NATO expansion, Russia’s place in Europe, and the coming clash of civilizations: Patrick Buchanan gives an exclusive interview to PRAVDA.Ru
Q. You are known as being a critic of the NATO actions against Yugoslavia during 1999. As you know, the majority of the Russian population was against the war. Many Russians feel as if the Serbs are their "little brothers." In addition, many people here believe that the stories of large-scale "ethnic cleansing" were simply designed to convince the American public to support the actions. Why, exactly, were you opposed to this war?
A. I am well aware of the historic feelings of the Russian people for the Serbs, who are fellow Slavs and Orthodox Christians. Indeed, it was the unwillingness of Russia to permit the Austro-Hungarian empire to crush Serbia, after the assassination of the Archduke in June of 1914, that led to World War I. I opposed the Yugoslav war because I thought it was an unjust war against a small nation that had done nothing to us. Serbia had not threatened us, had not attacked us, and had been our friend and ally in two world wars. Serbs had rescued hundreds of downed American pilots when we were fighting the Nazis. And Serbia had not attacked any NATO nation. Why then did NATO attack Serbia? The U.S. launched a 78-day air war against a nation of ten million, because that nation refused to permit NATO troops to march with impunity across its sovereign territory. As for the allegations of mass atrocities by Serbs, -- that 100,000 Kosovar Albanians had been massacred -- that turned out to have been almost 100% propaganda.
Before our air strikes began, in one year of Serbia’s civil war there had been only 2,000 casualties, and 95,000 Kosovar Albanians had gone into exile. Yet, in just one day in our own Civil War, at Antietam, there were 10,000 dead in one day of fighting. Nobody accused us of genocide. Almost all of the ethnic expulsions in the Yugoslav civil war occurred after the U.S. bombing began. Moreover, at the war’s end, there were atrocities against Serbs, and 250,000 Serbs were pushed out of their province, and many of their beautiful old churches and cathedrals were smashed. Who has been made to answer for those crimes? No one. Milosevic was a thug, but he did not want war with the United States and it was not our responsibility to remove him. As Lord Byron said, "Who would be free/Themselves must strike the blow."
Q. Do you think that the American press accurately covered the events that took place?
A. I was campaigning for President at the time, but my recollection is that the coverage was biased against the Serbs, that Americans had been made to believe the Serbs were some kind of wild beasts. What the U.S. press did not explain was how these wild beasts could vote Milosevic out, then be hailed as the newest members of the Great Western Democratic Club.
Q. What do you think the long-term solution to the ethnic problems in Yugoslavia could be?
A. Given the memories of atrocities on all sides, it is foolish to try to force these peoples to live together, as in Bosnia. In the end, I think an eventual partition of Bosnia is inevitable. As for Kosovo, we should have stayed out militarily, and tried to broker a deal whereby the Kosovar Albanians could have more autonomy, without breaking up Yugoslavia. Unlike Slovenia and Croatia, which were given to Belgrade in 1919 -- after being taken from the Austro-Hungarian Empire -- Serb roots in Kosovo go back centuries to a time even before Columbus discovered America. Kosovo is the cradle of Serbia. If the NATO allies let Kosovo be severed from Serbia, I believe we will be creating the conditions of future war. There is already a movement afoot to create a Greater Albania by tearing off Kosovo and parts of Montenegro and Macedonia and attaching them to Albania. Should this happen, we will face endless Balkan wars. But this is Europe’s problem, not America’s.
Q. It is well known that NATO and the USSR had an agreement that when Russian troops withdrew from countries such as East Germany and Poland, that NATO said it would not expand eastward. In your opinion, should Russia be concerned about the continued expansion of NATO?
A. Clearly, from the record, the U.S. led the Soviet Union to believe that If it abolished the Warsaw Pact and if the Russian Army went home from Central and Eastern Europe, we would not move NATO one inch further east. So, the U.S. did not keep its word, given verbally by our diplomats, including, I believe, Secretary of State James Baker. Even though I used to write "Captive Nations" resolutions when I worked for Presidents Nixon and Reagan, and welcomed the liberation of Eastern Europe and the Baltic states from Communist rule and Soviet rule, I opposed NATO expansion. Why?
First, NATO was created to prevent the Red Army from overrunning all of Germany and Western Europe. It was to be a purely defensive alliance. Second, for the U.S. to commit itself to fight forever in Eastern Europe is abridge too far. We have no vital interest there. We have never fought there. When we had four million soldiers in Europe in 1945, Eisenhower stopped the U.S. Army at the Elbe. In 1961, Eisenhower told President Kennedy to pull all U.S. troops out of Europe, that it was time to let Europeans pay the cost and provide the troops for their own defense. We are a republic, not an empire, and America should let Europeans, who are as prosperous and populous as we are, defend their own continent. We are not the Roman Empire which stayed in Germany 400 years. Third, the Soviet Army was not defeated by NATO. It got up and went home voluntarily. To move NATO into Russia’s front yard was an act of bad faith, a provocation. George Kennan called it the greatest mistake of the post-Cold War era. To move NATO into the Baltic republics, into the suburbs of St.Petersburg, would be a terrible blunder. But does NATO threaten Russia? My answer is no. President Bush truly and rightly believes friendship with Russia is in the best interests of both nations. We are both huge and great countries. We have never fought each other in a hot war; we have no great quarrel with each other -- ideological, territorial or historical -- now that the Cold War is over. (As long as Mr. Zhirinovsky does not try to take Alaska back.) Mr. Bush is right. We should be partner-nations.
Q. There is even talk of Russia someday joining NATO, but it seems that, for some reason, there are people on both sides who do not want this to happen. Some feel that this talk of Russia joining NATO is just Putin forcing NATO to admit that their expansion does have a long-term goal directed against Russia. How do you see possible NATO-Russian cooperation in the future?
A. There is no question but that NATO expansion was designed to say to Moscow: If you move into Poland again, you will have to face the United States. Let’s not kid ourselves. But I do not believe NATO expansion is directed, in an aggressive way, against Russia. I think it is more of a bureaucratic imperative that Senator Lugar touched on in his famous phrase: "NATO must either go out of area, or go out of business."
One of the primary reasons NATO was not dissolved after the Cold War is that too many rice bowls would be broken. Brussels is wonderful duty for the U.S. and British Army. One of NATO’s functions is to serve as a jobs program for American generals. Why did the British Colonial Office and British Army want to keep India? They loved life in the Raj. All those servants and gin and tonics in the afternoon. My belief is, as I wrote in 1990 in an article titled "America First, Second and Third!", if the Russian Army goes home, the American army should come home. If Russia abolishes the Warsaw Pact, we should abolish NATO, or turn it over to the Europeans. With the Cold War over, we should have returned to the policy of America’s Founding Fathers, who approved of temporary alliances, but not permanent alliances.
World War I taught us what happens to great nations that get ensnared in permanent alliances. Because America was not part of the Triple Entente, we lost fewer men in that war than any other great nation. The historian A. J.P. Taylor wrote that the purpose of becoming a great power is to be able to fight a great war, but the only way to stay a great power is not to fight a great war. We Americans have been fortunate that we have had courageous men who fought to keep us out of the great wars of the last century, until the worst of the blood-letting was over. We came in at the end, like Fortunado coming in at the end of Hamlet, when everyone else is lying wounded or dead on the floor. I am opposed, however, to bringing Russia into NATO, while we are in it, because I am afraid Russia is going to have to fight to keep control of its Far East and Siberia, where Russians are out-numbered many times over by Chinese, and the Russian people are dying out. In a Sino-Russian war, it is not in America’s interest to be militarily involved, though we surely prefer Russian neighbors across the Bering Strait. However, while I don’t support Russia’s admission to NATO, I do support the kind of entente, short of an alliance, Britain developed with Russia in 1907. But it would be a mistake for us to commit ourselves to any new alliances. Alliances are the transmission belts of war. I was opposed to expanding NATO under Clinton and I am against further expansion of NATO. But we are in a box, because we have made some commitments. A way out may be for Russia to give solemn assurances of the independence of the Baltic states and Ukraine, in return for which the U.S. postpones NATO expansion indefinitely. Ultimately, the U.S. should get its forces out of Europe and let Europeans defend their own continent. Europeans used to put million-man armies in the field. Now, they squabble for years over how to put together a "rapid reaction force" of 60,000. Can this be the Europe that gave us the armies of Wellington, Napoleon and Von Moltke?
Q. You are coming out with a new book, The Death of the West. It appears this book is about the decline of civilizations. Have you read Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West? If so, did Spengler’s work influence your latest work? In your opinion, why is the West dying, and is there anything that it can do to stay alive?
A. No, I did not read Spengler, though I am familiar with his thesis. If there were two writers who reflect my views, they are the poet T. S. Eliot and the former Trotskyite who became a great Cold Warrior and Man of the Right, James Burnham, who wrote Suicide of the West. But a friend who read my book tells me it makes Spengler sound like an optimist.
Why is the West dying? First, for a simple reason, its people are dying. There is not one European country, except Moslem Albania, where the population is not stagnant or falling. In not one European nation are women having enough children to keep the nation alive. In some twenty European nations, there are already more burials than births, more caskets than cradles. Russia is one of them. Second, the dying peoples of European descent are being quickly replaced by immigrants from non-Western nations. Chinese and Islamic peoples will be moving into Siberia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Arab, African and Islamic peoples are moving into Europe in the hundreds of thousands every year. America is being swamped. We have 35 million Hispanics, and 1.5 million immigrants coming in every year, a third of them illegal aliens, and 90% of them from the Third World. There are 45 million people in our country who do not speak English at home. We face the same Balkanization that pulled the Soviet Union apart.
By 2050, a majority of Americans will trace their ancestry to Asia, Africa and Latin America, not Europe. America will be, predominantly, a Third World country. While these are hard-working good people, they will not preserve the Western heritage, history, heroes, literature, faith or culture. All the subject peoples from the Western colonial empires, from China to Southeast Asia, from India and Pakistan, to Arabia and Africa, are sending their peoples north to invade the Mother Countries of the West. Invading armies go home, immigrant armies do not. The West is being invaded, peacefully, and occupied. Mexicans and even Mexican-Americans talk of a "Reconquista," the recapture of the lands they lost to America in The Mexican War.
Third, the great Catholic writer Hillaire Belloc said: "The Faith is Europe, Europe is the Faith." In Europe and Russia, the Christian faith is dying. In America, Christianity is under assault. Secularism and hedonism, the values of the 1960s, are dominant in our media, culture and education. On issues like abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, pornography, a pagan world view predominates. Our rivers and lakes are being cleaned up, but American culture is being poisoned and polluted. In Europe, the churches -- Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox -- are emptying out, while the mosques are filling up.
Fourth, as President Ronald Reagan warned us: We have forgotten who we are and where we came from. To America’s cultural elite, the Crusaders are villains, the great explorers and conquerors of the New World were genocidal racists, our Founding Fathers were evil slaver-owners, the old cowboys and soldiers who won the West are accused of cultural genocide and atrocities against the Indians. The battle flags and the statues of Civil War heroes from the South are being torn down. America’s young learn no history at all. Many are ignorant of their past. Our civilization will not survive if we do not know who we are or where we came from, or if we hate those who went before us and gave us all that we have.
Finally, Western countries are surrendering their national sovereignty to transnational institutions. There are powerful ethnic forces pulling apart Britain, Spain, France, Canada. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the USSR have already broken up. There are secessionist movements even inside Russia. In Western Europe, all the ancient nation-states are selling out their sovereignty and independence to disappear inside a bureaucratic superstate called the EU. This is the great fight that succeeds the Cold War. I would hope Russia will struggle to retain its national identity, independence, sovereignty, culture and faith.
Q. In Russian history there has always been the question of whether or not Russia was a part of Europe, part of Asia, or something completely different. Do you think Russia can ever be a part of Europe?
A. Russia is part of Europe, all the way to the Urals. And I have always believed Russia belonged to the West. By the West, I mean those nations whose culture and civilization were formed by the Christian faith. Was not Moscow once "The Third Rome," after Rome fell and Constantinople was overrun in 1453? In my view, Russia was captured by a Christian heresy, Communism, that was imposed through terror upon her people. As Solzhenitzyn reminded Americans: Russia was the first Captive Nation. Russia’s great poets and novelists have always been considered among the greatest of the West. Since Peter the Great, Russia has been a force in Europe.
I was in the old Soviet Union in 1971 and spent three weeks there. In the old cathedrals you could see that this was part of us. You are as much a part of the West as America is. If a great final clash of civilizations is coming, Russia will hold the eastern and southeast flank of the West, just as the Polish King John Sobieski defended Vienna. Russia is part of the West, and America should bring Russia in from the cold.
Q. You gave an interview with Salon magazine in which you commented on the population crisis in Russia. It is true that the population of Russia is declining, especially the population of ethnic Russians. The government has taken some steps to try to encourage ethnic Russians living in former Soviet republics to return to their Motherland. You predicted that because of the shrinking Russian population and the growing numbers of Chinese inhabitants of certain areas of eastern Russia, eventually Russia will lose these areas. In your opinion, is there anything that Russia can do to prevent this?
A. With the Russian empire having gone the way of all the other Western empires, Russians should come home to preserve and protect Mother Russia. For Russia, my figures are that the present population of about 145 million will fall to 114 million by 2050. I had the UN project the trend out to the end of the century. The UN experts say that Russia’s population, at present birth rates, will fall to 80 million by 2100, or as many people as America had in 1905. Russia cannot hold on to an area twice the size of the United States with that small a population, especially with a hungry neighbor like China, which will outnumber Russia 15-1 in 2050. In east Asia, there will be perhaps a hundred Chinese to every Russian. Incidentally, Mr. Putin, who is quoted in The Death of the West, is more pessimistic in his population numbers than I. He says it could go as low as 123 million -- a loss of one seventh of the nation -- by 2015. That is more Russians lost in 15 years than perished in Hitler’s War. I think the Chinese will take the Russian far east, especially the pieces the czar took between 1858-1860, around Manchuria, the way the Americans took Texas. We just moved in until we out-numbered the local Mexican population ten-to-one. Unless Russia can turn its birth rate around, which is only half of what is needed to replace existing population, I don’t know how you do it.
Bringing Russians home from the old Soviet republics is a necessary step, but let us concede the truth: It is also another demonstration of the historic retreat of the West back into the base camp from which the West broke out in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries to rule the world. From my studies, there is a direct co-relation between faith and birth rates. For example, Japan, which had to abandon its old faith and emperor worship at the end of World War II, is now the oldest nation on earth, with a median age of 41. This is why it has lost its dynamism. By 2050, the median age of Italy and Spain will be 54 and 55 years old. A third of Europe will be over 60. The German population will have fallen by 23 million, to 57 million. These dying Europeans will need millions of Arab and African immigrants just to take care of them. Between now and 2050, Asia, Africa and Latin America will add 3 billion more people -- or 30 new Mexicos! -- while Europe loses the equivalent of the entire population of Belgium, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Europe’s native-born population will fall by 125 million by mid-century. But it is impossible to find a single Islamic nation where the population is not soaring.
Do I know how to turn this around? Yes, but it would require a great religious awakening or mass conversion of European and Russian women to the idea of having big families again. I don’t see that happening. This is beyond politics; it is about faith and belief. Solzhenitzyn was right when he told the astonished dons of Harvard that the problem with America and the West was that "Men have forgotten God." Vaclav Havel says we are trying to construct the "first atheistic civilization" in history. Indeed we are; and that civilization is dying, through it is going out in style.
Q. Is a war between Russia and China inevitable?
A. I believe China intends to consolidate its position in Tibet and its west by moving Han Chinese in by the millions. It will then occupy the disputed islands of the South China Sea, the Paracels and Spratlys. Then, it will take the Senkakus from Japan and move to bring Taiwan "back into the embrace of the Motherland." All the while, Chinese traders and workers will move into far eastern Russia, especially into the territories north of Manchuria, along the Ussuri and Amur rivers, where there were pitched battles when I was in the Nixon White House in early 1969. The Chinese are patient, and they believe, not without reason, that they were robbed of territory and humiliated by the Western imperial powers, including Russia, and Japan, when they were weak. I think they expect that the territory Muraviev, Putiatin and Ignatiev acquired for Alexander II, Siberia’s Maritime Province, will fall into their lap by default. Even the Russian people out there think that this land will eventually go to China. Will there be war? If the Chinese are wise, there will not be. With the Russian population dying and China’s soaring toward 1.5 billion by 2025, demography is destiny. But Moscow is making a mistake by joining in a quasi-alliance with China against U.S. "hegemony." Unlike China, we Americans do not covet huge swatches of Russian land. The question Russia must face is how you hold on to a vast territory, full of the world’s most desirable resources, when the population is dying out.
Q. You are one of the few voices in the American press who has spoken out against the sanctions on Iraq. It is known that Russia and Iraq are developing closer economic ties, and Russia would like to see these sanctions lifted. A war launched against Iraq would throw cold water on the recent improvement in relations between our two countries. Do you feel that the Bush Administration is willing to launch such a ground war? Or is it mainly the neo-cons and the Israeli Lobby pushing for such a war?
A. Clearly, the neo-cons, our war hawks, are wild for war on Iraq. And our Israeli Lobby desperately wants to make Israel’s war America’s war, so the U.S. will fight Israel’s battles and smash Israel’s enemies. The Brits used to do that, quite successfully. But we must not let it happen. While America will stand by Israel’s right to exist in security, we must have a policy of our own, independent of Israel, as our interests are not identical, despite what the Lobby claims. This is a long-time problem for America that Washington, our first and greatest President, warned us against in his Farewell Address: Do not let "passionate attachments" to foreign countries divert you from your own country’s best interests.
Will the President launch a Desert Storm II, a second invasion of Iraq? The final decision has probably not been made. My guess is that the final decision will be "No" -- unless Saddam does something rash or stupid. The President is aware that such a move would shatter his anti-terrorist coalition, alienate Russia and our NATO and Arab allies, and require hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, because there is no "northern alliance" to do the fighting in Iraq, as there was in Afghanistan. I think a final decision on Iraq is further down the road. On Iraq, I oppose the sanctions because they seem to be killing the old, the women, and the children, without dethroning Saddam Hussein. Second, they are hurting us with Arab peoples, who wonder why we are so tough on Iraqis, but so tolerant of Israelis when they ignore UN resolutions. Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator, but his armed forces were smashed in Desert Storm. He has no navy and no air force, none of his armor and artillery have been updated in ten years, and he knows if he uses a weapon of mass destruction on Americans, it will be the end for him. He and his generals have to understand this. Our entire nation would demand his total destruction. That would be insane for him. And I think he knows it. Even during Desert Storm he did not use chemical weapons.
So, I agree with General Powell. Saddam is in a box. He is contained. There is no pressing need to invade and overthrow him, especially if it means a war that could cause the Middle East to explode. But if Saddam Hussein’s hand is found to have been in the September 11 massacres, he should probably get ready to meet his Maker.
Q. Speaking of the Middle East, we have seen an increase in violence between Israel and the Palestinians. The United States is perceived in many countries as being unfairly siding with Israel. Russia is supposed to be a cosponsor to the peace process. In your opinion, is there anything that Russia can do to promote peace in the region?
A. As the situation is deteriorating and no one seems to have a solution, perhaps there is: Why not step out and lay down what Russia believes the terms of a just peace are, and get the Western Europeans to sign on, and propose it? At least then the warring parties would have something on the table. Other than that, I cannot think of what Russia could do dramatically to affect the situation, and I confess I am pessimistic. Prime Minister Rabin was a great man. I first met him in 1967 in Israel, with Mr. Nixon, right after the Six-Day War. And General Rabin and Ehud Barak were on the right track, and Arafat should have at least hailed the Camp David proposals as enormous progress, even if he could not sign on the dotted line. But then Sharon went stomping around the Temple Mount with a thousand bodyguards and the second intifada exploded. Our difficulty here is that most Americans who are most passionate about the Middle East think Rabin and Barak were foolish to make the offers they did. They want Sharon to unleash the Israeli army. They believe the way to end violence is to thrash the Palestinians, once and for all, so they will sit down at the table and behave like good little boys. As of now, the U.S. seems to have given Sharon a virtual free hand, so long as he does not physically eliminate Arafat. America’s second difficulty is that we are trying to be both Israel’s most loyal ally -- not criticizing anything they do in self-defense -- at the same time we are supposed to be an "honest broker" who brings together both sides in a compromise. To the Arabs, the U.S. umpire, who is supposed to be neutral, is spending most of his time in the other team’s locker room, plotting strategy, and cheering them on. In the correlation of forces today, the Israelis have the power and the land, but the population numbers are against them. By 2025, the 4.2 million Palestinians now under Israeli rule -- in Israel, East Jerusalem, on the West Bank, and Gaza – will number 9 million. By 2050, they will number 15 million, and there will be 10 million more in Jordan. If demography is destiny, Israel is in an existential crisis. I don’t think this is something that Israel can resolve with F-16s and helicopter gunships.
If I were President -- an idea the American people enthusiastically rejected -- I would lay out what I think are the terms of a just, honorable peace for both sides. Perhaps that would break the cycle of violence that is swirling ever more rapidly, and which may draw a lot more of us in -- Israelis and Palestinians, Arabs and Americans -- before it is done. An independent Palestinian State on the West Bank and in Gaza, with its capital in East Jerusalem, with Islamic control of Islamic holy places, is a necessary condition of peace. But, with the recent deposits of bitterness and hatred on all sides, I wonder if it is any longer a sufficient condition for peace. This may be a terminal struggle, like Vietnam, where the side with the greater willingness to sacrifice, suffer and die, eventually wins all and dictates terms to the loser. Because Western peoples believe in compromise and contracts, we tend to think other peoples believe in them, too. But other people usually believe in them only as long as we have the power to enforce them. When they acquire the power, they tear them up and impose their own solutions. The Israelis think this is what the Palestinians and their Arab allies will do, if Israel gives up strategic terrain. And they may be right. This is why I would not impose an American solution. But, in the long run, this is not our problem, it is Israel’s problem. If the Israelis cannot find a way to make peace with their neighbors, their future is going to be very unhappy.
As for the United States, if we cannot be a truly honest broker, we ought to disengage militarily and let these nations work out their own destinies. Again, President Washington had it right. If you wish peace, be prepared for war, but if you wish peace, stay out of other nation’s wars. Americans have always be ready to fight for their freedom, but we are not like the British, we are poor imperialists. Most of us have no interest in ruling other nations. We have everything we want or need right here in God’s country, the U.S.A.
Q. Do you have any comments about Russia’s recent role in Afghanistan? It seems that some people were surprised when Russian troops set up a hospital in Kabul. Why do you think people were surprised by this action? How do you see future events in Afghanistan playing out?
A. The reason people were surprised is that they did not expect it. It was like that midnight run to Pristina airport that caught General Clark by surprise. As I understand it, he was not amused. In my view, Russia has been a good ally in this Afghan war from the start. President Putin was right to urge the Central Asian states to help us. He has won great good will for Russia in the United States. If Russia wants to help out in Afghanistan with humanitarian aid, more power to them, though it is probably best to coordinate. Your interests in the region are longer lasting and greater than ours. We just want to stop the country from being used by terrorists who come over here to murder our people. Who rules Afghanistan is something they should decide. As to the future, I am not very hopeful. The Afghans are a proud and brave people. But some of our Afghani allies have terrible track records on treating people they rule. Some appear to have records as bad as that of Milosevic, and we are prosecuting him for war crimes. We should help as much as we can, but then move out and let the peace-keeping force be made up of other nations troops, preferably Islamic. Our objective is a limited one: We don’t want Afghanistan used as a boot camp for terrorists whose ambition is to die as some suicide-martyr in the United States.
Q. Do you have any opinion of Mr. Putin? What would you say to him if you were ever to meet him?
A. I have never met Mr. Putin, but my impression is he is a patriot and a nationalist who puts Russia first, and who is a resolute guardian of Russian national interests. He seems to be what we would call a "tough customer." What I would do, if President, would be to sit down with President Putin during a long summit and lay out the areas of concern to us Americans – the independence of the Baltic states and Ukraine, ending further nuclear cooperation with Iran, then lay out where I think we can work together, on terrorism, on developing Russia’s enormous resources, on tying Russia closer to the West and the United States. I would tell him that a Russian-Chinese alliance against America is unwise. Americans can be boorish at times, but we do not threaten any vital Russian interest, we only wish the Russian people well, and, frankly, we prefer you across the Bering Strait as neighbors to the alternative.
On the oil pipelines, I don’t think the U.S. should try to cut Russia out, we should cut everyone in, including Iran, and create a multiplicity of ways to bring that oil out. Just as Russians have to put the Cold War behind them, so do we. America’s quarrel was never with the Russian people, it was with the Bolsheviks who terrorized Russia and said to Americans when I was young, "We will bury you!" Then I would tell Mr. Putin I would like to hear him lay out at length how he views the world and Russia’s destiny over the next fifty years. My view is that, as Islamic fundamentalism rises and crests and Chinese nationalism is backed up by greater and greater military power, Russia and America are Going to have a great deal to talk urgently about.
Q. What is your opinion of the proposed NMD system that the Bush administration wants to build. It seems that it would be much easier for a terrorist organization to launch a chemical or nuclear attack using means other than an ICBM.
A. You are right on the second point. As I wrote in A Republic, Not an Empire, if an atomic weapon explodes on American soil, it will not come in by ballistic missile, but by merchant ship or Ryder Truck, the way the bomb did that Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Murrah building in Oklahoma City. But, on missile defense, I am a Reaganite. No nation, not Russia, and not America, that has the ability to defend its people from these awesome and awful weapons, should forever forfeit the right to do so. Suppose North Korea fired a ballistic missile at Anchorage or U.S. troops in Korea, and we had had the ability to shoot it down, but had not deployed defensive missiles, because of a treaty signed by Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev, thirty years ago. How could our leaders look our people in the face, if they had had the ability to defend America, but refused to do so.
Even Russia, back in those days, had a missile defense around Moscow, and you were building that giant phased array radar out at Krasnoyarsk. That was outside the ABM treaty. In the White House, we used to hear of other giant radars, also forbidden by the treaty, Russia was building along her borders. So, if Russia feared a U.S. strike and wanted to protect her homeland against it, should we not fear some rogue state lashing out at us in hatred and frustration?
A BMD system threatens nothing but an incoming missile. I realize some people believe that the U.S. wants a missile defense so we can launch a first strike with impunity. This is preposterous. There is nothing in the world America lacks or needs worth fighting a nuclear war over. I was with President Reagan in Reykjavik where we almost had a deal to get rid of all nuclear weapons, but President Reagan walked out – because Gorbachev wanted him to give up purely defensive weapons. Who was right? I think Reagan was. He detested nuclear weapons, but loved SDI, because it could not kill anybody or anything, but a missile aimed at the country he loved.
Q. Some people say that because of globalization, the "Right" and "Left" are moving closer together. Some have said that your politics are a combination of left-wing and right-wing ideas. Do you seen any evidence to suggest that this combining of the Left and Right is taking place in America?
A. At the end of the Cold War, the Nixon-Reagan coalition, which was united on the Cold War, fell apart. Today, Left and Right get together, but only on a few issues. Foreign policy has been one. The Old Right and some Leftists were against the Gulf War, and many believe that, with the Cold War over, America should bring our troops home, dissolve the Cold War alliances, and follow the formula of the Founding Fathers: Peace, commerce and friendship with all nations, but "entangling alliances" with none. On trade, the Old Right has found some common ground with the Left. But even here there are differences. The paleo-cons believe in economic patriotism, that trade laws should be designed to make the homeland more self-sufficient and to raise the standard of living of its workers. A country is like a family. You take care of your own, first.
To us, globalism comes close to economic treason. "Global companies" put profit before country. Jefferson had it right about the Davos crowd: "A merchant has no country. The very ground he stands upon does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which he draws his gain." But the Left is internationalist. It would like to enlarge the World Bank to transfer more of America’s wealth to the Third World. We would abolish the World Bank and IMF, as parasitical elites who hand out to their client regimes billions of dollars none of them did anything to earn. Left and Right in America opposed NAFTA and GATT, but not for the same reason. So, a Left-Right coalition on some issues is fine, but I don’t think it can work on a permanent basis. On the moral, social and cultural issues -- abortion, preferential hiring of minorities, homosexual rights, euthanasia -- we disagree. They believe in Big Government and we believe much of the Federal Government could be shut down, with the duties sent back to the states and communities, and the tax revenues they consume sent back to the people.
Q. Do you have any thoughts about the "Patriot Bill"? Should Americans be concerned with losing their civil liberties? Would most Americans be willing to trade their civil liberties for greater security?
A. President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft are not any threat to American freedoms. Military tribunals were used in our Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II. Why, then, the great howl when President Bush asks for the same power? More American civilians died on U.S. soil on September 11 than in any foreign war. On wiretaps and Internet intercepts, many people will raise a horrible stink if the U.S. Government goes too far. I think we can safely rely on the domestic political balance of power to protect us here. The real threat to our freedom comes from a mammoth government that never ceases to grow and consume Americans’ wealth, and which has an endless appetite for controlling our lives, and which, unfortunately, has a penchant for empire. My fear is that our people have grown comfortable with Big Government, and do not know anymore what the old America was like. But if there are repeated acts of mass terror on U.S. soil, the American people would, I think, accept restrictions on their freedoms, and certainly on immigration, until the terrorists were run to earth.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?
A. The Russian people and nation should ask themselves this question: If a great "clash of civilizations" is coming, on whose side do you wish to stand? I trust that the answer will be: "We are with the West." Second, a story. Forty years ago, when I started out in journalism at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, I took a Russian language course at night at the university, as I wanted to be a foreign correspondent in Moscow. To help me with the language, I subscribed to Pravda. Soon, my neighbors told me, the FBI had come around to ask if Buchanan, living in the ground floor apartment, was associating with known Communists or suspicious people speaking Russian. So, I would like to thank Pravda for bringing me to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Thank you very much for the interview Mr. Buchanan.
Questions compiled by Justin Cowgill
Patrick J. Buchanan was twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the Reform Party’s candidate in 2000. Now a commentator and columnist, he served three presidents in the White House, was a founding panelist of three national televison shows, and is the author of six books. His current position is chairman of The American Causehttp://www.theamericancause.org. His newest book, "Death of the West," will be published in January.