- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

The Unseen Wars of America the Empire

If Turkey is not bluffing, U.S. troops in Manbij, Syria, could be under fire by week’s end, and NATO engulfed in the worst crisis in its history.

Turkish President Erdogan said Friday his forces will cleanse Manbij of Kurdish fighters, alongside whom U.S. troops are embedded.

Erdogan’s foreign minister demanded concrete steps by the United States to end its support of the Kurds, who control the Syrian border with Turkey east of the Euphrates all the way to Iraq.

If the Turks attack Manbij, America will face a choice: stand by our Kurdish allies and resist the Turks, or abandon the Kurds.

Should the U.S. let the Turks drive the Kurds out of Manbij and the entire Syrian border area, as Erdogan threatens, American credibility would suffer a blow from which it would not soon recover.

But to stand with the Kurds and oppose Erdogan’s forces could mean a crackup of NATO and a loss of U.S. bases inside Turkey, including the air base at Incirlik.

Turkey also sits astride the Dardanelles entrance to the Black Sea. NATO’s loss would thus be a triumph for Vladimir Putin, who gave Ankara the green light to cleanse the Kurds from Afrin.

Yet Syria is but one of many challenges facing U.S. foreign policy.


The Winter Olympics in South Korea may have taken the menace of a North Korean ICBM out of the news, but no one believes that threat is behind us.

Last week, China charged that the USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, a reef in the South China Sea claimed by Beijing, though it is far closer to Luzon in the Philippines. The destroyer, says China, was chased off by one of her frigates. If we continue to contest China’s territorial claims with our warships, a clash is inevitable.

In a similar incident Monday, a Russian military jet came within five feet of a U.S. Navy EP-3 Orion surveillance jet in international airspace over the Black Sea, forcing the Navy plane to end its mission.

U.S. relations with Cold War ally Pakistan are at rock bottom. In his first tweet of 2018, President Trump charged Pakistan with being a false friend.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump declared. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

As for America’s longest war in Afghanistan, now in its 17th year, the end is nowhere on the horizon.

A week ago, the International Hotel in Kabul was attacked and held for 13 hours by Taliban gunmen who killed 40. Midweek, a Save the Children facility in Jalalabad was attacked by ISIS, creating panic among aid workers across the country.

Saturday, an ambulance exploded in Kabul, killing 103 people and wounding 235. Monday, Islamic State militants attacked Afghan soldiers guarding a military academy in Kabul. With the fighting season two months off, U.S. troops will not soon be departing.

If Pakistan is indeed providing sanctuary for the terrorists of the Haqqani network, how does this war end successfully for the United States?

Last week, in a friendly fire incident, the U.S.-led coalition killed 10 Iraqi soldiers. The Iraq war began 15 years ago.

Yet another war, where the humanitarian crisis rivals Syria, continues on the Arabian Peninsula. There, a Saudi air, sea, and land blockade that threatens the Yemeni people with starvation has failed to dislodge Houthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa three years ago.

This weekend brought news that secessionist rebels, backed by the United Arab Emirates, seized power in Yemen’s southern port of Aden from the Saudi-backed Hadi regime fighting the Houthis.

These rebels seek to split the country, as it was before 1990.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE appear to be backing different horses in this tribal-civil-sectarian war into which America has been drawn.

There are other wars—Somalia, Libya, Ukraine—where the U.S. is taking sides, sending arms, training troops, flying missions.

Like the Romans, we have become an empire, committed to fighting for scores of nations, with troops on every continent and forces in combat operations of which the American people are only vaguely aware.

“I didn’t know there were 1,000 troops in Niger,” said Senator Lindsey Graham when four Green Berets were killed there. “We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world, militarily, and what we’re doing.”

No, we don’t, Senator.

As in all empires, power is passing to the generals.

And what causes the greatest angst today in the imperial city?

Fear that a four-page memo worked up in the House Judiciary Committee may discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia-gate.

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.

17 Comments (Open | Close)

17 Comments To "The Unseen Wars of America the Empire"

#1 Comment By johns On January 30, 2018 @ 1:43 am

We blunder into these things and immediately feel the need to back the Al-McCoys or the El-Hatfields without any understanding of the history or context. One or the other of the local sides will succeed in convincing some minor American official the the other side is Communist, or Iranian backed or what ever the bogyman of the year. That reduces the complexity in American eyes to white hats and black hats and we put out foot in it again, more or less the same as last time.

#2 Comment By furbo On January 30, 2018 @ 6:12 am

I’d simply state that if we were any type of respectable Empire….we wouldn’t be $20 Trillion in Debt!

#3 Comment By Centralist On January 30, 2018 @ 7:33 am

Power is passed to the generals while those that should hold power instead focus on pageantry. It is more a show then leadership. Maybe that is why Trump is doing so well he lets them get away with not taking real stands.

#4 Comment By Colin Chattan On January 30, 2018 @ 9:08 am

The United States should set up a Temple of Janus in Washington, with the doors welded permanently open.

#5 Comment By Michael Kenny On January 30, 2018 @ 10:08 am

The US didn’t “take sides” in Ukraine. It actually manufactured the conflict as part of a wider campaign to prop up US global hegemony by using Putin to break up the EU. Mr Buchanan’s view is the classic pro-Putin one: having manufactured the conflict in Ukraine, the US should stand back and let Putin win it in the hope that he can still be used against the hated EU. But, of course, if the US lets Putin win in Ukraine it destroys its credibility as a reliable ally.

#6 Comment By Fred Bowman On January 30, 2018 @ 11:02 am

Sadly Pat, Trump supports his generals and their MIC allies and the wishes of Israel and Saudia Arabia. American is indeed an Empire but unfortunately this Empire is devouring the Republic from which it was birthed.

#7 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On January 30, 2018 @ 11:21 am

” American credibility would suffer a blow from which it would not soon recover”

I wouldn’t worry too much about that. It’s too late to fret over “American credibility” among informed thinking people the world over.

#8 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On January 30, 2018 @ 11:23 am

Another day, another Michael Kenny anti-Putin comment. Rinse, wash, repeat.

#9 Comment By Gary Rose On January 30, 2018 @ 2:29 pm

A nice summary of the perpetual war that the military/industrial/surveillance complex, and its various allies among pressure groups, have brought to our country, at a stunning cost.
This should be published in every newspaper in the country, along with major web sites, on both the left and the right, as all Americans suffer the consequences, ethical, financial & political, of this “empire” of ignorance, stupidity and greed.

#10 Comment By WRW On January 30, 2018 @ 2:36 pm

Buchanan’s commentary does not resolve his contradictory complaints. He complains we overextend, but other than supporting military action in the ME, what value is there to Incirlik or Turkey as an “ally” for that matter? He complains that Turkey controls the Dardanelles, but other than confrontation with Russia, the Black Sea is strategically irrelevant. Then he complains of confrontation with Putin. He complains that relations with Pakistan are low using the utterly unsupportable claim that Pakistan is a strategic ally. For what since it has been harmful in Afghanistan? And Buchanan forgets that while unnecessary intervention can drag us into war, the lesson of WWI is that even the Realpolitik practitioners can miscalculate in the Great Game if they underestimate the cost of aggression (as China may be in the Pacific.)

America is never “coming home.” A cogent and comprehensive strategy is needed. From where and how can we disengage without creating the danger of more conflict, for example? I’m afraid Buchanan simply provides a mishmash of complaints (although this conclusion about the juvenile DC crowds obsession with political scandal in the face of strategic threat is a sound one.)

#11 Comment By PAX On January 30, 2018 @ 3:08 pm

The marginal return on buying influence over our foreign policy is obscene. A few million appears to get them an investment of billions or in the case of Iraq trillions by the U.S. taxpayer to wage designer wars. It is not only money it is life, limb, and death. Ours and collateral. This purchasing of our brave military must stop. This is more the case when this influence peddling is tied directly to us doing the dirty work for very foreign nations who don’t give a darn for our wellbeing. We should be spending billions in investigating these rogues in our midst.

#12 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On January 30, 2018 @ 3:43 pm

“And what causes the greatest angst today in the imperial city?”

Pat Buchanan is absolutely right about the dangers outside of the Beltway, which have been festering for years because of the actions and inactions of George W. Bush and Barack Obama–and even Bill Clinton, who turned NATO from a defensive alliance to an aggressive and offensive-oriented alliance.

And yet the Beltway’s obsession with Mueller is not crazy by any means–not when the Special Prosecutor is a “Melliflous Unctuous Eagerly Latitudinarian Lawyer Evading Restraint” (MUELLER).

If Mueller is the Deep State’s main way of tying Trump’s hands, and the anti-Russia venom that infects the Beltway is the main foreign policy and military danger we face–Russia is the only country that can annihilate us, and yet Putin is supposedly the evil leader that Trump will be denounced for seeking friendly relations with–you can see that the two things are linked.

In that sense–and owing to the unbelievable dereliction of Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, as Andrew C. McCarthy has repeatedly pointed out–Robert Mueller is a great danger to world peace all by himself.

#13 Comment By Andrew On January 30, 2018 @ 7:24 pm

Hey Mr. Kenny, just don’t forget to include in your statement and or opinion that we absolutely reneged on our promise as a so-called “reputable and honorable” nation of not allowing the advancement of NATO wrongly encroaching upon the newly Russian Federation’s borders advancing the despicable policy of American imperialism. We not only did that but as a power hungry empire looking for more, instead of making peace with Russia after the Cold War and showing the world what America is about, we meddled in their new-found democratic elections, wanting an Americanized Russian puppet that would please us. This, by the way, isn’t a pro-Russia or pro-Putin viewpoint. It’s a pro-America one that simply doesn’t wish to see its destruction at home and its credibility abroad. And just so you don’t call this fringe, radical right, white nationalist fake news opinions here are a few links to left-leaning news outlets making my “traitorous” point: [1]


If they’re not clickable, then just Google “NATO and Russia 1991” and “U.S. meddled in 1996 Russian election” and they’re the first LA Times link.

#14 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On January 31, 2018 @ 2:19 am

Michael Kenny, have you ever bothered to check Ukrainian economy’s numbers? No matter what kind of intentions you ascribe to certain Beltway political circles involved in that situation, the only thing either Putin or the EU leaders have to do now in regards to that tormented territory is sit back, get themselves a good cigar and a glass of Barceló Añejo and watch it crumbling. And, seeing that neither Trump nor the IMF are willing to sponsor that country anymore, I’ll be most surprised if it doesn’t crumble already this year.

#15 Comment By gerry On January 31, 2018 @ 2:08 pm

Don’t think US and A has an economy that survives total peace time.Hear Dr Paul say numerous times bring the troops back to spend money in American economy…

#16 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On January 31, 2018 @ 3:09 pm

In various ways, “madcap” is better than “mellifluous” in the above acronym. Thus Madcap Unctuous Eagerly Latitudinarian Lawyer Evading Restraint = MUELLER.

#17 Comment By moving on On February 5, 2018 @ 12:22 am

“From where and how can we disengage without creating the danger of more conflict, for example?”

Who cares? At least they won’t involve us. The point that the pundits and other international busybodies can’t or won’t “get” is that America has no business involving itself in these conflicts, and the American people don’t want America to be involved. Other peoples’ countries – other peoples’ fights. We need to get out!