A column by Pat Buchanan in today's paper starts out promising – with his oft-repeated question, “How are we going to pay for it all?” -- that is, for both domestic programs/entitlements and empire-building (and he disapproves of both, just for the record). And I note that, this time, he doesn't mention either of the usual options, namely printing more (worthless) paper money or borrowing more from China (or whoever). He knows that the China well is about to run dry, and that “funny money” isn't going to impress anyone overseas... and, in the long run, won't be worth much on the domestic side either (even if it is called “legal tender”). So what is boils down to is this: Either we make drastic cuts in domestic programs and entitlements – which include countless “untouchable” programs and “third rails”... or we make drastic cuts in the costs of the American Empire, which means, primarily, in the military budget (to which I would add the vast intelligence empire, which includes its own armies of government employees and “contractors”).
Then he asks the question – which is a very good question indeed – where does the “tea party” stand on this issue? That is, on the issue of turning around and walking away from the American Empire, and from the wars that support it? And he asks it in the context of, whither the Republican Party – i.e. to impotence and obsolescence, or to renewed strength and vigor? Because the tea party – its demographic – is drawn, not entirely but to a significant extent, from the Republicans... with a smattering of independents and fewer Democrats than it would take to fill a Prius. And the issue from Day One for the Republican establishment has been how to round up these soreheads and cranks who have wandered off the reservation and bring them back into the fold as reliable Republican voters. And the issue for the tea partiers has been, do we renounce the Republicans, and all their pomps and works, and set ourselves up as a kind of “cloud” third party, or do we attempt to achieve reform from within? And these questions are still very current, and are being asked with increasing intensity in the face of the upcoming elections (and the results of the primaries). A cynic might say, can the Republicans fool the tea party types one more time, regain power, and then turn around and treat the tea partiers like the dirty dogs they think they are? And will the tea partiers ever wise up?
Buchanan quotes Richard Viguerie saying that after the election “a massive, almost historic battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party begins”. But this implies that the tea partiers will stay under the tent. But what if that's not true? What if they have the courage and fortitude to simply leave? But he (Buchanan) goes on to say that “the great issue uniting and motivating the Republican Party and the tea party is...”, and then names an array of economic crises and issues. But wait – most of these troubles began under a Republican administration. So does he really believe that the Republicans have become born-again budget balancers? They might style themselves that way in order to gain votes, but I'll believe it when I see it, and I haven't seen it.
Then, as to what Buchanan sees as the possibilities, he is not optimistic about the Democrats going along with any reductions in domestic spending – because they live for the idea of creating heaven on earth (even though they don't believe in Heaven). What that leaves is “defense and the empire, the warfare state.” Fair enough, but here's where it gets confusing. He starts referring to the “war party” as opposed to the “tea party”... but right away I have to ask, which party is the “war party”? Clearly, the Republicans are _a_ war party, since they started both of our current wars... but the Democrats are continuing them, so they too must be considered a war party. And this question is never resolved for the remainder of the column – an oversight which I consider rare in Buchanan's repertoire. But regardless of what he meant, the truth is that there is, as I've said before, only one Regime and only one Party, and it is, in fact, the “war party”. And it has two divisions, which differ not in principle but only in what I call “iconography” (which includes choices of word and phrase, i.e. propaganda) – namely the Republicans and Democrats.
But then Buchanan turns around and points something out that I have been saying for a while now – that the tea party and the “Republican right” have much in common, and it all has to do with the American Empire. He asks, will they oppose Obama's full withdrawal of troops from Iraq (assuming it ever happens, which I doubt)? And will they “denounce” Obama for not starting a war against Iran? And will they object to any withdrawal from Afghanistan? What this all adds up to is that the tea partiers may be “anti-big government”, but they are most definitely not “anti-war” -- nor are they opposed, in principle or in fact, to the American Empire and its expansion at all costs. And this, as I've pointed out, is a contradiction on the most basic level – you can't be pro-empire and anti-big government; it simply can't be done. And I daresay that if you asked anyone who showed up at one of the recent tea party rallies to choose between Empire and smaller government, they would have to, after due consideration, choose Empire. That's simply the way they think; they are all mini-Sarah Palins. To them, there is nothing inconsistent in the idea of big, overpowering military force abroad and small, non-threatening government on the home front. The problem is, this has never been known to occur in all of human history; no, not once. But this is a choice they don't want to make, and that, in fact, no one is asking them to make, because in politics, when you see someone with a fatal flaw, you don't press the point; you just wait for that flaw to work itself to the surface and let what inevitably happens happen. Thus, the tea parties are doomed by their own internal contradictions – but that will not stop the Republicans from cynically exploiting them as long as possible, or the media from using them as a bogeyman to scare people into keeping Democrats in office. So yes, the tea partiers are useful -- but to everyone but themselves.
So to answer Buchanan's questions as fairly as possible – given the horrendous ambiguity of his term “war party” -- would the tea party and Republican right oppose withdrawal from Iraq? Of course, because they have drunk deeply of the Bushian Kool-Aid that says, once we're in a “theater of operations” for whatever reason, it's a total disgrace to “cut and run”. And we have to "support the troops". In other words, many more American lives must be sacrificed to prove that we were not wrong in previously sacrificing many American lives.
OK, so... would they demand that we retain an army in Iraq indefinitely? Yes, because that's what Empire is all about. How can we claim empire unless we have "boots on the ground"? And also, until those rag-heads get their act together, we owe it to the world to make sure they behave themselves... or at least pretend to.
And would failure to declare war against Iran mean that Americans are slinking, despicable cowards? Of course! Iran is low-hanging fruit, just like Iraq was. It'll be a “cakewalk”, etc. (And can I have a toot of whatever you're toking?) Plus, Iran is the “Number One Public Enemy of Israel of the Week”, and no enemy (declared or otherwise) of Israel can be anything but an enemy of America, as Hillary so pointedly pointed out. You threaten Israel – or even wish its demise – yea, even vaguely daydream of its demise – and you've declared yourself an avowed enemy of the United States, and deserve all of our wrath and awesome power in return.
And would withdrawal from Afghanistan be an admission of defeat? Why, certainly... and just as MacArthur said “I shall return” we would eventually have to go back to Afghanistan to make things right – so why just not stay there and make things right the first time around? "Just a little bit longer", as the song says.
The one point upon which Buchanan waxes unduly optimistic is this: “After Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people are not going to give the establishment and war party [whatever that is] a free hand in foreign policy.” Well, he couldn't be more wrong. He says, “Every patriot will do what is necessary and pay what is needed to defend his country. But national security is one thing; empire security another.” The latter is most certainly true, but he is dead wrong about the priorities of the American public. He has to remember that these are people whose brains have been fried on decades of propaganda – and they would, almost unanimously, choose Empire over national security, if given the choice. Because they have been given the choice, time and time again – at election time. And they invariably elect candidates who are pro-Empire, which means, inevitably, anti-national security, and, ultimately, anti-America. And a large part of this is based on the fact that the American Empire is really not American at all – as I've pointed out previously. It's simply a tool, and a major one, for the globalists and financial overlords to use in building their own empire. As far as they're concerned, our domestic pro-war cabal (the neocons, Evangelicals, and Israel lobby) are just tools... means to an end. They could not care less whether America, per se, or its people, prosper or sink into poverty and despair – that is not on their radar. What is on their radar is the notion of using the United States as a source of semi-skilled military labor – as cannon fodder – to pursue their own ends. Once these have been achieved, the United States will be discarded – economically (this is already underway) and diplomatically (ditto). But until then, we are their willing slaves... and our “leaders” are like the black foremen who wielded the whip over the field hands in the Old South... working for “the man”, traitors to their race, but on top of the world as they knew it – until the deluge.