Is Putin the Provocateur in the Kerch Crisis?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

On departure for the G-20 gathering in Buenos Aires, President Donald Trump canceled his planned weekend meeting with Vladimir Putin, citing as his reason the Russian military’s seizure and holding of three Ukrainian ships and 24 sailors.

But was Putin really the provocateur in Sunday’s naval clash outside Kerch Strait, the Black Sea gateway to the Sea of Azov?

Or was the provocateur Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko?

First, a bit of history.

In 2014, after the pro-Russian regime in Kiev was ousted in a coup, and a pro-NATO regime installed with U.S. backing, Putin detached and annexed Crimea, for centuries the homeport of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

With the return of Crimea, Russia now occupied both sides of Kerch Strait. And this year, Russia completed a 12-mile bridge over the strait and Putin drove the first truck across.

The Sea of Azov became a virtual Russian lake, access to which was controlled by Russia, just as access to the Black Sea is controlled by Turkey.

While the world refused to recognize the new reality, Russia began to impose rules for ships transiting the strait, including 48 hours notice to get permission.

Ukrainian vessels, including warships, would have to notify Russian authorities before passing beneath the Kerch Strait Bridge into the Sea of Azov to reach their major port of Mariupol.

Sunday, two Ukrainian artillery ships and a tug, which had sailed out of Odessa in western Ukraine, passed through what Russia now regards as its territorial waters off Crimea and the Kerch Peninsula. Destination: Mariupol.

The Ukrainian vessels refused to obey Russian directives to halt.

Russian warships fired at the Ukrainian vessels and rammed the tug. Three Ukrainian sailors were wounded, and 24 crew taken into custody.

Russia’s refusal to release the sailors was given by President Trump as the reason for canceling his Putin meeting.

Moscow contends that Ukraine deliberately violated the new rules of transit that Kiev had previously observed, to create an incident.

For his part, Putin has sought to play the matter down, calling it a “border incident, nothing more.”

“The incident in the Black Sea was a provocation organized by the authorities and maybe the president himself. … (Poroshenko’s) rating is falling … so he needed to do something.”

Maxim Eristavi, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, seems to concur:

“Poroshenko wants to get a head start in his election campaign. He is playing the card of commander in chief, flying around in military uniform, trying to project that he is in control.”

Our U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, however, accused Russia of “outlaw actions” against the Ukrainian vessels and “an arrogant act the international community will never accept.”

Predictably, our interventionists decried Russian “aggression” and demanded we back up our Ukrainian “ally” and send military aid.

Why was Poroshenko’s ordering of gunboats into the Sea of Azov, while ignoring rules Russia set down for passage, provocative?

Because Poroshenko, whose warships had previously transited the strait, had to know the risk that he was taking and that Russia might resist.

Why would he provoke the Russians?

Because, with his poll numbers sinking badly, Poroshenko realizes that unless he does something dramatic, his party stands little chance in next March’s elections.

Immediately after the clash, Poroshenko imposed martial law in all provinces bordering Russia and the Black Sea, declared an invasion might be imminent, demanded new Western sanctions on Moscow, called on the U.S. to stand with him, and began visiting army units in battle fatigues.

Some Westerners want even more in the way of confronting Putin.

Adrian Karatnycky of the Atlantic Council urges us to build up U.S. naval forces in the Black Sea, send anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, ratchet up sanctions on Russia, threaten to expel her from the SWIFT system of international bank transactions, and pressure Europe to cancel the Russians’ Nord Stream 2 and South Stream oil pipelines into Europe.

But there is a larger issue here.

Why is control of the Kerch Strait any of our business?

Why is this our quarrel, to the point that U.S. strategists want us to confront Russia over a Crimean Peninsula that houses the Livadia Palace that was the last summer residence of Czar Nicholas II?

If Ukraine had a right to break free of Russia in 1991, why do not Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk have the right to break free of Kiev?

Why are we letting ourselves be dragged into everyone’s quarrels — from who owns the islets in the South China Sea, to who owns the Senkaku and Southern Kurils; and from whether Transnistria had a right to secede from Moldova, to whether South Ossetia and Abkhazia had the right to break free of Georgia, when Georgia broke free of Russia?

Do the American people care a fig for these places? Are we really willing to risk war with Russia or China over who holds title to them?

Should US-Saudi Alliance Be Saved?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Over the weekend Donald Trump warned of “severe punishment” if an investigation concludes that a Saudi hit team murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Riyadh then counter-threatened, reminding us that, as the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia “plays an impactful and active role in the global economy.”

Message: Sanction us, and we may just sanction you.

Some of us yet recall how President Nixon’s rescue of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War triggered a Saudi oil embargo that led to months of long gas lines in the United States, and contributed to Nixon’s fall.

Yesterday, a week after Jared Kushner had been assured by his friend Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Khashoggi walked out of the consulate, Trump put through a call to King Salman himself.

According to a Trump tweet, the king denied “any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen.'”

Trump said he was “immediately” sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh to meet with the king on the crisis. The confrontation is escalating. Crown Prince Mohammed and King Salman have both now put their nation’s honor and credibility on the line.

Both are saying that what the Turks claim they can prove — Khashoggi was tortured and murdered in the consulate, cut up, and his body parts flown to Saudi Arabia — is a lie.

For Trump and the U.S., this appears a classic case of the claims of international morality clashing with the claims of national interest.

The archetype occurred in the mid-1870s when Ottoman Turks perpetrated a slaughter of Bulgarian Christians under their rule.

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Former Prime Minister William Gladstone set Britain ablaze with a pamphlet titled, “The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East,” calling for the expulsion of the Turks from Europe.

Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and Queen Victoria were apoplectic. For they were relying on the Turks to block the encroachment of Czarist Russia into the Eastern Balkans and down to the Turkish Straits.

Disraeli prevailed. The Brits put morality on the shelf.

For the U.S., morality and interests collided when FDR recognized the Bolshevik regime of Joseph Stalin in 1933, even as Stalin’s agents were starving to death millions of Ukrainian peasants and landowners.

Foreign policy moralists also took a holiday to cheer Nixon for flying to Peking and toasting Mao Zedong, even as Chairman Mao’s Red Guards were carrying out the national pogrom known as the Cultural Revolution.

Questions arise: If Khashoggi was assassinated and the order came from the royal family, does that make the Saudis morally unacceptable to us as allies or partners in the Middle East? And if it does, how do we justify our Cold War ties to autocrats such as Chile’s Gen. Pinochet, South Korea’s Gen. Park Chung-hee, the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos, or the Shah of Iran?

How did Franklin Roosevelt handle such associations? “He may be an SOB,” FDR said of one Caribbean dictator, “but he’s our SOB.”

During World War II, when the Germans uncovered in the Katyn Forest a vast gravesite containing the remains of thousands from Poland’s officer corps, dating to Stalin’s occupation, Poles in Britain came to Prime Minister Churchill to ask for an investigation.

Churchill, for whom Stalin was by now an indispensable ally, replied dismissively: “There is no use prowling round the three-year-old graves of Smolensk.”

Nor is it only during wartime that the U.S. has associated with authoritarians with repellent human rights records.

The U.S. maintains a treaty alliance with the Philippines of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has approved the extrajudicial killing of drug dealers, thousands of whom have been murdered.

Gen. el-Sissi came to power in Cairo in a military coup that ousted an elected government headed by a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who is, along with thousands of Brotherhood members, now in prison.

Since the coup attempt in NATO ally Turkey in 2017, President Recep Erdogan has imprisoned thousands, including more journalists than any country on earth.

Last week came reports that China has arrested the head of Interpol, and has indeed been operating an archipelago of re-education camps in its west to purge the ethnic and religious beliefs of the Uighur people.

As for Saudi Arabia, members of Congress are said to be readying sanctions to impose on the Saudi regime if it is proven Khashoggi was killed on royal orders.

However, which would be a greater violation of human rights: the sanctioned killing of a political enemy of the regime or 10,000 dead Yemenis, including women and children, and millions facing malnutrition and starvation in a Saudi war of aggression being fought with the complicity and cooperation of the United States?

Rather than resist Congress’ proposed sanctions, President Trump might take this opportunity to begin a long withdrawal from decades of entanglement in Mideast wars that have availed us nothing and cost us greatly.

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Has Russia Given Up on the West?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

By the end of his second term, President Ronald Reagan, who had called the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” was strolling through Red Square with Russians slapping him on the back.

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.

And how have we husbanded the fruits of our Cold War triumph?

This month, China’s leader-for-life Xi Jinping stood beside Vladimir Putin as 3,000 Chinese troops maneuvered with 300,000 Russians, 1,000 planes and 900 tanks in Moscow’s largest military exercise in 40 years.

An uncoded message to the West from the East.

Richard Nixon’s great achievement in bringing Peking in from the cold, and Reagan’s great achievement of ending the Cold War, are history.

Bolshevism may be dead, but Russian nationalism, awakened by NATO’s quick march to Russia’s ancient frontiers, is alive and well.

Russia appears to have given up on the West and accepted that its hopes for better times with President Donald Trump are not to be.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is berating Russia for secretly trading with North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions, saying, “Lying, cheating, and rogue behavior have become the new norm of the Russian culture.”

Cold wars don’t get much colder than defaming another country’s culture as morally debased.

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The U.S. has also signaled that it may start supplying naval and anti-aircraft weaponry to Ukraine, as Russia is being warned to cease its inspections of ships passing from the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov.

The three-mile-wide strait lies between Crimea and Kerch Peninsula. In Russia’s eyes, both banks of the strait are Russian national territory.

With U.S. backing, Ukraine has decided to build a naval base on the Sea of Azov to “create conditions for rebuffing the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation in this region.”

Kiev has several patrol boats in the Sea of Azov, with a few more to be transferred there in coming months. Russia’s navy could sink those boats and wipe out that base in minutes.

Are we going to send our Navy across the Black Sea to protect Ukraine’s naval rights inside a sea that has been as historically Russian as the Chesapeake Bay is historically American?

Poland this week invited the U.S. to establish a major base on its soil, for which Poland would pay two billion dollars, to be called “Fort Trump.”

Trump seemed to like the idea, and the name.

Yet, the Bush II decision to install a missile defense system in Poland brought a Kremlin counter-move: the installation of nuclear-capable Iskander cruise missiles in Kaliningrad, the former German territory on Poland’s northern border annexed by Stalin at the end of World War II.

In the Balkans, over Russian protests, the U.S. is moving to bring Macedonia into NATO. But before Macedonia can join, half its voters have to come out on Sept. 30 to approve a change in the nation’s name to North Macedonia. This is to mollify Greece, which claims the birthplace of Alexander the Great as it own.

Where are we going with all this?

With U.S. warships making regular visits into the Eastern Baltic and Black Sea, the possibility of a new base in Poland, and growing lethal aid to Ukraine to fight pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass and the Russian navy on the Sea of Azov, are we not crowding the Russians a bit?

Are we confident the Russians will always back down?

When Georgia, believing it could kick Russian peacekeepers out and re-annex its seceded province of South Ossetia, attacked in August 2008, the Russian Army came crashing in and ran the Georgians out in 48 hours.

George W. Bush wisely decided not to issue an ultimatum or send troops. He ignored the hawks in his own party who had helped goad him into the great debacle of his presidency: Iraq.

So, what exactly is the U.S. grand strategy with regard to Russia?

What might be called the McCain wing of the Republican Party has sought to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, which would make the containment of Russia America’s policy in perpetuity.

Are the American people aware of the costs and risks inherent in such a policy? What are the prospects of Russia yielding always to U.S. demands? And are we not today stretched awfully thin?

Our share of the global economy is much shrunken from Reagan’s time. Our deficit is approaching $1 trillion. Our debt is surging toward 100 percent of GDP. Entitlements are consuming our national wealth.

We are committed to containing the two other greatest powers, Russia and China. We are tied down militarily in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, with the War Party beating the drums for another and larger war — with Iran. And we are sanctioning adversaries and allies for not following our leadership of the West and the world.

In looking at America’s global commitments, greatly expanded since our Cold War victory, one word come to mind: unsustainable.

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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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Balance Sheet of the Forever War

Balance Sheet of the Forever War

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end,” said Gen. John Nicholson in Kabul on his retirement Sunday after a fourth tour of duty and 31 months as commander of U.S. and NATO forces.

Labor Day brought news that another U.S. serviceman had been killed in an insider attack by an Afghan soldier.

Why do we continue to fight in Afghanistan?

“We continue to fight simply because we are there,” said retired Gen. Karl Eikenberry who preceded Gen. Nicholson.

“Absent political guidance and a diplomatic strategy,” Eikenberry told The New York Times, “military commanders have filled the vacuum by waging a war all agree cannot be won militarily.”

This longest war in U.S. history has become another no-win war.

Yet, if the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan were pulled out, the regime would fall, the Taliban would take over, and the massacres would begin.

So America stays in and soldiers on. For how long?

The 17th anniversary of 9/11, now imminent, appears a proper time to take inventory of our successes and failures in the forever wars of the Middle East into which America was plunged in this new century.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban presence is more pervasive in more provinces than at any time since the regime was overthrown in 2001.

In the seven-year Syrian civil war we helped to ignite by arming rebels to overthrow President Assad, the conflict appears headed for its largest, bloodiest and most decisive battle.

The Syrian army, backed by Russia and Iran, is preparing to attack Idlib province. Three million people live there and 70,000 rebels are encamped, including 10,000 al-Qaida fighters.

In a Monday tweet, President Donald Trump warned Syria against attacking Idlib, and warned Iran and Russia against joining any such attack: “The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.” America and Russia both have warships in the Eastern Med.

National Security Adviser John Bolton has warned that Syria’s use of gas in Idlib would trigger a U.S. military response. This is an invitation for the rebels in Idlib to conduct a false-flag gas attack to lure U.S. air power to their side.

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Monday in Damascus, the Iranian foreign minister said the time had come to eradicate the terrorist enclave in Idlib. If the Syrians, Russians and Iranians are not bluffing, and the U.S. warnings are serious, we may be headed for a U.S.-Russia clash inside Syria.

Yet, again, what vital interest of ours is imperiled in Idlib province?

On Monday, Saudi Arabia admitted to having made a mistake when, using a U.S.-made fighter-bomber, a school bus was attacked on Aug. 9, killing dozens of Yemeni children in that humanitarian horror of a war.

The Saudi campaign to crush the Houthi rebels and return the previous regime to power in Sanaa could never succeed were it not for U.S.-provided planes, missiles, bombs and air-to-air refueling.

We are thus morally responsible for what is happening.

In Libya, where we overthrew Moammar Gadhafi, rival factions now control Benghazi in the east and Tripoli in the west. August saw fighting break out in the capital, threatening the U.N.-backed unity government there.

In Iraq, which we invaded in 2003 to strip of weapons of mass destruction it did not have, and to bring the blessings of democracy to Mesopotamia, rival factions are struggling for power after recent elections saw pro-Iranian and anti-American forces gain ground.

Meanwhile, the Iranian currency is sinking as a November deadline approaches for Europe to choose between cutting ties to Iran or losing U.S. markets. While the Tehran regime has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if its oil is denied access to world markets, it faces economic strangulation if it does not submit to U.S. demands.

When one adds up the U.S. dead and wounded from the wars we have launched since 2001 with the Arab and Muslim wounded, killed, orphaned, widowed, uprooted and turned into refugees, as well as the trillions of dollars lost, what benefits are there on the other side of the ledger?

Now we appear to be moving to confront Russia in Ukraine.

In an interview with The Guardian last week, U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker said Washington is ready to build up Ukraine’s naval and air defense forces, given Russia’s continued support for separatists in the Donbass. The administration is “absolutely” prepared to supply new lethal weaponry, beyond the Javelin anti-tank missiles delivered in April.

But if a Ukrainian army moves against pro-Russian rebels in Luhansk and Donetsk, and Russia intervenes on the side of the rebels, are we really prepared to come to the aid of the Ukrainian army?

President Trump has yet to withdraw us from any of the wars he inherited, but he has kept us out of any new wars — a record worth preserving.

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Are the Interventionists Now Leaderless?

Are the Interventionists Now Leaderless?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“McCain’s Death Leaves Void” ran The Wall Street Journal headline over a front-page story that began:

“The death of John McCain will leave Congress without perhaps its loudest voice in support of the robust internationalism that has defined the country’s security relations since World War II.”

Certainly, the passing of the senator whose life story will dominate the news until he is buried at his alma mater, the Naval Academy, on Sunday, leaves America’s interventionists without their greatest champion.

No one around has the prestige or media following of McCain.

And the cause he championed, compulsive intervention in foreign quarrels to face down dictators and bring democrats to power, appears to be a cause whose time has passed.

When 9/11 occurred, America was united in crushing the al-Qaida terrorists who perpetrated the atrocities. John McCain then backed President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, which had no role in the attacks.

During Barack Obama’s presidency, he slipped into northern Syria to cheer rebels who had arisen to overthrow President Bashar Assad, an insurgency that led to a seven-year civil war and one of the great humanitarian disasters of our time.

McCain supported the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe and the Baltic, right up to Russia’s border. When Georgia invaded South Ossetia in 2008, and was expelled by the Russian army, McCain roared, “We are all Georgians now!”

He urged intervention. But Bush, his approval rating scraping bottom, had had enough of the neocon crusades for democracy.

McCain’s contempt for Vladimir Putin was unconstrained. When crowds gathered in Maidan Square in Kiev to overthrow an elected pro-Russian president, McCain was there, cheering them on.

He supported sending arms to the Ukrainian army to fight pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass. He backed U.S. support for Saudi intervention in Yemen. And this war, too, proved to be a humanitarian disaster.

John McCain was a war hawk, and proud of it. But by 2006, the wars he had championed had cost the Republican Party both houses of Congress.

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In 2008, when he was on the ballot, those wars helped cost him the presidency.

By 2016, the Republican majority would turn its back on McCain and his protege, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and nominate Donald Trump, who said he would seek to get along with Russia and extricate America from the wars into which McCain had helped plunge the country.

Yet, while interventionism now has no great champion and has proven unable to rally an American majority, it retains a residual momentum. This compulsion is pushing us to continue backing the Saudi war in Yemen and to seek regime change in Iran.

Yet if either of these enterprises holds any prospect of bringing about a more peaceful and prosperous Middle East, no one has made the case.

While the foreign policy that won the Cold War, containment, was articulated by George Kennan and pursued by presidents from Truman to Bush I, no grand strategy for the post-Cold War era has ever been embraced by a majority of Americans.

Bush I’s “New World Order” was rejected by Ross Perot’s economic patriots and Bill Clinton’s baby boomers who wanted to spend America’s peace dividend from our Cold War victory on America’s homefront.

As for the Bush II crusades for democracy “to end tyranny in our world,” the fruits of that Wilsonian idealism turned into ashes in our mouths.

But if the foreign policy agendas of Bush I and Bush II, along with McCain’s interventionism, have been tried and found wanting, what is America’s grand strategy?

What are the great goals of U.S. foreign policy? What are the vital interests for which all, or almost all Americans, believe we should fight?

“Take away this pudding; it has no theme,” said Churchill. Britain has lost an empire, but not yet found a role, was the crushing comment of Dean Acheson in 1962.

Both statements appear to apply to U.S. foreign policy in 2018.

We are bombing and fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, partly John McCain’s legacy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sent a virtual ultimatum to Iran. We have told North Korea, a nuclear power with the world’s fourth-largest army, either to denuclearize or the U.S. may use its military might to get the job done.

We are challenging Beijing in its claimed territorial waters of the South China Sea. From South Korea to Estonia, we are committed by solemn treaty to go to war if any one of dozens of nations is attacked.

Now one hears talk of an “Arab NATO” to confront the ayatollah’s Iran and its Shiite allies. Lest we forget, ISIS and al-Qaida are Sunni.

With all these war guarantees, the odds are excellent that one day we are going to be dragged in yet another war that the American people will sour upon soon after it begins.

Where is the American Kennan of the new century?

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Will Tribalism Trump Democracy?

Will Tribalism Trump Democracy?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

On July 19, the Knesset voted to change the nation’s Basic Law.

Israel was declared to be, now and forever, the nation-state and national home of the Jewish people. Hebrew is to be the state language.

Angry reactions, not only among Israeli Arabs and Jews, came swift.

Allan Brownfeld of the American Council for Judaism calls the law a “retreat from democracy” as it restricts the right of self-determination, once envisioned to include all within Israel’s borders, to the Jewish people. Inequality is enshrined.

And Israel, says Brownfeld, is not the nation-state of American Jews.

What makes this clash of significance is that it is another battle in the clash that might fairly be called the issue of our age.

The struggle is between the claims of tribe, ethnicity, peoples and nations, against the commands of liberal democracy.

In Europe, the Polish people seek to preserve the historic and ethnic character of their country with reforms that the EU claims violate Poland’s commitment to democracy.

If Warsaw persists, warns the EU, the Poles will be punished. But which comes first: Poland, or its political system, if the two are in conflict?

Other nations are ignoring the open-borders requirements of the EU’s Schengen Agreement, as they attempt to block migrants from Africa and the Middle East.

They want to remain who they are, open borders be damned.

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Britain is negotiating an exit from the EU because the English voted for independence from that transitional institution whose orders they saw as imperiling their sovereignty and altering their identity.

When Ukraine, in the early 1990s, was considering secession from Russia, Bush I warned Kiev against such “suicidal nationalism.”

Ukraine ignored President Bush. Today, new questions have arisen.

If Ukrainians had a right to secede from Russia and create a nation-state to preserve their national identity, do not the Russians in Crimea and the Donbass have the same right — to secede from Ukraine and rejoin their kinsmen in Russia?

As Georgia seceded from Russia at the same time, why do not the people of South Ossetia have the same right to secede from Georgia?

Who are we Americans, 5,000 miles away, to tell tribes, peoples and embryonic nations of Europe whether they may form new states to reflect and preserve their national identity?

Nor are these minor matters.

At Paris in 1919, Sudeten Germans and Danzig Germans were, against their will, put under Czech and Polish rule. British and French resistance to permitting these peoples to secede and rejoin their kinfolk in 1938 and 1939 set the stage for the greatest war in history.

Here in America, we, too, appear to be in an endless quarrel about who we are.

Is America a different kind of nation, a propositional nation, an ideological nation, defined by a common consent to the ideas and ideals of our iconic documents like the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg Address?

Or are we like other nations, a unique people with our own history, heroes, holidays, religion, language, literature, art, music, customs and culture, recognizable all over the world as “the Americans”?

Since 2001, those who have argued that we Americans were given, at the birth of the republic, a providential mission to democratize mankind, have suffered an unbroken series of setbacks.

Nations we invaded, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, to bestow upon them the blessings of democracy, rose up in resistance. What our compulsive interventionists saw as our mission to mankind, the beneficiaries saw as American imperialism.

And the culture wars on history and memory continue unabated.

According to The New York Times, the African-American candidate for governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams, has promised to sandblast the sculptures of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis off Stone Mountain.

The Republican candidate, Brian Kemp, has a pickup truck, which he promises to use to transfer illegal migrants out of Georgia and back to the border.

In Texas, a move is afoot to remove the name of Stephen Austin from the capital city, as Austin, in the early 1830s, resisted Mexico’s demands to end slavery in Texas when it was still part of Mexico.

One wonders when they will get around to Sam Houston, hero of Texas’ War of Independence and first governor of the Republic of Texas, which became the second slave republic in North America.

Houston, after whom the nation’s fourth-largest city is named, was himself, though a Unionist, a slave owner and an opponent of abolition.

Today, a large share of the American people loathe who we were from the time of the explorers and settlers, up until the end of segregation in the 1960s. They want to apologize for our past, rewrite our history, erase our memories and eradicate the monuments of those centuries.

The attacks upon the country we were and the people whence we came are near constant.

And if we cannot live together amicably, secession from one another, personally, politically, and even territorially, seems the ultimate alternative.

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