DYCHE | Buchanan, Obama and Paul: The Non-Interventionists - WDRB 41 Louisville News

DYCHE | Buchanan, Obama and Paul: The Non-Interventionists

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By John David Dyche
WDRB Contributor

The Non-Interventionists is not a punk band name (although it would a good one). It is a description of an unlikely political trio with a common attitude toward American foreign and national security policy.

Patrick J. Buchanan, a paleo-conservative, President Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat, and Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian Republican, disagree a lot. When it comes to American military involvement in global conflicts, however, they pretty much agree.

Questioned recently about whether his policies cause others to perceive America as weak, Obama, a practitioner of so-called “soft power,” asked “Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?”

He added, “[M]ost of the foreign policy commentators that have questioned our policies would go headlong into a bunch of military adventures that the American people had no interest in participating in and would not advance our core security interests.”

Buchanan, still a powerful intellectual force at 75, agrees. He compares Obama favorably with past presidents, from Eisenhower through Reagan, who refrained from military responses to Soviet aggression.

On military action in Syria, Ukraine, or Iran, Buchanan warns that it is “an ironclad formula for failure to be led into a faraway war by a president who does not want to fight, and who leads a nation whose people do not want to be involved.” As for providing arms he asks, “Is it moral to send weapons to friends to encourage them to fight and die in a war we know they cannot win?”

Younger readers may not know much about Buchanan, whom older readers may remember as “Pitchfork Pat” from his culturally conservative, isolationist, and protectionist presidential campaigns. Some would also include anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and other disparaging adjectives in a description of him.

Buchanan wrote speeches for Nixon and his combative vice president, Spiro Agnew. He gets credit for the phrase “Silent Majority” that Nixon used in 1969 to connect with heartland America alienated by the counterculture and anti-war protests.

He enjoyed media success before and after serving as Reagan’s communication director. In 1992 Buchanan challenged incumbent president George H. W. Bush for the Republican nomination. His “culture war” convention speech may be the most famous at a GOP conclave since Barry Goldwater’s 1964 acceptance.

He won the 1996 Republican primaries New Hampshire and three other states by running against the North American Free Trade Agreement. He said it would kill U. S. manufacturing jobs. His 2000 Reform Party campaign never matched his prior efforts.

A prolific author, Buchanan’s works have provocative titles like Suicide of a Super Power, A Republic Not an Empire, Where the Right Went Wrong, Day of Reckoning, The Great Betrayal, State of Emergency, and Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. Books like the latter have prompted some to jest that Buchanan’s arguments are even better in the original German.

His columns may not be as widely read as before, but are as trenchant as ever. He argues that America should not involve itself militarily in international conflicts, which puts him at odds with many mainstream Republicans, especially neo-conservatives.

The neo-conservative movement has roots among anti-Soviet, formerly Democratic Jewish intellectuals. Buchanan’s passionate opposition to them, his hard line toward Israel, and his relatively benign view of Hitler’s intentions, makes some suspicious of his motives.

Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina personify what Buchanan calls “a Beltway elite that believes the Iraq war was the right thing to do and that now wants to confront Russia, overthrow Bashir al Assad, and bomb Iran if she does not give up uranium enrichment.”

Buchanan hails Paul the only 2016 Republican presidential aspirant who does not subscribe to that hawkish line. Buchanan and Paul also agree that America spends too much defending other countries that should pay more toward their own defense.

Calling the U. S. a “philanthropic superpower,” Buchanan asks, “What do we get out of these commitments, other than an obligation to go to war with a nuclear-armed China or North Korea over shoals, rocks and borders on the other side of the world that have nothing to do with the peace or security of the United States?”

Buchanan also criticizes foreign aid and global finance institutions. He praised Paul for trying to cut American aid to Egypt.

Many rank and file Republicans are probably Non-Interventionists, but the party establishment is still committed to post-World War II security arrangements and free trade. The biggest challenge of Paul’s unannounced presidential campaign may be navigating between the competing visions.

John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is jddyche@yaoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.
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