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Pat Buchanan — Empire, No Thanks

Why is right-winged Pat Buchanan against building a U.S. empire?

May 24, 2004

Why is right-winged Pat Buchanan against building a U.S. empire?

Some of the most consistent criticism of President Bush’s foreign policy has come from U.S. conservatives. They argue that Mr. Bush is not acting in America’s best interest — and that the United States has taken on far more global obligations than it can handle. Prominent among these critics is Pat Buchanan — the former presidential candidate whose views we present in this Read My Lips feature.

Why were you against the war in Iraq?

“A cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interests.”
(March 2003)

Is the United States stretching too thin?

“America has taken on the historic roles of the German empire in keeping Russia out of Europe, of the Austrian empire in policing the Balkans, of the British empire in patrolling the oceans and sea lanes and protecting the Persian Gulf, of the Ottoman empire in keeping peace in the Holy Land, of the Japanese empire in defending Korea and containing China — and of the Spanish empire in Latin America.”

When did things start going wrong?

“If America has had one great failing in the 1990s, it has been not to grasp that our hegemony was surely transient. Rather than yield gracefully as Europe and Asia asserted their new independence, we behaved like a possessive parent.”

But surely there were threats at the end of the 1990s that required immediate U.S. action?

“No malevolent empire threatens us today — and despite efforts to create a new Hitler in Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, they both fall short of the mark.”

Has the enthusiasm for the Iraq mission lessened?

“All that heroic chatter about global hegemony, a crusade for democracy and ‘On to Baghdad” has faded away.”

Why do you think the prospects are bleak for success in Iraq?

“It is a sobering thought that no Arab or Islamic revolution that fought hard to expel a Western power has been defeated in 60 years.”
(October 2003)

What seems to be the core problem?

“The steady expansion of global commitments is a prescription for endless wars and eventual disaster.”

Should the United States start pulling out of Europe?

“We are not Romans. We cannot remain in Germany for 400 years.”

Which other nations had to learn this lesson more recently?

“The French were run out of Algeria after an eight-year war — and the allies they left behind were slaughtered. The Russians were expelled from Afghanistan after an eight-year occupation by an Islamic jihad and nationalist uprising. The Israelis abandoned Lebanon after an 18-year occupation, unwilling to pay the continuing cost in Jewish blood of battling Hezbollah guerrillas.”
(October 2003)

Do current U.S. foreign policy objectives find strong support among Americans?

“Americans don’t want to build a New World Order. They want to build a better America.”

Did you ever buy into the campaign that aimed to paint China as the new enemy?

“China does not today threaten any vital U.S. interest — and its emergence as a word power need not mean inevitable conflict. For China is already contained — by geography.”

Can the United States afford to abandon free trade?

“Free trade is the philosophy of nations on the way down.”
(March 1999)

What do you say to those who argue the benefits of free trade?

“Is our country nothing more than an economy?”
(January 2002)

Unless otherwise indicated, these quotes have been taken from Pat Buchanan's "A Republic, Not an Empire," Copyright © 1999 by Patrick J. Buchanan.