Nader is the liberal alternative in the 2000 race, so Pat Buchanan
is the arch-conservative choice. Buchanan's appeal lies mainly
with those whose livelihood has been hurt by globalization, but the
intellectual roots of his policy are long and distinguished.
Where the conflict between a foreign policy based upon the national
interest and one based upon moral considerations has defined the
century, Buchanan signifies the resurgence of a third school of
American thinking. His policies are more in keeping with the
America of Thomas Jefferson. Buchanan wants America to be the
shining city on the hill, not the benevolent hegemon both Bush and
Gore implicitly endorse.
speeches are full of rhetoric decrying American imperialism.
Urging audiences to "adopt a measure of humility about how much
we know about what is best for other peoples and cultures," he
criticizes recent administrations for turning the United States into
a "superpower sheriff, the Wyatt Earp of the West" in order
to "discipline evil-doers, wherever our values' are
threatened." This policy, which he calls "America's
Brezhnev Doctrine," is a threat to American security, Buchanan
says, inviting us to become involved in foreign wars and provoking
other nations to action against us.
silent, deadly remedy
tool of current policy which no other candidate has discussed to the
extent Buchanan has is the use of sanctions. As Buchanan put it,
Wilson called sanctions the powerful silent deadly
remedy.' Today, they may fairly be called America's silent
weapons of mass destruction whose victims are almost always the weak,
the sick, the women and the young."
points to Iraq as an example of how sanctions policy can be
counterproductive. Can the parents of half a million Iraqi
children dead due to the embargo ever be able to forgive the United
States?, he asks rhetorically. Pointing out that sanctions also
tend to unite countries behind dicators rather than inspiring
revolutions, Buchanan states that one of his first acts as president
will be to end all sanctions on the sale of civilian goods to Cuba,
North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Sudan, and "all the
other targeted nations of U.S. sanctions policy." No other
candidate has made so sweeping a declaration; in fact, few mainstream
foreign policy thinkers have seriously considered the idea.
cannot discuss Pat Buchanan's foreign policy without mentioning his
immigration policies. Buchanan's position on the issue, far
from the neo-Nazism protrayed in "Doonesbury," are
well-written and uncommonly erudite. While he has his share of
horror stories about the effects of immigration, Bush and Gore use
similar stories to convince people of the problems of Medicare.
fact, his justification for sealing the borders to illegal
immigration is the preservation of American culture and territorial
integrity, not Ku Klux Klan-style appeals to white superiority (in
fact, one can hardly imagine a hardline racist choosing a black woman
as a running mate). If it were French Canadians streaming into
Michigan instead of Mexicans into the Southwet, Buchanan would
probably recommend the same policies. But his overblown
rhetoric on the topic in years past (including his promise to build a
Great Wall on the southern border) has reduced a serious policy
proposal to the level of mere caricature.
Nader, Buchanan has a snowball's chance of winning the Oval
Office. His policies would be fine -- if this were the election
of 1900, or 1852. Today, a superpower cannot afford to conduct
itself based upon Buchanan's admittedly isoloationist policies.
If the United States were to withdraw from the world and conduct a
combative policy with the international community, then global
stability would be at risk, much as it was when the Senate refused to
ratify the League of Nations. Thus, while Buchanan diagnoses
the problems of American policy correctly, his prescriptions may be
worse than the disease.