Pat Buchanan: Are all the world’s problems ours?
In 2003, George W. Bush took us to war to liberate Iraq from the despotism of Saddam Hussein and convert that nation into a beacon of freedom and prosperity in the Middle East.
Last Tuesday, Mike Pompeo flew clandestinely into Baghdad and met with the prime minister. The visit was kept secret, to prevent an attack on the Americans or the secretary of state.
Query: How successful was Operation Iraqi Freedom, which cost 4,500 U.S. lives, 40,000 wounded and $1 trillion, if, 15 years after our victory, our secretary of state must, for his own security, sneak into the Iraqi capital?
Topic of discussion between Pompeo and the prime minister:
In the event of a U.S. war with Iran, Iraqis would ensure the protection of the 5,000 U.S. troops in country, from the scores of thousands of Iranian-trained and Iranian-armed Shiite militia.
The prospect of war had been raised by Pompeo and John Bolton last Sunday, when the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier task force and a squadron of U.S. bombers were ordered into the Middle East after we received reports Iran was about to attack U.S. forces.
The attack did not happen. But on Thursday, Tehran gave 60 days’ notice that if it does not get relief from severe U.S. sanctions, it may walk out of the nuclear deal it signed in 2015 and start enriching uranium again to a level closer to weapons grade.
The countdown to a June confrontation with Iran has begun.
Last Wednesday, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un test-fired two missiles into the Sea of Japan to signal Washington that Kim’s patience is running out.
Kim rejects the U.S. demand that he surrender all nuclear weapons and dismantle the facilities that produce them before any sanctions are lifted. He wants sanctions relief to go hand in hand with disposal of his arsenal.
The clash with Kim comes days after the failed U.S.-backed coup in Caracas, which was followed by Pompeo-Bolton threats of military intervention in Venezuela.
After an exhausting two weeks, one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not time for the U.S. to begin asking, “Why is this our problem?”
Perhaps the most serious issue is North Korea’s quest for nuclear-armed missiles that can reach the United States. But the reason Kim is developing them is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea, committed to attack the North should war break out.
If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Iran has no nukes or ICBMs. It wants no war with us. It does not threaten us. Why is Iran then our problem to solve?
The Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro was established decades ago by his mentor, Hugo Chavez. When did that regime become so grave a threat that the U.S. should consider an invasion to remove it?
During the uprising in Caracas, Bolton cited the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. But according to President James Monroe, and Pompeo’s predecessor John Quincy Adams, who wrote the message to Congress, under the Doctrine, while European powers were to keep their hands off our hemisphere — we would reciprocate and stay out of Europe’s quarrels and wars.
Wise folks, those Founding Fathers.
Pat Buchanan is author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”