September 22, 1999


Pat Buchanan's blockbuster book, A Republic, Not an Empire, – the magnificent manifesto of conservative noninterventionism reviewed in my last column – has the War Party in a panic. Both the "right" and "left" wings are up in arms, howling for the blood of the heretic. How dare he challenge that holiest of interventionist holies, World War II, the crucible of the Soviet Empire and the creator and guarantor of the modern Welfare-Warfare State!


From such worthies as Bill Kristol, William Safire, Charles Krauthammer, and all the usual suspects on the neoconservative "Right," to Chris Matthews, the Anti-Defamation League, Salon Magazine, and what remains of the Popular Front coalition of the 1930s, the chorus of condemnation is not only loud: these people are practically frothing at the mouth. This impressive display of Left-Right unanimity underscores the narrowness of the politically permissible and the reality of the ideological dictatorship we are living under. The war cries of the media lynch mob are stunning in their vehemence and their variety: "Isolationist!" – "nativist" – "racist" – "fascist" – "Hitler-lovin' Nazi" – the string of epithets is endless, and you can feel the spittle on your face as the words, propelled by hyperventilated outrage, leap off the page. All are piling on Pat in a frenzied (and barely coherent) attempt to not only rebut his case for noninterventionism but to completely discredit and banish the subject from public discussion – permanently, if possible.


For the War Party, this is a test case. If they can defeat and destroy Buchanan on this issue, then their job is made all that much easier the next time they want to launch a "humanitarian" invasion of a sovereign nation. The argument will go something like this:


"So, you oppose sending U.S. troops to, say, Colombia, or to the Caucasus – what are you, some kind of isolationist-nativist-racist-Nazi Buchanan-loving subversive? What about World War II? What about Hitler?!"

There will be no argument, no debate over the merits of the issue – because the goal of Pat's opponents is to make rational discussion of foreign policy a hate crime. The War Party has big ambitions for the new millennium, and they aren't going to let the American electoral process trifle with their plans.


The desperation of these people, in their frantic flailing at Buchanan, reached comic proportions when they pulled out their real trump card – Donald Trump! Known as "The Donald" to those New Yorkers who have come to know and disdain him over the years, the multimillionaire casino operator and real estate developer has had a reputation as a man-about-town with a remarkable penchant for vulgarity – both in his architectural tastes and his personal life – but never, until this moment, as an historian.


Alas, the New York playboy's debut as a social commentator specializing in diplomatic history is not exactly auspicious. Trump bellows that Buchanan "is denigrating the memory of those who died in that war." Does this also apply to critics of the Vietnam war – and, if not, why not?


"Pat says Hitler had no malicious intent toward the United States," Mr. Trump said in an interview. "Well, Hitler killed six million Jews and millions of others. Don't you think it was only a question of time before he got to us? He tackled Europe first and we were next. Pat's amazing." What is amazing is a media that takes The Donald seriously. Asked if he had even bothered to read the book he was denouncing, Trump reassured his Newsday interviewer that "I've seen the phrases we're dealing with." Phrases is right: at most, Trump skimmed a few sentences and was put through his paces by the Bush team. Here is the ugly reality of the smear campaign that is now going into high gear: since it doesn't matter what Buchanan actually wrote, it wasn't really necessary for Trump to read A Republic, Not an Empire – given that he was even capable of completing such a task. Indeed, it would be better for an attack drone such as Trump not to understand, all the better to repeat his baseless mindless smears.


Trump, the vulgar plutocrat and vainglorious peacock of Manhattan high society, is the perfect antipode to Buchanan, with his penchant for scholarly debate and almost monkish dedication to ideas. In publicizing Trump as a real contender for Pat's working-class base, the Hate Buchanan claque is going way way out on a limb, with one political consultant quoted as saying that "blue collar guys look up to [Trump]. The cars, the women, the money." The assumption that "blue collar guys" have no political ideas and opinions worth discussing, and that they will cast their votes on the basis of something so facile as "the cars, the women, the money," is a remarkably blatant illustration of the bottomless contempt the elites have for ordinary Americans.


The sneering tone is unmistakable, but there is also an undercurrent of fear: these smirking grand strategists, Bushians and others, who are egging The Donald on, are genuinely frightened. They loathe Pat Buchanan and will do anything – anything – to stop him. But the sniggering pair-up of Buchanan and Trump in a championship fight for the Reform Party nomination, meant to denigrate and drag a great man down to the level of a smarmy clown, isn't working, and neither is the smear campaign.


With every newspaper columnist, left and right, railing against Pat and every TV talking head pontificating on the gravity and horror of the Buchananite heresy, Buchanan is everywhere, on every talk show, fighting back and more than holding his own. Pat squared off against Rush on the radio, against Bill Preuss and the haggish Mary Matalin (will you please cover that neck?). Matalin hectored him about "anti-Semitism," smirking all the while, without offering any evidence to refute. In the past twenty-four hours, it seems, Pat has taken on virtually every talking head with an agenda and an axe to grind. It is Pat versus both the "right" and "left" wings of the Establishment: a single man facing down a mighty coalition – a nearly equal contest, and at the very least an epic one.


The historical pronunciatmentoes of The Donald are not, perhaps, the most articulate and detailed, and the vindictive lies being spread by Pat's ex-friend Mona Charen, in which she seriously accuses him of being in favor of quotas – for white people! – are not the most convincing. There is lots of vituperation, but not a lot of substance. So far the only half-serious attempt to critique Buchanan's book comes in the pages of the Weekly Standard. But Robert G. Kaufaman's hurried critique, snidely entitled "Wrong from the Beginning," is even less convincing, in its way, than The Donald's. For Kaufman employs the "willya lookit that!" technique, in which the polemicist holds up a viewpoint with which he disagrees as if its falsity is self-evident. But since Kaufman does not bother to let us know why these views are false – or even destructive and evil – this technique, as employed by the author, has the exact opposite of its intended effect. In the end, Kaufman can only make the argument from authority, dropping names in a furious effort to divert the reader away from the fact that he has no argument. "Buchanan's claims about twentieth-century history are a deliberate rejection of Republican foreign policy notions," Kaufman avers, "both of the idealism of Ronald Reagan's cold warriors and the ostensible realism of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger."


But – so what? That indeed is the whole point of A Republic, Not an Empire: that it is high time we moved beyond the Cold War paradigm of Nixon and Kissinger, and reclaimed the foreign policy the Founders intended us to follow. Do we really want to follow the doctrines of a man like Kissinger, for god's sake, whose policies prolonged a disastrous land war in Asia? Is the foreign policy of Richard Nixon really such an ideal model for the post-Cold War world? And why is the advice of Nixon – as much as Pat no doubt respects and even admires his former employer – worth less than that of George Washington and John Quincy Adams?


Kaufman writes:

"Buchanan revives Charles Tansill's old canard that an insidious combination of pro-British sentiment, the interests of Wall Street bankers fearful of Britain's defaulting on its huge loans, Theodore Roosevelt's militarism, and Woodrow Wilson's zealous idealism dragged America into a costly war in defiance of our previous tradition and our national interest."


But simply calling an idea a "canard" is hardly an argument or even an explanation: yet the reader who expects either from Kaufman is in for a disappointment. As if to mock his readers, or unconsciously parody himself, Kaufman then goes on to take the ultra-Anglophile position that even getting involved in World War I was not only inevitable but necessary, since

"American security has always depended on a European balance of power, which a German victory would have obliterated. It made strategic sense for America to stay out of European conflicts while Britain operated as the effective balance, ensuring that no continental power achieved a decisive aggregation of power. By 1917, however, Britain could no longer contain German power without the active participation of the United States."


This makes perfect sense – from the viewpoint of the British Foreign Office. England has historically resisted the consolidation of a single power's dominance over the European continent, depending on the United States to back her up when she wasn't quite up to the task of playing the role of the dissonant note in the concert of Europe. But if, today, we have a single European Union, with a single currency and a fast-evolving army, dominated economically and demographically by a resurgent Germany, then what was it all for? If even England, today, is integrating itself into this continental super-state, then why did Americans die in the Argonne and Chateau Thierry? This is the question that Buchanan asks in his book, but Kaufman is hardly up to the task of even acknowledging it, let alone answering it.


In a sentence that takes the art of understatement to new heights, Kaufman writes: "Franklin Roosevelt made mistakes, no doubt, particularly in his dealings with Stalin's Soviet Union"! If handing over half of Europe to the horrors of the Gulag can be fairly described as a "mistake," rather than a crime, then God is dead and everything, as a half-mad German philosopher once said, is permitted.


Another headline was "Buchanan's Views on Hitler Create a Reform Party Stir," by Francis X. Clines [New York Times, September 21, 1999] – as if, in challenging the wisdom and necessity of World War II, Pat is trying to rehabilitate the German dictator. The article quotes very selectively from the book, a sentence or a phrase torn out of context. Clines avers that "in a separate chapter criticizing the power of numerous American ethnic groups over foreign policy, Mr. Buchanan writes, 'After World War II, Jewish influence over foreign policy became almost an obsession with American leaders.'" He somehow fails to point out that Buchanan is merely quoting the well-known views of such notorious anti-Semites as George Kennan, John Foster Dulles, and Harry Truman. (p. 336) And, of course, up pops The Donald, whom Clines quotes liberally – it would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.


While we have seen all this before – it happens every time Pat runs for President – there is a new edge of hysteria to the hate-filled venom that is filling the airwaves, the Internet, and the op ed pages of the nation's newspapers. There have been numerous "news" stories about the controversy over this book, and they all have variations on a single theme of "Buchanan is a Bigot," such as the Reuters headline, "Buchanan Book Stirs Charges of Anti-Semitism, [September 21, 1991]. But the story has nothing to do with the book: not a word of the book is cited as "evidence" of alleged bigotry, there is only the victimological braying of the Anti-Defamation League, and vague accusations from various authorities attesting to Buchanan's inveterate evil. But the book mentioned in the headline is completely disappeared, and in its place there is only the venom of the professional character assassins, a kind of intellectual Mafia determined to enforce its monopoly in the realm of foreign policy.


These strong-arm methods are not going to intimidate Buchanan. The bipartisan foreign policy of global interventionism that has drained us of troops and treasure for over fifty years is being challenged by a very brave and very able man. With the Reform party and a great chunk of the GOP in tow, Buchanan is intent on forging a new American majority, a new consensus in which a noninterventionist foreign policy is the linchpin that holds the coalition together. A cool $13 million in campaign funds awaits the Reform party's presidential nominee – God help the Establishment if Buchanan ever gets his hands on it.

Check out Justin Raimondo's article, “China and the New Cold War”

“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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