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Is Trump’s Agenda Being Eclipsed?

“I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire,” said Winston Churchill to cheers at the Lord Mayor’s luncheon in London in November 1942.True to his word, the great man did not begin the liquidation.

When his countrymen threw him out in July 1945, that role fell to Clement Attlee, who began the liquidation. Churchill, during his second premiership from 1951-1955, would continue the process, as would his successor, Harold Macmillan, until the greatest empire the world had ever seen had vanished.

While its demise was inevitable, the death of the empire was hastened and made more humiliating by the wars into which Churchill had helped to plunge Britain, wars that bled and bankrupted his nation.

At Yalta in 1945, Stalin and FDR treated the old imperialist with something approaching bemused contempt.

War is the health of the state, but the death of empires.

The German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires all fell in World War I. World War II ended the Japanese and Italian empires — with the British and French following soon after. The Soviet Empire collapsed in 1989. Afghanistan delivered the coup de grace.

Is it now the turn of the Americans?

Persuaded by his generals — Mattis at Defense, McMasters on the National Security Council, Kelly as chief of staff — President Trump is sending some 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to augment the 8,500 already there.

Like Presidents Obama and Bush, he does not intend to preside over a U.S. defeat in its longest war. Nor do his generals. Yet how can we defeat the Taliban with 13,000 troops when we failed to do so with the 100,000 Obama sent?

The new troops are to train the Afghan army to take over the war, to continue eradicating the terrorist elements like ISIS, and to prevent Kabul and other cities from falling to a Taliban now dominant in 40 percent of the country.

Yet what did the great general, whom Trump so admires, Douglas MacArthur, say of such a strategy?

“War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.”

Is not “prolonged indecision” what the Trump strategy promises? Is not “prolonged indecision” what the war policies of Obama and Bush produced in the last 17 years?

Understandably, Americans feel they cannot walk away from this war. For there is the certainty as to what will follow when we leave.

When the British left Delhi in 1947, millions of former subjects died during the partition of the territory into Pakistan and India and the mutual slaughter of Muslims and Hindus.

When the French departed Algeria in 1962, the “Harkis” they left behind paid the price of being loyal to the Mother Country.

When we abandoned our allies in South Vietnam, the result was mass murder in the streets, concentration camps and hundreds of thousands of boat people in the South China Sea, a final resting place for many. In Cambodia, it was a holocaust.

Trump, however, was elected to end America’s involvement in Middle East wars. And if he has been persuaded that he simply cannot liquidate these wars — Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan — he will likely end up sacrificing his presidency, trying to rescue the failures of those who worked hardest to keep him out of the White House.

Consider the wars, active and potential, Trump faces.

Writes Bob Merry in the fall issue of The National interest:

“War between Russia and the West seems nearly inevitable. No self-respecting nation facing inexorable encirclement by an alliance of hostile neighbors can allow such pressures and forces to continue indefinitely. Eventually (Russia) must protect its interests through military action.”

If Pyongyang tests another atom bomb or ICBM, some national security aides to Trump are not ruling out preventive war.

Trump himself seems hell-bent on tearing up the nuclear deal with Iran. This would lead inexorably to a U.S. ultimatum, where Iran would be expected to back down or face a war that would set the Persian Gulf ablaze.

Yet the country did not vote for confrontation or war.

America voted for Trump’s promise to improve ties with Russia, to make Europe shoulder more of the cost of its defense, to annihilate ISIS and extricate us from Mideast wars, to stay out of future wars.

America voted for economic nationalism and an end to the mammoth trade deficits with the NAFTA nations, EU, Japan and China.

America voted to halt the invasion across our Southern border and to reduce legal immigration to ease the downward pressure on American wages and the competition for working-class jobs.

Yet today we hear talk of upping and extending the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, of confronting Iran, of sending anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine to battle pro-Russia rebels in the east.

Can the new custodians of Trump’s populist-nationalist and America First agenda, the generals and the Goldman Sachs alumni association, be entrusted to carry it out?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

24 Comments (Open | Close)

24 Comments To "Is Trump’s Agenda Being Eclipsed?"

#1 Comment By Matt On August 22, 2017 @ 6:06 am

As a nation, wno longer have the time or the money to continue acting like the global policemen. A vast plurality of the American people understand this. The political and military elites however do not understand the inevitability of it. My point: if a populist conservative doesn’t roll back our foreign entanglements in 2017, then some far left Socialist certainly will in 2021.

#2 Comment By JRP On August 22, 2017 @ 7:00 am

When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… until it becomes common place and meaningless.

#3 Comment By Michael Kenny On August 22, 2017 @ 10:04 am

Trump is a master of double talk. He says everything and the contrary of everything. Once again an author heard what he wanted to hear and believed what he wanted to believe. Mr Buchanan presents the election as if it was, inter alia, a sort of referendum on whether or not to capitulate to Putin in Ukraine. Thus, the answer to the question in the title is no. Trump’s agenda is not being eclipsed. Pat Buchanan’s agenda is being eclipsed.

#4 Comment By Ivo Olavo Castro da Silva On August 22, 2017 @ 10:46 am

The idea that not confronting Russia’s traditional aggression against its neighbors is somehow in the American interesest is flawed. The Ukrainian people paid a terrible price throughout history because of its eastern neighbor. The United States became the leader of the Free World because it stood up against the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan’s policies made sure this would result in victory.
What is draining American resources and lives are endless wars in the Middle East that only serve the interest of Israel and fuel justified hatred against the West.

#5 Comment By Sam On August 22, 2017 @ 10:46 am

If only Trump had included you sir, Mr. Buchanan, in his cabinet…

#6 Comment By Dan Green On August 22, 2017 @ 11:11 am

After Bush ill conceived invasion of Iraq,( no doubt on advice from close associates), Obama was elected to get us out of wars and back away from being the worlds cop. We backed away from being the worlds policemen, replaced with understanding and diplomacy. Like Egypt, cutting a deal with Iran, staying at arms length for Israel, and keeping the Ukraine at bay, and not supplying them with a even a feeble attempt to confront the Russians.So here we are with almost no objective solved except fighting in Syria. All empires the author mentions tried ultra hard usually with violence to keep their empires. We may be well served to face reality and shrink our international involvement. Europe is back in Germany’s hands, and Asia is up to the Japanese and the Chinese Reds to work out.

#7 Comment By Dan Green On August 22, 2017 @ 11:15 am

I would add to my previous post. The Middle East will no doubt have a all out war. That region is in the end, up to Iran and Saudi to solve, probably with a war and wars of which Muslim countries side with which country. All of course in the name of a religion.

#8 Comment By collin On August 22, 2017 @ 11:58 am

But here is the basic points on the Trump campaign:

1) Trump was NEVER really the dovish candidate and continuously rallied around bombing the heck out of the terrorist and taking their oil & minerals. He merely complained about the current wars.
2) He never really laid what his agenda is and what is priority to him.

#9 Comment By Michael R Honohan On August 22, 2017 @ 12:00 pm

It is very curious, telling if you will, that Trump did NOT tap Buchanan as an advisor. Buchanan has long held nationalist and pro-Western view that I do not agree with that align the Bannon. At the same time, he hold enough intellect and worldly views to not let those positions devolve into unwitting support for Nazis and Klansmen.

Most certainly Buchanan has been on honest intellectual for the far right rather than a conniving bomb thrower like Bannon.

#10 Comment By ScottA On August 22, 2017 @ 12:51 pm

We aren’t going to be able to change Afghanistan any more than any other past empires were able to change Afghanistan. It’s called “The Graveyard of Empires” for a reason.

#11 Comment By Butler T. Reynolds On August 22, 2017 @ 1:24 pm

War and economic nationalism. That’s creepy.

#12 Comment By TheIdiot On August 22, 2017 @ 2:20 pm

I agree with Pat as to why I voted for Trump, even though he is a pig of a man. My thought was that his position of America First was worth putting him in charge. Who better to fight the Deep State than a pig? And with Hillary, it would have been more of the same. So, just how it was for all those Obama supporters hoping for change, Trump supporters are finding out that, this time too, it is DEEP STATE, first; to all of our detriment.

So long as it is in the hands of the Deep State, our Empire will end in ruins. We need someone in charge with Pat’s agenda of nationalism. A distinct America First – with what looks like weakness (like the sort of weakness Obama showed those neocons). Because we need to focus on our homeland. Because we do not have the strength to both defend other nations’ human rights and defend our foreign arrogance. If our nation is to avoid catastrophe, we simply need to turn a blind eye on the rest of the world. We wasting blood and treasure on other people’s problems.

If this idiot were King, I’d sell weapons to SKorea and Japan, sell Guam to the highest bidder, withdraw completely from the Pacific, and leave China, Japan and Russia to sort it out.

(That should be Trump’s deal if he really wants China to fix NKorea.)

#13 Comment By FiveString On August 22, 2017 @ 4:11 pm

The emperor never had any clothes. He’s always been a blank canvas, the perfect projection screen (to rephrase Michael Kenny’s post above). That was enough to get many intellectual conservatives to overlook and even whitewash (looking at you, Pat) Trump’s painfully obvious flaws.

Those disappointed in Trump can console yourselves with the fact that he is Not Hillary, and the likelihood that redmap gerrymandering will prevent excessive damage to the GOP.

#14 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 22, 2017 @ 5:03 pm

The importance of what the population wants ends once the votes are counted, when once again the people are relieved of their momentary power.

#15 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 22, 2017 @ 5:07 pm

” if a populist conservative doesn’t roll back our foreign entanglements in 2017, then some far left Socialist certainly will in 2021.”

No, they’re for the same foreign wars.

#16 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On August 22, 2017 @ 5:18 pm

“America voted to halt the invasion across our Southern border and to reduce legal immigration to ease the downward pressure on American wages and the competition for working-class jobs.”

Mass IMMIGRATION = Incoming Migrant Millions Immolate Great Republic Amazingly Turned Into Obsolete Nation (or Oblivion Nation, take your pick).

#17 Comment By andy On August 22, 2017 @ 6:11 pm

If only someone, at some time, had warned us prior to November that Trump would not be able to fulfill even his more appealing promises…

#18 Comment By Chris Chuba On August 22, 2017 @ 7:11 pm

Yes Ivo, it’s in our vital U.S. interests to force the Crimeans to be part of Ukraine. So when did Crimea choose to be part of Ukraine, was it in 1992 when they adopted their own constitution only to have it nullified by Ukraine?

When is Ukraine going to give back the land that Stalin stole from Poland and Slovakia at the end of WW2? That would be a nice gesture since they want to join the EU.

#19 Comment By Mark On August 22, 2017 @ 10:16 pm

We just need a little more time for training and they can fight the war on their own. That was called ” Vietnamization” I think. Sound familiar anyone?

#20 Comment By AnotherJohn On August 23, 2017 @ 8:20 am

“…until the greatest empire the world had ever seen had vanished.”
Pure Patty Buchanan. Possible for two reasons. First, his ability to empathize with mere mortals does not exist. Second, his life spent as a privileged white male has blinded him to the fact were he born in a world where his life was spent in unwilling servitude to nationalist thugs who stole his country’s freedom might have left him with a different life altogether. But, when God speaks “the truth” into his ear, it is his responsibility to enlighten the rest of us.

#21 Comment By Fred Bowman On August 23, 2017 @ 1:38 pm

Pat, you need to stop blaming others for Trump’s undoing. Seems to me he’s put himself in the position where he’s having to “bow to the political establishment.”

#22 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On August 23, 2017 @ 4:01 pm

Trump might or might not know it, but he has a wild card that can dramatically turn the game in his favor–regulation of the big banks.

Here’s how that would play out. Pushed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, congressional Democrats who are responsive to the part of the Democratic base that has all the momentum, and will have momentum for years to come, would be very foolish to not support the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, even if Donald Trump is the one behind it.

A demand by Trump to reinstate Glass-Steagall could be disastrous for Democratic state legislators and governors. Obviously, they have no direct say in whether it becomes law. But voters will want to know whether or not they are in favor of common sense–the separation of commercial banking and investment banking being nothing but common sense. (Wall Street will pretend it’s rocket science.) Along with the dislike of independents for Antifa, and the failure of Democratic leaders to condemn its tactics, any weakness of state-level Democratic politicians in taking aim at Wall Street’s recklessness and stunning lack of accountability may keep independents, as well as many Millennials, from voting for them in 2018 and 2020.

As for Republicans…their voters aren’t nearly as intense about reigning in Wall Street, so Republicans who oppose any call by Trump to reinstate Glass-Steagall will be hurt less badly than Democrats. Still, they know there is a lot of right-wing populism out there, and they will hopefully know better than to stridently oppose reinstating Glass-Steagall. Standing athwart history yelling “Stop!” is one thing. Standing athwart common sense yelling “Stop!” is another thing entirely.

Also, in calling for a robust new Glass-Steagall, Trump can stick a shiv in the back of social justice warrior CEOs. In their compensation packages, all CEOs, including the non-banker ones, benefit hugely and disproportionately from the casino economy that the absence of Glass-Steagall creates. They will thus oppose Glass-Steagall to the degree that they are indifferent to the fate of Main Street. Trump should regard their criticism of him as manna from heaven.

#23 Comment By AZ Joe On August 23, 2017 @ 7:41 pm

As someone said (Dreher?, Larison?) Trump has no convictions, just impulses. He might have added “nothing but ego without wisdom, and character a half inch deep and a quarter inch wide.” A perfect combination to be exploited by neoconservatives. Who to move on to? Rand Paul?

#24 Comment By Gunjit Singh On August 29, 2017 @ 8:20 pm

Ah those English who were so adept at holding back the passions of those monstrous heathen thugs of the subcontinent during the halcyon days of Empire, what a pity they are gone and no longer Christianizing the natives.I know facts are in short supply when the epileptic seizure of ideology sets in but perhaps Buchanan ought to educate himself on the various atrocities of the British Empire. Hell, with a name like that you ought to be able to tell me which European island had a population of 9 million in 1845 and 3 million in 1900, and which Great Power made sure that happened.