Stephen Webster, American Renaissance, March 2008
Patrick J. Buchanan, Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed are Tearing American Apart, Thomas Dunne Books, 2007, 294 pp.
The United States, warns Patrick Buchanan, is on a collision course with history. Each of three major policies — trade, immigration, strategy — is unsustainable, and together they imperil the continued existence of the United States. Such is the grim message of Mr. Buchanan’s latest book, Day of Reckoning.
Why do our leaders fail to recognize the risks they are running? Mr. Buchanan believes they are blinded by ideology; they want the world to conform to their vision, and are prepared to use force to make it conform. In Mr. Buchanan’s view, real conservatism is the absence of ideology, the willingness to take the world and human nature as they are rather than impose impossible ambitions.
Mr. Buchanan writes that ideology drives all of our most catastrophic policies. Multiculturalism sees massive Third-World immigration as a great benefit rather than the disaster it obviously is, and faith in free trade is destroying our industrial infrastructure and beggaring the middle class. But in Mr. Buchanan’s view, the most harmful of the regnant ideologies is what he calls “democratism,” the neoconservative doctrine of imposing democracy on the world by force. It is this compulsion to remake the world that has drawn us into the Iraq war, which Mr. Buchanan calls the worst strategic blunder in American history.
“Democratism” would never have been a temptation to our rulers were it not for another related American defect: hubris. Even before the younger Bush became president, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton acted as if there was no limit to America’s ability to force its will upon the world. The end of the Cold War should have been an opportunity to bring our troops home, to cut back our commitments, to become, in the words of the late Gene Kirkpatrick, a “normal nation” for which foreign policy is a secondary concern. (Mr. Buchanan reminds us that from the Revolution to the end of the Second World War, we had no peacetime alliances.) Instead of scrapping NATO, we expanded it to include former Warsaw Pact nations and even parts of the former Soviet Union. Instead of dismantling our foreign bases we have built scores more, and now have hundreds of thousands of soldiers in no fewer than 135 of the world’s 192 countries. This has produced a potentially dangerous confrontation with Vladimir Putin’s Russia and has encircled China, recreating Cold War-style containment against a country whose trade, according to our elites, is essential to our prosperity.
Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union we are still committed to defending Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Latin America and Taiwan. Worse still, we have added Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia and the Middle East to our security burdens. We are committed to defending most of the countries of the world against attack — some with economies stronger than ours — yet after six years of fighting we cannot even pacify Afghanistan.
In Mr. Buchanan’s view, the most dangerous and reprehensible combination of hubris and “democratism” has been President George W. Bush. As a candidate, Mr. Bush preached a more humble foreign policy than that of Bill Clinton, who made war in the Balkans on people who did not threaten us. After the September 11 terrorist attacks (which Mr. Buchanan believes were a consequence of our Middle East policies), neocons “seduced” Mr. Bush to their vision of spreading democracy by force. Mr. Bush has since become a uniquely reckless and ignorant steward of American power, blind to the tragedy his policies have left behind, and oblivious to the hatred for America he has stirred up around the world.
It may be just as well, then, that the United States is broke and has nothing like the resources for the neocons’ fantastic military program to remake the entire Middle East. And why is the world’s richest country broke? Because it has sacrificed its workers and its industrial might to the false lure of free trade. CEOs who ship American jobs overseas in order to cut costs grow wealthy while the middle class shrinks. Mr. Buchanan reports that because our markets are open to the world while so many are closed to us, we had a 2006 trade deficit of $764 billion, with a deficit in manufactured goods alone of $536 billion. We have not run a trade surplus since the early 1970s.
We had a $233 billion trade deficit with China; $88 billion with Japan, and $60 billion with Mexico. Economically, China treats us like a colonial province: It had surpluses with us in computers, electrical machinery, vehicles, optical and photographic equipment, furniture, plastics, and iron and steel products. We had surpluses with China in soybeans, corn, wheat, animal feed, meat, cotton, ores, scrap, hides, pulp, wastepaper, cigarettes, coal, rice, tobacco, fertilizers and glass.
Mr. Buchanan sees free trade as an ideological cult, just like democratism. He argues that it was the economic nationalism preached by Alexander Hamilton — and now practiced by the Chinese — that made the American economy the greatest in the world, while free trade destroyed Britain’s early preeminence. “Free trade puts the claims of consumers ahead of the duties of citizens,” he writes, adding that “history has proven free trade to be . . . a serial killer of manufacturing.” The world economy now looks to the United States mainly as a market; we are consumers rather than producers.
Mr. Buchanan also calls free trade the “Trojan horse of transnational government,” noting that it is the favored ideology of those calling for North American union and an end to the nation state. Its combined economic and political effect therefore makes it just as pernicious as crusading democratism and the third ideology Mr. Buchanan examines, multiculturalism.
“Deconstructing America” is the title of Mr. Buchanan’s chapter on multiculturalism, a slashing critique that could have been written by the late Sam Francis himself. “Since the cultural revolution of the 1960s and the Immigration Act of 1965,” writes Mr. Buchanan, “the ethnocultural core has begun to dissolve . . . [T]he European ethnic core is shrinking. From nearly 90 percent in 1960, it is down to 67 percent today, and will be less than 50 percent by 2040. Here we come to the heart of the matter. Quo Vadis, America? Where are you going?” Wherever it is going, he believes it can never return.
Mr. Buchanan blames the neoconservatives and the race-denying left for dissolving what he calls the essential constituents of nation: “blood and soil, tradition and faith, history and heroes.” Deconstructionists have replaced these ancient bonds with a new civic religion, based on the “new trinity” of “diversity, democracy, and equality.” The result is an artificial shell, what enthusiasts call a “creedal” nation. Millions of Third-Worlders have but to mouth the creed in order to become authentic Americans or even Europeans. Neocons have such a contemptuous view of nation, and such a lust for cannon fodder for their imperial wars that they want guaranteed citizenship for anyone who joins Uncle Sam’s legions. Recruiting centers could be set up all over the Third World.
As Mr. Buchanan notes, the “creed,” whatever it is alleged to include, can never take the place of blood and soil. “It has no roots and does not touch the heart,” he writes. “Americans will not send their sons to fight and die for . . . watery abstractions.”
Before it is Too Late
Those who have read Mr. Buchanan’s earlier books — The Great Betrayal; A Republic, Not an Empire; State of Emergency; and The Death of the West — will be familiar with many of his arguments. Day of Reckoning refines these arguments and brings the facts entirely up to date. Like his previous titles, this book glows with passion for its subject: the United States of America.
Mr. Buchanan warns that disaster can take many forms, but the result would be the end of what we know as the United States. It could, for example, break apart like Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia. The Southwest is becoming a province of Mexico, and the country is descending into what Teddy Roosevelt warned against: a “tangle of squabbling nationalities.”
Alternatively, like the Soviet Union, the United States could expire from sheer exhaustion and imperial overreach. We are already selling what is left of our economic infrastructure to pay for imports. As whole industries leave our shores, the dollar could collapse and lose its role as a reserve currency, leaving us at the mercy of foreigners who hold our debts.
If we do the neocons’ bidding and add to our roster of disastrous wars, the end could come quickly. The United States could find itself having to choose between Taipei and Seattle in a showdown with China. We would face such a crisis impoverished and with few friends, since our hubris has already cost us the goodwill of Russia and much of Europe. Outright, humiliating defeat is not out of the question. And as Mr. Buchanan reminds us, empires do not usually survive defeat.
Mr. Buchanan believes all these disasters can be avoided if our leaders regain their senses. His advice is simple: Come home, America. Lay down the banner of empire. Put Americans and American jobs first. Control the border. Before it is too late.