Highlights

 
Quotable
The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.
Frederick Douglass
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
March 27, 2009

Can Uncle Sam Ever Let Go?


by Patrick J. Buchanan

"In 1877, Lord Salisbury, commenting on Great Britain's policy on the Eastern Question, noted that 'the commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.'

"Salisbury was bemoaning the fact that many influential members of the British ruling class could not recognize that history had moved on; they continued to cling to policies and institutions that were relics of another era."

"Relics of another era" thus did Stephen Meyer, in Parameters in 2003, begin his essay "Carcass of Dead Policies: The Irrelevance of NATO."

NATO has been irrelevant for two decades, since its raison d'etre to keep the Red Army from driving to the Rhine disappeared. Yet Obama is headed to Brussels to celebrate France's return and the 60th birthday of the alliance. But why is NATO still soldiering on?

In 1989, the Wall fell. Germany was reunited. The Captive Nations cast off communism. The Red Army went home. The USSR broke apart into 15 nations. But, having triumphed in the Cold War, it seems the United States could not bear giving up its role as Defender of the West, could not accept that the curtain had fallen and the play was closing after a 40-year run.

So, what did we do? In a spirit of "triumphalism," NATO "nearly doubled its size and rolled itself right up to Russia's door," writes Richard Betts in The National Interest.

Breaking our word to Mikhail Gorbachev, we invited into NATO six former member states of the Warsaw Pact and three former republics of the Soviet Union. George W. Bush was disconsolate he could not bring in Georgia and Ukraine.

Why did we expand NATO to within a few miles of St. Petersburg when NATO is not a social club but a military alliance? At its heart is Article V, a declaration that an armed attack on any one member is an attack on all.

America is now honor-bound to go to war against a nuclear-armed Russia for Estonia, which was part of the Russian Empire under the czars.

After the Russia-Georgia clash last August, Bush declared, "It's important for the people of Lithuania to know that when the United States makes a commitment we mean it."

But "mean" what? That a Russian move on Vilnius will be met by U.S. strikes on Mother Russia? Are we insane?

Let us thank Divine Providence Russia has not tested the pledge.

For can anyone believe that, to keep Moscow from re-establishing its hegemony over a tiny Baltic republic, we would sink Russian ships, blockade Russian ports, bomb Russian airfields, attack Russian troop concentrations? That would risk having some Russian general respond with atomic weapons on U.S. air, sea and ground forces.

Great powers do not go to war against other great powers unless vital interests are imperiled. Throughout the Cold War, that was true of both America and Russia.

Though he had an atomic monopoly, Harry Truman did not use force to break the Berlin blockade. Nor did Ike intervene to save the Hungarians, whose 1956 revolution Moscow drowned in blood.

John F. Kennedy did not use force to stop the building of the Berlin Wall. Lyndon Johnson fired not a shot to halt the crushing of Prague Spring by Soviet tanks. When Solidarity was snuffed out on Moscow's orders in 1981, Ronald Reagan would not even put the Polish regime in default.

In August 1991, George Bush I, in Kiev, poured ice water on Ukraine's dream of independence: "Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred."

Many Americans were outraged. But outrage does not translate into an endorsement of Bush 43's plan to bring Ukraine into NATO and risk war with Russia over the Crimea.

Bush 43 bellowed at Moscow last summer to keep hands off the Baltic states. But his father barely protested when Gorbachev sent special forces into all three in 1991.

Bush I's secretary of state, Jim Baker, said it was U.S. policy not to see Yugoslavia break up. Bush 43 was handing out NATO war guarantees to the breakaway republics.

"Washington ... succumbed to victory disease and kept kicking Russia while it was down," writes Betts. "Two decades of humiliation were a potent incentive for Russia to push back. Indeed this is why many realists opposed NATO expansion in the first place."

Few Americans under 30 recall the Cold War. Yet can anyone name a single tripwire for war put down in the time of Dean Acheson or John Foster Dulles that we have pulled up?

Dwight Eisenhower, writes Richard Reeves, in his first meeting with the new president-elect, told JFK, "'America is carrying far more than her share of the free world defense.' It was time for the other nations of NATO to take on more of the cost of their own defense."

Half a century later, we are still stuck "to the carcass of dead policies."

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Can Uncle Sam Ever Let Go?
    3/27/2009

  • Of Patriots and Assassins
    3/17/2009

  • Return of the War Party
    2/27/2009

  • The Long Retreat
    2/20/2009

  • Obama and the Great Game
    2/13/2009

  • A Bibi-Barack Collision?
    1/27/2009

  • Is Ehud's Poodle Acting Up?
    1/17/2009

  • Bush, Obama, and
    the Gaza Blitz
    12/30/2008

  • Obama's War
    12/19/2008

  • Can This Marriage Last?
    12/5/2008

  • The Rationale of Terror
    12/2/2008

  • Meeting Medvedev Halfway
    11/25/2008

  • Liquidating the Empire
    10/14/2008

  • An Amicus Brief for Neville
    9/30/2008

  • And None Dare Call It Treason
    8/22/2008

  • Who Started Cold War II?
    8/19/2008

  • Blowback From Bear-Baiting
    8/15/2008

  • Obama's War?
    7/29/2008

  • Honorable Exit From Empire
    7/25/2008

  • A Phony Crisis
    and a Real One
    7/15/2008

  • No More Blank Checks for War
    7/11/2008

  • Who's Planning Our Next War?
    6/27/2008

  • Hitchens Demands an
    Eye for an Eye
    6/25/2008

  • Was the Holocaust Inevitable?
    6/20/2008

  • Is Bush Becoming Irrelevant?
    5/30/2008

  • Bush Plays the Hitler Card
    5/20/2008

  • Is It Jaw-Jaw or War-War?
    5/6/2008

  • Petraeus Points to War With Iran
    4/11/2008

  • Was WWII Really 'The Good War'?
    4/4/2008

  • Should We Fight for South Ossetia?
    4/1/2008

  • Does Balkanization Beckon Anew?
    2/19/2008

  • Blowback From Moscow
    11/30/2007

  • Is World War III on Hold?
    11/13/2007

  • Is a Vote for Rudy a Vote for War?
    11/9/2007

  • Who Restarted the Cold War?
    10/19/2007

  • Infantile Nation
    9/25/2007

  • Is Terrorism a Mortal Threat?
    9/21/2007

  • Stopping the Next War
    9/14/2007

  • Phase III of Bush's War
    9/1/2007

  • Has Bush Boxed Himself In?
    8/28/2007

  • Onward Into Waziristan!
    8/3/2007

  • Hillary's Late Hit
    7/27/2007

  • This Is How Empires End
    7/20/2007

  • Tonkin Gulf II and
    the Guns of August?
    7/17/2007

  • How Scooter Skated
    7/6/2007

  • The Retreat of the Old Bulls
    6/29/2007

  • The Martyr of Mosul
    6/22/2007

  • On the Escalator to War With Iran
    6/15/2007

  • Who Lost Russia?
    6/5/2007

  • Does 'The Decider'
    Decide on War?
    5/30/2007

  • Why Congress Caved to Bush
    5/25/2007

  • But Who Was Right Rudy or Ron?
    5/18/2007

  • Dying for...Estonia?
    5/4/2007

  • Wolfie's Piggy Bank
    4/17/2007

  • What a Lack of Courage Cost
    4/10/2007

  • Magnanimous Mahmoud
    4/7/2007

  • Interventions Without End?
    3/27/2007

  • Pelosi's Capitulation
    3/20/2007

  • Does Putin Not Have a Point?
    2/13/2007

  • Is Bombing Iran Bush's Call?
    2/9/2007

  • Hysteria at Herzliya
    1/31/2007

  • The Ideologue
    1/25/2007

  • The X Factor in 2008 Iran
    1/23/2007

  • See the Superpower Run
    1/19/2007

  • Mr. Bush, Meet Walter Jones
    1/16/2007

  • Patrick J. Buchanan was twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the Reform Party’s candidate in 2000. He is also a founder and editor of the new magazine, The American Conservative. Now a commentator and columnist, he served three presidents in the White House, was a founding panelist of three national television shows, and is the author of seven books.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2014 Antiwar.com