Romney for President

Mitt Romney

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”

So wrote John Jay in Federalist No. 2, wherein he describes Americans as a “band of brethren united to each other by the strongest ties.”

That “band of brethren united” no longer exists.

No longer are we “descended from the same ancestors.”

Indeed, as we are daily instructed, it is our “diversity” — our citizens can trace their ancestors to every member state of the United Nations — that “is our strength.” And this diversity makes us a stronger, better country than the America of Eisenhower and JFK.

No longer do we speak the same language. To tens of millions, Spanish is their language. Millions more do not use English in their homes. Nor are their children taught in English in the schools.

As for “professing the same religion,” the Christianity of Jay and the Founding Fathers has been purged from all public institutions. One in 5 Americans profess no religious faith. The mainline Protestant churches — the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian — have been losing congregants for a half-century. Secularism is the religion of the elites. It alone is promulgated in public schools.

Are we attached to “the same principles of government”?

Half the nation believes it is the duty of government to feed, house, educate and medicate the population and endlessly extract from the well-to-do whatever is required to make everybody more equal.

Egalitarianism has triumphed over freedom. Hierarchy, the natural concomitant of freedom, is seen as undemocratic.

Are we similar “in our manners and customs”? Are we agreed upon what is good or even tolerable in music, literature, art?

Do we all seek to live by the same moral code? Abortion, a felony in the 1950s, is now a constitutional right. Homosexual marriage, an absurdity not long ago, is the civil rights cause du jour.

Dissent from the intolerant new orthodoxy and you are a bigot, a hater, a homophobe, an enemy of women’s rights.

Recent wars — Vietnam, Iraq — have seen us not “fighting side by side” but fighting side against side.

Racially, morally, politically, culturally, socially, the America of Jay and the Federalist Papers is ancient history. Less and less do we have in common. And to listen to cable TV is to realize that Americans do not even like one another. If America did not exist as a nation, would these 50 disparate states surrender their sovereignty and independence to enter such a union as the United States of 2012?

Nor are we unique in sensing that we are no longer one. Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders maneuver to break free of the nations that contain their peoples. All over the world, peoples are disaggregating along the lines of creed, culture, tribe and faith.

What has this to do with the election of 2012? Everything.

For if America is to endure as a nation, her peoples are going to need the freedom to live differently and the space to live apart, according to their irreconcilable beliefs. Yet should Barack Obama win, the centralization of power and control will continue beyond the point of no return.

His replacement of any retiring Supreme Court justice with another judicial activist — a Sonia Sotomayor, an Elena Kagan — would negate a half-century of conservative labors and mean that abortion on demand — like slavery, a moral abomination to scores of millions — is forever law in all 50 states.

President Obama speaks now of a budget deal in which Democrats agree to $2.50 in spending cuts if the Republicans agree to $1 in tax increases. But given the character of his party — for whom Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, Head Start, earned income tax credits and Pell Grants are holy icons — any deal Obama cuts with Republicans in return for higher taxes will be like the deal Ronald Reagan eternally regretted.

The tax hikes become permanent; the budget cuts are never made.

In the first debate, Mitt Romney said that in crafting a budget that consumes a fourth of the economy, he would ask one question: “Is the program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?”

If a President Romney held to that rule, it would spell an end to any new wars of choice and all foreign aid and grants to global redistributionsts — such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It would entail a review of all U.S. alliances dating back to the Cold War, which have U.S. troops on every continent and in a hundred countries.

Obama offers more of the stalemate America has gone through for the past two years.

Romney alone offers a possibility of hope and change.

McGovern & Goldwater: Losers or Winners?

Goldwater for President

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Early in Ronald Reagan’s second term, Bill Rusher, the publisher of National Review, was interviewing the president in the Oval Office for a documentary on the conservative movement.

Rusher asked how he would describe Barry Goldwater‘s role.

Reagan thought a moment and replied: I guess you would have to call him the John the Baptist of our movement.

I resisted the impulse to lean in and ask, “Sir, if Barry Goldwater was John the Baptist, who would that make you?”

The death of George McGovern brought back thoughts of these two men who suffered two of the greatest defeats in presidential history.

McGovern was an unapologetic liberal from South Dakota. Goldwater was Mr. Conservative and proud of it. Both had been World War II pilots. Goldwater had flown “over the hump,” the Himalayas, into China. George McGovern flew bombing runs over the Ploesti oil fields.

McGovern had been at the Progressive Party convention in 1948 that nominated Henry Wallace to run against Harry Truman. Goldwater voted against the Senate censure of Joe McCarthy in 1954 and was one of only six Republicans to oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In 1964, Goldwater led his party to a 22-point defeat at the hands of Lyndon Johnson, winning only five states of the Deep South and Arizona.

Eight years later, McGovern lost every state but Massachusetts to Richard Nixon in the worst rout ever sustained by a nominee of his party. In 1984, McGovern would be joined in that dubious distinction of a 49-state defeat by Walter Mondale.

Yet unlike others who have lost presidential bids in modern times — Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole, Al Gore, John Kerry, John McCain — Goldwater and McGovern proved to be men ahead of their time.

Though a reluctant candidate who had to be “drafted,” Goldwater became the political instrument of a rising conservative movement that used his campaign to tear the Republican Party away from an Eastern liberal establishment that had controlled it for generations and dictated its nominees.

In 1960, Vice President Nixon had traveled to New York to cut a deal with and mollify Nelson Rockefeller. But by 1968, it was the endorsement of Goldwater and conservatives like John Tower of Texas and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina that were Nixon’s keys to the nomination. After 1964, the liberal establishment never again imposed a nominee on the GOP.

But between the movement that captured the nomination for Goldwater and the cause that captured the Democratic Party for McGovern, there were differences not only of philosophy.

The Goldwater people were rebels. They wanted to overthrow and displace the old leadership. Many McGovernites were revolutionaries.

Where conservatives sought a party more true to its principles, many McGovernites wanted to change America into another country — more statist, egalitarian, permissive. They did not like the country they grew up in. The Goldwaterites wished to restore the best of those times.

“Why Not Victory” was the title of Goldwater’s book on the Cold War. “Come Home, America” was McGovern’s slogan.

Where McGovern sought to end the war in Vietnam, some of his supporters thought America was on the wrong side of that war and on the wrong side of the Cold War. They marched under Viet Cong flags, chanting: “Ho! Ho! Ho! Chi Minh — The NLF is going to win.”

With McGovern’s nomination, conservatives in the Democratic Party who had voted for George Wallace or Hubert Humphrey in 1968 moved in the millions into Nixon’s New Majority and would remain there until the end of the Cold War. They became the Reagan Democrats.

Whatever McGovern’s personal views, his campaign became the vehicle of the counterculture of the 1960s, of the feminist and homosexual rights movements, of antiwar activists and student radicals, of Harvard and the Hollyleft, all of whom were in those years cordially detested by Middle America.

Goldwater’s nomination ripped the Republican Party asunder. But Nixon, the most skillful politician of his generation, was able to stitch it back together by 1968 to win the presidency.

McGovern’s nomination run replicated Goldwater’s. His people had written the rules for the 1972 delegate selection process and written the bosses out. The nomination would be decided in state conventions, caucuses and primaries, as it was in the Goldwater campaign.

The Goldwater nomination left conservatives in the GOP with the power to nominate one of their own every four years, or to veto any non-conservative. No Republican ticket after Goldwater would be without a conservative. In 1976, the right would force Gerald Ford to dump his vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, as the price of its support.

McGovern’s followers never captured the presidency, as the right did with Reagan. But the counterculture for which his campaign was the earliest political expression became the dominant culture of America’s social, cultural and intellectual elite. We live with the consequences still.

And only that altered culture could have opened the door of the presidency to a man of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama’s background.

Negotiations — or War With Iran?

Nuclear Blast

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“It would be unconscionable to go to war if we haven’t had such discussions,” said Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state in the Bush administration, of reports the Obama White House has agreed to one-on-one talks with Tehran over its nuclear program.

Sen. Lindsey Graham dissented Sunday: “I think the time for talking is over. … We talk, they enrich. It needs to stop. We need to have red lines coordinated with Israel and end this before it gets out of hand.”

Clearly, Graham believes an ultimatum, followed by an attack if Iran denies us “access to their nuclear program,” is the way to “end this.”

What kind of attack?

According to David Rothkopf, writing in Foreign Policy magazine, U.S. and Israeli military authorities are discussing a joint attack, and the idea getting the most traction is “a U.S.-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities.”

“The strike might take only ‘a couple of hours’ in the best case and only would involve ‘a day or two’ overall, the source said, and would be conducted by air, using primarily bombers and drone support.”

Smashing the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow, writes Rothkopf, would mean “setting the Iranian nuclear program back many years, and doing so without civilian casualties.”

This would have “region-wide benefits,” writes Rothkopf.

“One advocate asserts it would be a ‘transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the (Persian) Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.'”

Thus, according to Rothkopf and his source, a U.S. attack on Iran‘s enrichment facilities would produce the same glorious benefits we were promised if only we would invade and occupy Iraq in 2003.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has another view. “The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could … prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.” What consequences might Gates have in mind?

Iran might mine the Persian Gulf, sending ships to the bottom, halting traffic, doubling the price of oil and plunging Europe into the economic abyss on the edge of which the continent stands today.

U.S. ships might face swarm attacks from Iranian speedboats, forcing us to sink the Iranian Navy’s surface ships and destroy the hundreds of fast missile boats in the gulf and Iranian ports.

Iran could send its submarines out and fire its anti-ship missiles to sink a U.S. warship. Iranian missile attacks on U.S. bases in Bahrain and the gulf region could ignite an all-out air and sea war, with the U.S. having to destroy Iranian air fields, antiaircraft and missile sites, and Iran‘s remaining nuclear facilities.

The U.S. could face the kind of attacks across the region that Ronald Reagan confronted when he put Marines in Beirut, with the U.S. embassy blown up and 241 Marines massacred by a suicide truck bomber.

And if after months we had smashed Iran as we did Iraq in Desert Storm, would the regime give way to a pro-Western democracy? Or would the result in Iran look like what exists today in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan?

Syria is breaking apart into Sunni and Alawite, Arab, Kurd and Druze, Christian and Muslim, Islamist and secular. Afghanistan is dissolving into Tajik and Uzbek in the north, Hazara in the center, and Pashtun in the south and east. Iraq is losing Kurdistan and reverting to civil-sectarian war.

A U.S. defeat of Iran could bring to power revanchists bent on payback through terrorism and propel that half of the population that is Arab, Baluch, Kurd and Azeri to try to break away.

Who would benefit from a breakup of Iran, other than jihadists?

Iran would surely stir up Hezbollah to rain down rockets on Israel and incite the Shia in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to rise against the regimes there.

Would Shia in Iraq attack the U.S. embassy in Baghdad? We cannot know, but Gates is surely right that the consequences could be catastrophic.

Which raises the question. Why are we even talking about war?

Sen. Graham notwithstanding, the sanctions are working. The Iranian economy is sinking into recession, oil revenues have fallen, and hard currency reserves are being depleted. And what is the grave threat that justifies a war?

While Iran is enriching uranium to 20 percent, it has not enriched to weapons grade. Should they do so, we would know it. Ayatollah Khamenei has called nuclear weapons anti-Islamic, and the U.S. intelligence community says Iran has no nuclear bomb program.

America’s position as of today is: We do not want war with Iran, but will tolerate no Iranian bomb. Iran‘s official position is: We want no bomb, and we are willing to negotiate, but we have a right to have a peaceful nuclear program.

Can we find no common ground here?

Gates and Burns are right. Before we go to war, let us find out, in face-to-face talks if need be, if we really have to go to war.

Will Obama Paint Romney As Warmonger?

Flag Draped Coffins

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Usually, not always, the peace party wins.

Gen. Sherman’s burning of Atlanta and March to the Sea ensured Abraham Lincoln’s re-election in 1864.

William McKinley, with his triumph over Spain and determination to pacify and hold the Philippines, easily held off William Jennings Bryan in 1900.

Yet Woodrow Wilson won in 1916 on the slogan, “He Kept Us Out of War!” And Dwight Eisenhower won a landslide with his declaration about the stalemate in Harry Truman’s war: “I shall go to Korea.”

Richard Nixon pledged in 1968 that “new leadership will end the war and win the peace.” Vice President Hubert Humphrey, behind by double digits on Oct. 1, promised to halt the bombing of North Vietnam. He united his party and closed the gap to less than a point by Election Day.

George McGovern ran as an antiwar candidate in 1972. By November, almost all U.S. troops were home from Vietnam, however, and in late October Henry Kissinger had announced, “Peace is at hand.” Nixon had expropriated the peace issue. Result: 49 states.

Today, after the longest wars in our history in Afghanistan and Iraq, Americans are sick over the 6,500 dead and 40,000 wounded, fed up with the $2 trillion in costs, and disillusioned with the results that a decade of sacrifice has produced in Baghdad and Kabul.

Aware of this war weariness, especially among women, President Obama and Vice President Biden seem intent on appearing before the nation on Election Day as the sole peace party. This fact leaps out of a close read of Biden’s debate transcript.

Lost in his manic grinning and mocking laughter at Paul Ryan‘s points and rude interruptions was a recurring theme: President Obama ended the war in Iraq and is dialing back the war in Afghanistan, but Ryan and Romney seem to be looking to new military interventions in Syria and Iran.

Consider but a few Biden comments nestled in the transcript of his half of that 90-minute debate.

“The last thing we need now is another war.”

“Are you (Ryan) … going to go to war?”

“We will not let them (the Iranians) acquire a nuclear weapon, period, unless he’s (Ryan) talking about going to war.”

“War should always be the absolute last resort.”

“He (Ryan) voted to put two wars on a credit card.”

“We’ve been in this war (Afghanistan) for over a decade. … We are leaving in 2014, period.”

About intervention in Syria, Biden said: “The last thing America needs is to get into another ground war in the Middle East, requiring tens of thousands if not well over a hundred thousand American forces.”

This drumbeat, implying Romney and Ryan are champing at the bit to get into the war in Syria or into a new war with Iran, was deliberate.

Biden’s words almost surely reflect what Democratic focus groups, pollsters, political analysts and pundits are advising the party to say and do: Play the peace card Monday night in Boca Raton, Fla., and tag Romney-Ryan as a trigger-happy ticket of the war party.

The charges Romney is likely to hear from the president and the questions he is likely to face from the moderator, pushing him toward bellicosity, are not that difficult to discern.

“Governor, President Obama has said Iran will not be allowed to get a nuclear weapon. You have said Iran will not be allowed to have a ‘nuclear weapons capability.’ What is the difference? Doesn’t Iran already have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon? What will you do about it?”

“Governor, Paul Ryan said in his debate Iran ‘is racing toward a nuclear weapon.” But 16 U.S. intelligence agencies said in 2007 and reaffirmed in 2011 that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. What is your evidence that Iran is ‘racing toward a nuclear weapon?'”

“Governor, you have said of America and Israel, ‘The world must never see daylight between our two nations.’ Does that mean if Israel attacks Iran, you would take us to war on Israel‘s side?”

“Governor, at VMI you said, ‘In Syria, I will work … to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters and fighter jets.’ Would you give surface-to-air missiles to the Syrian rebels?”

“Governor, Japan and China are at sword’s point over the Senkaku Islands. If war breaks out, are we obligated by our alliance with Japan to come to her defense?”

The Republican peril in Boca Raton is that headlines the next day will have Romney, consciously or inadvertently, laying down some marker for a new war.

Peace through strength,” the Eisenhower-Reagan slogan, is the GOP slogan that still resonates with American voters.

Even in 1940, FDR, though plotting war, ran as a peace candidate:

“I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

Hopefully, Gov. Romney will say something like this, and mean it.

Behind the Benghazi Cover-Up

President Obama

By Patrick J. Buchanan

On Sept. 11, scores of men with automatic weapons and RPGs launched a night assault on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and set the building ablaze. Using mortars, they launched a collateral attack on a safe house, killing two more Americans, as other U.S. agents fled to the airport.

On Sept. 14, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the attack came out of a spontaneous protest caused by an anti-Muslim video on YouTube.

On Sept. 16, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told the entire nation the attack had not been premeditated or preplanned but emanated from a spontaneous protest of the nasty video.

On Sept. 25, Obama at the United Nations mentioned the video six times.

But when they were pushing this tale, what did the White House actually know?

For we have now learned that the assault was observed in near real time by the State Department’s Charlene Lamb, who was in contact with the security section at the Benghazi compound.

The next day, Sept. 12, Fox News and Eli Lake of The Daily Beast reported that U.S. intelligence had concluded it was terrorism. Within 24 hours of the attack, U.S. intelligence had identified some of the terrorists as members of an al-Qaida affiliate.

Thus either administration higher-ups were ignorant for more than a week of what their own agents knew, and are thus manifestly incompetent, or they colluded in a cover-up and orchestrated deception.

As the facts are revealed, the weight of evidence tilts toward the latter conclusion.

Why? Because we now know there never was any protest at the Benghazi compound — not against an anti-Muslim video or anything else.

And if there was no protest, who sent Carney out to blame the attack on the protest? And if there was no protest, who programmed Rice and put her on five separate Sunday talk shows to attribute the massacre to a protest that never happened?

If real-time intelligence and U.S. agents at the scene knew it was premeditated, preplanned terrorism by Sept. 12, who told Rice to deny specifically on Sept. 16 that the attack was premeditated or preplanned?

Indeed, why was Rice sent out at all? She is not in the chain of command. Why she accepted the assignment is obvious. She wants to be Hillary Clinton’s successor as secretary of state. But who put her up to this? Who pushed her out front to mislead us?

The CIA’s David Petraeus or Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should have been sent out to say what we knew, five days after the massacre. As Chris Stevens reported to the secretary of state and President Obama, why was Hillary or National Security Adviser Tom Donilon not sent out to explain what had happened to Stevens and the others?

Looking back, Carney and Rice appear to have been used by their superiors.

Carney would never have gone out to speculate on his own about what happened in Benghazi. His line on Sept. 14 had to have been fed to him by the White House chief of staff, Donilon, Obama or all of them.

As for Rice, someone contacted those five TV networks to put her on. And the party line she delivered — the opposite of the truth — had to have been fed to her, almost word for word — by Donilon or the chief of staff.

Could Donilon or Hillary have been in the dark about what Rice was going to say? Could they have still been in the dark about what had happened five days before in Benghazi, when Hillary’s own deputy Charlene Lamb had followed the terrorist attack in near real time?

Hillary and the entire Obama national security team are in that famous photo with Obama watching Seal Team Six in Abbottabad when Osama bin Laden was taken down.

Was the National Security Council alerted by Lamb when she was observing the attack in near real time? Did the NSC also observe?

Was the president told by the NSC that we were getting real-time intel and video from Benghazi, and would he like to see?

There is an even more fundamental question:

Why did the White House persist with the phony story of a protest against a video being the cause of Ambassador Stevens‘ death, when they had to know there was no protest?

The most plausible explanation is that the truth — we were being hit with the worst terror attack since 9/11 in a city we saved — would have exposed Obama’s boasting about his Libya triumph and al-Qaida being “on the run” and “on the path to defeat” as absurd propaganda.

Al-Qaida is now in Libya, Mali, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan.

And the epidemic of anti-American riots across the Muslim world, with Arab Spring elections bringing to power Islamist regimes, testify to the real truth. After four years of Obama, it is America that is on the run in the Middle East.

But we can’t let folks find that out until after Nov. 6.

Hence the Benghazi cover-up.

Stay out of the Syrian Maelstrom

Stay Out of Syria

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“In Syria, I will work … to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters and fighter jets.”

This commitment by Mitt Romney in his VMI address has thrilled the neocons as much as it has unsettled the realists in his camp.

And the reasons for the latter’s alarm are apparent.

Last year, U.S. planes scrambled to defend Benghazi against the “tanks, helicopters and fighter jets” of Col. Gadhafi. Now we are investigating the murders of our ambassador and three Americans in the city we saved.

To bring down helicopters and fighter jets would require U.S. F-16s over Syria or putting surface-to-air missiles in rebel hands. Do we really want to be passing Stingers around a no man’s land where al-Qaida agents could buy up a few to bring down U.S. airliners?

What Romney proposes is an act of war. Before we get into our fourth war in 12 years, let us consider the antagonists.

This is first a religious war with the Shia regimes — Hezbollah, Iran and the Iraqis we brought to power — lined up behind Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Aligned against are Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who have been sending arms to the rebels, and Turkey, which has allowed the transfer of arms.

Egypt has not gotten involved, but President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood has demanded that Assad stand down.

Among the rebels fighting Assad, however, are Islamic jihadists from across the Middle East and al-Qaida. And should Assad fall, his successor would likely be a Sunni favorite of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Does the Brotherhood “share our values”?

If Damascus falls to the Brotherhood, the Christians Assad sheltered would face the fate of the Copts in Egypt and Christians in Iraq: terror, persecution, expulsion. The Alawites, the Shia minority whence Assad comes, would go to the wall.

There is also an ethnic component to this war. If the regime and state collapse, Syria‘s Kurds could emulate their cousins in Iraq and Turkey and unite to fight for a separate Kurdistan in the heart of the Middle East.

Then there are the strategic stakes. If Assad falls, the Shia crescent — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon — is severed. Vladimir Putin’s navy, whose last base in the Mediterranean is Tartus on Syria‘s coast, would suffer a strategic defeat.

Thursday, the Turks forced down a Syrian airliner flying from Moscow to Damascus and removed what the Turks described as military equipment. An angry Moscow has protested.

And Israel? While nothing would please Israelis more than a strategic defeat for Tehran, Assad and his father kept the peace on the Golan for 40 years. And as the Sinai is turning into a no man’s land with Hosni Mubarak gone and the Muslim Brotherhood in power, might not the same happen on the Golan when Assad falls?

And how have the Turks benefited from their involvement? By siding against Assad, they made a mortal enemy of a friend. Assad in retaliation loosened the reins on Syria‘s Kurds, whose kinsmen are 20 percent of Turkey‘s population. The Alawites in Turkey, ethnic Arabs, number another 15 million. The hard line taken by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming increasingly unpopular with his people.

How long would Americans support an administration that embroiled us in this maelstrom?

In the last week, shells from Syria have landed on Turkish soil. Is the Syrian army doing this deliberately? That makes no sense.

Are these mortar shells landing in Turkey a result of artillery duels between the Syrian army and rebels? Or are the rebels doing it deliberately to provoke Turkey into entering the war?

The Turkish line toward Syria is growing more belligerent. Are the Turks seeking a clash with the Syrian army so Ankara can invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty and force the United States to join Turkey in ousting Assad, if not on a march to Damascus?

In an Arab world that does not fondly recall an Ottoman Empire whose heartland Turkey was, that would not sit well.

The Syrian civil war could end suddenly with the fall of Assad. But it could also widen with Turkey and Hezbollah becoming directly involved, and Russia, Iran and Iraq sending military aid to prop up their ally. The whole region could go up in flames.

Yet what vital American interest is there in who rules in Damascus to justify yet another U.S. war in the Middle East?

While the Assads are despotic, George H.W. Bush made the father an ally in Desert Storm and Ehud Barak offered to return to Hafez Assad the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace deal.

If America has a vital interest in this multisided war, that interest is served by staying out, as we have done for its duration.

And how exactly have we suffered by not plunging in?

Is a Nuclear Deal With Iran Possible?

SOURCE: Fotor.com

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In diplomacy, always leave your adversary an honorable avenue of retreat.

Fifty years ago this October, to resolve a Cuban missile crisis that had brought us to the brink of nuclear war, JFK did that.

He conveyed to Nikita Khrushchev, secretly, that if the Soviet Union pulled its nuclear missiles out of Cuba, the United States would soon after pull its Jupiter missiles out of Italy and Turkey.

Is the United States willing to allow Iran an honorable avenue of retreat, if it halts enrichment of uranium to 20 percent and permits intrusive inspections of all its nuclear facilities? Or are U.S. sanctions designed to bring about not a negotiated settlement of the nuclear issue, but regime change, the fall of the Islamic Republic and its replacement by a more pliable regime?

If the latter is the case, we are likely headed for war with Iran, even as our refusal to negotiate with Tokyo, whose oil we cut off in the summer of 1941, led to Pearl Harbor.

What would cause anyone to believe Iran is willing to negotiate?

There are the fatwas by the ayatollahs against nuclear weapons and the consensus by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007, reaffirmed in 2011, that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

Even the Israelis have lately concluded that the Americans are right.

Nor has the United States or Israel discovered any site devoted to the building of nuclear weapons. The deep-underground facility at Fordow is enriching uranium to 20 percent. There are no reports of any enrichment to 90 percent, which is weapons grade.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has lately mocked the idea of Iran building a bomb in the face of a U.S. commitment to go to war to prevent it:

“Let’s even imagine that we have an atomic weapon, a nuclear weapon. What would we do with it? What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?”

Ahmadinejad did not mention that Israel has 200 to 300 nuclear weapons. He did not need to. The same logic applies.

And Tehran seems to be signaling it is ready for a deal.

According to the United Nations’ watchdog agency, Iran recently converted more than one-third of its 20 percent enriched uranium into U308, or uranium oxide, a powder for its medical research reactor.

The New York Times also reported Thursday that Iran had proposed to European officials a plan to suspend the enrichment of uranium in return for the lifting of sanctions. By week’s end, Iran was denying it.

Yet common sense suggests that if Iran is not determined to build a nuclear weapon, it will eventually come to the table.

Why? Because, if Iran is not seeking a weapon, no purpose is served by continuing to enrich.

Iran already has enough 20 percent enriched uranium for medical isotopes and more than enough 5 percent enriched uranium for its power plant. Further enrichment gives Iran nothing in the way of added security, but it does ensure that the severe sanctions will be sustained and perhaps tightened. And those sanctions are creating tremendous hardships on the Iranian people.

In two weeks, Iran‘s currency, the rial, has lost a third of its value. It is at an all-time low against the dollar. Iran‘s oil exports are down to 800,000 barrels a day, a third of what they were a year ago. The cost of food and medicine is soaring. Inflation is running officially at 25 percent. Foreign travel is drying up. Workers are going unpaid.

“We’re close to seeing mass unemployment in cities and queues for social handouts,” an Iranian-born economic adviser to the European Union told Reuters. “There are few alternatives for those people, and many will end up on the bread line.” Last week, merchants marched on parliament and had to be driven back by police using tear gas.

An Iranian businessman in Dubai told Reuters: “Business is drying up. Industry is collapsing. There’s zero investment. … I see it with my own eyes.”

In short, the oil embargo and economic sanctions, what Woodrow Wilson called the “peaceful, silent, deadly remedy,” are working, and Ahmadinejad — who leaves office next year — is rapidly losing support.

So a new question is now on the table. If Iran advances ideas to demonstrate convincingly that it has no weapons program, but insists on what President Obama said he supports — Iran having a peaceful nuclear program under U.N. inspection — will America accept that?

Or will we, seeing the economic crisis deepening, make demands so humiliating no Iranian government can accept them, because our true goal is and has always been regime change?

No one would weep if the Islamic Republic fell. But this is a tough crowd that will not go quietly. If we give them no way out, only a choice between national humiliation or escalation, the hard-liners in the regime and Republican Guard will likely take the death-before-dishonor course.