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New President, New World

“Don’t Make Any Sudden Moves” is the advice offered to the new president by Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations, which has not traditionally been known as a beer hall of populist beliefs.

Haass meant the president should bring his National Security Council together to anticipate the consequences before tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, or shooting down a missile being tested by Kim Jong Un.

In arguing against rash action, Haass is correct.

Where the CFR and the establishment are wrong, and Donald Trump is right, however, is in recognizing the new world we have entered.

The old order is passing away. Treaties and alliances dating from the Cold War are ceasing to be relevant and cannot long be sustained.

Economic patriotism and ethnonationalism, personified by Trump, seem everywhere ascendant. Transnationalism is yielding to tribalism.

The greater danger for President Trump is that the movement he led will be abandoned, its hopes dashed, and the agenda that Trump rejected and routed will be reimposed by a Republican Establishment and its collaborators in politics and the press.

Again, it was Trump who read the nation right, which is why he is taking the oath today.

The existential threat to the West no longer comes from the East, from a Russian army crashing through Poland and Germany and driving for the Elbe and Fulda Gap.

The existential threat to the West comes, instead, from the South.

The billion-plus peoples of the Maghreb, Middle East, and sub-Sahara, whose numbers are exploding, are moving inexorably toward the Med, coming to occupy the empty places left by an aging and dying Europe, all of whose native-born populations steadily shrink.

American’s bleeding border is what concerns Americans, not the borders of Estonia, South Korea, Kuwait, or the South China Sea.

When Trump calls NATO “obsolete,” he is saying that the great threat to the West is not Putin’s recapture of a Crimea that belonged to Russia for 150 years. And if the price of peace is getting out of Russia’s face and Russia’s space, maybe we should pay it.

George Kennan himself, the architect of Cold War containment of Stalin’s Russia, admonished us not to move NATO to Russia’s border.

Of Brexit, the British decision to leave the EU, Trump said this week, “People, countries want their own identity and the U.K. wanted its own identity … so if you ask me, I believe others will leave.”

Is he not right? Is it so shocking to hear a transparent truth?

How could Europe’s elites not see the populist forces rising? The European peoples wished to regain their lost sovereignty and national identity, and they were willing to pay a price to achieve it.

Apparently, the Davos crowd cannot comprehend people who believe there are more important things than wealth.

Yet while President Trump should avoid rash actions, if he is to become a transformational president, he will spurn an establishment desperately seeking to hold onto the world that is passing away.

Article V of the NATO treaty may require us to treat a Russian move in the Baltic as an attack on the United States. But no sane president will start a war with a nuclear-armed Russia over Estonia.

No Cold War president would have dreamed of so rash an action.

Rather than risk such a war, Ike refused to send a rifle or bullet to the heroic Hungarian rebels in 1956. Painful, but Ike put America first, just as Trump pledged to do.

And given the strength of ethnonationalism in Europe, neither the eurozone nor the EU is likely to survive the decade. We should prepare for that day, not pretend that what is taking place across Europe, and indeed worldwide, is some passing fever of nationalism.

Notwithstanding Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson’s diktat, the United States is not going to force China to vacate the fortified reefs in a South China Sea she claims as her national territory.

Stick to that demand, and we best prepare for war.

As for the Taiwan card, it was played in 1972 by Richard Nixon as the price of his opening to China. Four decades ago, Jimmy Carter cut diplomatic ties to Taiwan and terminated our security pact.

For Xi Jinping to accept that Taiwan might be negotiable would mean an end of him and the overthrow of his Communist Party of China.

The Chinese will fight to prevent a permanent loss of Taiwan.

The imperative of the new era is that the great nuclear powers—China, Russia, the United States—not do to each other what Britain, France, and Germany did to each other a century ago over a dead archduke.

President Trump should build the wall, secure the border, impose tariffs, cut taxes, free up the American economy, bring the factories home, create millions of jobs, and keep us out of any new wars.

With rare exceptions, wars tend to be fatal to presidencies.

Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority [1].

14 Comments (Open | Close)

14 Comments To "New President, New World"

#1 Comment By Kurt Gayle On January 19, 2017 @ 11:05 pm

A successful Donald Trump presidency means:

“President Trump should build the wall, secure the border, impose tariffs, cut taxes, free up the American economy, bring the factories home, create millions of jobs, and keep us out of any new wars.”

Remembering all the way back to January 1953 and the first Eisenhower inauguration, tomorrow marks the most exciting and hopeful beginning of any American presidency in my lifetime!

#2 Comment By Hexexis On January 20, 2017 @ 1:24 pm

Like most of his press & pundit brethren, Mr. Buchanan attempts to squeeze chaos master Trump’s rants into the only vaguely coherent U.S. nationalist ideology. Even if new Pres. Trump is “right,” what’s far more likely is that he will continue the bellicose “massive retaliation” scheme dreamed up by SecyState Dulles in the 1950s & still in effect 25+ post-Cold War years later.

Altho he & his “team” probably know nothing about that latter, his personal qualities of impulsivity & vengefulness will peripherally pursue the same policy.

#3 Comment By collin On January 20, 2017 @ 1:37 pm

With rare exceptions, wars tend to be fatal to presidencies.

Then why are we poking the China bear so much? We don’t need to gear against China. Replacing China for Russia as the enemy superpower does not seem to be a good trade for our national security and I believe more nations will side with China than Russia. Sure we can negotiate trade but it is not an act of war to sell cheap computers to Apple.

#4 Comment By bacon On January 20, 2017 @ 2:10 pm

Those who worry about loss of civil liberties under the new administration should give some thought to Mr. Buchanan’s hope that President Trump will keep us out of any new wars. I’m not a Trump fan, but early in the primaries I commented on TAC that if the price of peace was a buffoon in the White House, so be it. We have seen civil liberties curtailed during wars more than at any other time. Given that we might lose a war, such civil liberty loss seems only reasonable. The trick is to insure that the loss is temporary. Regarding Mr. Buchanan’s advice, from building the wall to keeping us out of any new wars, President Trump should do all of those things if he can, but keeping us out of war should take precedence.

#5 Comment By Stephen Neetz On January 20, 2017 @ 3:20 pm

Once again Pat has it right. The one exception I would offer is that we are getting close, though maybe not quite there, to shooting down any missile from Kim Jong Un as the only option left after the previous U.S. approach to N. Korea. But hopes are high for the new Trump Administration.

#6 Comment By Classicist On January 20, 2017 @ 4:08 pm

Which treaties from the Cold War are no longer relevant? NATO? We share extremely close economic and cultural ties with NATO members (barring, perhaps, Turkey). We would have an interest in the security and prosperity of these nations even if we didn’t have a formal military alliance. What is to be gained by moving away from such an alliance?

“Article V of the NATO treaty may require us to treat a Russian move in the Baltic as an attack on the United States. But no sane president will start a war with a nuclear-armed Russia over Estonia.”

Similarly, Russia would never invade a NATO member state. Again, what does dismantling NATO accomplish except giving Russia the greenlight for any expansionary ambitions?

This is very fuzzy thinking. While there are threats beyond Russia, what can we possibly accomplish by abandoning our European allies to fend for themselves?

#7 Comment By Sam Houston On January 20, 2017 @ 6:27 pm

I agree that we need to let go of NATO. But is Mr. Buchanan arguing that ethnonationalism is a good thing? Isn’t that what led to the rise of Nazi Germany and genocides from Yugoslavia to Rwanda?

America is a country of immigrants. Yes, we should secure our borders and be fair to those who immigrate here legally. But to toy with the White ethnonationalism that has reared its ugly head during this recent election is to defile our basic American character.

#8 Comment By John S On January 20, 2017 @ 7:05 pm

“…Putin’s recapture of a Crimea that belonged to Russia for 150 years.”

How about we give a Crimea back to Russia if they give a Kaliningrad back to Poland.

“The imperative of the new era is that the great nuclear powers—China, Russia, the United States—not do to each other what Britain, France, and Germany did to each other a century ago over a dead archduke.”

Have Russia and China received this memo?

#9 Comment By Luc Lalongé On January 20, 2017 @ 9:38 pm

I wonder if Patrick Buchanan would have won the presidency if he had run in 2016 instead of during the 90s. I remember his book ”The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy” published in 1998. Is there a big difference with Donald Trump’s main topics we find in his electoral platform (except the tone)? Can Mr. Buchanan tell us the difference?

#10 Comment By PAXNOW On January 21, 2017 @ 6:57 am

He did sense the tide of change. I do not believe it was mainly Obamacare. This was a well meaning effort to raise the U.S. out of the world-basement of health-care statistics.The tide was the lack of hope for real jobs and a real piece of the American dream for Americans. Sunk costs are irrelevant costs. Let us move forward and not look back. Compassion, common sense, and no more designer wars. Our infrastructure (physical and education), once the pride of the world, needs immediate and undivided attention. A bold move – forgive all student debt.

#11 Comment By Mark Thomason On January 22, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

When NATO was formed, the US produced half the world’s industrial production, and Europe was prostrate, helpless before Stalin’s Red Army. Then Stalin got the bomb, and the Soviets were the other superpower.

Today, none of that is true. Things have changed beyond recognition.

We need to think of our position in terms of current reality, not reality as it was over half a century ago.

I think some form of NATO could be a benefit to the US. That does not mean the current form.

Now Europe can do more, and the US should do less, but the US still benefits from having its military in a position to prevent European wars and able to support US policies.

#12 Comment By Focus On America On January 22, 2017 @ 1:06 pm

“Remembering all the way back to January 1953 and the first Eisenhower inauguration, tomorrow marks the most exciting and hopeful beginning of any American presidency in my lifetime!”

Unless he wastes time and money on the Middle East and catering to Israel. If he makes that mistake, he’s toast (and so are we).

#13 Comment By Lloyd A. Conway On January 22, 2017 @ 3:13 pm

One of the most significant tests of how successful the Administration is will start to be evident early next fall: Will there be any evidence of a rise in the Euro-American birthrate, especially among working-class families? Will the decline in life expectancy for the same group be arrested? If policy fulfils promises to help the forgotten Americans who voted Mr. Trump into office, then one side-effect should be a restoration of hope and spirit. Believing in some promise of a meaningful future ought to affect fertility rates, as well as those pertaining to suicide and opioid abuse, etc. If not, then the story of the Trump years will be that of a last hurrah for his supporters, rather than being the seed-time of a rebirth.

#14 Comment By Richard Parker On January 24, 2017 @ 4:05 pm

Kaliningrad has never been Polish. It has always been Prussian.

Kaliningrad is currently an aircraft carrier for Russian forces. Worth it economically and military but still an aircraft carrier stuck in the middle of New NATO? Who knows?