• America’s imperial overstretch

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    This week, SU-24 fighter-bombers buzzed a US destroyer in the Baltic Sea. The Russian planes carried no missiles or bombs.

    Message: What are you Americans doing here?

    In the South China Sea, US planes overfly, and US warships sail inside, the territorial limits of islets claimed by Beijing.

    In South Korea, US forces conduct annual military exercises as warnings to a North Korea that is testing nuclear warheads and long-range missiles that can reach the United States.

    US warships based in Bahrain confront Iranian subs and missile boats in the Gulf. In January, a US Navy skiff ran aground on an Iranian island. Iran let the 10 US sailors go within 24 hours.

    But bellicose demands for US retaliation had already begun.

    Yet, in each of these regions, it is not US vital interests that are threatened, but the interests of allies who will not man up to their own defense duties, preferring to lay them off on Uncle Sam.

    And America is beginning to buckle under the weight of its global obligations.

    And as we have no claim to rocks or reefs in the South China Sea – Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines do – why is this our quarrel?

    If these rocks and reefs are so vital they are worth risking a military clash with China, why not, instead, impose tariffs on Chinese goods? Let US companies and consumers pay the price of battling Beijing, rather than US soldiers, sailors and airmen.

    Let South Korea and Japan build up their forces to deal with the North, and put Beijing on notice: If China will not halt Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons program, South Korea and Japan will build their own nuclear deterrents. Half a century ago, Britain and France did.

    Why must we forever deter and, if need be, fight North Korea?

    And why is the defense of the Baltic republics and East Europe our responsibility, 5,000 miles away, not Germany’s, whose economy is far larger than that of Russia?

    Even during the darkest days of the Cold War, US Presidents refused to take military action in Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Poland.

    When Moscow intervened there, the US did nothing. When did the independence of Eastern Europe become so vital an interest that we would now risk war with a nuclear-armed Russia to ensure it?

    Under Article 5 of NATO, an attack upon any of 28 allied nations is to be regarded as an attack upon all.

    But is this the kind of blank check we should give Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who, a few months back, ordered a Russian fighter plane that crossed into Turkish territory for 15 seconds be shot down?

    Do we really want to leave to this erratic autocrat the ability to drag us into a war with Russia?

    When Neville Chamberlain in 1939 handed a war guarantee to a junta of Polish colonels, who also had an exaggerated opinion of their own military power and prowess, how did that work out for the Brits?

    America should not write off the Baltic Republics or Eastern Europe. But we should rule out any US-Russian war in Eastern Europe and restrict a US response to Russian actions there to the economic and diplomatic. For the one certain loser of a US-Russian conflict in Eastern Europe – would be Eastern Europe.

    As for Iran, the US intelligence community, in 2007 and 2011, declared with high confidence that it had no nuclear weapons program.

    Since the Iran nuclear treaty was signed, 98 percent of Iran’s enriched uranium has been shipped out of the country; no more 20 percent enriched uranium is being produced; the Arak reactor that could have produced plutonium has been scuttled and reconfigured; and nuclear inspectors are crawling all over every facility.

    Talk of Iran having a secret nuclear-bomb program and testing intercontinental missiles comes, unsurprisingly, from the same folks who assured us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

    The goal is the same: Stampede America into fighting another war, far away, against a nation they want to see smashed.

    Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, this country has been steadily bled and slowly bankrupted. We are now as overextended as was the British Empire in the 1940s.

    And like that empire, we, too, are being challenged by nations that seek to enlarge their place in the sun – a resurrected Russia, China, Iran. And we are being bedeviled by fanatics who want us out of their part of the world, which they wish to remake according to the visions of their own faiths and ideologies.

    Time for a reappraisal of all of the war guarantees this nation has issued since the beginning of the Cold War, to determine which, if any, still serve US national interests in 2016. Alliances, after all, are the transmission belts of war.

    This is not isolationism. It is putting our country first, and staying out of other people’s wars. It used to be called patriotism.

    © 2016 CREATORS.COM

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    3 Comments

    1. Mariano Patalinjug on

      Yonkers, New York
      19 April 2016

      I am disappointed and disenchanted that PATRICK J.BUCHANAN, in this column of his, “America’s imperial overstretch,” in The Inquirer, of April 18, he chooses deliberately to be disingenuous as far as his comments on what the United States is doing in the South China Sea.

      Here is what he says:

      “In the South China Sea, US planes overfly, and US warships sail inside the territorial limits of islets claimed by Beijing.”

      He knows but probably deliberately ignores the fact that China has illegally and grabbed maritime structures in the West Philippine Sea [South China Sea] which the Philippines asserts, correctly, are parts of its territory under International Law [UNCLOS] and, moreover, already ominously MILITARIZED these, which is clear evidence that China has hegemonic designs in the South China Sea.

      Patrick Buchanan ignores the other fact that time and time again, the United States has made it clear to the entire world THAT IT HAS A VESTED NATIONAL INTEREST IN KEEPING COMPLETELY OPEN INTERNATIONAL WATERS IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA WHERE AN ESTIMATED $5 TRILLION IN TRADE PASSES ANNUALLY, INCLUDING OIL FROM THE MIDDLE EAST.

      And yet Mr. Buchanan has the gall to say, to wit:

      “Yet in each of these regions [referring now to the South China Sea], it is not US vital interests that are threatened, but the interests of allies who will not man up to their own defense duties, preferring to lay them off to Uncle Sam.”

      The fact is that, as far as the Philippines is concerned, it is “manning up to its own defense duties,” in cooperation or collaboration with its long-time ally the United States, under the terms of a MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY, a VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT, and EDCA. Even as these lines are written, both countries are already engaged in joint military and naval exercises in several critical places in the Philippines, obviously in preparation for any eventuality with China.

      The US, it is plain to see, will not be caught completely by surprise this time around–as what happened on December 7, 1941.

      I suggest that Patrick J. Buchanan get his FACTS straight and not be selective of only those “facts” which support his own hasty personal conclusions.

      MARIANO PATALINJUG
      patalinjugmar@gmail.com

    2. Frank A. Tucker on

      The simple answer, the US has unilateral protection treaties to uphold as we do with the Philippines.

      NOTE: Although I personally respect & uphold Patrick J. Buchanan and his opinion highly, he does NOT speak FOR the US government.

    3. Why the US keeps supporting Saudi Arabia, which in turn is funding most of the radical muslims from Osama bin laden to ISIL? how can US and NATO intelligence missed this? America will end up like Greece,Italy (Roman Empire), Spain, Portugal, even Turkey (Ottoman Empire) and finally the now not so Great Britain. These countries became rich by plundering other countries, then they all just faded power and all the riches. We just hope that the US won’t repeat that part of history very soon.