A week or so ago on the McLaughlin Report the host raised the issue of Trump’s suggesting he might not go to the aid of the Baltic States – Lithuania, Estonia or Latvia – were they to be invaded by Putin and his Russian forces. Buchanan said he was against bringing the Baltic States into NATO. He added “we simply could not accept a nuclear war with Russia over whether or not they remained independent.” He proposed the next president sit down and negotiate with Russia saying we have no desire to get into a war with Russia which will escalate. He noted the Russians said they would escalate it to tactical nuclear weapons.
He went on to say: “Are you saying we should fight World War Three with Russia which we avoided during the entire Cold War . . . I would say to the Baltic States we are not going to go to war with Russia over your independence, period.” Which of course would be music to the Russians ears. It just about guarantees they need not negotiate since we have no problem with them gobbling up those states.
Buchanan fails to understand you have difficulty negotiating when you enter them with your hands up. He also seems oblivious of us having kept the peace and winning the Cold War because we acted from strength and showed our willingness to defend our allies.
There are over six million people in these countries. To Buchanan their freedom and democracy mean nothing. If Putin wants to steal it from them so be it. We Americans will be safe at home. These colors won’t run but will certainly hide.
Buchanan also used the same suggestions when it came to the 45 million people in Ukraine. We were not to do anything to interfere with Putin’s actions in that country since we had no vital interest in it. He pretty much blamed us for Russia’s attack on it because the U.S. verbally backed the Ukrainian revolution. Better in his mind we should have condemned the people’s struggle to be free. When the Ukrainian people threw out the corrupt Russian-backed dictator Viktor F. Yanukovich it would have been better had we turn our back to them so to please Russia.
Buchanan wrote: “America has never had a vital interest in Crimea or the Donbass worth risking a military clash with Russia. And we do not have the military ability to intervene and drive out the Russian army, unless we are prepared for a larger war and the potential devastation of the Ukraine. . . . What is happening in Ukraine is a tragedy and a disaster. And we are in part responsible, having egged on the Maidan coup that overthrew the elected pro-Russian government.”
After putting part of the responsibility on the U.S. for backing the Ukrainian people in their desire not to ruled by Russia, he continued: “But a greater disaster looms if we get ourselves embroiled in Ukraine’s civil war.” Notice how Buchanan turns a Russian invasion into a “civil war”. Buchanan went on: “Rather than becoming a co-belligerent in this civil war that is not our war, why not have the United States assume the role of the honest broker who brings it to an end. Isn’t that how real peace prizes are won?”
Buchanon’s simplistic idea that you can negotiate with dictators has no support in history. With respect to the Baltic States he said he would like to see the next president of the U.S: “sit down with Putin and deescalate on both sides of the borders . . . “ Somehow our response to Russian aggressiveness makes us a party to the problem.
I suggest and the Cold War demonstrates nothing brings war closer than announcing to an aggressor there is no downside to his aggression. We saw that under Bush I when his ambassador to Iraq told Saddam Hussein she did not think the U.S. would respond to his invading Kuwait.
Buchanan’s suggestion we negotiate reminds us of the past. We tried that with Hitler. It did not work out too well. Almost all believe that backing down to Hitler’s aggression caused WWII. Buchanan on the other hand suggests had we continued to back down to Hitler we could have avoided the war. Of course, since that did not happen anyone can come up with any suggestion as to what might have happened. He could as easily imagine Hitler becoming a big supporter of a new Jewish state around Jerusalem.
Buchanan tells us that Hitler did not want to go to war. It was Britain who caused WWII. It gave a guarantee to Poland that it would come to its aid if invaded. He said if only the Polish leaders had given Danzig to Hitler when he wanted it and not relied on the British guarantee the world would have remained at peace. In other words, if Hitler wanted something it should have been given to him. If you didn’t, then you are responsible for the consequence that develop.
That is what Chamberlain tried to do. Hitler said he only wanted Czechoslovakia. It was given to him. He said he did not want anything more. That was before he wanted Danzig.
Buchanan now justifies Putin’s actions. He wrote: “Did we not ourselves slap aside the hand of Russian friendship, when proffered, when we chose to embrace our “unipolar moment,” to play the “great game” of empire and seek “benevolent global hegemony?” We are to believe had the United States not taken on this role then Putin would not have to seize other countries.
Buchanan suggests Russia taking freedom from these 50 million people is of no concern to the United States. He does not tell us when it will become our concern, if ever. Is Poland expendable? Romania? Czech Republic? Hungary? Austria? France? Europe?
Listening to Trump it seems as if he is following Buchanan’s playbook. Pacify Putin and he will behave. If he wants Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, Warsaw, Bucharest, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, or Paris so be it. Where is it then that we will make a stand? Perhaps, rather than turning down Putin and having a nuclear war we will let him have Nantucket but let’s make it clear that Martha’s Vineyard is not negotiable . At least not yet.