long can this country, with its shrinking share of global GDP, sustain its expanding commitments to confront and fight all over the world?

U.S. planes and ships now bump up against Russians in the Baltic and Black seas. We are sending Javelin anti-tank missiles to Kiev, while NATO allies implore us to bring Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance.

This would mean a U.S. guarantee to fight an alienated, angered and nuclear-armed Russia in Crimea and the Caucasus.

Sixteen years after 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, we are still there, assisting Afghan troops against a Taliban we thought we had defeated.

We are now fighting what is left of ISIS in Syria alongside our Kurd allies, who tug us toward conflict with Turkey.

U.S. forces and advisers are in Niger, Djibouti, Somalia. We are aiding the Saudis in their air war and naval blockade of Yemen.

The last Korean War, which cost 33,000 U.S. lives, began in the June before this writer entered 7th grade. Why is the defense of a powerful South Korea, with an economy 40 times that of the North, still a U.S. responsibility?

We are committed, by 60-year-old treaties, to defend Japan, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand. Voices are being heard to have us renew the war guarantee to Taiwan that Jimmy Carter canceled in 1979.

National security elites are pushing for new naval and military ties to Vietnam and India, to challenge Beijing in the South China Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

How long can we sustain a worldwide empire of dependencies?

How many wars of this century — Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen — turned out to have been worth the blood shed and the treasure lost? And what have all the “color-coded revolutions” we have instigated to advance “democracy” done for America?

In a New York Times essay, “Adapting to American Decline,” Christopher Preble writes: “America’s share of global wealth is shrinking. By some estimates, the United States accounted for roughly 50 percent of global output at the end of World War II. … It has fallen to 15.1 percent today.”

Preble continues: “Admitting that the United States is incapable of effectively adjudicating every territorial dispute or of thwarting every security threat in every part of the world is hardly tantamount to surrender. It is rather a wise admission of the limits of American power.”

It is imperative, wrote Walter Lippmann, that U.S. commitments be brought into balance with U.S. power. This “forgotten principle … must be recovered and returned to the first place in American thought.”

That was 1943, at the height of a war that found us unprepared.

We are hugely overextended today. And conservatives have no higher duty than to seek to bring U.S. war guarantees into conformity with U.S. vital interests and U.S. power.

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