By Pat Buchanan Triumphant
in the first Gulf war, George H.W. Bush, in October 1991, wentbefore the UN to declare that the US’s goal was now to build a “New WorldOrder”. Rejecting this as Wilsonian utopianism, my 1992 presidential campaigncalled for an end to US military intervention where no vital interest wasimperilled, for federal action to secure our southern border and for a haltto the outsourcing of US manufacturing jobs.
We advocated a Hamiltonian policy to support industry and a Jeffersonianforeign policy of peaceful commerce with all nations but entangling alliances with none. And we were denounced as isolationists and protectionists.
We lost. But Mr Bush lost too, when Ross Perot, running on the same theme –putting America first – stripped away a third of the coalition RichardNixon and Ronald Reagan put together, leaving Mr Bush with an incumbent’ssmallest share of the vote since William Howard Taft. Mr Bush’s foreign policy record could not save him.
The US was lookinginward in 1992, as it does today. As Mitt Romney burnishes his foreignpolicy credentials this week, he should keep this lesson in mind. Having learnt from his father’s defeat, George W. Bush offered a “morehumble” policy. But after September 11, he had a Damascene conversion, wentnation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq, and declared the US’s goal was “toend tyranny in our world”. Americans responded by relieving the Republicanparty of both houses of Congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008. We cannot afford any more neo-imperial nonsense.
With trillion-dollardeficits, a soaring national debt, and 10,000 baby boomers reachingeligibility for Social Security and Medicare every day, the US is beginningto break under the strain of its commitments.
What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world but suffer the loss ofhis soul? A biblical hubris took hold of our republic. By pushing Nato intoRussia’s front yard, planting bases in central Asia, dispatching democracycrusaders to subvert regimes in Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia, we undid thegood work of Reagan and drove Moscow back into alliance with Beijing. US influence in the Middle East is at a nadir. Our alliances with Turkeyand Saudi Arabia are frayed.
Pakistan bristles. Israel impatientlydismisses our pathetic pleas for it to stop building settlements. And asthe Muslim Brotherhood rose when Hosni Mubarak fell in Cairo, so it lookslikely to rise again when Bashar al-Assad falls in Damascus. America needs a new foreign policy rooted in today’s reality, not inyesterday’s cold war or in tomorrow’s dream of global democracy. For asTurkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan reminds us, in his region democracy is a busyou get off when it reaches your stop. We must roll up the empire and put America first again. We should swiftlycomplete Barack Obama’s work, end the war in Afghanistan and close US bases in central Asia.
We should tell Ukraine and Georgia that Nato membership is closed. No US interest there justifies risking a clashwith Russia. Let us tell Vladimir Putin that if he stays out of our yard,we will stay out of his. Half a century ago, Dwight Eisenhower told John F. Kennedy to start pullingtroops out of Europe, or else the continent would end up permanentlydependent on the US.
Was Ike not right? Europeans should take fullresponsibility for their own defence. The near debacle in Libya, where Britain and France might have been fought to exhaustion by Muammer Gaddafihad not the US intervened, exposed the atrophied state of Nato’s Europeanmembers.
South Korea has a population twice that of North Korea and an economy 40times as large. What are US soldiers still doing in the demilitarised zone?The frontier that will determine the fate of the US is not the 38thparallel, but the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Elsewhere in Asia, it is Russia’s land that China covets but India’s thatChina holds. Vietnam and the Philippines are defying Beijing’s claims tothe Spratly Islands.Japan is showing a resolve to hold the Senkaku Islands Let the neighbours do the containment.
In the Islamic world, Victor Hugo’s dictum applies: stronger than all thearmies of earth is the power of an idea whose time has come. Islamic fundamentalism and ethno-nationalism, the two forces tearing countriesapart from central Africa to south Asia, are not problems that can besolved by Seal Team Six. Let us cease our interventions and call a halt to our endless hectoring.How other nations rule themselves is not really the US’s business. If thereis nation-building to be done, let it begin here. The watchword of theRomney campaign and presidency should be enlightened nationalism. Time,again, to put America first.
*The Financial Times