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Who Started the Second Cold War?

Friday, a Russian SU-27 did a barrel roll over a U.S. RC-135 over the Baltic, the second time in two weeks. Also in April, the U.S. destroyer Donald Cook, off Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, was twice buzzed by Russian planes.

Vladimir Putin’s message: Keep your spy planes and ships a respectable distance away from us. Apparently, we have not received it.

Friday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work announced that 4,000 NATO troops, including two U.S. battalions, will be moved into Poland and the Baltic States, right on Russia’s border. “The Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right up against the border with a lot of troops,” says Work, who calls this “extraordinarily provocative behavior.”

But how are Russian troops deploying inside Russia “provocative,” while U.S. troops on Russia’s front porch are not? And before we ride this escalator up to a clash, we had best check our hole card.

Germany is to provide one of four battalions to be sent to the Baltic. But a Bertelsmann Foundation poll last week found that only 31 percent of Germans favor sending their troops to resist a Russian move in the Baltic States or Poland, while 57 percent oppose it, though the NATO treaty requires it.

Last year, a Pew poll found majorities in Italy and France also oppose military action against Russia if she moves into Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia or Poland. If it comes to war in the Baltic, our European allies prefer that we Americans fight it.

Asked on his retirement as Army chief of staff what was the greatest strategic threat to the United States, Gen. Ray Odierno echoed Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, “I believe that Russia is.”

He mentioned threats to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine. Yet, when Gen. Odierno entered the service, all four were part of the Soviet Union, and no Cold War president ever thought any was worth a war.

The independence of the Baltic States was one of the great peace dividends after the Cold War. But when did that become so vital a U.S. interest we would go to war with Russia to guarantee it?

Putin may top the enemies list of the Beltway establishment, but we should try to see the world from his point of view.

When Ronald Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik in 1986, Putin was in his mid-30s, and the Soviet Empire stretched from the Elbe to the Bering Strait and from the Arctic to Afghanistan. Russians were all over Africa and had penetrated the Caribbean and Central America. The Soviet Union was a global superpower that had attained strategic parity with the United States.

Now consider how the world has changed for Putin, and Russia.

By the time he turned 40, the Red Army had begun its Napoleonic retreat from Europe and his country had splintered into 15 nations. By the time he came to power, the USSR had lost one-third of its territory and half its population. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan were gone.

The Black Sea, once a Soviet lake, now had on its north shore a pro-Western Ukraine, on its eastern shore a hostile Georgia, and on its western shore two former Warsaw Pact allies, Bulgaria and Romania, being taken into NATO.

For Russian warships in Leningrad, the trip out to the Atlantic now meant cruising past the coastline of eight NATO nations: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Great Britain.

Putin has seen NATO, despite solemn U.S. assurances given to Gorbachev, incorporate all of Eastern Europe that Russia had vacated, and three former republics of the USSR itself.

He now hears a clamor from American hawks to bring three more former Soviet republics—Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine—into a NATO alliance directed against Russia.

After persuading Kiev to join a Moscow-led economic union, Putin saw Ukraine’s pro-Russian government overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup. He has seen U.S.-funded “color-coded” revolutions try to dump over friendly regimes all across his “near abroad.”

“Russia has not accepted the hand of partnership,” says NATO commander, Gen. Philip Breedlove, “but has chosen a path of belligerence.” But why should Putin see NATO’s inexorable eastward march as an extended “hand of partnership”?

Had we lost the Cold War and Russian spy planes began to patrol off Pensacola, Norfolk and San Diego, how would U.S. F-16 pilots have reacted? If we awoke to find Mexico, Canada, Cuba, and most of South America in a military alliance against us, welcoming Russian bases and troops, would we regard that as “the hand of partnership”?

We are reaping the understandable rage and resentment of the Russian people over how we exploited Moscow’s retreat from empire. Did we not ourselves slap aside the hand of Russian friendship, when proffered, when we chose to embrace our “unipolar moment,” to play the “great game” of empire and seek “benevolent global hegemony”?

If there is a second Cold War, did Russia really start it?

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

48 Comments (Open | Close)

48 Comments To "Who Started the Second Cold War?"

#1 Comment By William Dalton On May 3, 2016 @ 1:16 am

“Germany is to provide one of four battalions to be sent to the Baltic. But a Bertelsmann Foundation poll last week found that only 31 percent of Germans favor sending their troops to resist a Russian move in the Baltic States or Poland, while 57 percent oppose it, though the NATO treaty requires it.”

Oh, come on, Germans! If Russia can take back Crimea, isn’t it time for you to take back East Prussia?

#2 Comment By Observer On May 3, 2016 @ 1:56 am

This spy plane business reminds me of that collision with the Chinese fighter jet back in 2001.

We were doing the same thing to the Chinese then that we’re doing to the Russians now. The Chinese weren’t happy about it then, and the Russians aren’t happy about it now.

The Baltic states aren’t worth the bones of a single California bombardier. Why are we going out looking for trouble when we’ve got plenty of work to do at home?

#3 Comment By Chris 1 On May 3, 2016 @ 2:20 am

Blame America first, eh?

#4 Comment By Philipp On May 3, 2016 @ 4:19 am

Excellent article by Mr Buchanan, as usual. He asks very important questions in his article but I am afraid hardly any Western political or military leader will bother to read them (not to mention answer them).

#5 Comment By Nick Valentine On May 3, 2016 @ 7:34 am

Excellent analysis, and not one that would be voiced in the long, neo-con hallways of DC.

#6 Comment By Wrongsider On May 3, 2016 @ 7:46 am

Writing from one of the Eastern European countries mentioned in column. As a paleoconservative sympathizer it disheartens me that one of the leading thinkers of the movement denies all individual agency to the countries neighbouring Russia. We pursued NATO membership in (admittedly naive) hope to find allies against the very real threat from Russian hawks, little did we know there was another set of hawks coming to power in Washington.

Our — both of the U.S. and Eastern Europe — demoralized allies have trouble even preserving law and order within their own borders, in case of war it’s “Pourquoi mourir pour Danzig” all over again. Eastern European (Visegrad, Baltic) countries are still willing to defend both themselves and their allies, but we need support, and the U.S. is the only source we could hope this support from.

Gorbachev has been contradictory: in other instances he has claimed that no such promises were made.

One Graham H. Seibert has written about the Putin issue in comments to his review of Buchahan’s The Greatest Comeback on Amazon:


After the desert wars America First is understandable, but will it mean Only America? And if the path is complete isolationism, can Europe least expect to get a heads up?

#7 Comment By Terrence On May 3, 2016 @ 8:27 am

This article contains many inaccuracies. Ukraine threw out Yanukovych because he reneged on his commitment to sign an agreement with the EU and then attempted to systematically destroy civil liberties in Ukraine. The US and the West may very well have supported it, but it would have happened without US support. Most revolutions do.

It was Putin’s extraordinary response and consistent lying that has alarmed the west. He simply invaded and annexed (parts of) a foreign country which had committed no crime against him except not wanting to be his bestie. That’s not a reasonable basis on which to invade a country, and it had little to do with the US. Had Putin declined to invade and annex his neighbor and left them to their own affairs, there’d be no NATO exercises in the Baltic.

As for America’s interests, are you keen to have Russia as big and powerful as it was in the Cold War? Let it retake its lost Empire if you want; it’s hard to see how that’d be a good thing for the United States.

#8 Comment By Randal On May 3, 2016 @ 8:46 am


Writing from one of the Eastern European countries mentioned in column. As a paleoconservative sympathizer it disheartens me that one of the leading thinkers of the movement denies all individual agency to the countries neighbouring Russia.

Nobody “denies agency” to the countries you mention in merely recognising the basic reality that NATO membership is not and was never theirs by right, and that it is and was always only in the gift of the then existing NATO countries, primarily the US, and never could have happened without a policy decision by Washington to pursue it.

The blunder was not in former Soviet countries seeking NATO membership – that’s entirely understandable. The blunder was in giving it, when doing so was always going to be a strategic error of historic proportions, as indeed we have already seen demonstrated by subsequent events (and we have not yet finished paying for it, most likely).

#9 Comment By Concerned Canuck On May 3, 2016 @ 8:50 am

Thank you Mr. Buchannan. It is unfortunate that your words fall on deaf ears in our age.

@Terrence – you probably don’t know just how much you’ve just underscored Pat’s point. I am Ukrainian, nee Canadian. All of my family is still in Ukraine, or dead. Some of our closest friends here are from Kiev and Lviv. We know what is really going on in our country; you don’t. Unfortunately, no matter how much we’d like to believe it, Yanuk didn’t “systematically destroy civil liberties in Ukraine”; the provisional “government” composed of right sector and svoboda “politicians” did. Don’t confuse the 2. Russia didn’t “invade” its neighbour, nor did it “consistently lie” about it. If you read any investigative journalism, any of the published internal state dept briefs, or international media that doesn’t bow to our leadership’s pressure, you will find the exact opposite to be true, unfortunately.

One day, I hope soon, awareness will boil over and we will wake up in a cold sweat, understanding the blood on our hands. Until then, I suppose I will have to be content observing that at least someone knows. Thanks Pat.

#10 Comment By TB On May 3, 2016 @ 8:51 am

Who Started the Second Cold War?

There is no Second Cold War. Russia’s economy is now dependent upon global trade and the Ruble’s worth is defined by international standards. There is, however, residual hostility that has put Russia in a defensive crouch.Some reasons include the:
– expansion NATO after post USSR disintegrated. This act further encircled Russia with military might.
– installation of ground-to-air missile defense in the new NATO countries.

Actions have consequences.

#11 Comment By city eyes On May 3, 2016 @ 8:55 am

Would there be less wars or more wars if Israel had not been created?

#12 Comment By Randal On May 3, 2016 @ 9:12 am


This article contains many inaccuracies.

If by “inaccuracies”, you mean opinions on debatable matters that you happen not to share, that’s true. Buchanan’s understanding of world affairs seems pretty sound to me though, so I’m happy to agree with him rather than with you, on those you cite.

In many cases, of course, it is a matter of where the balance is struck. Yanukovich obviously faced mass protests anyway, and the US and the EU also obviously interfered in Ukrainian politics to try to foment and promote those protests. Opinions can fairly differ on the relative importance of each of those factors (but the US had no business interfering at all).

Mentioning Russia’s “annexation” of part of Ukraine without also accounting for the very relevant particular issues relating to Crimea (historic Russian links, its being part of Ukraine at all only being the result of an administrative whim of a Soviet ruler a few decades ago and subsequent historical circumstance, the Sevastopol base, and the clear preference of the vast majority of its population to be part of Russia rather than of Ukraine) is simplistic propaganda.

Lying is, of course, the business and common practice of national leaders, especially in democracies (and Russia is indeed a democracy, even if opinion and power access is managed differently there from in the US sphere, and it is not the liberal form of democracy preferred here). Review the records of Bush II and Blair if you doubt that.

As for Russia “retaking its lost empire”, the very idea is absurd and belongs only in the fevered fantasies of neocon propagandists. Russia struggles to hold onto Chechnya – the idea that it would want or be able to hold down the tens of millions of sunni potential jihadists in former Soviet central Asia and the Caucasus is a pipe dream that Putin certainly wouldn’t fall for.

The most post-Soviet Russia could ever have achieved in our lifetimes might be to recover parts of Ukraine and Belarus and the Baltic States where there are very substantial Russian speaking populations, and it would have to go some to achieve even that at any acceptable price, even if the US stood aside. And that needn’t have been any problem for anyone in the US sphere, unless Washington chose to make it a problem.

The absence from Russia of the Soviet Union’s universalist communist ideology is often underestimated as a vital factor, but it shouldn’t be. Such universalist ideologies are inherently destabilising, as can be clearly seen with the two we are left with now that communism has largely gone from the scene – sunni islamism and US sphere democratism.

#13 Comment By Fred Bowman On May 3, 2016 @ 9:22 am

The M-I-C crowd will support anything to keep themselves in business. War$, and rumor$ of war$ are mu$ic to their ear$.

#14 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 3, 2016 @ 9:26 am

There have been at least four recent close encounters involving Russian fight jets and US ships and spy planes. All four have taken place in the immediate vicinity of Russia’s borders or near Russian naval bases.

Why does the Obama administration deliberately provoke Russia with these close encounters? The whole world knows what the Russian reaction will be — and, indeed, our own reaction would be in similar circumstances to Russian planes and ships just off San Diego or Norfolk. But even if we ignore the fact of the US as first instigator, why hasn’t Obama contacted Putin and discussed these events as issues of diplomatic urgency?

Yesterday Donald Trump was asked by Indiana radio host Charly Butcher about the Friday barrel roll incident. Trump criticized Obama’s immediate diplomatic failure of not calling Putin.

“Normally, Obama, let’s say a president, because you want to make at least a call or two, but normally Obama would call up Putin and say, ‘Listen, do us a favor, don’t do that, get that maniac, just stop it.’ But we don’t have that kind of a president. He’s gonna be out playing golf or something… But it should certainly start with diplomacy and it should start quickly with a phone call to Putin, wouldn’t you think?” Trump said.

Continuing to bash Obama for his diplomatic shortcomings, Trump said, “And if that [the phone conversation with Putin] doesn’t work out, I don’t know, you know, at a certain point, when that sucker comes by you, you need to shoot. I mean, you gotta shoot. And it’s a shame. It’s a shame. It’s a total lack of respect for our country and it’s a total lack of respect for Obama. Which as you know, they don’t respect.”

If Trump were brought better up to speed on more of the post-1989 history and background of these fly-bys – especially the fact that the fly-bys took place right up against Russian territory — Trump would note that the Russian intent was not to show lack of respect for either Obama or the US, but was a predictable defensive response to a US provocation close to its borders.

Fortunately, in light of Trump’s oft-repeated statements about his intent to work for better relations and closer cooperation with Russian and Putin, President Trump WOULD make that call to Putin (that Obama didn’t make) and say to Putin, as Trump said yesterday on Indiana radio: “Listen, do us a favor, don’t do that, get that maniac, just stop it.”

Putin would be cordial but would also surely give President Trump the formula that the Russian Defense Ministry gave regarding the way of avoiding future such close encounters: “The US Air Force has two solutions: either not to fly near our borders or to turn the transponder on for identification.”

Putin and Trump have both already gone out of their way to express some of mutual respect and desire to work together that has long been missing between Putin and Obama. Moreover, there is every reason to believe that with Trump as President could work with Putin to sort out this immediate fly-by problem, as well as some of the long-term mistakes of US foreign policy that have given rise to this problem.

A Vladimir Putin talking regularly and with President Trump is 100% more reassuring that Putin trying to deal with the raving neocon Hillary Clinton.

#15 Comment By SteveM On May 3, 2016 @ 9:27 am

This Pat Buchanan essay is right in every dimension. One does not have to be a Putin apologist to recognize the logical motivations and objectives of Russian thinking.

So yes, the American MIC and its cronied-up Neocon Nomenklatura did require and do require enemy threats consistent with their crony business and Think Tank Pimp Tank objectives. I.e. wallow fat and happy in the Beltway Swamp of free money via perpetual fear-mongering. In the context of their business model, a hyper-inflated threat from Russia fills the bill nicely as the demonic totem.

Note too that Pentagon generals and admirals get visibility and promotions by exerting “leadership” against strong “adversaries”. There’s little post retirement talking head money in claiming that protecting U.S. shores and conducting pedestrian operational exercises in the United States is a good enough strategy for national defense. In an environment of prudence, peace and prosperity, General “Mad Dog” Mattis would be considered just that, not presidential material. Russia hating is a racket for those guys too.

And what logical incentive would Putin ever have for threatening Eastern Europe? Sure, Russia was ham-handed it its re-absorption of Crimea, but as Pat has noted before, Crimea was historically Russian and has a majority ethnic Russian population. Even before Maidan, Ukraine had a per capita GDP less than half that of Poland and Russia. Even significantly less than Belarus. In that context, why wouldn’t the Crimeans want to bail out of the basket case that is Ukraine? Would any readers here have voted differently if they were occupants of Crimea?

Moreover, the U.S. plays selective nation breaker-upper. The Clinton Neo-Liberals were happy to partition Yugoslavia based on their own arrogant whims. And Joe Biden wanted to partition Iraq years ago. No one raised an eyebrow then or now about the Global Cop deciding unilaterally the national borders of another country 6,000 miles away from its own shores. (BTW, another failure of the sycophantic MSM to ask the obvious questions.)

And back to Eastern Europe. If Putin has eyes on Poland and the Baltics, why aren’t the Belorussians quaking in their boots at the thought of a Moscow takeover? Why isn’t the U.S. imploring Lukashenko to accept U.S. missile defense systems and U.S. troops to counter the insatiable Russian bear that will attack at any moment?

If one looks at Moscow and St. Petersburg, one sees Russian cities totally integrated into the global markets. Putin is a rational actor who fully recognizes that attempting to seize European countries with non-Russian majority populations would provide Moscow with nothing but a smashed trading model with its most important political partners representing 400 million consumers. Who actually believes that Putin would accept that in exchange for controlling territories that would an administrative headache forever?

The thing is, as inchoate as he may be, Trump the businessman recognizes what motivates Russia. And it’s not land grabs to assuage some egos in the Kremlin pining for an illusory pan-Slavic past. And the egos in Washington who want the war-monger goose to keep laying their golden eggs hate him for it.

#16 Comment By Johann On May 3, 2016 @ 10:40 am


The US economy is not doing so well. Its been in a general decline since 2000. The US is becoming over extended, which will cause a gradual but never ending decline. It would be wise for the Baltic states to look to nearer neighbors for their defense against a possible Russian aggression. And it would be wise for western Europe to create its own defense alliance. NATO’s mission went away when the Warsaw Pact went away.

#17 Comment By philadelphialawyer On May 3, 2016 @ 10:50 am


Your shilling for Trump has reached the point of comedy. Trump would escalate these incidents into a shooting war. He says so himself. His “diplomacy” would consist of insulting the Russian pilot, calling him a “maniac,” and then giving Putin an ultimatum. If the ultimatum was not complied with, the next step, according to Trump himself, would be violence. Somehow, in your twisted imagination, all of that makes Trump the peaceful one, in comparison to Obama and Hillary. Oh, and “not being up to speed,” which you admit about Trump, is not exactly a point in his favor, either.

Trump’s whole approach is bluster and belligerence (and ignorance), and yet you come on this site, day after day, and pretend that it is the opposite. You insult the intelligence of the TAC community.

#18 Comment By LouisM On May 3, 2016 @ 1:00 pm

NATO being afraid of Russia is the stupidest form of lunacy that I have ever witnessed. We aren’t dealing with the Bolsheviks and Stalin who murdered 90million people thru starvation or the global expansion of communism. We are dealing with a nation that is sandwiched between historical threats on all sides except the arctic.

Europe has just opened its borders to the 3rd world and Islam. Peoples who are for all intensive purposes unassimilable. They will never be European. They will never conform to Western Civilization (democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc). To them freedom of a social safety net only finances anarchy and revolution. To them democracy and freedom of religion and freedom of speech are only tools to marginalize the native population.

Islam and the 3rd world is the greatest existential threat to western civilization in 1000 years…not even WWI and WWI which wiped out all the accumulated wealth of western civilization was as much of a threat to western civilization as the 3rd world and Islamic immigration.

Yet somehow, the battle lines are drawn with Russia as the enemy of peace. Russia may be problematic but its laughable to that they are a greater threat than uncontrolled immigration…populating every European nation with enemies from within.

#19 Comment By George Kaplan On May 3, 2016 @ 1:16 pm

Russia started Cold War 2.0. Here is a short list of Buchanan’s errors. (1) The snap exercises are a violation of the Vienna Document to which all OSCE members are bound. (2) The U.S Destroyer Cook was in international waters where it had a perfect right to be. In fact, it was closer to Poland than it was to Russia when it was buzzed. (3) The U.S. never promised Gorbachev that NATO would not expand. The U.S. promised Gorbachev that there would be no deployment of non-German NATO forces on the territory of the former GDR. That’s all. (4) NATO is not “marching eastward.” Countries which feel threatened by Moscow’s belligerence are asking for membership. (5) The NATO alliance is not “against Russia.” In fact after the signing of the Russia-NATO Founding Document, NATO is theoretically in partnership with Russia. Cooperation has occurred on many occasions. (6) Yanukovich did not lose power in a coup. He was lawfully impeached by the sitting parliament. And for crimes which Buchanan would not let stand for 5 minutes if they occurred in this country.

#20 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On May 3, 2016 @ 1:42 pm


Aren’t you surprised by idle-to-absent Russian reaction to Trump’s words? You couldn’t have missed the fact if you are following these events (and, judging by your post, I deem you are). That’s because Putin clearly understands what Trump’s doing: he’s making unentangling promises that won’t be even recalled the day after tomorrow, but will allow him to take one more electoral slice from already moribund neocons. “The lout” is much more clever and calculating that y’all ready to admit. And that’s why bipartisan neocons are losing to him so.

#21 Comment By Randal On May 3, 2016 @ 1:51 pm


KG: Your shilling for Trump has reached the point of comedy.

On the contrary, KG made the point very well that Trump would likely not be in this situation in the first place, because he would not adopt (or continue) the maniacally aggressive and provocative anti-Russian policies that Clinton and the bipartisan US foreign policy idiocracy have been pursuing.

Without that context, Trump’s approach to a foreign military pilot “buzzing” a US one would make more sense anyway (though in reality it probably wouldn’t reach the president’s desk in any case).

#22 Comment By Dr. Diprospan On May 3, 2016 @ 1:57 pm

Mr. Buchanan in your question who started the Second Cold War? I do not see anything too dramatic yet. Since the beginning of the 80s to about 2003, citizens of Russia have much sympathy for the United States. But the best friends can quarrel for a lifetime, and the spouses who have lived together for 30 years suddenly decide to divorce due to various reasons. The former friends become bitter enemies.
That’s life. While there is a feeling that there is a conflict between political elites after a series of reciprocal delusions, miscalculations and mistakes. Russia is not as strong it seems to us, but not as weak as we would like – Wilson Churchill once said.
Demonstration of military capabilities simply helps the country’s leadership to assess the real situation.
Personally, I do not panic and do not feel annoyed by US warships and reconnaissance aircraft near the Russian borders. I would be more afraid if I read in your article about active relocation of residents of American cities to the countryside.
Whatever the case, elites come and go but the people remain.
The main thing is that we should not kill each other because of other people’s quarrels and misunderstandings.

#23 Comment By Alan On May 3, 2016 @ 2:00 pm

@ Chris1,

Solid analysis you have there.

How dare Russia put their country so close to our naval ships?!?!

#24 Comment By Tom S. On May 3, 2016 @ 2:25 pm

There is a 12-mile limit to a country’s territorial waters, which foreign military units may not enter without permission. Anything beyond that, any country has the right to fly and/or send warships into.

70 miles is hardly “just off” a country’s coast. At any rate, standard policy is to send an aircraft or ship to shadow the “offending” unit (the US does it routinely). What is not routine is to buzz a warship in international waters and to conduct dangerous aerobatics around an aircraft that is not in a country’s airspace. These actions are unnecessarily provocative, potentially dangerous, and could lead to a violent reaction.

#25 Comment By Jeremy On May 3, 2016 @ 3:57 pm

@Kurt Gayle — You forgot to mention the part in the Indiana radio interview where Trump said Russian planes barrel-rolling ours should be shot down.

@philadelphialawyer — There’s no getting through to the deluded Trumpsters (Randal’s and Alex’s comments proves that especially). They’re the same people who believe Trump is tough on immigration even as he openly supports letting most of the illegal immigrants he wants deported back in.

@LouisM — Russia backs the mullahs in Iran and as I pointed out before, your man Trump supports touch-back amnesty.

#26 Comment By philadelphialawyer On May 3, 2016 @ 4:16 pm


“On the contrary, KG made the point very well that Trump would likely not be in this situation in the first place, because he would not adopt (or continue) the maniacally aggressive and provocative anti-Russian policies that Clinton and the bipartisan US foreign policy idiocracy have been pursuing.”

That “point” was based on KG’s purely hypothetical notion that once Trump “was brought up to speed,” he would comply with Putin’s hypothetical response.

Back in the real world, Trump said exactly what KG wrote, ie that he would double down on the belligerence, insult the Russian pilot, make demands on Putin, and start shooting if those demands were not met. And, oh yeah, gratuitously insult President Obama.

And that, somehow, shows his gravitas, his respect for diplomacy, his “realism,” his FP brilliance, and so on.

“Without that context, Trump’s approach to a foreign military pilot ‘buzzing’ a US one would make more sense anyway (though in reality it probably wouldn’t reach the president’s desk in any case).”

Without what “context?” The entirely mythological one in which Trump is some sort of peaceful, measured, Solon? Or the one in which Trump is actually “up to speed” on the history of the world since 1989?

And if the issue would not even reach President Trump’s desk, then why was Obama at fault for not immediately calling Putin? I agree, this is mountain and molehill stuff, fodder for warmongerers, but that is not how Trump responded to it.

#27 Comment By philadelphialawyer On May 3, 2016 @ 4:20 pm


So, the real deal is that Trump is just playing a Machiavellian game, lying to the American public, and Putin is onto it?

Maybe, the simpler explanation is that Putin doesn’t really care what someone who has not yet even won his party’s nomination, much less the Presidency, and whom all polls predict will NOT win the Presidency, has to say.

#28 Comment By Chris Chuba On May 3, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

George Kaplan, you are twisting truth like a pretzel.

1. The Russian snap drills is nothing more than a reasonable readiness exercise for a military that is a fraction of its former size. They no longer have 4M troops stationed at permanent basis so they periodically test their ability to mobilize their military at different locations. The Russians have agreed to transparency with their abidance to the CFE treaty that we reneged on
If the Russians have violated the Vienna document then where is the formal complaint and judgement?

2. NATO is most certainly an anti-Russia alliance, countries may ask for membership, Russia doesn’t feel threatened by them. Russia feels threatened by the original NATO members who are accepting new members.

3. Maidan was a coup. Sure, Yanukovich was impeached by a ‘lawful parliament’ after a mob killed 70 police officers, and occupied govt buildings and forced him to flee for his life. I’m certain that the Parliament members didn’t feel any coercion whatsoever. Victoria Nuland is just a really good psychic with her ‘Yats the guy’ prediction before Maidan even started. I wonder how she is with stock picks.
A lawful transition would have been to wait for elections.

#29 Comment By Sophie On May 3, 2016 @ 4:51 pm

Why should German or French troops fight Russia on behalf of America? We “freeloaders” are required to act as an imperialist proxy force, which apparently gives America’s aggressive pursuit of global hegemony more legitimacy in the eyes of the rest of the world (or is supposed to) than if it acted alone, even if the size of our contributions are small compared to your own.

#30 Comment By Jeremy On May 3, 2016 @ 6:28 pm

@Chris Chuba — So you don’t like US military aggression against Russia, but at the same time, you support a presidential candidate (Trump) who has now expressed a desire to shoot down Russian planes.

#31 Comment By Terrence On May 3, 2016 @ 6:44 pm

@Concerned Canuck — I am very sorry for any misfortunes your family has suffered. Nonetheless, it is not sustainable to argue that a band of neo-nazis launch a revolution in Ukraine in order to get closer to liberal EU, sponsored by the US. You can look up who actually made up the provisional government and there’s some pretty strange types for right-wing fascists. When you say ‘we know because we are there’ it’s really just saying ‘I have secret facts’.

And, of course, Russia did invade and annex Crimea and lied about it. I don’t think there’s even an attempt to say otherwise in Russia. I also don’t know what you call sending armed troops into a neighbouring country if not an invasion. Police action?

@Randall — there’s no doubt Russia annexed Crimea because history and culture made it easy to do. No doubt if by some miracle the vote had gone the other way, Putin would have retreated and left it to Ukraine. Right?

As for Russia regaining its lost Empire, the point I am driving at is that Buchanan doesn’t seem to understand that it is hardly in America’s interests for Russia, a despotic, unstable and highly militarized country, to become bigger and more powerful.

#32 Comment By George Kaplan On May 3, 2016 @ 7:49 pm

Mr. Chuba you are wrong on all counts.
1. There are complaints. Go to the OSCE website and you’ll find them. These snap exercises were not called under Putin’s predecessors.
2. Odd that Russia should have signed agreements with and cooperated with an organization that threatens it, don’t you think?
3. If Yanukovich was lawfully impeached by the Rada, then by definition it was not a coup. Turchynov took over temporarily per constitutional requirements till elections could be called.

#33 Comment By philadelphialawyer On May 3, 2016 @ 9:11 pm


“And it’s a shame. It’s a shame. It’s a total lack of respect for our country and it’s a total lack of respect for Obama. Which as you know, they don’t respect.”

Notice too that Trump lambastes Obama NOT for being a warmongering neocon, but for being too soft. For NOT garnering the “respect” for himself and the USA that a tough guy President, like Trump himself, no doubt, would get. No Democratic President in my lifetime has ever been attacked with any degree of consistency by leading Republicans for being too warlike. All of them have been attacked for being too “soft.” And Trump with Obama is no exception.

#34 Comment By Gregory Manning On May 3, 2016 @ 10:59 pm

The incidents (there were 12!) with the U.S.S. Donald Cook were far more significant and embarrassing than reported in this country. The Cook possesses the Aegis System, a state-of-the-art radar system. The Russians possess the Khibiny. The reason the Russian jets got so close to the Cook was because the Khibiny completely disabled and blinded the Aegis. The Aegis can only be placed on a ship; the Khibiny is small enough to mount under the fuselage of a Russian jet. The exercise with the Cook was so successful, the Russians are mounting Khibinys to all their jets. As the below video states, the incident was so devastating to morale on the Cook that more than a few sailors asked to be transferred off the Cook.

#35 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On May 4, 2016 @ 1:39 am


Then prove us, “deluded trumpsters”, wrong. As of now you’re just calling names. While my words have been recently proved by Cruz’s actions.


So, the real deal is that Trump is just playing a Machiavellian game, lying to the American public, and Putin is onto it?

So other bipartisan candidates are. And when compared to them, Trump is not lying at all.

Maybe, the simpler explanation is that Putin doesn’t really care what someone who has not yet even won his party’s nomination, much less the Presidency, and whom all polls predict will NOT win the Presidency, has to say.

Do you remember what the GOP establishment said about Trump last summer? These polls are the continuation of their words. And the fate of that establishment with all its words was grim.

#36 Comment By Regoch On May 4, 2016 @ 3:21 am

From my European perspective, I think that Mr. Buchanan is absolutely right. In the last couple of years hundreds of analyses were written in American and western European media about Russia’s expansionism, threat to Europe (to do what, invade Germany?) and it’s all nonsense or worse – warmongering propaganda. There’s one factor behind Russia’s actions and it’s NATO. Russians fear NATO on their borders. Also, Russians would feel humiliated if NATO managed to establish its bases on their border against their will. They will never allow it. I have no doubt they are willing to go to war to prevent it. As long as USA and its hawkish European allies pursue this goal, there will be no stability in Europe. This crisis will eventually be resolved in one of two ways: either NATO will officially abandon expanding to Ukraine and Georgia or USA will achieve its goal by destroying Russia (literally, as in provoking a civil war and breakup of the country). Russian stance has nothing to do with Putin’s personality, one is delusional if expects any Russian leader to say: “Dear Americans, please come and bring your tanks and aircraft and missiles and station them 450 miles from Moscow.”

#37 Comment By Alex On May 4, 2016 @ 7:37 am

Excellent article !
But why nobody ask a question – what for Russia need batik countries?
From economy and military reasons whey are useless.
Maybe Poland but this is 3rd World War…

#38 Comment By Sal On May 4, 2016 @ 8:30 am

Excellent article, Mr Buchanan. There is no question that American exceptionalism in general, and the anti-Russia campaign specifically, are just another example of policies for a few special interest groups that go against the interests of America at large.

Keep up the good work laying the ground for the removal of the neocon establishment

#39 Comment By Oscar On May 4, 2016 @ 10:18 am

Thank you, Mr Buchanan from Russia.
Maybe people have to wake up now?

#40 Comment By Nikolay On May 4, 2016 @ 12:16 pm

As a Russian citizen, I find Mr. Buchanan’s article most refreshing. Geopolitically, Russia is a shadow of the Soviet Union, totally unable and unwilling to rebuild the old empire, but intent on regaining its full independance from the US. Russia has undergone a true transition to a social market economic and a democracy no less genuine than Japan, South Korea, let alone Brazil or Turkey. I am convinced that the ultimate US goal with respect to Russia has been and still is that of destroying it as an independent state through subversive action. However, the goal is no longer realistic. The Western, above all US, current onslaught on Russia, both through military pressure, such as NATO expansion and global ABM development, and Russia bashing in the “established” media is totally counterproductive in the longer run, leading to ever more internal cohesion and more market and democratic reform inside Russia.
One factual remark on Ukraine. Yanukovich was removed without due impeachment process in accordance with the country’s Constitution, which would have taken no less than two months, not a single vote in parliament. Same is true of the vote to appoint Turchinov Acting President, totally outside constitutional law.

#41 Comment By Jeremy On May 4, 2016 @ 1:25 pm

@Alex (the one that likes Ike)– You Trump fans proven wrong by him talking out of both sides of his mouth about foreign policy and immigration, especially the latter. If any other Republican candidate supported shooting down Russian planes or touchback/de facto amnesty, you’d be screaming bloody murder about it.

#42 Comment By Anatoly On May 4, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

We, Russian, are not afraid of the cold war – Winter 9 months of the year)))

#43 Comment By Vladislav On May 4, 2016 @ 2:32 pm

Reasonable article

#44 Comment By Scott Miller On May 4, 2016 @ 5:53 pm

“Blame America first, eh?”

You must be new here, Chris.

One quibble – I’d replace “first” with “only”.

#45 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On May 4, 2016 @ 6:33 pm


You, Clinton fans, are proven wrong the same way, but thrice as often. Thus, you’ve got no trumps to cover our arguments logically. Point taken.

#46 Comment By Myles Hagar On May 4, 2016 @ 6:52 pm

Mr. Buchanan is an experienced “old hand” with attention and memory skills. The article summarizes well known events in the context of trying to understand the “other side” in a dispute. His writing is obvious and reasonable to the point of risking boredom. As more and more people are constantly focused on their ipads, smart phones,internet, their brains are being rewired. Attentiveness to real events in real time to real people in real experience is being disabled along with memory skills that cannot easily recall what breakfast consisted of.

#47 Comment By Paridell On May 9, 2016 @ 7:51 am

Russia had no business annexing the Baltic States or turning the nations of Eastern Europe into Soviet satellite states in the first place. They are now free, as they should have been from 1918 on. Pat’s whole argument here is based on false equivalence.

#48 Comment By ISD On May 12, 2016 @ 2:05 am

@Terrence – “a despotic, unstable and highly militarized country” the best description of today’s USA I’ve come across.