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How Republics Perish
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If you believed America’s longest war, in Afghanistan, was coming to an end, be advised: It is not.

Departing U.S. commander Gen. John Campbell says there will need to be U.S. boots on the ground “for years to come.” Making good on President Obama’s commitment to remove all U.S. forces by next January, said Campbell, “would put the whole mission at risk.”

“Afghanistan has not achieved an enduring level of security and stability that justifies a reduction of our support. … 2016 could be no better and possibly worse than 2015.”

Translation: A U.S. withdrawal would risk a Taliban takeover with Kabul becoming the new Saigon and our Afghan friends massacred.

Fifteen years in, and we are stuck.

Nor is America about to end the next longest war in its history: Iraq. Defense Secretary Ash Carter plans to send units of the 101st Airborne back to Iraq to join the 4,000 Americans now fighting there,

“ISIS is a cancer,” says Carter. After we cut out the “parent tumor” in Mosul and Raqqa, we will go after the smaller tumors across the Islamic world.

When can Mosul be retaken? “Certainly not this year,” says the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart.

Vladimir Putin’s plunge into the Syrian civil war with air power appears to have turned the tide in favor of Bashar Assad.

The “moderate” rebels are being driven out of Aleppo and tens of thousands of refugees are streaming toward the Turkish border.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is said to be enraged with the U.S. for collaborating with Syrian Kurds against ISIS and with Obama’s failure to follow through on his dictate — “Assad must go!”

There is thus no end in sight to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, nor to the U.S.-backed Saudi war in Yemen, where ISIS and al-Qaida have re-arisen in the chaos.

Indeed, the West is mulling over military intervention in Libya to crush ISIS there and halt the refugee flood into Europe.

Yet, despite America’s being tied down in wars from the Maghreb to Afghanistan, not one of these wars were among the three greatest threats identified last summer by Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

“Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security” said Dunford, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I would have to point to Russia … if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

Dunford agreed with John McCain that we ought to provide anti-tank weapons and artillery to Ukraine, for, without it, “they’re not going to be able to protect themselves against Russian aggression.”

But what would we do if Putin responded by sending Russian troops to occupy Mariupol and build a land bridge to Crimea? Send U.S. troops to retake Mariupol? Are we really ready to fight Russia?

The new forces NATO is moving into the Baltic suggests we are.

Undeniably, disputes have arisen between Russia, and Ukraine and Georgia which seceded in 1991, over territory. But, also undeniably, many Russians in the 14 nations that seceded, including the Baltic states, never wanted to leave and wish to rejoin Mother Russia.

How do these tribal and territorial conflicts in the far east of Europe so threaten us that U.S. generals are declaring that “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security”?

Asked to name other threats to the United States, Gen. Dunford listed them in this order: China, North Korea, ISIS.

But while Beijing is involved in disputes with Hanoi over the Paracels, with the Philippines over the Spratlys, with Japan over the Senkakus — almost all of these being uninhabited rocks and reefs — how does China threaten the United States?

America is creeping ever closer to war with the other two great nuclear powers because we have made their quarrels our quarrels, though at issue are tracts and bits of land of no vital interest to us.

North Korea, which just tested another atomic device and long-range missile, is indeed a threat to us.

But why are U.S. forces still up the DMZ, 62 years after the Korean War? Is South Korea, with an economy 40 times that of the North and twice the population, incapable of defending itself?

Apparently slipping in the rankings as a threat to the United States is that runaway favorite of recent years, Iran.

Last fall, though, Sen. Ted Cruz reassured us that “the single biggest national security threat facing America right now is the threat of a nuclear Iran.”

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded,” wrote James Madison, “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Perhaps Madison was wrong.

Otherwise, with no end to war on America’s horizon, the prospect of this free republic enduring is, well, doubtful.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.”

Copyright 2016

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: 2016 Election, American Military 
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  1. ‘God, our Heavenly Father, hear our prayer. We acknowledge our shortcomings and ask thy help in being better soldiers for thee. Grant us, O Lord, those things we need to do thy work more effectively. Give us this day a gun that will fire ten thousand rounds a second, a napalm that will burn for a week. Help us to bring death and destruction wherever we go, for we do it in thy name and therefore it is meet and just. We thank thee for this war, fully mindful that, while it is not the best of wars, it is better than no war at all. We remember that Christ said “I came not to send peace, but a sword”, and we pledge ourselves in all our works to be like Him. Forget not the least of thy children as they hide from us in the jungles; bring them under our merciful hand that we may end their suffering. In all things, O God, assist us, for we do our noble work in the knowledge that only with thy help can we avoid the catastrophe of peace that threatens us ever. All of which we ask in the name of they son, George Patton. Amen’. – Major Gordon Livingston, 1969, Vietnam, regimental prayer.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  2. But while Beijing is involved in disputes with Hanoi over the Paracels, with the Philippines over the Spratlys, with Japan over the Senkakus — almost all of these being uninhabited rocks and reefs — how does China threaten the United States?

    What is threatened is the US imposed peace (such as it is).

    I believe that those who argue that our withdrawal from the role of World Police would allow aggressors to advance are correct, and war would eventually come to our doorsteps (or close enough that we would react). But I also believe that the role of World Police will drain and divide us until exhaustion forces a withdrawal under threat – a more dangerous situation that leads to an even worse war (worse for us anyway, and that is my concern).

    Short of the US sustaining a direct military attack, I don’t think we could raise an army today. The more divided and drained we become the more difficult it will be to unite the nation in defense should the need arise.

    The image of an aloof US that prevailed before WWII may have been a pipe dream, but it served a purpose. Even though we would not sustain an isolationist stance, I still believe that would be our best course.

    • Replies: @Drapetomaniac
  3. OutWest says:

    Much of the country wanted the U.S. to stay out of WW2. If we had perhaps Hitler would have gained his already passé agricultural living space and Japan would have harshly ruled its empire. But, in both cases, their aims were less than Stalin’s world domination, i.e. the International Communist Party that we ended up supporting as a world power.

    The advantages of empire are available without the burden. There would still be a Soviet Union if it hadn’t compelled through force the inclusion of so many satellite countries. While not a sure thing given human nature, the U.S. would be best advised to back off from the world policeman thing and let the stresses relieve themselves. It won’t be pretty but at least we won’t be the prime mover in the resulting atrocities.

    • Replies: @another fred
    , @dc.sunsets
  4. @OutWest

    Much of the country wanted the U.S. to stay out of WW2.

    That’s for sure, at least until Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt did not want us out, though. The left had switched sentiments when Hitler attacked Stalin.

    The one we really could have and should have stayed out of is WWI. Our entry into WWI created the environment for Hitler and the Soviet Union.

    So many blood lakes, and we always fall in.

  5. The USA is nothing but a vast pool of wealth surrounded by thousands of parasitic factions whose members seek to obtain a concentrated benefit while diffusing the cost.

    It is a Tragedy of the Commons on a scale never before imagined.

    The Pentagram, er, Pentagon, is but one of numerous nipples each parasitic piglet seeks as a means to drain Uncle Sow. Nowadays just about every American (and half the rest of the world) is trying to get in on the game, from people employed in the Medical-Insurance-Cartel-Complex to the HigherEd-Cartel-Complex to the Ex-Im-Bank (whether it exists explicitly or piecemeal).

    China’s rulers seem to know that all they need cultivate is patience. The USA is already bled past the point of surviving, and what we see at the Brain Level (rulers) can only be described as schizophrenia, a kind of manic madness characterized by incoherence, conflicting aims and immiscible policies.

    Am I alone in my astonishment that this headless chicken still runs, even as all its life-blood pours onto the ground?

    Nothing sets up failure like success. Americans of all races seem either congenitally blind to the consequences of policy or are so besotted with ease and comfort that nary a flash of consideration is given to recognizing from where our comfort and ease arose.

    • Replies: @another fred
  6. @OutWest

    Egads! How dare you express such CRIMETHINK out loud!

    I think you’re waaaay too late. The world is awash in DEBT. The debt must be repudiated. The wealth that debt represents must evaporate. The process of reconciling this will be chaotic.

    East Asian cultural conformity let Japan and China erect an inverted pyramid of financial cards far larger than those in Europe and the USA, but that same cultural conformity will allow them to reorganize once the dust settles from the layer-by-layer pancake collapse they’ve insured must occur.

    Recent policies of Western countries have dug the USA and Europe into far larger holes (immigrant invasion being #1, with showering privileges on whiny minorities a close 2nd) and while the chaos promised by debt collapse seems smaller, social cohesion is tiny compared to East Asia, and the political and social upheaval now baked into the cake will surely be historic in America, the UK and European countries.

    US elites (and politicians) are like 18-year-old sailors loose on shore leave in a Far East brothel while carrying a high-limit charge card. They’ve been blowing through hookers and hashish so fast and for so long that they forgot there is a limit somewhere.

    One of these days the Bond Market will hiccup, then cough up the MOTHER OF ALL HAIRBALLS. Interest rates will break higher as the herd belatedly realizes that the music has stopped, the dance floor is ON FIRE, there are few chairs left and THE EXITS ARE BLOCKED.

    The Bond Ocean is where today’s fabulous wealth arose. It is where today’s wealth will go to die.

  7. Realist says:

    “Otherwise, with no end to war on America’s horizon, the prospect of this free republic enduring is, well, doubtful.”

    This Republic has been losing freedoms since it’s beginning.
    Our Republic is one form, of a number of Democracy types. And Democracies do not last long. They are overwhelmed by corruption, greed and stupidity.

  8. @dc.sunsets

    Am I alone in my astonishment that this headless chicken still runs, even as all its life-blood pours onto the ground?

    “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” – Adam Smith

    People adjust and cobble “solutions” together. You need to read up on the Defense Production Act of 1950. The next phase is waiting in the wings. Even when the bio-wars come (and they are coming), the US could well get through better than most.

    It is easily conceivable, even logical, that things will get better, just as they did in Europe after the Black Death.

    “If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”

  9. nickels says:

    All the wars in the middle east are pure futility. Spreading Democracy is pure idiocy.

    Our leaders must have been illiterate fools.

    “We have endeavoured to establish, that since all the elements of a civilization correspond to a certain well-defined mental constitution created by heredity in the course of a long past, it is impossible to modify them without changing the mental constitution of which they are the outcome. Such a task is beyond the power of conquerors, and can only be accomplished by the lapse of centuries. We have also shown that it is only by a series of successive stages, analogous to those traversed by the barbarians who destroyed the Geco-Roman civilization, that a people can rise in the scale of civilization. If it be sought, by means of education, to spare a people these stages, all that is done is to disorganize its morality and its intelligence, and reduce it in the end to a level inferior to that it would have reached if it had been left to itself.”

    Gustave Le Bon

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
    , @Gk0420
    , @Anonymous
  10. Anonymous [AKA "Bob who~regrets we never had a president Pat J. Buchanan"] says:

    In Turkey has Erdogan ended the military as guardian of the republic or just held it off?

    Would that we had spent the money building nuke plants, windmills, a wall, and rebuilding our failing infrastructure. We here in the USA no longer need or receive much of the oil from the middle east. It is time to let those that do accept responsibility for its free flow and the love that goes with that.

  11. MarkinLA says:

    Spreading Democracy is pure idiocy.

    That is why we have never been in the democracy spreading business. Do you really think we give a damn about democracy in other countries? We only care about democracy when our stooge is out of power.

    • Replies: @nickels
  12. nickels says:

    Likely some of both occur. Never underestimate the unnatural force of utopian thinking!

  13. @another fred

    Was The US the world’s policeman during the Cold War? Nope. It was the West’s policeman.

    Who guards the World’s guardian? The answer is that there should never be one.

  14. anon • Disclaimer says:

    North Korea is not and never has been a “threat” to the United States. Just look at a map. It is a very tiny, impoverished country thousands of miles from America. Are 10,000 North Korean junks going to sail 8,000 miles across the Pacific to launch a D-Day style invasion of Oregon?

  15. um, news flash, usa is already an oligarchy.

    • Replies: @Blobby5
  16. Gk0420 says:

    What really depresses me is a all the “conservatives” that rail against Obama’s weakness. Don’t get me wrong, I think Obama’s domestic policies have been catastrophic, and his foreign policy can be generously called incoherent and just about as bad as the domestic ones. However, to me the Iran deal was actually one somewhat decent policy because I think a war with them would be tremendously costly and would in no way be in our interest. Sadly the Murdoch empire, which has way too much influence over Republican beliefs, has convinced most that “smart and strong” us policy should be to send millions of young Americans to permanently invade and occupy the whole region from Afghanistan to Syria. Who cares if it bankrupts us, and 100s of thousands young Americans are killed and maimed in the process! I frankly think we should completely abandon the region and let the Shia and Sunni exhaust themselves. Maybe buy oil from whoever’s offering the cheaper price. But if our government is going to pick a side in this sectarian war, it’s abundantly clear to me that the Saudi’s is the wrong one.

    I guess my point is that there’s something disturbing to me about the fact that the primary critique from the Republicans is that not enough Americans are in harms way fighting against maniacs that are backed by the same governments that we’re protecting.

    • Replies: @nickels
  17. nickels says:

    The neocons are fully on board, even perhaps driving the global push for Democracy, as I understand/recall.

    The only hope is the outsiders. And one of them is a socialist, so that narrows it down.

  18. AndyBoy says:

    I think great countries fall because of mass demographic changes.

  19. @Lemurmaniac

    That’s profoundly blasphemous. What is it with Americans and their cute little blasphemous “joke” prayers?

    It would make sense for a satanist or atheist to say such things but why would someone claiming to believe in God?

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  20. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Thanks for a most interesting book reference!

  21. Our leaders must have been illiterate fools.

    I’ll go along with the fools part though filled with hubris might be more accurate, but the people who promulgate the Blank Slate* BS are anything but illiterate. I’ll even say that most were and are willfully blind, and their “philosophy” has been one of the most pernicious, destabilizing, destructive forces in all of history, but they are not illiterate. Many of them were quite brilliantly literate.

    * This part of your quote “mental constitution created by heredity in the course of a long past” was accepted as common sense by most people prior to the late 19th century (although most didn’t have much of a grip on the “heredity” part) – it took a lot of books written by quite literate men to push that common sense into the closet and get so many people to accept the idea that men were easily “improved”.

  22. Hibernian says:
    @Cagey Beast

    I think maybe Brother Nelms was fortified by a little Tennessee Iced Tea. Major Livingston was perhaps expressing his doubts about the war in an inappropriate way.

  23. Blobby5 says:
    @Astuteobservor II

    An oligarchy powered by the Fed.

  24. Shafiq says:

    The leading funder of radical mosques and madrasas worldwide, and of jihadists, is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the US’s putative ally. They’re now making a mess in Yemen and may soon deploy troops to Syria to overthrow Assad and crush the Kurds, and you may be sure that al Nusra or ISIS will end up in control and the Israelis will actually miss Assad.

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