The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: Ultra-right US politician on sanctions and Iraq

Dear John,

        I appreciate your desire to set us all straight about Patrick Buchanan,
but I think you are misconstruing his mien almost entirely.
        Your strongest criticism concerns those of his words and writings that
indicate that he is an unrepentant Cold Warrior.  I'll give you that .
I'll give you more than that -- I read his book too!  He is an
absolutely unapologetic defender of the depredations by Americans, both
as British colonists and later as citizens of an independent republic,
against the Indians and their hold on the land which the settlers
coveted.  Yes, he is an unredeemed apologist for American "Manifest
        But you see, John,  these obnoxious positions of his, while he is very
open about them, are not different from most mainstream American
beliefs, definitely not from those of other major candidates for the US
presidency.  None of them separates Buchanan from the pack.  What DOES
set him apart are the rest of his positions on foreign policy:  He
condemns what he clearly identifies as "American imperialism" from what
he considers its inception during the conquest of the Philippines at the
end of the Spanish-American war, up to and including the current war
against Yugoslavia.  This is, in fact, the major thesis of his book, if
we are to be fair to him.  Now, there is no major candidate running for
office here who offers anything but a continuation of those same
bellicose, hegemonic policies.   Not one who will take a stand against
the inhuman sanctions on Iraq or the criminal bombing there.  Not one
criticizes the US/NATO savage bombing of Yugoslavia, and the continuing
sanctions there.  Buchanan does, and he makes no bones about it.  To
him, this is "imperialism."  We have no business there, or anywhere else
in the world really: our only business is to defend our own shores,
unless it can be shown that some ultimate threat to our sovereignty is
imminent --essentially, the politics of "isolationism."  Does any other
candidate dare to offer, as Buchanan has, to make his first act as
president a lifting of US sanctions against Iraq, Cuba and North Korea?
None dares!
        Now, this is not to suggest that Buchanan is some kind of born-again
progressive, or that we should expect that a Buchanan presidency would
mean a rose garden for organized labor (despite  his recent schmoozing
with the Teamsters Union  while marching arms-in-arm with them against
the WTO).  But I think we have to take care to understand this
phenomenon for what it is.  Labels are easy to apply, but are his the
positions of a "fascist?"  No, it is the positions of his competitors
that are essentially fascist, at least with regard to foreign policy.
Of course, his ardent anti-Communism will never endear him to the Left,
but this business of smearing him as "anti-Semitic" should not be
allowed to stand without something more than innuendo to support it.
There are anti-Semites around, yes, but they make statements that
demonstrate their position -- they are easy enough to identify.  I
suspect that he has acquired this cachet precisely because he DOES
openly oppose the continued US subsidy of Israel/Egypt, which drains
many billions of dollars annually out of the US "defense" budget.  Let's
call a spade a spade, but let's be clear about our terms as well.  I
find his perfervid anticommunism as problematic as you do, but not every
anti-Communist is a fascist, just as not every anti-fascist is a
Communist.  I think the Spanish Civil War proved that.

Ken Freeland

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of John Smith
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2000 6:30 PM
To: Colin Rowat
Subject: Re: Ultra-right US politician on sanctions and Iraq

Dear Colin,

thanks for your candid and thoughtful comments on Patrick Buchanan's
criticism of US government policy towards Iraq. I share your
about the dynamic which can be set up whenever disagreements are aired
explored. So, I want to preface my remarks by saying that I totally
the sincerity of your point of view and greatly admire what yourself and
have been able to achieve in the cause of exposing and opposing US/UK
against humanity in Iraq.

You were  impressed by

> [Patrick Buchanan's] claim that, "More Iraq children have been lost in
> years to U.S. sanctions than all the American solders killed in combat
> all the wars of the 20th century" strikes me as about as powerful a
> comparison as one can possibly make in the US: take every fallen
> commemorated in all of our national war memorials.  The number of
> that we have helped to kill is less than these.

I think you meant to say 'more', not 'less'. I agree with you that this
is an
extremely powerful comparison. I am sure that we can also agree that it
also shocking, horrifying, enraging.
I think it is also important to state that Iraq is far from being the
country with which this comparison can be made. More Vietnamese and
civilians were killed by US military forces than all of the US's 20th
combat dead. More civilians died during the US/UK-backed military coup
Indonesia in 1965; more German p-o-w's in US concentration camps after
(see James Bacque, 'Crimes and Mercies'); if we count the 100,000+
victims of
Guatemala's military dictatorship installed by the CIA in 1954, then,
Nicaragua and El Salvador, these three small Central American nations
offered up as many of their civilians to the cause of US imperial
supremacy as
the number of sons donated to the US military by the American working

> I also think that Buchanan's reasons for opposing the sanctions
> they don't work") is reasonable.  It seems to me that we might oppose
> something because we dislike the idea of it, or because we dislike the
> effects of it.

I think you miss the point here. Buchanan shares the war-aims of the
and Republicans: to force the rest of the world (in this case Iraq) to
to US power. He expresses a tactical disagreement ("they don't work").
It is
irrelevant which side of this dispute is reasonable or unreasonable,
or irrational. Both express conflicts within the enemy camp.

> Furthermore, I think that a large reason that people
> dislike the idea of something is because they dislike its effects:
> may dislike imperialism because it involves subjugation and
> So I think that opposing sanctions on Iraq because one thinks that
> effect has been bad is a very defensible position.

To support the aims of sanctions but to dislike its effects is
It is the same, to use your apt analogy, as supporting the idea of
but not liking the consequences which imperialism wreaks upon the
majority of
humanity. This is not a defensible position. It is, however, a
definition of  liberalism.
It is 'futile', as I said in my original posting, for anti-sanctions
campaigners to slip into using "sanctions are counter-productive"-type
arguments because they implicitly accept the aims of those advocating
sanctions, they implicitly accept their right to intervene, their right
violate Iraq's national sovereignty. They don't challenge, but on the
make unacceptable concessions to the pretexts ("the will of the
community" etc.) which disguise the real content and intent of these

> The Militant implies that Buchanan thinks that sanctions not working
> primarily means that they have not toppled the government.  Given
> Buchanan's powerful remarks about child deaths, though, I don't know
> relative weight Buchanan gives to these two concerns that he has about
> sanctions.  Without getting more information, I'd be hesitant to
> that his sole concern is toppling Saddam.

We should be under no illusions that this extremist would be quite
prepared to
annihilate the entire population of Iraq and the Middle East if this was
necessary for the US to crush opposition to its domination.

In his recent book, “A Republic, Not an Empire”, Buchanan revealed his
attitude to military violence against sovereign nations: “Vietnam was a
legitimate war of containment that could have been won in half the time
if the
United States had used its full conventional power at the outset, and
to set geographic limits on the use of that power.… It is the mark of a
Power that when it commits itself to war, it commits itself to victory,
all the force necessary to prevail.”

The Militant has closely followed Buchanan's trajectory, as anyone
their website for articles on him can verify. They have reported his
anti-Semitism, his demand for extreme force to be used against
attempting to cross the US border; his veneration of McCarthy, Franco,
Pinochet. They characterise him as not just another right-wing
politician, but
as a fascist who is seeking to build a fascist movement in the USA. As
Militant says, before Buchanan goes to war abroad, he wants to win the
war at

>         "Sanctions have become a way for the United States to vent its
>         anger on the cheap", said the rightist politician. Use them,
>         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."
> If this guess is correct then Buchanan is merely saying that there is
> nothing innocent about sanctions, they are weapons of war and we
> not pretend otherwise.  I think that his allusion to "what the world
> to know" is simply a reference to the earlier term for economic
> "economic warfare".  If so, I again think that Buchanan is correct
> that sort of statement.

Well, he is “correct” in that he’s telling the truth. It doesn't mean
that he
is against “economic warfare”, but merely that he doubts its efficacy,
especially when its perpetrators don't have the self-confidence to come
into the open, but pretend to be doing something else. In my original
I stated that it is "in the end fatal for anti-sanctions campaigners to
into using
opportunist arguments against sanctions, such as “sanctions are bad
they don't work” "- because along will come someone like Buchanan with
policies to remove Saddam which do work, and we will have not prepared


This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website:

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]