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When America Comes Home

“The most successful alliance in history,” it was called at the end of the Cold War in which NATO, for 40 years, deterred the Red Army from overrunning Berlin or crashing through West Germany to the Channel.

And when that Cold War was over, Sen. Richard Lugar famously said, “Either NATO goes out of area or goes out of business.”

In Afghanistan and Libya, NATO went out of area. And given the trend in both conflicts, NATO may soon be going out of business.

NATO faces “collective military irrelevance,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates on his valedictory visit to a stunned Brussels last week:

“The mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country — yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the U.S., once more, to make up the difference.”

Gates’ patience with the Europeans is, understandably, just about exhausted. Two decades after the Soviet Union disintegrated and the Red Army went home, America is still carrying 75 percent of the NATO burden for the defense of Europe.

Only five of 28 members invest in defense the 2 percent of gross domestic product required by NATO rules. Major members like the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey refuse to fly air strikes in Libya. France and Britain have run so low on munitions in a war against a sandbox country on the African coast that they have had to borrow U.S. munitions. Germany and Poland are AWOL.

With an air operations command capable of handling 300 sorties a day, the allies are struggling to put half that many in the air.


Another reason besides European malingering why NATO is in trouble is the fiscal crisis and sea change taking place in the United States.

Gates alluded to it. In America, “the reality is changing. … Choices are going to be made more on what is in the best interests of the United States.”

With GOP conservatives joining congressional Democrats in seeking to cut off funds for the Libyan war, John Boehner has been forced to take the lead in charging the president with violating the War Powers Act. He is demanding Barack Obama come to Congress to get authorization to continue U.S. participation in the Libyan war.

Should the Americans pull out, NATO loses.

The first Republican debate in New Hampshire was astonishing for its anti-interventionist tone. While front-runner Mitt Romney said he would listen to the generals about when it is safe to get out of Afghanistan, he spoke out against any more wars to win independence for nations not vital to the United States.

This is straight out of the Robert Taft tradition that America does not fight other countries’ wars or pay other countries’ bills.

Michele Bachmann, who emerged as the star of the debate and favorite for the backing of the social conservative and Tea Party right, called Libya a strategic mistake. No vital U.S. interests were imperiled.

That debate was a fire bell in the night for the neoconservatives. The days when Republicans stood up and saluted a commander in chief as soon as he starting bombing a country appear to be over.

With Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Libya, the GOP appetite for intervention has been sated. Only Sen. Lindsey Graham is hot for air strikes on Syria to bring down President Bashar Assad.

Moreover, there are other reasons, based on painful experience, for the new hesitancy to use U.S. military force. One is blowback, the whiplash recoil that inevitably follows even beneficial U.S. action.

When Obama sent SEAL Team Six on that secret mission to kill Osama bin Laden, we so humiliated the Pakistani army its pro-American commander, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, could be ousted and replaced by officers hostile to the United States.

Second, while the U.S. military has shown itself capable of taking down regimes, we have proven less capable of establishing replacement governments that are strong, stable and pro-American. And we have thus far not succeeded at the follow-up business of nation-building, despite the investment of hundreds of billion of dollars.

Third, Americans are fed up with freeloaders, domestic and foreign.

They are fed up with politicians whose constituents pay no federal taxes howling for higher taxes on those who carry the load. Fed up with foreign aid to nations who never get off the dole and regularly vote against us in the U.N. Fed up with allies who spend less than we do on their own defense. Fed up with subsidizing the new international order while nations like China exploit that new order for their own advantage.

“Yankee, go home!” much of the world has been yelping for years. We may be all about to find out what happens when the Yankees do go home, not to return again for a long, long time.

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#1 Comment By Jim Evans On June 16, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

Peace and freedom.

Americans know that marching to the military-industrial complex’s tune of perpetual war isn’t going to bring peace and freedom.

Just break the bank.

And leave us in a national security state.

That isn’t the American way.

Never has been, never will be…

If we want to keep our freedom and live in peace.

#2 Comment By FN On June 17, 2011 @ 12:34 am

Europeans are not getting a free ride paid for by the US. Nobody threatens Europe militarily, neither China nor Russia. Nobody else would be able. Europe does not need the US’s protection and does not benefit from the untold billions the US blows on its military. Instead, a mistaken American foreign policy is the main source of security risks for Europe.

NATO is supposed to be a defense alliance; I do not mind if Europeans are unable to bomb Libya effectively, because we should not be doing it anyway.

The US should halve its military budget, then cut it again by 50%. This would still be ample. Cut military bases in Europe to the necessary minimum (not that I have anything against them – they are simply not necessary any more). Cut military bases elsewhere. Switch to a sane foreign policy, and the US will be more secure and much richer.

#3 Comment By Hartley Pleshaw On June 17, 2011 @ 1:21 am

Right on, Pat. Of course, I was saying these things long before you were, but I’ll take wisdom anywhere I can find it. Everything you predicted would happen when the wars of the Bush/Obama Imperium started ten years ago has happened. And how astonishing is it that the Republicans–the same ones who called you an “unpatriotic conservative” as recently as four years ago, and people like me a few other choice names–are now leading the way toward non-interventionism! Again, beggars can’t be choosers. If it’s between Obama and Ron Paul in 2012, this life-long lefty is going to vote for Ron Paul.

#4 Comment By shag65 On June 17, 2011 @ 6:06 am

Though one proof show to the world that this command has killed Osama bin Laden. Only one. Except words anything is not present. There is no body – there are no affairs. So lawyers speak. Suspiciously it is all with Osama.

#5 Comment By shag65 On June 17, 2011 @ 6:48 am

«…for 40 years, deterred the Red Army from overrunning Berlin or crashing through West Germany to the Channel.»

Patrick J. Buchanan, learn history. The Red Army of 40 years was in Berlin. To La Manche in 1945 could pass without problems and anybody would not stop. At that point in time it was the strongest army in the world. – Stalin has not allowed it to make to Zhukov. It was not necessary for the USSR then, neither then, nor now.

And still. – the Civilization of the countries which bomb the USA in 5 – 10 – 20 times are more senior existence of the USA. In comparison with them at the USA has not enough history of the civilisation. Why you have decided, what the USA most cleverly and knows true? In the history it is a lot of examples of disappearance of empires which were more powerful than the USA and existed much longer. But they are not present, and the world without them is.

#6 Comment By Brian On June 17, 2011 @ 8:44 am


ELEVEN Carrier Groups is absurd!

This bizarre obsession with a 1,000 ship fleet is driving us into bankruptcy.

#7 Comment By David Lindsay On June 17, 2011 @ 9:19 am

American withdrawal from NATO? Speed the day. But why should we in Britain wait for you?

Outside NATO, our only even potential enemy is Argentina, which America has always supported over the Falkland Islands, whereas we could rely again, just as we did in 1982, on the understanding cooperation of our fellow old colonial powers in France and Portugal, whereas America is centuries away from that understanding, although she is now on the slow journey toward it.

Entirely of our own accord, we should get out of NATO. Now. Let’s just do it.

#8 Comment By daddysteve On June 17, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

No- keep the navy.
Cut back on the army.

#9 Comment By Bryan Ensign On June 17, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

The sad part is that NATO has shown Russia just how weak she is…

#10 Comment By John Dorman On June 17, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

Pat Buchanan, you are fond of railing against freeloading Europeans as the primary reason America is compelled to maintain a financially crippling military presence around the world but you seem to be oblivious to, or choose to ignore, a more plausible reason – nature abhors a vacuum. By all means shut it all down, send them all home, try and find jobs for them – picking and packing apples or whatever US employers are crying out for in these bounteous days of full emplyment – then explain to your fellow Americans how it came about that China, Russia and India seized the opportunity of to fill that vacuum, and should things not go quite according to plan and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falls into the hands of who knows who you can always riposte “hey, think of the money I saved”.

#11 Comment By tbraton On June 17, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

“then explain to your fellow Americans how it came about that China, Russia and India seized the opportunity of to fill that vacuum, and should things not go quite according to plan and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falls into the hands of who knows who you can always riposte “hey, think of the money I saved”. ”

Even more reason to pull all our troops out of Afghanistan—-and put them into Pakistan. Because that is where the nukes are. Of course, Pakistan has a population of 170 million (compared to the 25 million of Afghanistan), so we may have to increase the force from 100,000 men to 700,000 men. That should put a dent in our unemployment problem, just as WWII ended the Great Depression.

I really like the reference to “India filling the vacuum.” If they took over all of Pakistan, they would merely be rectifying the error the British made when they divided the Indian subcontinent. And the world would be a much safer place.

#12 Comment By Bill R. On June 17, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

Partisanship on the part of Republicans in foreign policy is no better than partisanship by Democrats, and I smell a double standard here. I have clearly lived too long when a “conservative” commentator aids and abets a proposal to reduce the defense budget by 75%. Really ? Who do these people think they are kidding. The prophecies of America’s decline are purely self-fulfilling. Buchanan leads that Greek chorus, but it is own whining that is the most pathetic of all. Give it up, man. We have a great nation, a powerful nation, to love and uphold. Stop tearing it down.

#13 Comment By jsmith On June 17, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

Bring those troops home and put them at the border with Mexico. That’s where the real danger is.
Oh yeah, encourage India to invade Pakistan. Now there’s a doozy. Better yet encourage a nuclear exchange between those two nations tbraton!

#14 Comment By Phaedon On June 17, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

John Dorman manages to miss the point and ignore reality both in regard to economics and foreign policy. Are you saying we keep the military interventionism in place merely as a make work program? We get the best of both worlds: fantastic job opportunities (paid for by the taxes of the apple pickers, as you cal them) _and_ the guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong in the world as long as we’re in Pakistan.

Is this really the way you think the world works?

#15 Comment By JakeJ On June 17, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. . . . The chain reaction of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

Words written by an unknown other.

#16 Comment By Dmitry Aleksandrovich On June 18, 2011 @ 1:31 am

Unfortunately I do not exactly believe Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann and their “born again” anti-interventionist conservative credentials. Just as I never believed Barrack Obama was going to lead the way out of Iraq. We’re still in Iraq. We’re still in Afghanistan and now we’re in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Not long ago many neo-cons and Israel lovers in the GOP were sabre rattling over Syria, licking their chops like rabid dogs at the chance of striking Assad. As a general rule I don’t trust neo-cons or pro-zionist evangelicals when it comes to foreign policy.

When it comes to foreign policy and the G.O.P. I trust Representative Ron Paul and his Senator son Rand and that’s it. On the Democrat side it would be Dennis Kucinich. No other Republican or Democrat could I truly say is anti-interventionist. Maybe the Socialist Bernie Sanders but I don’t know his take on Libya or what happend in Kosovo during Clinton’s time.

#17 Comment By Bill Pearlman On June 18, 2011 @ 3:06 am

A Pat Buchanan column that I agree with. Just saw a pig fly by my window. Nato was formed to face off with the Russians. ( the Warsaw pact ) That ended 20 years ago. Nato should be closed up

#18 Comment By Adam Rurik On June 18, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

The U.S. must maintain its military and weaponry. After all, that’s America’s only growth industry: Death.

#19 Comment By John Hunter On June 18, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

Perhaps the ‘allies’ are sick and tired of America’s endless wars of “Propagation of Truth, Justice, Freedom, Liberty & the American Way”?

Projecting trends — if the world’s economies don’t implode first — I’ve warned that a day will come when what is left of the free peoples of the world must unite militarily against America; if they want freedom.

America is a living lie, a self-sustaining contradiction (thank heavens for Ron Paul) and sadly deluded victim of its own non-stop indoctrination. Thank heavens the Chinese are bankrupting you whilst you continue to export ‘democracy’ at bomb-point, eternally picking on perceived easy victims who then savage your ankles. Go for it—!

And then, maybe, the rest of us might just get some peace …

#20 Comment By Carax On June 19, 2011 @ 2:02 am

Mr. Buchanan, two points: American armed forces are not stationed in Europe to do the Europeans any favors, they are there because for all practical purposes, Europe is an American satellite, a continent to be used for its own selfish reasons. Secondly, if the US bases were to be closed, what would America do with all its unemployed airman, soldiers and sailors? Where would they go, to the unemployment line or be used to control the indignant American masses whom the economic elite are at war with?

#21 Comment By laurent On June 19, 2011 @ 6:51 am

The Republican Party and “No Arab Dictator Left Behind”

– In 2008, President Bush was in Bahrain praising King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa as a democratic Arab leader and fellow freedom defender

– Condoleezz­a Rice said “Jordan is making really great strides in its political evolution”

– Republican Senator Mark Steven Kirk “President Ben Ali has worked tirelessly to ensure a free society, greater democratic openness, and complete respect for human rights in Tunisia”.

– In 2007, George Bush offered his strongest support of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who came to power in 1999 as a result of a coup d’etat.
Bush said “Pervez Musharraf has also advanced democracy in Pakistan”

– Cyprus and Western Sahara are still under occupation by Turkey and Morocco, thanks to George Bush.

– 500 Orthodox churches or chapels have been pillaged, demolished or vandalized in occupied Cyprus.

– According to Freedom House, occupied Western Sahara is one of the worst place in the world.

#22 Comment By Andrei On June 19, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

Conservatives don’t know what they want. First, it’s freedom for all, perpetual peace through perpetual war, yada yada, only free world is a safe world, yada yada. Now wars are bad? Three years ago it was called unamerican, no? Make up your mind.

And I am not taking about Libertarians, but about the so called “Conservatives”.

#23 Comment By Tom Johnson On June 19, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

18 June 2011
I’m 64. Born in 1947. Dad was a ne’er-do-well rich kid, so we were one of the few families that had a TV in our house in 1952 or thereabouts. Dad would watch some interesting shows back then, such as “Omnibus”, “The Big Picture”, “Face the Nation”. I would watch with him.
On one of the weekly presentations of “The Big Picture”, by the DoD, was shown a film of one of the early atomic bomb test blasts in the American southwest. Before the blast, 4 small rockets were fired straight up and created 4 white columns. I asked my Dad, “What are those?” Dad said, “I don’t know.” In the same film, they showed a house with something coming off it like smoke, just before the house was blown away. I asked my Dad, “What was that?” Dad said, “I don’t know.” On another occasion, on a broadcast from the White House, President Eisenhower said, “Beware the military industrial complex.” I asked my Dad, “What does he mean?” Dad said, “I don’t know.” I believed him then and still do. He did not know. Knowing required thinking and, my guess and in 20-20 retrospect, I believe he was just not up to thinking. He did smoke a lot and was a good drinker.
The white columns were to provide a frame of reference to see how the bomb blast might distort the air mass. The stuff coming off the house was the paint being burned off by the intense light before the house was demolished by the blast wave. And Eisenhower meant that the military and the industrial complex supplying it would be mutually supportive, potentially at the public’s expense. See. This stuff is easy to figure out, if you can think.
First: The military provides our national defense. The military also provides jobs in the military and with the defense contractors. There are 2 basic questions. When is enough defense enough? and, Is the main focus on defense or jobs? I believe that Eisenhower feared that jobs, both in defense and with defense contractors (the industrial complex), would become the prime movers. Certainly, there is that. But, consider, for just one example of many possible examples, Iran having nuclear weapons.
Second: In previous decades, when the defense budget was one third of the total Federal budget, complaints of excessive spending on the military had some validity. But today, the defense budget is one third of the yearly Federal budget deficit, and only one seventh of the overall Federal budget.
Hope this helps.
Tom Johnson
Largo, Florida, USA

#24 Comment By Owen Sands On June 19, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

Don’t get too happy Pat. Romney and Bachmann oppose intervention in Libya for one reason: Obama’s in charge.

Clinton-era Republicans opposed intervention too.

#25 Comment By Brian On June 19, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

Let’s hope NATO collapses along with the power structure in Washington. I’m a European-American. What do I care? They don’t represent me or the long term interests of my race, my people, my community – Nothing Burn in hell!!!!

#26 Comment By icr On June 20, 2011 @ 6:07 am

I wish Pat would write a history of “the Cold War”. I’m naturally skeptical about both the conventional history and the Stalin-friendly left-revisionist version of events.

#27 Comment By cfountain72 On June 20, 2011 @ 8:35 am

Hi Tom,

“In previous decades, when the defense budget was one third of the total Federal budget, complaints of excessive spending on the military had some validity. But today, the defense budget is one third of the yearly Federal budget deficit, and only one seventh of the overall Federal budget.”

One ratio you forgot to mention: The US spends almost as much on our military as the rest of the world combined. Another item that is sometimes overlooked is the fact that the ‘defense’ budget is not the full amount spent on our military. For instance, some nuclear weapons spending gets tossed into the Dept of Energy budget. The VA spending falls under its own category. Homeland Security, which I naively thought was the military’s responsibility, is now its own $48B mess.

In any case, it really shouldn’t matter. The amount spent on our military should be the amount we need–and not a penny more. That may be 30% of total budget, might be 50%, might be 15%. In my opinion, we could get by with a military budget of perhaps half of what we spend. Of course, that would require a re-redefinition as to the actual purpose of our military: it should be used for defense. For more details, check out: [1]

Peace be with you.

#28 Comment By Myself On June 20, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

I am hoping the people are coming around to a non-interventionist foreign policy like this recent article I just read…

#29 Comment By dissidentstockbroker On June 22, 2011 @ 6:42 am

Hey Pat…it wasn’t free-loading Europeans who were calling for “full spectrum dominance” in the heady end-of-empire Bush-Cheney years.

It wasn’t Europeans calling for the US to invade every tinpot former Arab ally…it was the neocon Israeli-firsters far closer to home. President Chirac tried to keep the US out of Iraq.

Maybe the much smaller European militaries are a sign of their intelligence…

…feel free to emulate !

#30 Comment By Owen Sands On June 22, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

“Maybe the much smaller European militaries are a sign of their intelligence…”

Or a sign of their freeloading.

#31 Comment By Jack in Wi. On June 22, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

Who are we protecting the Europeans from? It seems to me that they know what their defense needs better than we do. They would rather spend their money on fat pensions for bureaucrats and welfare. So Be it. Lets bring our troops home, cut the military budget in half, and let the world defend itself.