Betrayed by Bush
Patrick Buchanan says there
is no conservative party in Washington. Instead there is a Republican
party of big business, big government and big war
Not even the British empire at its zenith dominated the world in
the way the United States does today. US forces are deployed in
lands the soldiers of Victoria never saw. Our warships make port
calls on all continents. Our military technology is generations
ahead of any other nation’s. Our GDP is 30 per cent of the global
economy. Brand names like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Levi’s are household
words from Kathmandu to Kurdistan. The music the young listen to
around the world is American or an imitation thereof. Americans
annually claim the lion’s share of the Nobel prizes in science,
medicine and economics. Hollywood films are the world’s most watched.
The dollar is the world’s reserve currency. The International Monetary
Fund that keeps scores of nations from bankruptcy has its headquarters
in Washington. The American language, English, is the lingua franca
of the Internet and the international elite. By almost any measure
— military and economic power, technology, standard of living, cultural
dominance, social and political freedom — America is the gold standard,
the ‘hyperpower’ of the Quai d’Orsay’s resentment.
Yet all republics, all empires, all civilisations pass away. For
the United States the invasion of Iraq and the war to impose democracy
upon that Arab and Islamic nation may yet prove a textbook example
of the imperial overstretch that brought down so many empires of
the past. Fallujah, where US marines were withdrawn before completing
their mission to eradicate the guerrillas and terrorists who had
murdered four Americans and desecrated their bodies, may prove the
high tide of an American empire that has begun its long retreat.
If we were to name one cause of the fall of Britain, it would be
war. The Boer war was Britain’s Vietnam. With it came a loss of
faith in the superiority of British civilisation and the spread
of the heretical idea that a British empire that denied self-determination
to peoples of colour was no longer morally defensible. Then, for
ten years between 1914 and 1918 and 1939 and 1945, Britain was locked
in mortal battle with the mightiest land power in Europe. Britain
alone fought both world wars from the first day to the last.
In the first world war, 720,000 Britons died, in the second another
400,000. America, however, stayed out of the world wars longer than
any other power and thus suffered fewer losses. Not until four years
after the British, French, Germans and Russians had started slaughtering
one another at a rate of 6,000 a day did the doughboys arrive to
turn the tide on the Western Front, only six months before the Armistice.
Not until four years after Hitler overran France did the Higgins
boats appear off Normandy, just 11 months before VE Day. In both
world wars, we played Fortinbras in Hamlet, coming upon the carnage
in the final scene in the bloodstained throne-room to take charge
During the Cold War, America avoided a war with a Soviet Union that
could have wreaked far greater havoc on us than was visited on Britain
in two world wars. We are the last superpower because we stayed
out of the great wars of the 20th century longer than any of the
other powers, and we suffered and lost less than any of them. Since
the end of the Cold War, however, all the blunders of Britain’s
ruling class in its march to folly have been replicated by our elites,
from the arrogance of power to the alienation of allies to the waging
of imperial wars where no vital US interests were at risk.
Spurning the counsel of John Quincy Adams, America now goes abroad
in search of monsters to destroy. We have treaty guarantees with
50 nations on five continents and troops in 100 countries. Some
150,000 US soldiers are tied down in seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq. Should the United States confront another crisis anywhere
on earth, the bankruptcy of our foreign policy would be transparent
to the world.
President Bush has declared it to be US policy to launch pre-emptive
war on any rogue regime that seeks weapons of mass destruction,
a policy today being defied by North Korea and Iran, both of which
have programmes to produce nuclear weapons. The President has also
declared it to be US policy to go to war to prevent any other nation
from acquiring the power to challenge US hegemony in any region
of the world. It is called the ‘Bush Doctrine’. It is a prescription
for permanent war for permanent peace, though wars are the death
In 2003, the United States invaded a country that did not threaten
us, had not attacked us and did not want war with us, to disarm
it of weapons we have since discovered it did not have. His war
cabinet assured President Bush that weapons of mass destruction
would be found, that US forces would be welcomed with garlands of
flowers, that democracy would flourish in Iraq and spread across
the Middle East, that our triumph would convince Israelis and Palestinians
to sit down and make peace.
None of this happened. Those of us who were called unpatriotic for
opposing an invasion of Iraq and who warned we would inherit our
own Lebanon of 25 million Iraqis were proved right. Now our nation
is tied down and our army is being daily bled in a war to create
a democracy in a country where it has never before existed.
With the guerrilla war, US prestige has plummeted. The hatred of
President Bush is pandemic from Marrakesh to Mosul. Volunteers to
fight the Americans have been trickling into Iraq from Syria, Saudi
Arabia and Iran. In the spring of this year revelations of the sadistic
abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison sent US prestige sinking
to its lowest levels ever in the Arab world. We may have ignited
the war of civilisations that it was in our vital interest to avoid.
Never has America been more resented and reviled in an Islamic world
of one billion people.
At home, the budget surpluses of the 1990s have vanished as the
cost of the Afghan and Iraq wars has soared beyond the projections
of the most pessimistic of the President’s economic advisers. The
US budget deficit is above 4 per cent of GDP. With a trade deficit
in goods nearing 6 per cent of GDP, the dollar has lost a third
of its value against the euro in three years. One in six manufacturing
jobs has disappeared since President Bush took the oath. By mid-2004,
the President had failed to abolish a single significant agency,
programme or department of a Leviathan government that consumes
a fifth of our economy. Nor had he vetoed a single Bill.
America’s native-born population has ceased to grow. Its birth rate
has fallen below replacement levels. US population growth now comes
from immigrants, legal and illegal, from Asia, Africa and Latin
America. The religious, ethnic and racial composition of the country,
a child of Europe, is changing more rapidly than that of any other
great nation in history in an era when race, religion and ethnicity
are tearing countries apart. The melting pot no longer works its
magic. Newcomers are not assimilating. We are becoming what Theodore
Roosevelt warned against our ever becoming — ‘a polyglot boardinghouse
for the world’.
US primary and secondary education is a disaster area. Test scores
have been falling for decades and are below those of almost every
other developed nation. In our universities, ignorance of American
history has reached scandalous proportions, and rising percentages
of students in the hard sciences come from foreign lands.
The Republican party, which had presided over America’s rise to
manufacturing pre-eminence, has acquiesced in the deindustrialisation
of the nation to gratify transnational corporations whose oligarchs
are the party’s financiers. US corporations are shutting factories
here, opening them in China, ‘outsourcing’ back-office work to India,
importing Asians to take white-collar jobs from Americans, and hiring
illegal aliens for their service jobs. The Republican party has
signed off on economic treason.
Then there are the ominous analogies to the Rome we read about in
school: the decline of religion and morality, corruption of the
commercial class, a debased and decadent culture. Many of America’s
oldest churches are emptying. The Catholic Church, the nation’s
largest, is riven with heresy, scandal, dissent and disbelief.
Historically, Republicans have been the party of the conservative
virtues of balanced budgets, of a healthy scepticism towards foreign
wars, of a commitment to traditional values and fierce resistance
to the growth of government power and world empire. No more. There
is no conservative party left in Washington. The GOP may be Reaganite
in its tax policy, but it is Wilsonian in its foreign policy, FDR
in its trade policy, and LBJ all the way in its spending policies.
Pragmatism is the order of the day. The Republican philosophy might
be summarised thus: ‘To hell with principle; what matters is power,
and that we have it, and they do not.’
But principles do matter. For history teaches that if we indulge
in the vices of republics and surrender to the temptation to buy
votes with public money, to distract the populace with bread and
circuses, to conduct imperial wars, we will destroy the last best
hope of earth. And just as there came a day of reckoning for Lyndon
Johnson, who delivered guns and butter in wartime, so, too, are
the chickens coming home to roost for George W. Bush.
From the book Where the Right Went Wrong by Patrick J. Buchanan.
Copyright © by the author. Reprinted by permission of St Martin’s
© 2004 The Spectator.co.uk