Patrick Buchanan: Betrayed by Bush
- Republican party of big business, big government and big war
Patrick Buchanan: Betrayed by Bush
10/01/04 "The Spectator" -- Not even the British empire at its
zenith dominated the world in the way the United States does today.
US forces are deployed in lands the soldiers of Victoria never saw.
Our warships make port calls on all continents. Our military
technology is generations ahead of any other nation's. Our GDP is 30
per cent of the global economy. Brand names like Coca-Cola,
McDonald's and Levi's are household words from Kathmandu to
Kurdistan. The music the young listen to around the world is
American or an imitation thereof. Americans annually claim the
lion's share of the Nobel prizes in science, medicine and economics.
Hollywood films are the world's most watched. The dollar is the
world's reserve currency. The International Monetary Fund that keeps
scores of nations from bankruptcy has its headquarters in
Washington. The American language, English, is the lingua franca of
the Internet and the international elite. By almost any measure
military and economic power, technology, standard of living,
cultural dominance, social and political freedom America is the
gold standard, the `hyperpower' of the Quai d'Orsay's resentment.
Yet all republics, all empires, all civilisations pass away. For the
United States the invasion of Iraq and the war to impose democracy
upon that Arab and Islamic nation may yet prove a textbook example
of the imperial overstretch that brought down so many empires of the
past. Fallujah, where US marines were withdrawn before completing
their mission to eradicate the guerrillas and terrorists who had
murdered four Americans and desecrated their bodies, may prove the
high tide of an American empire that has begun its long retreat.
If we were to name one cause of the fall of Britain, it would be
war. The Boer war was Britain's Vietnam. With it came a loss of
faith in the superiority of British civilisation and the spread of
the heretical idea that a British empire that denied self-
determination to peoples of colour was no longer morally defensible.
Then, for ten years between 1914 and 1918 and 1939 and 1945, Britain
was locked in mortal battle with the mightiest land power in Europe.
Britain alone fought both world wars from the first day to the last.
In the first world war, 720,000 Britons died, in the second another
400,000. America, however, stayed out of the world wars longer than
any other power and thus suffered fewer losses. Not until four years
after the British, French, Germans and Russians had started
slaughtering one another at a rate of 6,000 a day did the doughboys
arrive to turn the tide on the Western Front, only six months before
the Armistice. Not until four years after Hitler overran France did
the Higgins boats appear off Normandy, just 11 months before VE Day.
In both world wars, we played Fortinbras in Hamlet, coming upon the
carnage in the final scene in the bloodstained throne-room to take
charge of affairs.
During the Cold War, America avoided a war with a Soviet Union that
could have wreaked far greater havoc on us than was visited on
Britain in two world wars. We are the last superpower because we
stayed out of the great wars of the 20th century longer than any of
the other powers, and we suffered and lost less than any of them.
Since the end of the Cold War, however, all the blunders of
Britain's ruling class in its march to folly have been replicated by
our elites, from the arrogance of power to the alienation of allies
to the waging of imperial wars where no vital US interests were at
Spurning the counsel of John Quincy Adams, America now goes abroad
in search of monsters to destroy. We have treaty guarantees with 50
nations on five continents and troops in 100 countries. Some 150,000
US soldiers are tied down in seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq. Should the United States confront another crisis anywhere
on earth, the bankruptcy of our foreign policy would be transparent
to the world.
President Bush has declared it to be US policy to launch pre-emptive
war on any rogue regime that seeks weapons of mass destruction, a
policy today being defied by North Korea and Iran, both of which
have programmes to produce nuclear weapons. The President has also
declared it to be US policy to go to war to prevent any other nation
from acquiring the power to challenge US hegemony in any region of
the world. It is called the `Bush Doctrine'. It is a prescription
for permanent war for permanent peace, though wars are the death of
In 2003, the United States invaded a country that did not threaten
us, had not attacked us and did not want war with us, to disarm it
of weapons we have since discovered it did not have. His war cabinet
assured President Bush that weapons of mass destruction would be
found, that US forces would be welcomed with garlands of flowers,
that democracy would flourish in Iraq and spread across the Middle
East, that our triumph would convince Israelis and Palestinians to
sit down and make peace.
None of this happened. Those of us who were called unpatriotic for
opposing an invasion of Iraq and who warned we would inherit our own
Lebanon of 25 million Iraqis were proved right. Now our nation is
tied down and our army is being daily bled in a war to create a
democracy in a country where it has never before existed.
With the guerrilla war, US prestige has plummeted. The hatred of
President Bush is pandemic from Marrakesh to Mosul. Volunteers to
fight the Americans have been trickling into Iraq from Syria, Saudi
Arabia and Iran. In the spring of this year revelations of the
sadistic abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison sent US
prestige sinking to its lowest levels ever in the Arab world. We may
have ignited the war of civilisations that it was in our vital
interest to avoid. Never has America been more resented and reviled
in an Islamic world of one billion people.
At home, the budget surpluses of the 1990s have vanished as the cost
of the Afghan and Iraq wars has soared beyond the projections of the
most pessimistic of the President's economic advisers. The US budget
deficit is above 4 per cent of GDP. With a trade deficit in goods
nearing 6 per cent of GDP, the dollar has lost a third of its value
against the euro in three years. One in six manufacturing jobs has
disappeared since President Bush took the oath. By mid-2004, the
President had failed to abolish a single significant agency,
programme or department of a Leviathan government that consumes a
fifth of our economy. Nor had he vetoed a single Bill.
America's native-born population has ceased to grow. Its birth rate
has fallen below replacement levels. US population growth now comes
from immigrants, legal and illegal, from Asia, Africa and Latin
America. The religious, ethnic and racial composition of the
country, a child of Europe, is changing more rapidly than that of
any other great nation in history in an era when race, religion and
ethnicity are tearing countries apart. The melting pot no longer
works its magic. Newcomers are not assimilating. We are becoming
what Theodore Roosevelt warned against our ever becoming `a
polyglot boardinghouse for the world'.
US primary and secondary education is a disaster area. Test scores
have been falling for decades and are below those of almost every
other developed nation. In our universities, ignorance of American
history has reached scandalous proportions, and rising percentages
of students in the hard sciences come from foreign lands.
The Republican party, which had presided over America's rise to
manufacturing pre-eminence, has acquiesced in the
deindustrialisation of the nation to gratify transnational
corporations whose oligarchs are the party's financiers. US
corporations are shutting factories here, opening them in
China, `outsourcing' back-office work to India, importing Asians to
take white-collar jobs from Americans, and hiring illegal aliens for
their service jobs. The Republican party has signed off on economic
Then there are the ominous analogies to the Rome we read about in
school: the decline of religion and morality, corruption of the
commercial class, a debased and decadent culture. Many of America's
oldest churches are emptying. The Catholic Church, the nation's
largest, is riven with heresy, scandal, dissent and disbelief.
Historically, Republicans have been the party of the conservative
virtues of balanced budgets, of a healthy scepticism towards foreign
wars, of a commitment to traditional values and fierce resistance to
the growth of government power and world empire. No more. There is
no conservative party left in Washington. The GOP may be Reaganite
in its tax policy, but it is Wilsonian in its foreign policy, FDR in
its trade policy, and LBJ all the way in its spending policies.
Pragmatism is the order of the day. The Republican philosophy might
be summarised thus: `To hell with principle; what matters is power,
and that we have it, and they do not.'
But principles do matter. For history teaches that if we indulge in
the vices of republics and surrender to the temptation to buy votes
with public money, to distract the populace with bread and circuses,
to conduct imperial wars, we will destroy the last best hope of
earth. And just as there came a day of reckoning for Lyndon Johnson,
who delivered guns and butter in wartime, so, too, are the chickens
coming home to roost for George W. Bush.
From the book Where the Right Went Wrong by Patrick J. Buchanan.
Copyright © by the author. Reprinted by permission of St Martin's
© 2004 The Spectator.co.uk
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