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Will War Cancel Out Trump’s Triumphs?

Asked what he did during the French Revolution, Abbe Sieyes replied, “I survived.”

Donald Trump can make the same boast.

No other political figure has so dominated our discourse. And none, not Joe McCarthy in his heyday in the early ’50s, nor Richard Nixon in Watergate, received such intense and intemperate coverage and commentary.

Whatever thinks of Trump, he is a leader and a fighter, not a quitter. How many politicians could have sustained the beatings Trump has taken and remained as cocky and confident?

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And looking back on what may fairly be called the Year of Trump, his achievements have surprised even some of his enemies.

With the U.S. military given a freer hand by Trump, a U.S.-led coalition helped expel ISIS from its twin capitals of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, driving it back into a desert enclave on the Iraq-Syria border. The caliphate is dead, and the caliph nowhere to be found.

The economy, with the boot of Barack Obama off its neck, has been growing at a rate of 3 percent. The stock market has soared to record highs. Unemployment is down to 4 percent. And Trump and Congress just passed the largest tax cut since Ronald Reagan.

On deregulation, which conservative Republicans preached to deaf ears in the Bush I and Bush II eras, Trump and those he has put into positions of power have exceeded expectations.

Pipelines Obama blocked have been approved. Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge has been opened to exploratory drilling. We have exited a Paris climate accord that favored China over the U.S.

Though Beijing’s trade surplus with us is returning to record highs, a spirit of “America First” economic nationalism is pervasive among U.S. trade negotiators.

The one justice named to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, appears in the Antonin Scalia tradition. And under Chairman Chuck Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee is moving conservatives and strict constructionists onto U.S. appellate and district courts.

Politically, however, the year brought bad news, with portents of worse to come. In November, the Republican Party was thrashed in Virginia, losing all state offices. It then lost a Senate seat in Alabama.

Given polls showing Trump underwater and the GOP running 10 points behind the Democratic Party in favorability, there is a possibility the GOP could lose the House in 2018.

And though Democrats have three times as many Senate seats at risk in 2018, the GOP losing the Upper Chamber is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Should that happen, the conservative dream of a recapture of the U.S. Supreme Court could swiftly vanish.

Recall: Democratic Senates turned down two Nixon nominees and Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork, forcing both presidents to name justices who evolved into moderates and liberals on the high court.

But it is in the realm of foreign policy where the real perils seem to lie. President Trump has been persuaded by his national security team to send Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, for use against the tanks and armor of pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Should Petro Poroshenko’s Kiev regime reignite the war in his breakaway provinces bordering Russia, Vladimir Putin is less likely to let him crush the rebels than to intervene with superior forces and rout the Ukrainian army.

Trump’s choice then? Accept defeat and humiliation for our “ally”—or escalate and widen the conflict with Russia.

Putin’s interest in the Donbass, a part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for centuries, is obvious.

What, exactly, is ours—to justify a showdown with Moscow?

In Washington there is also a powerful propaganda push to tear up the nuclear deal John Kerry negotiated with Iran, and confront the Iranians in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the Persian Gulf.

But how much backing would Trump have for another U.S. war in that blood-soaked region, after Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria?

Who would stand with us, and for how long?

When Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and pledged to move our embassy there, we had to veto a unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution condemning us. Then the General Assembly denounced us in a resolution supported by all our key NATO allies, Russia, China, and every Arab and Muslim nation.

A day later, Trump complained on Twitter that we have “foolishly spent $7 trillion in the Middle East.”

What then would justify a new $1 or $2 trillion war with the largest nation on the Persian Gulf, which could send oil to $200 a barrel and sink the global economy?

Cui bono? For whose benefit all these wars?

The Korean War finished Truman. Vietnam finished LBJ. Reagan said putting Marines into Lebanon was his worst mistake. Iraq cost Bush II both houses of Congress and his party the presidency in 2008.

Should Trump become a war president, he’ll likely become a one-term president.

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. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

16 Comments (Open | Close)

16 Comments To "Will War Cancel Out Trump’s Triumphs?"

#1 Comment By Dan Green On January 2, 2018 @ 9:56 am

Americans are sick and tired of issues with the Middle East. Unfortunately the Ukraine has no strategic interest for us.

#2 Comment By collin On January 2, 2018 @ 10:02 am

Frankly, Trump biggest problem is he does not let the good things dominate and acts like a clown on Twitter. If he lost the phone charger, I bet his approvals would be ~50% at this point. (Although this article gives him way too much credit for 2017 successes.)

#3 Comment By Christian Chuba On January 2, 2018 @ 10:05 am

We have an infinite tolerance for other people’s blood being spilled even if it is unnecessary.

Let’s suppose Trump assists the Saudis in their war in Yemen with U.S. air and naval support. It will be sold as countering Iranian expansion and cause no U.S. casualties. If the operation succeeds, great, if it fails, eh. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We are immune to the suffering of others.

If Ukraine launches an offensive into eastern Ukraine and the Russians intervene, it will be sold as another Georgia scenario. More fodder for the revanchist, revisionist Russia crowd. One angry speech by Trump / Tillerson and a larger Defense budget fixes that, no U.S. lives were lost in the effort.

Syria? Actually, this is a little tricky. We could bomb Hezbollah and Iranian assets in Syria but Iran has lots of ballistic missiles and can retaliate against lots of U.S. targets in the region. The saving grace is that DT could spin this as a result of Obama’s appeasement to Iran and launch a massive bombing attack on that country. He can play the patriotism card here.

BTW I am not in favor of these things, just pointing out how war plays well in the U.S. We are a proud and blood thirsty people who believe they are the righteous and indispensable.

#4 Comment By James Newberry On January 2, 2018 @ 11:20 am

Even if he doesn’t get into another war, he won’t be re-elected unless the Dems pick an even worse candidate than Hillary Clinton.

If these attacks were just from the left, you could argue they are unfair. But so many of the attacks are from lifelong Republicans who are embarrassed by his tweets and other antics. His personality and divisiveness drive too many people away. Americans expect their president to be more of a unifying force. And too many of the things he says are obvious lies. I like the stock market going up — and Neil Gorsuch — but I’d rather have someone more balanced like Mike Pence in charge.

#5 Comment By One Guy On January 2, 2018 @ 12:24 pm

Trump is a quitter.

He quit on China currency punishment.

He quit on the wall.

He quit on the Muslim ban.

He quit on repealing and replacing Obamacare.

He quit on creating coal jobs.

He quit on bringing factory jobs back from China and Mexico.

These were all cherished promises of his campaign, and none of them have happened, and he doesn’t even talk about them anymore.

He’s a quitter.

#6 Comment By Lenny On January 2, 2018 @ 12:32 pm

Pat

You must come to realize that Rex Tillerson was right

Trump is a xxxx moron

#7 Comment By Andrew On January 2, 2018 @ 12:56 pm

Cui bono?

We all know – Israel, AIPAC, and the neocons. The same crew that pushed for the last war. America First has become a broken campaign promise…

#8 Comment By Michael Kenny On January 2, 2018 @ 1:27 pm

“For whose benefit all these wars?” For the benefit of global US hegemony! The American “business model” rests on the dollar as world reserve currency and that requires political and military hegemony. Hegemony means defeating any challenger to US power. That explains Mr Buchanan’s “vendetta” against the EU: he sees it as a challenge to US global hegemony. But there’s his conundrum. Putin’s role was to be a battering ram to break up the EU and a bogeyman to scare the resulting plethora of more or defenceless “statelets” back under the US defence umbrella. Instead of that, Putin invaded Ukraine and thereby challenged US hegemony. The only way of restoring US global hegemony is by destroying Putin, in the same way as Mr Buchanan and others envisage destroying the EU. But destroying Putin strengthens the EU! Thus, the choice is destroy Putin or destroy the US. Mr Buchanan is still clinging to the illusion that he can save the anti-EU asset that Putin was supposed to be without destroying the American business model. Arguments about “non-intervention” are just rather too openly disingenuous arguments to that end.

#9 Comment By Liam On January 2, 2018 @ 3:18 pm

It’s long been obvious – from well before he was elected – that Trump’s character is such that he’s easily seduced by the neocons. Trump has a desperate need to be seen – and to seem – manly. Rather than actually *be* manly, which actually can entail things that do not seem manly.

#10 Comment By LouisM On January 2, 2018 @ 3:54 pm

If Trump follows the neocon warmongerers then he will lose more of his base and be tainted with the same stench, stains, suspicion and animus as GBushII.

There are a lot of Trump votes that approve of Trump regaining our military standing in the world but they want a reduced footprint worldwide. They want new airplanes and drones, new ships, upgrades to our nuclear arsenal and emp attacks and new technology to combat cyber warfare (which some suspect as the reason for recent naval collisions). We cannot engage in fights everywhere in the world for every ally in the world. Its a waste of life and a waste of resources.

We don’t just need a domestic infrastructure plan. We also need a military infrastructure plan and we cant do that if we are spending all our money on unwinnable police actions around the world. There should be only 2 military priorities for the US: North Korea, militarization of South China Seas in Asia and Iran / Pakistan in the middle east.

Let the VISEGRAD fight it out between the EU and Russia.

Let the Chinese become hated colonialists extracting wealth from African dictators.

Let India balance out Russia and China in Central Asia.

Lastly, its time to put UN peace keepers in Syria and Iraq to maintain stability. Create safe zones so they can start to rebuild both their countries.

#11 Comment By William Foster On January 2, 2018 @ 6:42 pm

Nice trick, touting “Trump’s triumphs” when your own site’s top story is “Trump’s Empty Governance”. Some might call it incoherence, but let’s just call it diversity and move on.

As always, Pat never fails to appall. I’ll leave it to others to detail the numerous inaccuracies – giving Trump all the credit for the economy when it was growing very nicely under Obama, for instance. That’s just standard political BS.

But seriously, who but Pat Buchanan could invite Trump to a pity party with Dick Nixon and Joe McCarthy?

#12 Comment By TheIdiot On January 2, 2018 @ 7:52 pm

I agree with One Guy.

Trump is a loser. Like most bullies, he is an insecure child.

Like those who believed in Obama’s hope and change, I wanted Trump to succeed against the deep state. Trump is a failure. But, no one can succeed. Money, not people, are in control.

#13 Comment By MEOW On January 3, 2018 @ 4:34 am

“Should Trump become a war president, he’ll likely become a one-term president.” Wrong! He will unleash the neocon philosophy using American blood and treasure. The mainstream media will make this neocon inspired war (s) as nothing short of a patriotic achievement. YouTube will have to go into high gear censoring the truth tellers.

#14 Comment By ukm1 On January 3, 2018 @ 1:40 pm

“Should Trump become a war president, he’ll likely become a one-term president.”

There’s a stark difference between an American leader and a Chinese leader in the year of 2018.

American leader promises bombs and military invasions of other countries that do not follow American military commands and American world dictatorship.

Whereas the Chinese leader promises financial prosperity and peace for all countries!

American leaders think that borrowing trillions of dollars in national debts and, ultimately, without having to pay off the creditors will make America great again.

Chinese leaders think, living happily within one’s means without going for democracy-building abroad is the surest way to national prosperity.

LINK

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#15 Comment By Fabius On January 4, 2018 @ 2:25 pm

I would just like to note that those appear to be Russian fighter planes in the header image at the top of the article.

#16 Comment By Kodos the Executioner On January 5, 2018 @ 9:42 am

Fabius says:
“I would just like to note that those appear to be Russian fighter planes in the header image at the top of the article.”

You are correct. Those are MiG-29s.