Pat Buchanan: On to Caracas and Tehran
In the Venezuelan crisis, said President Trump in Florida, “All options are on the table.” And if Venezuela’s generals persist in their refusal to break with Nicolas Maduro, they could “lose everything.”
Another example of Yankee bluster and bluff?
Or is Trump prepared to use military force to bring down Maduro and install Juan Guaido, the president of the national assembly who has declared himself president of Venezuela?
Where would Trump get the authority for such a war?
The lead role that Trump has assumed in the crisis raises a question. Does the reflexive interventionism — America is “the indispensable nation!” — that propelled us into the forever war of the Middle East, retain its hold on the American mind?
This week, Trump meets in Hanoi with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
While Kim has not tested his missiles or nuclear warheads in a year, few believe he will ever surrender the weapons that secure his survival and brought the United States superpower to the negotiating table.
Is Trump prepared to accept a deal that leaves a nuclear North but brings about a peace treaty, diplomatic relations and a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula? Or are American forces to be in Korea indefinitely?
Nancy Pelosi’s House just voted to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Senate may follow.
Yet Trump is prepared to use his first veto to kill that War Powers Resolution and retain the right to help the Saudi war effort.
What is our vital interest in Yemen’s civil war? Why would Trump not wish to extricate us from that moral and humanitarian disaster?
Answer: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his regime would sustain a strategic defeat should the Houthis, supported by Iran, prevail.
Before the Warsaw conference called by the United States to discuss the Middle East, Bibi Netanyahu’s office tweeted: “This is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”
The “war-with-Iran” tweet was swiftly deleted, replaced with a new tweet that spoke of “the common interest of combating Iran.”
Like many Americans with whom he is close, Bibi has never hidden his belief as to what we Americans must do to Iran.
Early last week came leaks that Trump officials have discovered that Shiite Iran has been secretly collaborating with the Sunni terrorists of al-Qaida. This could, headlined The Washington Times, provide “the legal rationale for U.S. military strikes” on Iran.
At the Munich Security Conference, however, NATO allies Britain, France and Germany recommitted to the Iran nuclear treaty from which Trump withdrew, and to improved economic relations with Tehran.
Today, the United States maintains a policy of containment of Russia and China, which are more united than they have been since the first days of the Cold War. We are responsible for defending 28 NATO nations in Europe, twice as many as during the Cold War, plus Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.
We have troops in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and appear on the cusp of collisions with Venezuela and Iran. Yet we field armed forces a fraction of the size they were in the 1950s and 1960s and the Reagan era.
And the U.S. national debt is now larger than the U.S. economy.
This is imperial overstretch. It is unsustainable.
Pat Buchanan is author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”