Buchanan: Is US Bellicosity Backfiring?

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

U.S. threats to crush Iran and North Korea may yet work, but as of now neither Tehran nor Pyongyang appears to be intimidated.

Repeated references by NSC adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence to the “Libya model” for denuclearization of North Korea just helped sink the Singapore summit of President Trump and Kim Jong Un. To North Korea, the Libya model means the overthrow and murder of Libya strongman Col. Gadhafi, after he surrendered his WMD.

Wednesday, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui exploded at Pence’s invocation of Libya:

“Vice-President Pence has made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya … I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks.

“Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.”

Yesterday, Trump canceled the Singapore summit.

Earlier this week at the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out our Plan B for Iran in a speech that called to mind Prussian Field Marshal Karl Von Moltke.

Among Pompeo’s demands:

Iran must end all support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Hamas in Gaza, withdraw all forces under Iranian command in Syria, and disarm its Shiite militia in Iraq.

Iran must confess its past lies about a nuclear weapons program, and account publicly for all such activity back into the 20th century.

Iran must halt all enrichment of uranium, swear never to produce plutonium, shut down its heavy water reactor, open up its military bases to inspection to prove it has no secret nuclear program, and stop testing ballistic missiles.

And unless Iran submits, she will be strangled economically.

What Pompeo delivered was an ultimatum: Iran is to abandon all its allies in all Mideast wars, or face ruin and possible war with the USA.

It is hard to recall a secretary of state using the language Pompeo deployed:

“We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them. Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”

But how can Iran “dominate” a Mideast that is home to Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt, as well as U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and Syria?

To Iran’s east is a nuclear-armed Pakistan. To its west is a nuclear-armed U.S. Fifth Fleet and a nuclear-armed Israel. Iran has no nukes, no warships to rival ours and a 1970s air force.

Yet, this U.S.-Iran confrontation, triggered by Trump’s trashing of the nuclear deal and Pompeo’s ultimatum, is likely to end one of three ways:

First, Tehran capitulates, which is unlikely, as President Hassan Rouhani retorted to Pompeo: “Who are you to decide for Iran and the world? We will continue our path with the support of our nation.” Added Ayatollah Khamenei, “Iran’s presence in the region is our strategic depth.”

Second, Iran defies U.S. sanctions and continues to support its allies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen. This would seem likely to lead to collisions and war.

Third, the U.S. could back off its maximalist demands, as Trump backed off Bolton’s demand that Kim Jong Un accept the Libyan model of total and verifiable disarmament before any sanctions are lifted.

Where, then, are we headed?

While our NATO allies are incensed by Trump’s threat to impose secondary sanctions if they do not re-impose sanctions on Tehran, the Europeans are likely to cave in to America’s demands. For Europe to choose Iran over a U.S. that has protected Europe since the Cold War began and is an indispensable market for Europe’s goods would be madness.

Vladimir Putin appears to want no part of an Iran-Israel or U.S.-Iran war and has told Bashar Assad that Russia will not be selling Damascus his S-300 air defense system. Putin has secured his bases in Syria and wants to keep them.

As for the Chinese, she will take advantage of the West’s ostracism of Iran by drawing Iran closer to her own orbit.

Is there a compromise to be had?

Perhaps, for some of Pompeo’s demands accord with the interests of Iran, which cannot want a war with the United States, or with Israel, which would likely lead to war with the United States.

Iran could agree to release Western prisoners, move Shiite militia in Syria away from the Golan Heights, accept verifiable restrictions on tests of longer-range missiles and establish deconfliction rules for U.S. and Iranian warships in the Persian Gulf.

Reward: aid from the West and renewed diplomatic relations with the United States.

Surely, a partial, verifiable nuclear disarmament of North Korea is preferable to war on the peninsula. And, surely, a new nuclear deal with Iran with restrictions on missiles is preferable to war in the Gulf.

Again, we cannot make the perfect the enemy of the good.


char_aznable Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:22 Permalink

Iran this, North Korea that... All phony CIA boogeyman states to steal more tax dollars and justify our lunatic military budget. Fuck Buchanan, he's related to all the top families: Kennedy, Baldwin, Gates, Sachs, Schott, Stein, Clark... 

Famous for being a rich crypto-jewish LARP.


rrrr revolla Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:53 Permalink

Also, the picture shown with this article naively employs the dove as a symbol of peace. But doves are pigeons, and pigeons are malicious. If they think you are not watching, they will dominate an area and drive other birds out, by bullying them and attacking them. If they know that you are watching, they won't. This means they understand that what you perceive about their nature is important to their well being, and it also means that they engage in deceit to fool humans. People who think that doves are peaceful creatures are themselves naive and unobservant.

In reply to by revolla

FBaggins rrrr Fri, 05/25/2018 - 12:33 Permalink

Forget about peace in the Middle East. That would mean the end of the Greater Israel plan and the Zionist cause. There would be no point in the continued herding of millions of Syrians and Iraqis out of their homelands to places like Jordan, Turkey and Europe, while at the same time cajoling thousands of Jewish families in Europe to resettle in Israel. Also, how are the Western banksters and oilsters to corner the oil market to back either the US  petrodollar or a new Rothschild-syndicate-dominated world petro currency without the vast reserves of Iranian oil also under their control? The  bellicosity regarding Kim boy and Trump is totally orchestrated and a fake hot spot in the world, but the bellicose actions of the US and Israel in the ME is real and shows their desperation in the face of the growth of the land-based economic order forming between European and  Asian nations, which they cannot longer control. These two nations along with the UK have been so stupid in their hubris and destruction of nations which oppose their will that fewer and fewer nations really want any real dealings with them. 

In reply to by rrrr

el buitre char_aznable Fri, 05/25/2018 - 12:41 Permalink

Some areas where I disagree with Buchanan's analysis (while I agree for the most part with its spirit).

1)  There is no way Iran is going to cave into the US demands.  The sanctions against Iran from 1979 to the acceptance of JCPOA were total.  I don't see how they could be made more severe.  Iran didn't cave then.  And today it is much stronger economically and has much stronger allies.

2)  Selling Assad S-300's would open a door to Assad that Putin doesn't want.  They would give Assad the option to shoot down Israeli warplanes about 30 seconds after takeoff from Israeli bases.  What Syria really needs is lots more Pantsir systems.  They are smaller, much cheaper, more mobile, and super effective for both warplanes and cruise missiles up to a reported range of 20 km for the missiles.  They also have 30 mm autocannons, radar controlled, which could bring down incoming on the cheap including drones.  

3)  While the EU will probably cave to the USA sanctions in the end, it is in big trouble.  The new government in Italy is, at best, Euroskeptic, and has voiced a dual currency plan, giving it a less abrupt transition to leaving the Euro.  Italian banks are in crisis.  A collapse of the Italian banking system could bring down the ECB.  Finally, the rise of anti-EU populism is accelerating.  Merkel is hanging on by a thread.  Took her months to form a new government.  the AfD is a rising star in German politics.  Killing Northstream and buying US fracked LNG at a 20-30% premium could bring her down.  Furthermore, it is doubtful that the USA has sufficient liquifying port facilities to meet Germany's energy needs.

4)  The only countries on the planet that support the US's withdrawal from JCPOA are those paragons of human rights, Israel and Saudi.  Quite a recommendation.

5)  The Eu may throw out the Russian sanctions if it decides to challenge its vassal state status regarding Iran.

In reply to by char_aznable

TRM el buitre Fri, 05/25/2018 - 16:03 Permalink

Good points. I think Europe (aka Berlin) will cut a deal with the USSA to do the Iran sanctions but lessen the Russian ones. If you think the USSA is important as a trading partner to the EU it is more important to have reliable, cheap gas to run everything. 

The EU can live without Iranian business but it can't live without the USSA market and Russian energy. 

In reply to by el buitre

Son of Captain Nemo Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:25 Permalink

"U.S. threats to crush Iran and North Korea may yet work, but as of now neither Tehran nor Pyongyang appears to be intimidated..."

"Prey" Do tell Paddy... Just HOW will that "WORK" OUT?...

Most mindlessly absent statement from you I think I've ever seen!... Or "desperate"?... Take your pick!

Griffin Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:28 Permalink

Lets hope this aggressive stance against virtually every one in the world, except Netanyahoo, will not end with Trump sitting on a couch in the oval office,  stuffing himself with freedom fries between writing angry tweets.

Kayman Griffin Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:33 Permalink

Let's see how Buchanan's leader Nixon worked out his long term strategy, with or without "bellicosity".

1. Make "nice" with Mao to "counterbalance" the Soviet Union

2. China grows to 10 fold the economic might of the Soviet Union.

Naw, Pat, whatever "strategy" you had in your handbag, I would rather try the "bellicosity".

In reply to by Griffin

Son of Captain Nemo Kayman Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:11 Permalink

1971 post Bretton Woods Pat Buchanan in the White House... Vietnam war still raging costing us billions as we "raze" a glass of good cheer with the Fat Chinaman!... Let U.S. bomb them some moar and if you stay out of it we'll give you our television manufacturing jobs!...

The $Dollar is now KING with no equal and will live "FOREVER"!... We can print "when we want"... "where we want"... and "as much as we want"...  With NO demonstrable side effects!... Cause Saudi Arabia has ENOUGH "FOREVER"!... And if they should ever RUN OUT?... Why we'll just loot everywhere else that  outright doesn't give it to U.S.... And we'll "ALL" LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER in "$PEACE"!...

Ain't The "Dick" just the GREATEST?!!!


In reply to by Kayman

Sanity Bear Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:31 Permalink

I have to wonder why so many people lack the wisdom to keep mouths shut until they see what happens, rather than trying to analyze things in mid-stream as if the present case is final.

Zhaupka Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:33 Permalink

PSYOPS: This Buchanan, whoever the person is, Never knew Anything and if this Buchanan did this Buchanan would Never tell.

Pointless using Buchanan as a reference to anything or any event or anybody including wondering what Buchanan shall consume during a Luncheon.

And, the subject and topics contents are not germane.

Thom Paine Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:38 Permalink

...but as of now neither Tehran nor Pyongyang appears to be intimidated


And how does he know this. He doesn't know this.

Even the weakling can act tough while shitting their pants.

I think there is too much BS commentary out there speaking on every change of the wind.

How about stfu and wait and see.

Winston Churchill Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:38 Permalink

Win bigly or lose catastrophically.

Those are the only options you have with DJT.

1128 D chess my arse, anybody that knows DJT or has studied him should know better.

I've given up all hope of avoiding WWIII at this point, but thanks for the extra year.

Consuelo Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:45 Permalink

When one thinks this through, what is the United States going to do - realistically that is.   Start a war with North Korea?   Really?   Invade Iran?   Really-Really...?   

Funny thing is, even those against unwarranted aggression believe that the U.S. could actually pull it off - and with a Devil-may-care attitude as if the domestic U.S. would simply continue on happily towards DOW 30k and the next major sports event in the midst of it all...   

We live in a fantasy world of our own making - Bizarro land.

Zorba's idea Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:58 Permalink

Decades of appeasement have led to the inevitable confrontation with NK. The only thing left for two Bullies to do is fight, or negotiate. Peace in the modern reality doesn't fall out of the sky like mana. NK has for the first time met a US leader they can't intimidate...and the alternative, a conflict free Korean peninsula that could actually feed 3 square meals to Kim's enslaved people is in his own best interest. Kim does in fact understand his 3rd generation dictatorship is getting long in the tooth.

As far as Iran goes, the legacy of US spooks fucking up what should have been a mutually beneficial relationship, was hijacked by the obvious suspects, BIG OIL, Multi National Banks, the MIC, and the Israeli imperative to employ its dimwitted big brother, the US, to conquer what it couldn't. What a waste. Trump's daring honesty to confront this legacy is entangled in the very system that is adverse to America's best interest, our flawed "fiat" known as the Petro-Dollar. Its days are numbered and that in itself will be the impetus for normalizing all these conflicted ME relations. 

null Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:58 Permalink

Right Pat, so follow your own advice and give the guy a half a chance to clean up the mess left by people we now know that you Knew were very Crooked, more so than you ever let us know.

Even if he was [now] perfect, you would not know it for years ... 

SRV Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:31 Permalink

The pundits have to stick with Twitter... waiting an hour to post in Trump's world risks looking very foolish... right Pat! 

DisorderlyConduct Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:45 Permalink

It depends completely upon what you perceive the goals to be, and whether that comes close to what the real goals are.

Until you know the real goals, this is a lot of talk about nothing.

swmnguy Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:49 Permalink

Trump's using a different variation on the overall US policy of "Extend And Pretend," I'll give him that.  Events are driving events now, not individuals.  America's tenuous position as global Imperial Power is becoming more and more exposed every day.  That's only partly due to Trump.  Trump's behavior makes the decline more obvious and speeds it up, but it certainly isn't the cause.  Trump is playing the exact same hand Obama had, but is playing it differently as one would expect.  The traditional consensus in Washington is that the US needed the cooperation of a critical mass of the rest of the world to maintain primacy.  Trump doesn't care.  Trump has always gone it alone.  And he's wiped out and bankrupted a number of times as well.  As long as he has a plan in his head, and a roof over his head, he doesn't care.

I don't think it's going to matter anyway.  The US, pre-Trump and during the Trump Administration for sure, has overplayed its hand--badly--and the decline is unstoppable now.  Events are going to take us where we were going to go no matter what.  Trump's accelerating the process to warp-speed, but none of what's coming should surprise ZH'ers of any long standing.