The Unpardonable Heresy of Tucker Carlson

The Unpardonable Heresy of Tucker Carlson

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Our diversity is our greatest strength.

After playing clips of Democratic politicians reciting that truth of modern liberalism, Tucker Carlson asked, “How, precisely, is diversity our strength? Since you’ve made this our new national motto, please be specific.”

Reaction to Carlson’s question, with some declaring him a racist for having raised it, suggests that what we are dealing with here is not a demonstrable truth but a creed not subject to debate.

Yet the question remains valid: Where is the scientific, historic or empirical evidence that the greater the racial, ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of a nation, the stronger it becomes?

From recent decades, it seems more true to say the reverse: The more diverse a nation, the greater the danger of its disintegration.

Ethnic diversity, after all, tore apart our mighty Cold War rival, splintering the Soviet Union into 15 nations, three of which — Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia — have since split further along ethnic lines.

Russia had to fight two wars to hold onto Chechnya and prevent the diverse peoples of the North Caucasus from splitting off on ethnic grounds, as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan had done.

Ethnic diversity then shattered Yugoslavia into seven separate nations.

And even as we proclaim diversity to be our greatest strength, nations everywhere are recoiling from it.

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The rise of populism and nationalism across Europe is a reaction to the new diversity represented by the Arab, Asian and African millions who have lately come, and the tens of millions desperate to enter.

Center-left and center-right parties are losing ground in European elections because they are seen as feckless in meeting what more and more indigenous Europeans believe to be an existential threat — mass migration from across the Med.

Japan’s population has ceased to grow, and each year brings fewer toddlers into its schools. Yet Tokyo resists the racial and ethnic diversity greater immigration would bring. Why, if diversity is a strength?

What South Koreans dream of is uniting again with the 22 million separated members of their national family who live in the North, but share the same history and blood.

This summer, in its Basic Law, Israel declared itself an ethnonational state and national home of the Jewish people. African migrants crossing the Sinai to seek sanctuary in Israel are unwelcome.

Consider China, which seeks this century to surpass America as the first power on earth. Does Xi Jinping welcome a greater racial, ethnic and cultural diversity within his county as, say, Barack Obama does in ours?

In his western province of Xinjiang, Xi has set up an archipelago of detention camps. Purpose: Re-educate his country’s Uighurs and Kazakhs by purging them of their religious and tribal identities, and making them and their children more like Han Chinese in allegiance to the Communist Party and Chinese nation.

Xi fears that the 10 million Uighurs of Xinjiang, as an ethnic and religious minority, predominantly Muslim, wish to break away and establish an East Turkestan, a nation of their own, out of China. And he is correct.

What China is doing is brutalitarian. But what China is saying with its ruthless policy is that diversity — religious, racial, cultural — can break us apart as it did the USSR. And we are not going to let that happen.

Do the Buddhists of Myanmar cherish the religious diversity that the Muslim Rohingya of Rakhine State bring to their country?

America has always been more than an idea, an ideology or a propositional nation. It is a country that belongs to a separate and identifiable people with its own history, heroes, holidays, symbols, songs, myths, mores — its own culture.

Again, where is the evidence that the more Americans who can trace their roots to the Third World, and not to Europe, the stronger we will be?

Is the Britain of Theresa May, with its new racial, religious and ethnic diversity, a stronger nation than was the U.K. of Lloyd George, which ruled a fourth of mankind in 1920?

Was it not the unity Bismarck forged among the diverse Germanic peoples, bringing them into a single nation under the Kaiser in 1871, that made Germany a far stronger and more formidable power in Europe?

Empires, confederations and alliances are multiethnic and multicultural. And, inevitably, their diversity pulls them apart.

The British Empire was the greatest in modern history. What tore it apart? Tribalism, the demands of diverse peoples, rooted in blood and soil, to be rid of foreign rule and to have their own place in the sun.

And who are loudest in preaching that our diversity is our strength?

Are they not the same people who told us that democracy was the destiny of all mankind and that, as the world’s “exceptional nation,” we must seize the opportunity of our global preeminence to impose its blessings on the less enlightened tribes of the Middle East and Hindu Kush?

If the establishment is proven wrong about greater diversity bringing greater strength to America, there will be no do-over for the USA.

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Trump’s Bold Historic Gamble

By Patrick J. Buchanan

President Donald Trump appears to belong to what might be called the Benjamin Disraeli school of diplomacy.

The British prime minister once counseled, “Everyone likes flattery; and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel.”

At his Singapore summit, Trump smartly saluted a North Korean general and then lavished praise on Kim Jong Un as a “strong guy” with a “good personality” and a “great negotiator.” “He’s funny, and … very, very smart … and a very strategic kind of a guy. … His country does love him.”

Predictably, Trump is being scourged for this.

Yet, during his trip to Peking in 1972, Richard Nixon did not confront Chairman Mao on his history of massacres and murder, though Nixon’s visit came in the midst of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, a nationwide pogrom.

Nor did Churchill or FDR at their wartime summits confront their ally Stalin for his legendary crimes against humanity. Both gushed over “Uncle Joe.”

Still, if the Trump-Kim camaraderie goes south and the crisis of 2017, when war seemed possible, returns, Trump, as he concedes, will be charged with naivety for having placed his trust in such a tyrant.

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Yet, to Trump’s credit, we are surely at a better place than we were a year ago when Kim was testing hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, and he and Trump were trading threats and insults in what seemed the prelude to a new Korean War.

Whatever one may think of his diplomacy, Trump has, for now, lifted the specter of nuclear war from the Korean peninsula and begun a negotiating process that could lead to tolerable coexistence.

The central questions to emerge from the summit are these: What does Kim want, and what is he willing to pay for it?

Transparently, he does not want a war with the United States. That black cloud has passed over. Second, Kim and North Korea have emerged from their isolation in as dramatic a fashion as did Mao’s China in 1972.

In 2018, the North was invited to the Seoul Olympics. Kim met twice with South Korea’s president and twice with China’s Xi Jinping. Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister stopped by. And Kim had a face-to-face summit with a U.S. president, something his grandfather and father never came close to achieving.

It is unlikely Kim will be retreating back into the cloisters of the Hermit Kingdom after being courted by the world’s foremost powers.

What does Trump have on offer to induce Kim to end the lifetime of hostility? It is a long menu of what Kim can expect if he will surrender his nuclear weapons and dismantle the factories and facilities that produce them.

Among the benefits proffered: recognition of his dynasty and U.S. security guarantees, an end of sanctions, foreign investment, a peace treaty signed by the United States to replace the 65-year-old armistice and the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula.

Trump has already attended to one of Kim’s complaints. The joint military exercises we have conducted annually with South Korea for decades have been declared by Trump to be “war games” and “very provocative” and have been suspended.

What is being asked of Kim in return?

He must provide an inventory of all nuclear weapons and where they are hidden, surrender them all, dismantle his plutonium and uranium production plants, and shut down his testing sites, all under the watch of U.S.-approved inspectors.

He must renounce any and all nuclear weapons forever, and accept a regime of international inspections that would guarantee he never cheats on that commitment.

Here is where the crunch comes. Kim is being told that he must give up the weapons whose very possession by him are the reason why the world powers are paying him heed.

As leader of a country with a per capita income smaller than Haiti’s, Kim is being told he must surrender the weapons that placed him and North Korea in the world’s most exclusive club, to which only eight other nations belong: the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan and Israel.

Will Kim, whose nuclear weapons have enabled him to strut on the world stage and trade insults with the president of the United States, give them up to become the leader of a poor backward nation, with half the population of South Korea and not even 4 percent of the economy of the South?

Will he give up his most reliable deterrent against an attack by the United States or China?

In the Kim-Trump relationship, this is where the rubber meets the road. Kim has seen how Americans treat nations — like Gadhafi’s Libya, Saddam’s Iraq, and Iran — that decline to develop or surrender the kind of weapons his country took decades to plan, test, produce and deploy.

Should Kim give up his nukes, what U.S. president would fly halfway around the world to meet him one-to-one?

Hence the crucial question: Will he ever really give them up?

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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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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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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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The Eternal Lure of Nationalism

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In a surprise overtime victory in the finals of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament, the Russians defeated Germany, 4-3.

But the Russians were not permitted to have their national anthem played or flag raised, due to a past doping scandal. So, the team ignored the prohibition and sang out the Russian national anthem over the sounds of the Olympic anthem.

One recalls the scene in “Casablanca,” where French patrons of Rick’s saloon stood and loudly sang the “La Marseillaise” to drown out the “Die Wacht am Rhein” being sung by a table of German officers.

When the combined North-South Korean Olympic team entered the stadium, Vice President Mike Pence remained seated and silent. But tens of thousands of Koreans stood and cheered the unified team.

America may provide a defensive shield for the South, but Koreans on both sides of the DMZ see themselves as one people. And, no fool, Kim Jong Un is exploiting the deep tribal ties he knows are there.

Watching the Russians defiantly belt out their anthem, one recalls also the 1968 summer Olympics in Mexico City where sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the podium, black gloved fists thrust skyward in a Black Power salute, asserting their separate racial identity

Western elites may deplore the return of nationalism. But they had best not dismiss it, for assertions of national and tribal identity appear to be what the future is going to be all about.

Some attendees at the CPAC conclave this past week were appalled that Britain’s Nigel Farage and France’s Marion Le Pen were present.

But Farage was the man most responsible for Brexit, the historic British decision to leave the EU. Le Pen is perhaps the most popular figure in a National Front party that won 35 percent of the vote in the runoff election won by President Emmanuel Macron.

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And the most unifying stand of the NF appears to be “Let France be France!” The French people do not want their country invaded by unassimilable millions of migrants from Africa and the Islamic world.

They want France to remain what she has been. Is this wrong?

Is preservation of a country, the national family one grew up in, not conservative?

In Hungary and Poland, ethnonationalism, the belief that nation-states are created and best suited to protect and defend a separate and unique people, with its separate and unique history and culture, is already ascendant.

Globalists may see the U.N., EU, NAFTA, TPP as stepping stones to a “universal nation” of all races, tribes, cultures and creeds. But growing numbers in every country, on every continent, reject this vision. And they are seeking to restore what their parents and grand-parents had, a nation-state that is all their own.

Nationalists like Farage, who seek to pull their countries out of socialist superstates like the EU, and peoples seeking to secede and set up new nations like Scotland, Catalonia, Corsica and Veneto today, and Quebec yesterday, are no more anti-conservative than the American patriots of Lexington and Concord who also wanted a country of their own.

Why are European peoples who wish to halt mass migration from across the Med, to preserve who and what they are, decried as racists?

Did not the peoples of African and Middle Eastern countries, half a century ago, expel the European settlers who helped to build those countries?

The Rhodesia of Spitfire pilot Ian Smith was a jewel of a nation of 250,000 whites and several million blacks that produced trade surpluses even when boycotted and sanctioned by a hating world.

When Smith was forced to yield power, “Comrade Bob” Mugabe took over and began the looting of white Rhodesians, and led his Shona tribesmen in a slaughter of the Matabele of rival Joshua Nkomo.

Eighty-five percent of the white folks who lived in Rhodesia, prior to “majority rule,” are gone from Zimbabwe. More than half of the white folks who made South Africa the most advanced and prosperous country on the continent are gone.

Are these countries better places than they were? For whom?

Looking back over this 21st century, the transnational elite that envisions the endless erosion of national sovereignty, and the coming of a new world order of open borders, free trade and global custody of mankind’s destiny, has triggered a counter-revolution.

Does anyone think Angela Merkel looks like the future?

Consider the largest countries on earth. In China, ethnonationalism, not the ruling Communist Party, unites and inspires 1.4 billion people to displace the Americans as the first power on earth.

Nationalism sustains Vladimir Putin. Nationalism and its unique identity as a Hindu nation unites and powers India.

Here, today, it is “America First” nationalism.

Indeed, now that George W. Bush’s crusade for democracy has ended up like Peter the Hermit’s Children’s Crusade, what is the vision, what is the historic goal our elites offer to inspire and enlist our people?

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Little Rocket Man Wins the Round

By Patrick Buchanan

After a year in which he tested a hydrogen bomb and an ICBM, threatened to destroy the United States, and called President Trump “a dotard,” Kim Jong Un, at the gracious invitation of the president of South Korea, will be sending a skating team to the “Peace Olympics.”

An impressive year for Little Rocket Man.

Thus the most serious nuclear crisis since Nikita Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba appears to have abated. Welcome news, even if the confrontation with Pyongyang has probably only been postponed.

Still, we have been given an opportunity to reassess the 65-year-old Cold War treaty that obligates us to go to war if the North attacks Seoul, and drove us to the brink of war today.

2017 demonstrated that we need a reassessment. For the potential cost of carrying out our commitment is rising exponentially.

Two decades ago, a war on the Korean Peninsula, given the massed Northern artillery on the DMZ, meant thousands of U.S. dead.

Today, with Pyongyang’s growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, American cities could face Hiroshima-sized strikes, if war breaks out.

What vital U.S. interest is there on the Korean Peninsula that justifies accepting in perpetuity such a risk to our homeland?

We are told that Kim’s diplomacy is designed to split South Korea off from the Americans. And this is undeniably true.

For South Korean President Moon Jae-in is first and foremost responsible for his own people, half of whom are in artillery range of the DMZ. In any new Korean war, his country would suffer most.

And while he surely welcomes the U.S. commitment to fight the North on his country’s behalf as an insurance policy, Moon does not want a second Korean war, and he does not want President Trump making the decision as to whether there shall be one.

Understandably so. He is looking out for South Korea first.

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Yet Moon rightly credits Trump with bringing the North Koreans to the table: “I give President Trump huge credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, and I’d like to thank him for that.”

But again, what are the U.S. interests there that we should be willing to put at risk of nuclear attack tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Korea and our bases in Asia, and even our great cities, in a war that would otherwise be confined to the Korean Peninsula?

China shares a border with the North, but is not treaty-bound to fight on the North’s behalf. Russia, too, has a border with North Korea, and, with China, was indispensable to saving the North in the 1950-53 war. But Russia is not committed by any treaty to fight for the North.

Why, then, are Americans obligated to be among the first to die in a second Korean War? Why is the defense of the South, with 40 times the economy and twice the population of the North, our eternal duty?

Kim’s drive for a nuclear deterrent is propelled by both fear and calculation. The fear is that the Americans who detest him will do to him and his regime and country what they did to Saddam Hussein.

The calculation is that what Americans fear most, and the one thing that deters them, is nuclear weapons. Once Soviet Russia and Communist China acquired nukes, the Americans never attacked them.

If he can put nuclear weapons on U.S. troops in Korea, U.S. bases in Japan, and U.S. cities, Kim reasons, the Americans will not launch a war on him. Have not recent events proven him right?

Iran has no nuclear weapons and some Americans clamor daily for “regime change” in Tehran. But because Kim has nukes, the Americans appear more anxious to talk. His policy is succeeding.

What he is saying with his nuclear arsenal is: As you Americans have put my regime and country at risk of annihilation, I am going to put your cities at risk. If we go down in your nuclear “fire and fury,” so, too, will millions of Americans.

The whole world is watching how this plays out.

For the American Imperium, our system of alliances, is held together by a credible commitment: If you attack any of our scores of allies, you are at war with the United States.

From the Baltic to the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf, from the South China Sea to Korea and Japan today, the costs and the risks of maintaining the imperium are growing.

With all these promissory notes out there — guarantees to go to war for other nations — one is inevitably going to be called.

And this generation of Americans, unaware of what their grandfathers obligated them to do, will demand to know, as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan: What are we over doing there, on the other side of the world?

America First is more than a slogan.

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