Time for Trump to Cut the Prince Loose?

Time for Trump to Cut the Prince Loose?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Was the assassination of JFK by Lee Harvey Oswald still getting as much media coverage three weeks after his death as it did that first week after Nov. 22, 1963? Not as I recall.

Yet, three weeks after his murder, Jamal Khashoggi, who was not a U.S. citizen, was not killed by an American, and died not on U.S. soil but in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, consumes our elite press.

The top two stories in Monday’s Washington Post were about the Khashoggi affair. A third, inside, carried the headline, “Trump, who prizes strength, may look weak in hesitance to punish Saudis.”

On Sunday, the Post put three Khashoggi stories on Page 1. The Post’s lead editorial bashed Trump for his equivocal stance on the killing.

Two of the four columns on the op-ed page demanded that the Saudis rid themselves of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the prime suspect in ordering the execution.

Page 1 of the Outlook section offered an analysis titled, “The Saudis knew they could get away with it. We always let them.”

Page 1 of the Metro section featured a story about the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in Virginia that began thus:

“Corey A. Stewart’s impulse to use provocative and evidence-free slurs reached new heights Friday when the Republican nominee for Senate disparaged slain Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi…

“Stewart appears to be moving in lockstep with extremist Republicans and conservative commentators engaging in a whisper campaign to smear Khashoggi and insulate Trump from global rebuke.”

This was presented as a news story.

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Inside the Business section of Sunday’s Post was a major story, “More CEOs quietly withdraw from Saudi conference.” Featured was a photo of JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon, who had canceled his appearance.

On the top half of the front page of the Sunday New York Times were three stories about Khashoggi, as were the two top stories on Monday.

The Times’ lead editorial Monday called for a U.N. investigation, a cutoff in U.S. arms sales to Riyadh and a signal to the royal house that we regard their crown prince as “toxic.”

Why is our prestige press consumed by the murder of a Saudi dissident not one in a thousand Americans had ever heard of?

Answer: Khashoggi had become a contributing columnist to the Post. He was a journalist, an untouchable. The Post and U.S. media are going to teach the House of Saud a lesson: You don’t mess with the American press!

Moreover, the preplanned murder implicating the crown prince, with 15 Saudi security agents and an autopsy expert with a bone saw lying in wait at the consulate to kill Khashoggi, carve him up, and flee back to Riyadh the same day, is a terrific story.

Still, what ought not be overlooked here is the political agenda of our establishment media in driving this story as hard as they have for the last three weeks.

Our Beltway elite can smell the blood in the water. They sense that Khashoggi’s murder can be used to discredit the Trump presidency, expose the amorality of his foreign policy and sever his ties to patriotic elements of his Middle American constituency.

How so?

First, there are those close personal ties between Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, son of the King, and Jared Kushner, son-in-law of the president of the United States.

Second, there are the past commercial connections between builder Donald Trump, who sold a floor of a Trump building and a yacht to the Saudis when he was in financial straits.

Third, there is the strategic connection. The first foreign trip of the Trump presidency was, at Kushner’s urging, to Riyadh to meet the king, and the president has sought to tighten U.S. ties to the Saudis ever since.

Fourth, Trump has celebrated U.S. sales arms to the Saudis as a job-building benefit to America and a way to keep the Saudis as strategic partners in a Mideast coalition against Iran.

Fifth, the leaders of the two wings of Trump’s party in the Senate, anti-interventionist Rand Paul and interventionist Lindsey Graham, are already demanding sanctions on Riyadh and an ostracizing of the prince.

As story after story comes out of Riyadh about what happened in that consulate on Oct. 2, each less convincing than the last, the coalition of forces, here and abroad, pressing for sanctions on Saudi Arabia and dumping the prince, grows.

The time may be right for President Trump to cease leading from behind, to step out front, and to say that, while he withheld judgment to give the Saudis every benefit of the doubt, he now believes that the weight of the evidence points conclusively to a plot to kill Jamal Khashoggi.

Hence, he is terminating U.S. military aid for the war in Yemen that Crown Prince Mohammed has been conducting for three years. Win-win.

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Is McCain Hijacking Trump’s Foreign Policy?

Is McCain Hijacking Trump's Foreign Policy?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“The senator from Kentucky,” said John McCain, speaking of his colleague Rand Paul, “is working for Vladimir Putin … and I do not say that lightly.”

What did Sen. Paul do to deserve being called a hireling of Vladimir Putin?

He declined to support McCain’s call for a unanimous Senate vote to bring Montenegro into NATO as the 29th member of a Cold War alliance President Trump has called “obsolete.”

Bordered by Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, tiny Montenegro has a population roughly that of D.C., and sits on the western coast of the most volatile peninsula in Europe.

What strategic benefit would accrue from having Montenegro as an ally that would justify the risk of our having to go to war should some neighbor breach Montenegro’s borders?

Historically, the Balkans have been an incubator of war. In the 19th century, Otto van Bismarck predicted that when the Great War came, it would come out of “some damn fool thing in the Balkans.” And so it did when the Austrian archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo June 28, 1914 by Serbian ethnonationalist Gavrilo Princip.

Aflame with ethnic, civil and sectarian war in the 1990s, the western Balkans are again in political turmoil. Milo Djukanovic, the longtime Montenegrin prime minister who resigned on election day in October, claims that he was targeted for assassination by Russia to prevent Montenegro’s accession to NATO.

Russia denies it. But on the Senate floor, McCain raged at Rand Paul: “You are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin … trying to dismember this small country which has already been the subject of an attempted coup.”

But if Montenegro, awash in corruption and crime, is on the verge of an uprising or coup, why would the U.S. issue a war guarantee that could vault us into a confrontation with Russia — without a full Senate debate?

The vote that needs explaining here is not Rand Paul’s.

It is the votes of those senators who are handing out U.S.-NATO war guarantees to countries most Americans could not find on a map.

Is no one besides Sen. Paul asking the relevant questions here?

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What vital U.S. interest is imperiled in who comes to power in Podgorica, Montenegro? Why cannot Europe handle this problem in its own back yard?

Has President Trump given McCain, who wanted President Bush to intervene in a Russia-Georgia war — over South Ossetia! — carte blanche to hand out war guarantees to unstable Balkan states?

Did Trump approve the expansion of NATO into all the successor states born of the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia?

Or is McCain hijacking U.S. foreign policy on NATO and Russia?

President Trump should tell the Senate: No more admissions to NATO, no more U.S. war guarantees, unless I have recommended or approved them. Foreign policy is made in the White House, not on the Senate floor.

Indeed, what happened to the foreign policy America voted for — rapprochement with Russia, an end to U.S. wars in the Middle East, and having rich allies share more of the cost of their own defense?

It is U.S., not NATO defense spending that is rising to more than $50 billion this year. And today we learn the Pentagon has drawn up plans for the insertion of 1,000 more U.S. troops into Syria. While the ISIS caliphate seems doomed, this six-year Syrian war is far from over.

An al-Qaida subsidiary, the Nusra Front, has become the most formidable rebel fighting group. Syria’s army, with the backing of Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Shiite militias from across the Middle East, has carved out most of the territory it needs.

The Turkish army is now in Syria, beside its rebel allies. Their main enemy: Syria’s Kurds, who are America’s allies.

From our longest war, Afghanistan, comes word from U.S. Gen. John Nicholson that we and our Afghan allies are in a “stalemate” with the Taliban, and he will need a “few thousand” more U.S. troops — to augment the 8,500 President Obama left behind when he left office.

Some 5,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq, helping to liberate Mosul from ISIS. In Kabul, Baghdad and Damascus, terrorist bombings are a weekly, if not a daily, occurrence.

Then there is the U.S. troop buildup in Poland and the Baltic, the U.S. deployment of a missile defense to South Korea after multiple missile tests in the North, and Russia and China talking of upgrading their nuclear arsenals to counter U.S. missile defenses in Poland, Romania and South Korea.

In and around the waters of the Persian Gulf, United States warships are harassed by Iranian patrol boats, as Tehran test-fires anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to send the Americans a message: Attack us and it will not be a cakewalk war.

With the death of Communism, the end of the Cold War, and the collapse of the Bushite New World Order, America needs a new grand strategy, built upon the solid foundation of America First.

Header image by Linda Muller. CC BY-SA 2.0 Original photo by Flickr – Gage Skidmore

America First — or World War III

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“If you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate.”

So said Rand Paul, looking directly at Gov. Chris Christie, who had just responded to a question from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as to whether he would shoot down a Russian plane that violated his no-fly zone in Syria.

“Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it,” blurted Christie: “I would talk to Vladimir Putin … I’d say to him, ‘Listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone in Syria; you fly in, it applies to you.’

“Yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling … we have in the Oval Office … right now.”

Ex-Gov. George Pataki and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum would also impose a no-fly zone and shoot down Russian planes that violated it. Said Gov. John Kasich, “It’s time we punched the Russians in the nose.”

Carly Fiorina would impose a no-fly zone and not even talk to Putin until we’ve conducted “military exercises in the Baltic States” on Russia’s border. Jeb Bush, too, would impose a no-fly zone.

These warhawks apparently assume that President Putin is a coward who, if you shoot down his warplanes, will back away from a fight.

Are we sure? After the Turks shot down that Sukhoi SU-24, Moscow sent fighter planes to Syria to escort its bombers and has reportedly deployed its lethal S-300 antiaircraft system there.

A U.S. Marine Corps aviator describes the S-300: “A complete game changer for all fourth-gen aircraft [like the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18]. That thing is a beast and you don’t want to get near it.” There are press reports that an angry Putin has ordered the even more advanced S-400 system moved into Syria.

Is Putin bluffing? Are we prepared to ride the up-escalator, at the top of which is nuclear war, if Putin, who has been boasting of his modernized nuclear forces, is also willing to ride it rather than back down?

Uber-hawk Lindsey Graham wants to send tens of thousands of American troops to fight ISIS, and refuses to work with Iran, Russia, or Syria’s Bashar Assad to crush our common enemy ISIS.

Graham prefers “allies,” like the Saudis and Gulf Arabs.

But both have bailed out of the air war on ISIS, and sent troops and bombers instead to attack the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Result: The Houthis have been in retreat and al-Qaida and ISIS are moving into the vacated territory.

Another Mideast base camp for terrorists is being created — by us.

“I miss George W. Bush!” wailed Graham in the undercard debate.

How many other Americans are, like Graham, pining for the return of a Bush foreign policy that gave us Barack Obama?

Yet, now, a rival school is taking center stage in the Republican presidential campaign, rejecting the knee-jerk hostility to working with Putin. Not only does Rand Paul belong to this school, so, apparently, do Donald Trump and his strongest challenger, Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz had previously disparaged the legacy of the “neocons” who prodded Bush into war in Iraq and championed a democracy crusade in the Middle East. In Las Vegas, he spoke of a new national-interest-based foreign policy, a policy that puts “America First.”

“If we topple Assad … ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen national security interests. And the approach — instead of being … a democracy promoter, we ought to hunt down our enemies and kill ISIS rather than creating opportunities for ISIS to control new countries.”

Cruz rejects the Manichaean worldview of the neocons and their reflexive hostility to Russia, and appears willing to work with a Russian autocrat to crush a monstrous evil like ISIS, as U.S. presidents did in working with anti-Communist dictators to win the Cold War.

Midway through the debate, Trump cut loose with a sweeping indictment of mindless American interventionism in the Middle East:

“We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems — our airports and all the other problems we have — we would have been a lot better off. …

“We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East — we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away — and for what? It’s not like we had victory. It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized, a total and complete mess. I wish we had the 4 trillion dollars or 5 trillion dollars. I wish it were spent right here in the United States on schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart!”

If we do not want Syria in 2016 to become what Sarajevo became in 1914, the powder keg that explodes into a world war, the War Party Republicans, who have learned nothing from the past, should be relegated to the past.

The Republican War — Over War Policy

The Republican War -- Over War Policy

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Rand Paul had his best debate moment Tuesday when he challenged Marco Rubio on his plans to increase defense spending by $1 trillion.

“You cannot be a conservative if you’re going to keep promoting new programs you’re not going to pay for,” said Paul.

Marco’s retort triggered the loudest cheers of the night:

“There are radical jihadists in the Middle East beheading people and crucifying Christians. The Chinese are taking over the South China Sea. … the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world.”

Having called for the U.S. Navy to confront Beijing in the South China Sea, and for establishing a no-fly zone over Syria that Russian pilots would enter at their peril, Rubio seems prepared for a confrontation with either or both of our great rival nuclear powers.

Dismissing Vladimir Putin as a “gangster,” Marco emerged as the toast of the neocons. Yet the leading GOP candidate seems closer to Rand.

Donald Trump would talk to Putin, welcomes Russian planes bombing ISIS in Syria, thinks our European allies should lead on Ukraine, and wants South Korea to do more to defend itself.

Uber-hawk Lindsey Graham did not even make the undercard debate. And though he and John McCain are the most bellicose voices in the party, they appear to be chiefs with no Indians.

Still, it is well that Republicans air their disagreements. For war and peace are what the presidency is about.

Historically, Republican presidents appear to line up on the side of Rand and Trump.

Since WWII, there have been five elected GOP presidents: Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. Only Bush II could be called a compulsive interventionist.

Ike ended Truman’s war in Korea and kept us out of Indochina after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu. He ordered the Brits, French and Israelis out of Suez after they had attacked Egypt in 1956. He gave us 7 years of peace and prosperity.

Nixon pledged to end the U.S. war in Vietnam, and did. And as Ike invited the Butcher of Budapest, Khrushchev, to visit the United States, Nixon invited Brezhnev, who had crushed the Prague Spring.

Nixon became the first Cold War president to visit the USSR, and famously ended decades of hostility between the United States and the China of Chairman Mao.

Reagan used military force only three times.

He liberated the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada from Marxist thugs who had murdered the prime minister and threatened U.S. medical students.

He put Marines in Lebanon, a decision that, after the massacre at the Beirut barracks, Reagan regretted the rest of his life. He bombed Libya in retaliation for Moammar Gadhafi’s bombing of a Berlin discotheque full of U.S. troops.

Blowback for Reagan came with Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.

Though they were the foremost anti-Communists of their era, Nixon and Reagan negotiated historic arms agreements with Moscow.

Reagan did send arms to aid anti-Communist rebels in Angola, Afghanistan and Nicaragua, but never confronted Moscow in Eastern Europe, even when Solidarity was crushed in Poland.

George H.W. Bush sent an army of 500,000 to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, but ordered those U.S. troops not to enter Iraq itself.

When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Empire collapsed and the USSR disintegrated, Bush I played the statesman, refusing to exult publicly in America’s epochal Cold War triumph.

It was George W. Bush who gave the neocons their hour of power.

After 9/11, came the invasion and remaking of Afghanistan in our image, the “axis of evil” address, the march to Baghdad, the expansion of NATO to Russia’s doorstep, and the global crusade for democracy “to end tyranny in our world.”

Result: The Republicans lost both houses of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008 when John (“We are all Georgians Now!”) McCain was routed by a liberal Democrat who had opposed the war in Iraq.

With the exception of Rand and Trump, the GOP candidates appear to believe the road to the White House lies in resurrecting the attitude and policies of Bush II that cost them the White House.

From Marco and other voices on stage one hears: Tear up the Iran deal. Confront Putin. Establish a no-fly zone over Syria. Assad must go. Send offensive weapons to Kiev. More boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria. Send U.S. troops to the Baltic and warships to the Black Sea. Confront China in the Spratlys and South China Sea.

Responding to that audience in Milwaukee, most GOP candidates appear to have concluded that bellicosity and bravado are a winning hand in the post-Obama era.

Yet, those nationalist strongmen Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping do not seem to me to be autocrats who are likely to back down when told to do so by Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush or Carly Fiorina.

GOP Platform: War Without End

GOP Platform - War Without End

By Patrick J. Buchanan

If the sadists of ISIS are seeking — with their mass executions, child rapes, immolations, and beheadings of Christians — to stampede us into a new war in the Middle East, they are succeeding.

Repeatedly snapping the blood-red cape of terrorist atrocities in our faces has the Yankee bull snorting, pawing the ground, ready to charge again.

“Nearly three-quarters of Republicans now favor sending ground troops into combat against the Islamic State,” says a CBS News poll. The poll was cited in a New York Times story about how the voice of the hawk is ascendant again in the GOP.

In April or May 2015, said a Pentagon briefer last week, the Iraqi Army will march north to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State.

On to Mosul! On to Raqqa!

Yet, who, exactly, will be taking Mosul?

According to Rowan Scarborough of The Washington Times, the U.S. general who trained the Iraqi army says Mosul is a mined, booby-trapped city, infested with thousands of suicide fighters.

Any Iraqi army attack this spring would be “doomed.”

Translation: Either U.S. troops lead, or Mosul remains in ISIS’ hands.

Yet taking Mosul is only the beginning. Scores of thousands of troops will be needed to defeat and destroy ISIS in Syria.

And eradicating ISIS is but the first of the wars Republicans have in mind. This coming week, at the invitation of Speaker John Boehner, Bibi Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress.

His message: Obama and John Kerry are bringing back a rotten deal that will ensure Iran acquires nuclear weapons and becomes an existential threat to Israel. Congress must repudiate Obama’s deal, impose new sanctions on Iran and terminate the appeasement talks.

Should Bibi and his Republican allies succeed in closing the ramp to a diplomatic solution, we will be on the road to war.

Which is where Bibi wants us.

To him, Iran is the Nazi Germany of the 21st century, hell-bent on a new Holocaust. A U.S. war that does to the Ayatollah’s Iran what a U.S. war did to Hitler’s Germany would put Bibi in the history books as the Israeli Churchill.

But if Republicans scuttle the Iranian negotiations by voting new sanctions, Iran will take back the concessions it has made, and we are indeed headed for war. Which is where Sen. Lindsey Graham, too, now toying with a presidential bid, wants us to be.

In 2010, Sen. Graham declared: “Instead of a surgical strike on [Iran’s] nuclear infrastructure … we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies. … [We must] destroy the ability of the regime to strike back.”

If Congress scuttles the nuclear talks, look for Congress to next write an authorization for the use of military force — on Iran.

Today, the entire Shiite Crescent — Iran, Iraq, Bashar Assad’s Syria, Hezbollah — is fighting ISIS. All these Shiites are de facto allies in any war against ISIS. But should we attack Iran, they will become enemies.

And what would war with Iran mean for U.S. interests?

With its anti-ship missiles and hundreds of missile boats, Iran could imperil our fleet in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. The Gulf could be closed to commercial shipping by a sinking or two.

Hezbollah could go after the U.S. embassy in Beirut. The Green Zone in Baghdad could come under attack by Shiite militia loyal to Iran.

Would Assad’s army join Iran’s fight against America?

It surely would if America listened to those Republicans who now say we must bring down Assad to convince Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs to join the fight against ISIS.

By clashing with Iran, we would make enemies of Damascus and Baghdad and the Shiite militias in Iraq and Beirut battling ISIS today — in the hope that, tomorrow, the conscientious objectors of the Sunni world — Turks, Saudis, Gulf Arabs — might come and fight beside us.

Listen for long to GOP foreign policy voices, and you can hear calls for war on ISIS, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, the Houthi rebels, the Assad regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran, to name but a few.

Are we to fight them all? How many U.S. troops will be needed? How long will all these wars take? What will the Middle East look like after we crush them all? Who will fill the vacuum if we go? Or must we stay forever?

Nor does this exhaust the GOP war menu.

Enraged by Vladimir Putin’s defiance, Republicans are calling for U.S. weapons, trainers, even troops, to be sent to Ukraine and Moldova.

Says John Bolton, himself looking at a presidential run, “Most of the Republican candidates or prospective candidates are heading in the right direction; there’s one who’s headed in the wrong direction.”

That would be Rand Paul, who prefers “Arab boots on the ground.”

Has Hillary Ever Been Right?

Has Hillary Ever Been Right

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Sen. Rand Paul raises an interesting question:

When has Hillary Clinton ever been right on foreign policy?

The valkyrie of the Democratic Party says she urged President Obama to do more to aid Syrian rebels years ago. And last summer, she supported air strikes on Bashar Assad’s regime.

Had we followed her advice and crippled Assad’s army, ISIS might be in Damascus today, butchering Christians and Alawites and aiding the Islamic State in Iraq in overrunning Baghdad.

But if the folly of attacking Assad’s army and weakening its resistance to ISIS terrorists is apparent to everyone this summer, why were Clinton, Obama and Secretary of State Kerry oblivious to this reality just a year ago?

Consider the rest of Hillary’s record. Her most crucial decision as Senator came in 2002 when she voted to invade Iraq. She now concedes it was the greatest mistake of her Senate career.

She voted against the surge in 2006, but confided to Defense Secretary Bob Gates that she did so to maintain her political viability for 2008.

This is statesmanship? Not voting your convictions about what is best for your country at war, so as not to antagonize the liberals in the Iowa caucuses?

In 2009, Hillary presented a “reset button” to Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister. In 2011, she supported U.S. air strikes to bring down Col. Gadhafi and celebrated in Tripoli when he was overthrown and lynched.

How did that work out? Libya is today a hellhole of murder and mayhem and Islamists are threatening a takeover.

Who did Hillary think would rise when Gadhafi fell?

Hillary’s failure to anticipate or prevent the Benghazi massacre and her role in the botched cover-up, all concede, are burdens she will carry into the primaries in 2016, should she run.

Where, then, has Hillary exhibited the acumen to suggest she would be a wise and savvy steward of U.S. foreign policy in a disintegrating world?

Is this a convincing argument for the Republican alternative?

Hardly. The principal GOP voices on foreign policy, who get more airtime than Wolf Blitzer, are John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Their track record: McCain wanted to confront Putin over South Ossetia. He and Graham wanted to arm Ukrainians to fight the Russians in Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk. They wanted Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia brought into NATO, so that if war were to break out, we would be fighting the Russians alongside them.

This year, Graham was trolling around a Senate resolution to give Obama a blank check to attack Iran.

Last year, McCain and Graham were for attacking Assad’s army. This year they are for bombing ISIS, which is attacking Assad’s army.

But if Hillary, McCain and Graham have been repeatedly wrong about Syria, what do we now? Answer: Stop and think.

First, this war in Syria and Iraq, like all such wars, is eventually going to be won by soldiers, by boots on the ground, by troops who can take and hold territory. And in such wars, as Napoleon said, God is on the side of the big battalions.

America should declare to friends and allies in the Middle East, as Nixon did to our friends and allies in Asia in the Guam Doctrine of 1969, that while we will stand with them when they are attacked, they, not we, will provide the soldiers for their own defense.

No nation is less threatened by ISIS than ours. And as the Syrians, Turks, Kurds and Iraqis have the proximity and manpower to defeat ISIS, they should do this job themselves.

Turkey shares a 550-mile border with Syria and could march in and crush ISIS. But if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wishes to play games with ISIS, out of hatred of Assad, let him and the Turks live with the consequences.

As for Syria’s army and regime, which either defeats ISIS or dies, let us cease impeding their efforts by backing a Free Syrian Army that has rarely won a battle and is only bleeding the Syrian army.

Kurdistan and its ethnic cousins in Syria, Turkey and Iran are capable of defending themselves, and we should encourage any nation, including Iran, that is willing to send them the weapons to fight ISIS.

As for Baghdad, if it wants its Sunni lands back, it either should fight for them or accept their loss. We Americans are living today with the consequences, in considerable losses of blood and treasure, of fighting other people’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Yet, we are suffering not at all from having kept out of other people’s wars — in Georgia, Crimea, Donetsk, Syria and Iran.

Speaking of the debate over U.S. air strikes in Syria, the New York Times writes, “There are too many unanswered questions to make that decision now, and there has been far too little public discussion for Mr. Obama to expect Americans to rally behind what could be another costly military commitment.”

Sometimes the Times gets it right.

Let Congress Vote on Iraq War III

Let Congress Vote on Iraq War III

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Last week, we were told there were 40,000 Yazidis on Sinjar Mountain facing starvation if they remained there, and slaughter by ISIS if they came down.

But a team of Marines and Special Forces that helicoptered in has reported back that, with a corridor off the mountain opened up by U.S. air strikes, the humanitarian crisis is over. The few thousand who remain can be airdropped food and water. The rest can be brought out.

The emergency over, President Obama should think long and hard about launching a new air war in Iraq or Syria. For Iraq War III holds the promise of becoming another Middle East debacle, and perhaps the worst yet.

America would be entering this war utterly divided. We are not even agreed on who the enemies are. Hillary Clinton thinks we should be tougher on Iran and that Obama blundered by not aiding the Syrian rebels when they first rose up to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

Veteran diplomats Ryan Crocker, William Luers and Thomas Pickering argue that Assad is not the real enemy. The Islamic State is, and we should consider a ceasefire between the Free Syrian Army and Assad.

“It makes no sense for the West to support a war against Assad as well as a war against the Islamic State,” they write, “Assad is evil but … he is certainly the lesser evil.”

Crocker-Luers-Pickering also argue that the crisis calls for the United States to accept the nuclear deal with Iran that was on the table in July and work with Tehran against ISIS. Iranians and Americans are already rushing weapons to the Kurds, who have sustained a string of defeats at the hands of the Islamic State.

“A new strategic relationship between the United States and Iran may seem impossible and risky,” the diplomats write, “yet it is also necessary and in the interests of both. While an alliance is out of the question, mutually informed parallel action is necessary.”

If we could work with the monster Stalin to defeat Hitler, is colluding with the Ayatollah beyond the pale?

Other arguments shout out against a new American war.

How could we win such a war without the U.S. ground troops Obama pledged never to send, and the American people do not want sent?

Air power may keep ISIS from overrunning Irbil and Baghdad, but carrier-based air cannot reconquer the vast territory the Islamic State has occupied in Iraq.

Nor can it defeat ISIS in Syria.

If Obama did launch an air war on ISIS in Syria, our de facto ally and principal beneficiary of those strikes would be the same Syrian regime that Obama and John Kerry wanted to bomb a year ago, until the American people told them no and Congress refused to vote them the authority.

For such reasons, the demand of Sens. Tim Kaine and Rand Paul — that before Obama takes us back to war in Iraq, or into a new war in Syria, Congress must debate and authorize this war — is a constitutional and political imperative.

The questions Congress needs to answer are obvious and numerous.

Who exactly is our enemy? ISIS only, or Assad, Hezbollah and Iran as well? Will our involvement be restricted to air power — fighter-bombers, gunships, cruise missiles, drones? Or should the president be authorized to send U.S. ground troops to fight?

If we are to be restricted to air power, is it to be confined to Iraq, or can it be used in Syria — and against Assad as well as ISIS?

If U.S. combat troops cannot be used, what are the prospects of expelling ISIS from Iraq? And if we should drive them out, what is the probability they will come back as soon as we leave, especially if we have left them in control of northern Syria?

Is annihilation of ISIS the only permanent solution? How long and bloody a war would that require?

Will the president be authorized to coordinate war planning with Tehran? And if Assad is to become our de facto ally, should we end our support for the Free Syrian Army and negotiate an armistice and amnesty for the FSA?

Congress must be forced to debate and vote on this war, first, so we can hold them accountable for what is to come. Second, so we can force them to come to consensus on just what kind of outcome in this region is acceptable, and attainable, and at what cost.

What will victory look like? What will be the cost in blood and treasure? How long are we prepared to fight this war, an end to which does not today seem to be anywhere in sight?

How reasonable is it to expect that the Kurdish peshmerga and an Iraqi Army that fled Kirkuk, Fallujah and Mosul, will be able to recapture the Sunni regions of Iraq?

Finally, why is this our fight, 6,000 miles away, and not theirs?