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Radical right-wing US politician Patrick Buchanan is too easily dismissed as a maverick, yet he, and the violent, anti-establishment, ultra-nationalist far right which he is the most prominent leader of, is part of the political equation. More than this, he represents a ‘clear and present danger’ to all of humanity.
Recently, Buchanan has been pronouncing himself as an opponent of sanctions on Iraq. I’ve appended an article, from the New York-published socialist newsweekly “The Militant”, which analyses some of his recent statements concerning Iraq. I’ve précis-ed it; to read the full article, visit www.themilitant.com.
This article offers a very important warning why it it is futile, and in the end fatal, for anti-sanctions campaigners to slip into using opportunist arguments against sanctions, such as “sanctions are bad because they don’t work” or “sanctions are bad because they strengthen Saddam”.
Buchanan: sanctions are weapons of war
From the Militant (Vol.64/No.3 January 24, 2000)
BY PATRICK O’NEILL
“Sanctions have become the feel-good but ineffectual foreign policy of the self-righteous,” said Patrick Buchanan on December 16 of last year. He was speaking of Washington’s frequent use of economic sanctions against governments and peoples the U.S. rulers oppose.
Buchanan’s declaration paralleled his approach to other questions of U.S. international policy. “We are not isolationists,” he said on another occasion. “We simply believe in America first, last, and always.”
The rightist journalist and politician describes the world more bluntly than mainstream capitalist politicians dare to. Buchanan stares out at a world of crisis, disorder, anti-imperialist ferment in the Third World, and deepening rivalry among the imperialist powers, and formulates a policy to shepherd and employ the brute force of U.S. imperialism.
For more than 30 years, Buchanan was a prominent member of the Republican Party, one of the two parties that dominate capitalist politics in the United States. Last October, he formally broke with the party, launching a campaign to gain the nomination of the Reform Party for the U.S. presidential election later this year.
“In Mr. Clinton’s first term, the U.S. imposed 61 unilateral sanctions on 35 countries,” said Buchanan. He cried crocodile tears over the horrific impact of the sanctions imposed on Iraq, which lasted throughout the 1990s and remain in place. “More Iraq children have been lost in nine years to U.S. sanctions than all the American solders killed in combat in all the wars of the 20th century,” he said.
These passages provided window dressing for his real objection: Buchanan opposes the sanctions because they don’t work. “Sanctions have failed to remove him [Saddam Hussein] from power,” he said. What is more, they have sparked protests against U.S. imperialism.
“Just last month,” fumed Buchanan, “the U.S- imposed sanctions on Afghanistan, because the ruling Taleban [sic] refuses to deliver up Osama bin Laden. But rather than revolting against the regime, the Afghani people took to the streets of Kabul shouting ‘Death to America!’ They burned our flag..”
Sanctions provide U.S. competitors with an advantage, Buchanan complains. “Even as U.S. sanctions [against Libya] have remained in force,” he claimed, “U.S.-made computers, fuel pumps, and drilling equipment pour in from our NATO allies.”
“Sanctions have become a way for the United States to vent its anger on the cheap, said the rightist politician. Use them, but use them to deadlier effect, he advised. “If they are to be reapplied, I will understand what the world used to know: that embargoes and blockades are weapons of war.”
“Buchanan, In a Change, Calls for End To Sanctions,” read the headline of the December 17 New York Times. The big business media covered the speech widely. Buchanan expressed a position that, far from sharply breaking with the policy of the U.S. rulers, drew it out to its logical extreme. … But while his policies state in a more extreme form Washington’s course today, Buchanan is more than just another conservative politician. He sets out to appeal to layers of the middle classes and better-off workers who see the brewing economic and social crisis of capitalism, and sense that instability will turn to catastrophe at some point. He directs many of his rhetorical barbs at the “Beltway elite”—Washington politicians—and at layers of the rich.
This marks Buchanan off from his rival for the Reform Party nomination, Donald Trump, for example. The real estate magnate advocates policies that are also right-wing; however, he is not only wealthy, but brags about the fact.
An article in the New York Times describing a Trump meeting says, “He struck a blow for rich people as national leaders, chiding candidates who express pride in their humble backgrounds.
“’They’re losers,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘who the hell wants to have a person
like this for president?’” In contrast, Buchanan’s reactionary politics are crowned by demagogy against the rich and their alleged conspiracies. …
“Loyalty to the New World Order is disloyalty to the Republic,” said Buchanan. His criticism of unpatriotic elites and “globalists” fits with his call for the erection of a wall between Mexico and the United States to discourage immigrants. All those who do not put “America First” are his targets. The intent and impact of his policy is to divide working people and thereby weaken their struggles. …
Buchanan’s evolution helps expose the social, economic, and moral crisis of capitalist rule today. Buchanan is positioning himself for the sharpening conflicts between working people and the capitalist rulers that are being prepared today, even as an unprecedented economic boom is cresting above that crisis. The labor movement will need to counter politically and organizationally the national socialist rhetoric, and the anti-labor gangs that such figures will spearhead.