2 October 2004  
Cover Story
Only On The Web
Your problems solved

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 Washington, DC

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 Fallujah, where US marines were withdrawn before completing their mission to eradicate the guerrillas and terrorists who had murdered four Americans and desecrated their bodies, may prove the high tide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 of affairs.

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 of republics.

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 Press, LLC.

© 2004 The Spectator.co.uk