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Republicans Will Embrace Iran Diplomacy—If They’re Smart

When, after the massacres at Newtown and the Washington Navy Yard, Republicans refused to outlaw the AR-15 rifle or require background checks for gun purchasers, we were told the party had committed suicide by defying 90 percent of the nation.

When Republicans rejected amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, we were told the GOP had just forfeited its future.

When House Republicans refused to fund Obamacare, the government was shut down and the Tea Party was blamed, word went forth: The GOP has destroyed its brand. Republicans face a wipeout in 2014. It will take a generation to remove this mark of Cain.

Eight weeks later, Obama’s approval is below 40 percent. Most Americans find him untrustworthy. And the GOP is favored to hold the seats it has in the House while making gains in the Senate.

For this reversal of fortunes, Republicans can thank the rollout of Obamacare—the website that does not work, the revelation that, contrary to Obama’s promise, millions are losing health care plans that they liked, and the reports of soaring premiums and sinking benefits.

Democrats, however, might take comfort in the old maxim: If you don’t like the weather here, just wait a while.

For, egged on by Bibi Netanyahu and the Israeli Lobby AIPAC, the neocons are anticipating the return of Congress to start work on new sanctions on Iran. Should they succeed, they just might abort the Geneva talks or even torpedo the six-month deal with Iran.

While shaking a fist in the face of the Ayatollah will rally the Republican base, it does not appear to be a formula for winning the nation.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll from Tuesday, by 44-22 Americans approve of the deal NATO, Russia, and China cut with Tehran to freeze its nuclear program.

While two-thirds do not trust Iran when it says its program is not designed to build nuclear weapons, fully 65 percent believe “the United States should not become involved in any military action in the Middle East unless America is directly threatened.”

Only 21 percent disagree.

This is the nation that rose up last summer and told Obama it did not want to get involved in Syria’s civil war, and told Congress to deny Obama the authority to order air strikes—red line or no red line.

Even if the Iran deal collapses, 80 percent of Americans would favor a return to the sanctions regime and negotiations. Only 20 percent would support military action against Iran.

In summary, while Americans do not trust Iran, they do not want war with Iran. They want to test Iran. On this issue, Obama is in sync with his countrymen.

Why, looking at these numbers, would Republicans return to Washington with a full-metal-jacket ,”axis-of-evil” attitude, with John McCain becoming again the face of the party?

Why would Republicans return to Washington and throw away the winning hand that is Obamacare? It is ravaging the president’s reputation for competence and his credibility, and calling into question the core philosophy of the Democratic Party—that Big Government is America’s salvation.

Why would Republicans return to the bellicosity that cost the party both Houses in 2006 and the White House in 2008?

That 20 percent of the nation which favors war with Iran, in the event of a deal collapse or breakdown in the talks, is already in the GOP corral. If Republicans seek to broaden their base, why abandon Obamacare, where a majority agrees with them, for an issue, renewed hostility to Iran, where a majority disagrees?

Would it not be playing into Obama’s hand to allow him to assume the role of statesman, who, with “all options on the table,” is willing to negotiate with an enemy rather than take us to war with him?

Did not Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan all go this same route?

If Bibi, AIPAC, the neocons, and their congressional allies should sabotage the negotiations or scuttle the existing or future deal with Iran, maneuvering us into a another war in the Middle East that America does not want, how do they think this will sit with the voters in 2016?

If Iran is deceiving us and is hell-bent on breaking out of this deal and making a dash to a bomb, we will know about it months if not years before Iran ever tests a device, let alone builds a bomb, miniaturizes it and marries it to a delivery system.

We would have more than enough notice to abort any test and neutralize Iran’s nuclear program. And the nation would unite behind action, were it seen that Iran had lied to us to buy time to build and test a bomb.

But if the Republican Party leads Congress in imposing new sanctions, and the Iranians walk out, and the NATO-Russia-China coalition breaks up, and a chance for peace in the Persian Gulf seems to have been thrown away, the GOP will pay the price. And rightly so.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? [1]” Copyright 2013 Creators.com [2].

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#1 Comment By Mohammad On November 29, 2013 @ 4:44 am

there is a asymmetry between warmongers’ and anti-war conservatives’ attitude here. Neo-cons and warmongers have made it crystal clear that if somebody does not fully and completely endorse their militaristic position, that person has absolutely no chance of getting their vote and support, even if he agrees 100% on everything else with them. Anti-war conservative like Buchanan (for whom I have great respect) on the other hand, very easily put aside their peace-loving attitude in their support of people they regard just marginally less liberal than democrats. Consider Buchanan’s support of McCain and Romney, for example. With this lack of symmetry between the motivations on both sides, is there any surprise that the Republican party is becoming more and more the party of war?

Unless the anti-war conservatives make a more benign foreign policy a pillar of their philosophy, and a sine qua non condition for their votes and support, GDP is going to follow the path of neo-cons to hell.

#2 Comment By Mohammad On November 29, 2013 @ 5:11 am

oops! I meant GOP and not GDP, of course. But now that I think, even GDP can also follow the neo-cons to hell.

#3 Comment By Puller58 On November 29, 2013 @ 8:32 am

Pat likes to ignore things he doesn’t like. (His silly paen to Sarah Palin stands as his all time greatest miss.) The very firewall of support that the Evangelical base of the GOP offers is something he pretends not to see. (And Pat was said to have championed nonstop for Reagan to meet with people like Falwell and Robertson when he worked in the Reagan administration.) Unless he wants to go toe to toe with folks like John Hagee, I can’t take this post seriously.

#4 Comment By WorkingClass On November 29, 2013 @ 9:02 am

@Mohammad:

“Consider Buchanan’s support of McCain and Romney, for example.”

Exactly what I was thinking. The Republicans are in no danger of losing Pat’s vote.

#5 Comment By Labropotes On November 29, 2013 @ 10:05 am

Mohammad, Buchanan may have preferred anyone to Obama, but he has never set aside his “peace-loving attitude.”

#6 Comment By “Michael N Moore On November 29, 2013 @ 10:47 am

“If they’re smart” is a pretty big caveat for “the stupid party”.

#7 Comment By Mohammad On November 29, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

Labropotes: don’t mistake me. I really have great respect for Buchanan. But can you imagine one of the neo-cons or even right-wing radio shows ever endorsing anybody who is anti-war, even if that person is in 100% in agreement on other things with them? Would a Kristol ever have endorsed Ron Paul if he had gotten the nomination? I am not saying that Pat Buchanan is not genuinely anti-war, what I am saying is that there is an asymmetry in the amount of emphasis each side puts on the issue. For one side it is almost everything or at least it is one defining issue; for the other, on the other hand, it is an important issue, but one that can be postponed because of political expediency. If Kristol et al can easily prefer Obama over ANY foreign-affair-realist, but Buchanan can endorse hawks like Romney or McCain just because they are marginally to the right of Obama, then how would a GOP calculating politician act and align himself? One doesn’t need to be a genius to figure out where the party would go from here, given the forces and the emphasis of each side.

#8 Comment By Faramarz Fathi On November 29, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

I can not disagree with Buchanan’s grim future for this great country if it continues to be manipulated and influenced by a foreign element or its surrogates in government. Nor do I disagree with a word in Mohammad’s post.

Faramarz Fathi

#9 Comment By Majumder On November 29, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

When Senator John S. McCain becomes Majority Leader after 2014 election, America will be ready for a new war in Middle East!

#10 Comment By An Anachronistic Apostle On November 29, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

But can you imagine one of the neo-cons or even right-wing radio shows ever endorsing anybody who is anti-war, even if that person is in 100% in agreement on other things with them?

I can imagine such, even though reality lends itself to squelching the palpable anxieties of Messrs. Mohammad and Faramarz Fathi, rather considerably … if they would let it.

So “right-wing radio shows” and other entertaining entities have endorsed the likes of Romney and McCain, for highly influential office. Yes. But the endorsements did not secure that office … perhaps … perhaps … for the trigger-happy tendencies they’ve established in the past (and present). Since then, the American public rose up to dampen what appeared to be an inevitable response to a the crossing of a narcissist’s self-styled “red-line.” Many of those “right-wing radio shows” supported and attempted to fuel the C-i-C’s narcissistic rage, at the time, for their own agenda-driven purposes. Public opinion was, in the main, not swayed.

The overall trends are encouraging, not a cause for panic. I think Americans are beginning to sit up and take notice, as to when their true interests are at stake, and when they are most definitely not. The “long way to Tipperary” is getting longer.

As to the radio programs, do sit back and enjoy the show. They are a piece of Yankee-huckster Americana, principally designed to hawk Angie’s List, Goldline, a college or two, gun-safes, books and sundry other products and investments. They acrobatically set a Scriptural injunction “Be anxious for nothing” on its head, because god Mammon dictates such. It’s a medieval carnival that has all the ingredients, except for mimes.

#11 Comment By Murfree On November 29, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

The people are generally sane on questions of war and peace. What we need to look out for are those who pose as Americans while working in the interest of foreign states, and those who stand to profit from conflict.

Existing laws against this kind of activity are crying out for enforcement.

#12 Comment By James Canning On November 29, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

Sensible advice, from Pat B.

#13 Comment By Profwatson On November 29, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

As Eisenhower said, the “military industrial complex.” Sad but true, they like war and rumors of war and etc. The War Party is supported by the “military industrial complex.”(contractors, uniformed military personnel, active and retired) It is business and profits. Follow the money trail. These members of the GOP are not crazy, they just want to make money. The GOP has their interest groups the same as the Dems. We are told that the GOP needs to be a big tent, does this also mean including the “military industrial complex” folks?

#14 Comment By peter On November 29, 2013 @ 10:28 pm

How about those of us who aren’t interested in attacking Iran, but also don’t see any value in relaxing sanctions against the mullahs in return for a “deal” which the Iranians interpret as requiring absolutely no change in their nuclear activities? Or are the merits of the deal irrelevant?

#15 Comment By Clint On November 30, 2013 @ 6:49 am

Pat Buchanan,
”We need to recapture the conservative movement.The movement has been hijacked and turned into a globalist, interventionist, open-borders ideology, which is not the conservative movement I grew up with.”

#16 Comment By Warren Bajan On November 30, 2013 @ 7:34 am

How to put Republicans and smart in the same sentence: “Republicans smart from latest beating.”

#17 Comment By Austin Rebreh On November 30, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

You don’t understand, Iran has been on the verge of building a bomb for the last 100 years. They will get it eventually unless we act now. We can’t afford to wait another 100 years.

#18 Comment By Brian A. Cobb On November 30, 2013 @ 11:24 pm

The CIA was taken by surprise by the Pakistani bomb.

#19 Comment By Lynn Rivera On December 1, 2013 @ 2:05 am

Although Pat may make some reasonable remarks, I think he misses at least two important points: to agree with Obama on anything has to be wrong fundamentally. And second, we will never have peace in the Middle East. Never. Well, not until the Millennial Kingdom. To think that we can escape war is foolish. To think that we can monitor Iran is foolish. To trust Obama or Iran is foolish. So where is the wisdom in sticking our heads in the sand? Maybe that is what got the conservatives in trouble in the past — they did not want to rock the boat and stifled their voices and dumbed down their consciences at the expense of their integrity. When we do that we become Democrats.

#20 Comment By Imissbuckely On December 1, 2013 @ 2:30 am

“Why would Republicans return to the bellicosity that cost the party both Houses in 2006 and the White House in 2008?…..

Would it not be playing into Obama’s hand to allow him to assume the role of statesman, who, with “all options on the table,” is willing to negotiate with an enemy rather than take us to war with him?

Did not Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan all go this same route?”

Ross Douthat has written some excellent articles on why the GOP is in its current state on foreign policy issues. The wing of the party that you described Mr. Buchanan, is an exhausted one. They no longer factor as even a portion of the GOP. The realist/pragmatic conservative wing once anchored in the party by a healthy base of social and fiscal moderates who cleaved the middle way have left the GOP. Much in the same way Neoconservatives and the “Solid South” left the Democratic Party.

Most of the energy behind Foreign Policy within GOP is in its Neoconservative and hawkish factions. And their only challengers the Libertarians are not large enough yet, nor have enough influence to sway the rest of the party in their direction, (with the exceptions of help gained from a war-weary public which won’t last forever). Especially, having to go up against the various lobbying groups, and PACs that support intervention in Iran. The Libertarians/Non-interventionists are outgunned.

[3]

“with the eclipse of foreign-policy realism within the G.O.P. there’s a shortage of potential advisers and influencers who represent any kind of middle way between crusading interventionism and Paul-style libertarianism. And if that debate does end up splitting the party in 2016, it could be a case study in why the Eisenhower/Nixon/H.W. Bush realists were so useful to the Cold War-era G.O.P., and why the party misses them today.

The realists weren’t particularly liked by anyone else within the conservative tent: They were too squishy for the Birchers and later too cautious for the neocons, too internationalist for the party’s Jacksonian base, too pro-defense spending for the libertarians, too Arabist for pro-Israel Republicans, too willing to use force for the paleocons and Buchananites. (This is part of why Eisenhower’s presidency is criminally underrated within his own party.) And there were many non-foreign policy reasons why their influence diminished over time: They were mostly social liberals and economic moderates, and as time went by and WASP Republicanism waned as a force in our politics, they increasingly lacked any electoral constituency to speak of on the right.”

If the “Realist” faction is to return they need a new base to keep them anchored in the Party. And the libertarians with their growing numbers, and their ability to appeal to War-Weary voters and conservatives, are probably their best and only bet.

#21 Comment By NB On December 1, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

Buchanan is cherry-picking poll results to support his narrative:
HuffPost/YouGov poll:
“Thirty-six percent said they support the deal with Iran, and 35 percent said they oppose the deal.”
[4]

Rasmussen: “41% Favor Nuclear Deal with Iran, 43% Oppose”
[5]

64% of Americans say it is important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons even if it means taking military action:
[6]

It all depends on how you ask the question.

#22 Comment By EarlyBird On December 2, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

Ms. Rivera, these are reasons why, though I am still a registered Republican, I consider myself an independent conservative:

“…to agree with Obama on anything has to be wrong fundamentally.”

That is not being conservative; that is reflexive partisanship which is bad for our country. No doubt Obama wants a peaceful draw down of our 30+ year cold war with Iran. Why wouldn’t anyone else want that?

“And second, we will never have peace in the Middle East. Never. Well, not until the Millennial Kingdom.”

Why must you assume that? You seem to lack imagination. If we could end the Cold War with the Soviets without coming to blows, we can deal with Iran.

Nobody is claming that with this deal the Iranian nuclear weapons program is “over,” only that that there is now a chance to begin the work to end it.

Nobody knows or can know ahead of time if this is a good or bad deal. Only time will tell. The only thing foolish is to not try this deal, take this tiny risk, when we are in an extremly strong position to do so.

Your blithe assertion that war in the Middle East is a constant part of nature, or inevitable, is sad, and clearly the remark of someone who has not recognized how even “winning” endless wars in the world is a recipe for American disaster.

#23 Comment By Rehmat On December 2, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

Would anybody dares to ask Obama to go after Israel’s nuclear stockpile – and demand a pledge from Netanyahu that he will not invade any of his neighbors during Obama’s presidency?

[7]

#24 Comment By Jim Evans On December 2, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

peter writes: “How about those of us who aren’t interested in attacking Iran, but also don’t see any value in relaxing sanctions against the mullahs in return for a “deal” which the Iranians interpret as requiring absolutely no change in their nuclear activities?”

peter, the Iranian nuclear development program advances despite sanctions.

So, with no agreement and only sanctions, no matter how punishing, the Iranian nuclear program will advance and, then, the next time, and there would be a “next time”, those baying for war would be even more shrill and insistent.

Perhaps, they would be emboldened to come out openly for war, like they did for Iraq.

Maybe, that would even be politically healthy to openly discuss War & Peace, but I’d like not to get to that point because, who knows, maybe they succeed and get the war they always wanted with Iran… and the United States in dragged into a quagmire that makes Iraq look like a picnic.

No, peter, if you want continued sanctions you are inviting war sooner or later.

Perhaps that next time includes circumstances that successfully stampedes the American People into supporting a disastrous war.

Let’s not go there or do that.

#25 Comment By James Marshall On December 6, 2013 @ 12:10 am

It’s a complete lie that the sanctions are against the Iranian government. The average citizens of these countries are always the ones who pay the highest price from EU and US sanctions. Sanctions are a barbaric substitute for rolling one’s sleeves up and engaging in sincere diplomacy.

#26 Comment By James Marshall On December 6, 2013 @ 12:17 am

It was hilarious to hear Mike Savage complaining about big government last night, but consistently supporting endless wars and the bottomless pit of Pentagon spending. I don’t consider such people as either a legitimate part of the GOP base or conservative.