'Learning to Love Pat Buchanan'

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That's what some on the alt-weekly Left are grappling with, in response to Pitchfork Pat's new neo-con bash. Which reminds me of the morning after Election Night 2000, when Buchanan and Ralph Nader met warmly at the National Press Club, and some giant Green Party lunatic started chanting "Shoulder to shoulder on trade!!" Also makes timely this morning's Margaret Carlson op-ed in the L.A. Times, about the value (and usefulness) of political "turncoats."

Buchanan's making a lot of noise on his book tour, and continuing his American history seminar over at WorldNet Daily, including this fond look back at the isolationist 1930s.

For 20 years, Americans felt we had been had by the Brits and had been suckered into war "only to pull England's chestnuts out of the fire." This sentiment fueled the greatest of all anti-war movements in U.S. history, America First.

The achievements of that organization are monumental. By keeping America out of World War II until Hitler attacked Stalin in June of 1941, Soviet Russia, not America, bore the brunt of the fighting, bleeding and dying to defeat Nazi Germany. Thanks to America First, no nation suffered less in the world's worst war.

Pearl Harbor, which FDR cynically provoked after assuring Americans he was doing his best to keep us out of war, finished the America First movement.

Buchanan's also being quoted in lengthy Dar Al Hayat neo-con dot-connectors, and roasted over an open satire at Jewsweek.

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  1. The achievements of that organization are monumental. By keeping America out of World War II until Hitler attacked Stalin in June of 1941, Soviet Russia, not America, bore the brunt of the fighting, bleeding and dying to defeat Nazi Germany. Thanks to America First, no nation suffered less in the world’s worst war.

    I don’t know whether this is blatant sophistry or Machiavellian revisionism, but damn, I’m in awe of Pat. Even with the misplaced nominative in the second sentence.

  2. Jeebus Keerist on a pogo stick. Does Pat really believe that Hitler attacked Russia in June 1941 because, with America sitting out the war that month, there was nothing else for the Wehrmacht to do?

    Plus, I find it interesting to note that, while America suffered 295,000 military casualties and no civilian casualties of note, Belgium, Canada, India, Australia, Spain, Norway, and Denmark all suffered far fewer military casualties with few or no civilian casualties as well, presumably without the benefit of an America First movement.

    Get a fact, Pat.

  3. Plus, I find it interesting to note that, while America suffered 295,000 military casualties and no civilian casualties of note, Belgium, Canada, India, Australia, Spain, Norway, and Denmark all suffered far fewer military casualties with few or no civilian casualties as well, presumably without the benefit of an America First movement.

    You’re forgetting Luxembourg and Liechtenstein both! I’m assuming he means the U.S. suffered least as a percentage of total population-if he’s actually thought about this point (which I’d doubt).

  4. I think the Atlantic Ocean had something to do with it as well. It’s a lot easier to drive a tank from Warsaw to Moscow than to Washington.

  5. Pat Buchanan is nucking futs. Why anyone actually gives a damn about what he’s saying is beyond me.

    Next Pat will tell us about the black helicopters and the Zionist conspiracy for global domination…

  6. Pat Buchanan is nucking futs. Why anyone actually gives a damn about what he’s saying is beyond me.

    Next Pat will tell us about the black helicopters and the Zionist conspiracy for global domination…

  7. Wasn’t there a poll which had only 8% of Americans supporting involvement in WW2 as of the summer of 1940? It seems that opposition to US involvement prior to Pearl Harbor went well beyond the hard-core isolationists.

    If you wanted to make a real isolationist argument involving the war, perhaps you could form one around Hitler’s boneheaded decision to declare war on the US following Pearl Harbor, when it was far from clear that FDR would be able to do him the favor. Now there’s a good case of foreign entanglements leading to ruin (or at least accelerating it).

  8. Eric II, I don’t know off the top of my head what the figure for support for joining the war in Europe was, but according to the book “Hawaii Under the Rising Sun” (which is about Japanese plans for attacking Hawaii, obviously), polls taken in Summer 1941 showed that a majority of Americans agreed with the statement that if a “foreign power” seized Hawaii the United States shouldn’t go to war to reclaim it.

  9. Wasn’t there a poll which had only 8% of Americans supporting involvement in WW2 as of the summer of 1940? It seems that opposition to US involvement prior to Pearl Harbor went well beyond the hard-core isolationists

    It would be more accurate to say that, prior to Pearl Harbor, hard-core isolationism was the normal position to hold.

  10. It’s interesting and ironic to hear criticism of Pat Buchanan and the America First Movement on a Libertarian website. After all, many Libertarinas HERE TODAY say similar things and would have said the same things in 1940! NAder and Buchanan shoulder-to-shoulder on trade, Buchanan-Badnarik-Nader shoulder-to-shoulder on Iraq and foreign affairs…
    And after seeing how disastrously non-intervention worked in 1940 are you guys really so confident that in 2004 it will work out any better? In short, does looking backward inspire any confidence in your positions TODAY?

  11. Dean, I think the people of Belgium, Denmark and Norway would be fascinated to hear that they “suffered less” than the United States in WW II, given that they were all occupied by Nazi Germany for several years.

    India lost considerably fewer soldiers than the United States, but over 3 million Indians died in the Bengali faminine of 1943 precipitated by the Japanese invasion: http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/F_0016.htm

    Using the numbers of military personnel and fatalities on this website: http://www.world-war-2.info/casualties/ , Australia lost 2.6% of its troops and Canada lost 3.8% of its troops, while the United States lost 1.8%. Given that they all had minimal civilian casualties, that would seem to suggest Australia and Canada suffered more.

    The inclusion of Spain in your list is simply absurd, given that it was neutral.

    To quote you, “Get a fact.”

  12. “After all, many Libertarinas HERE TODAY say similar things”

    Really? Who invaded who, and who’s advocating that we do nothing about it?

  13. Really Eric II, you don’t see the irony of attacking Buchanan? Or discussing the failures of America First? Consider, had we entered the Second World War sooner it would have ended sooner and with fewer casualties, instead we waited until we were attacked…
    This era nad these views are the basis of my statement, “Why I am NOT a Libertarian” ‘cuz Libertarians don’t do Foreign Policy well, oh Trade Policy they do well, but if it involves the ideas of Force or Realism, they can’t deal with it. And the era 1931-1941 demonstrates it amply.

  14. Joe L.,

    Non-intervention was the majority sentiment, not FDR’s policy. FDR was doing everything he could do to goad Japan into striking the first blow. And that worked REAL good.

  15. Buchanan’s dead on on this front — opposed our murder of Serb’s in another war we were lied into as well.

    On a cultural level and when it comes to certain issues like trade and abortion I hate the guy but he’d certainly move the country in a much more libertarian direction than say Bush or Kerry, thats for sure.

    All of the minor countries mentioned that were occupied by Germany lost a higher % of their population and soldiers than we did. The Serbs lost 8% of their total population or in todays numbers 24 million americans during world war II as one small, horrendous example.

    If Pat can bring some more conservatives over the anti-war side — all power to him.

  16. Joe L.
    Of course, when Saddam actually DID invade a country, let’s call it Kuwait, we went to war and cleared him out. There aren’t many people here that opposed GWI. Saddam’s mass graves were mostly filled before the war and during the ensuing civil war. It’s been relatively quiet there for the last decade or so.

    Being an isolationist wrt Iraq now vs. in 1940 is not the same at all, unless you can point me to evidence of Saddam’s taking of territory since we booted him out.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is the comparisons of 2003 Iraq to 1940 Germany. It’s less accurate than comparing 2004 Iraq to 1967 Vietnam

  17. Woah, time out…

    “On a cultural level and when it comes to certain issues like trade and abortion I hate the guy but he’d certainly move the country in a much more libertarian direction.” -Spur-

    Yeah, other than culture, trade, abortion, equal protection for minorities and gays, immigration and, for a good portion of us pro-war libertarians, the war, yeah, Pat would be just GREAT for libertarianism.

    Wtf, Spur?

  18. Being an isolationist wrt Iraq now vs. in 1940 is not the same at all, unless you can point me to evidence of Saddam’s taking of territory since we booted him out.

    You don’t think the fact that we had our military actively waging a low-key containment war with Iraq during the twelve years between GW1 and GW2 might have had something to do with Hussein not invading anyone?

  19. http://www.tfaoi.com/am/8am/8am205.jpg

    Dr. Seuss on America First.

    Joe L. the Sophist,

    The factual predicates are completely different. Trying to analogize Nazi Germany 1940 and Iraq 2003 is about one of the dumbest remarks I’ve seen you make; and that is saying something. Try your sophistry elsewhere.

  20. I really don’t think the comparison with Spain is fair either. Spain had a civil war as a preclude to WW2. The nazis supported Franco and russia supported the other side. I don’t know the exact numbers, but if I had to take a guess I would say they suffered a whole lot more proportionately than the US.

    Also, Spur come on man. Buchanan is far from a Libertarian.

    I will say that the only person I have heard give a rational anti war argument is Buchanan.

    The Jewsweek link story on Buchanan is pretty funny.

    I’ll have more random unconected thoughts later on.

  21. kwais,

    The Spanish Civil War ended up with a “butcher’s bill” of between 500,000 and 1 million. This out of a population of approximately 25 million.

    Thus between 2% and 4% of the population perished between the years 1936-1939.

    Also, this does include the 250,000-500,000 refugees that fled to and stayed in France after the collapse of the Republican movement in Spain. Many of these refugees went on to fight throughout WWII as members of the dispersed French armed forces that were cobbled together by the Free French movement; indeed, a few of these men didn’t see a year without some sort of military action from 1936-1945 – they fought not only Spain, but in North and Western Africa, in Italy, in France and finally in Germany.

  22. …does not include…

  23. I am shocked no one has talked about the America First movement. Many of its leaders and luminaries like Charles Lindburgh used it as a front for their anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathies. I wish that Buchanan had chosen a better representative for his cause.

  24. Many of its leaders and luminaries like Charles Lindburgh used it as a front for their anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathies.

    And Communist sympathies; once Hitler and Stalin signed their pact, American Communists came out vehemently against involvement in the war.

  25. Pat Buchanan in 1999 (from: A Republic, not an Empire):

    “If we continue on this course of reflexive interventions, enemies will one day answer our power with the last weapon of the weak — terror, and eventually cataclysmic terrorism on US soil.”

    Pat Buchanan in 2002:

    “Now let me repeat the warning: If this Prodigal Nation does not cease its mindless interventions in quarrels and wars that are not America’s concerns, our lot will be endless acts of terror until, one day, a weapon of mass destruction is detonated on American soil. What is it about global empire that is worth taking this risk?”

    The accuracy of his first admonition, and the lives that would have been saved had our government listened, is indicative that we ignore his second warning and his scholarship at our peril.

    Also: Buchanan’s grasp and utilization of history, from ancient to modern, is like no other popular political pundit’s on the scene. It informs his new volume: Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency

    Even if you disagree with Buchanan’s strong case for libertarian foreign policy prescriptions, and his damning of the Iraq war, the neocon take over of much of the Bush agenda, and our government’s support of the Israeli governments occupation; his use of historical precedent in his arguments make the cost of admission a bargain.

    I find most of the book compelling with the exception of his relatively recent retreat from free trade. (Buchanan describes Reagan as the only person who was a bigger free trader than himself in the Reagan administration.) Although; he does share with libertarians a condemnation of the IMF, and the World Bank and the restrictive components of the WTO and NAFTA. Even in the foreign trade purview he makes interesting, though not compelling, use of historical reference.

  26. Jason,

    Quite a few Spanish Fascists also fought for the Nazis in Russia. Probably more than fought on the Allied side. The Blue Division (IIRC) fought for the Wehrmacht and was mauled badly in the winter of 1941.

  27. Ironchef,

    Yeah, but they were fighting on the wrong side of history.

  28. Why don’t people call Patty-Patty-Buch-Buch’s flip-flop on trade for the cynical grab for political market share that it was? He saw how successful Perot was with that line, and, seeking to gain funding for his quixotic* run against G.H. Bush in the `92 primaries, whored himself out to Roger Milliken of South Carolina and the pro-tariff, pro-quota US Textile industry lobby.

    His hop to the zombified Reform Party, where he got to enjoy carrying the Perot standard without any of that old Ferengi’s latinum, just about killed that dead horse, now being ridden into the ground by Nader. Pat failed to transform Reform into an American Falange, but not for want of trying.

    What’s amazing is, no matter what enormity issues from his mouth or word processor, the Washington commentariat welcomes pat back to its bosom as if his demogogic politicking never happened.

    Kevin

    *Yeah, yeah, I know we Sancho Panza’s of the LP should talk, right?

  29. kevrob,

    So was Buchanan a free trader at one point in time?

  30. I love the way that a personal ad for “Trunks69” appears in the positive review of a Pat Buchanan book.

  31. P.B. was all for free trade when he was on Reagan’s payroll, sanctions imposed on disfavored Communist regimes aside, of course.

    Kevin

  32. Consider, had we entered the Second World War sooner it would have ended sooner and with fewer casualties, instead we waited until we were attacked…

    woe betide us if this becomes the thinking of some significant portion of the population.

    this is essentially a justification for getting deeply involved in the affairs of every backwater on the planet. there is no way to discern what problems will eventually become large — people forget, i think, that neville chamberlain’s appeasement was a very pragmatic approach. probabilistically, a very high percentage of such political issues collapse of their own accord before they reach the invasion of poland. dozens of power-mad dictators will come and go before one wreaks the havoc of a hitler. chamberlain and daladier were, on some level, trying to give hitler time to hang himself, while doing the least damage to europe.

    sometimes, however, the odds will go against you.

    the problem is that dimmer minds don’t consider the possible outcomes of a situation — the alternative histories, as it were. they see that the nazis ran rampant over europe and deterministically conclude that all such threats must be met with force early on — and don’t consider the impossibility of that “solution”, or the ruinous expense of attempting same.

    i fear that this may now be true of the ideologues in the white house.

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