Anyone who has caught Pat Buchanan's television appearances, or heard his campaign rhetoric, will be surprised at his relatively evenhanded and thoughtful tone as he writes--often quite persuasively--in favor of the restoration of the political, military, and economic independence that largely drove U.S. foreign policy in the 19th century. At the heart of A Republic, Not an Empire
is a well-written history of U.S. foreign policy beginning with the end of the American Revolution, going through the First and Second World Wars, Vietnam, and the end of the cold war, up to the superpower's involvement in the Persian Gulf and the former Yugoslavia. This section is bookended by, essentially, two very long op-ed pieces that lay out Buchanan's view of U.S. foreign policy: American interests should determine all foreign-policy decisions.
The twin foreign-policy goals of interventionism and free trade that seem to drive the Clinton administration's foreign policy are, Buchanan argues, the same pursuits "that brought the British Empire to ruin." Empires fall, he reminds us, through war and too many foreign commitments. With the end of the cold war, he suggests, U.S. foreign policy has become chaotic, driven by special interests; the sum of U.S. global commitments has become greater than the country's ability to defend them. In the end, A Republic, Not an Empire proposes, the only country the United States can completely rely on and trust is itself. --Linda Killian
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From Publishers Weekly
Claiming to rescue history from the clutches of revisionists who not only slander the idea of isolationism but also get their history wrong, Buchanan (The Great Betrayal, etc.) offers a ringing defense of isolationismAthough he doesn't call it that. Instead, Buchanan calls his foreign policy one of national interest. It is rooted in an outlook that is not just politically conservative but metaphysically conservative: "The fatal flaw in the globalist vision is that it is utopian. It envisions a world that has never existed and can never exist, because it is contrary to fallen human nature." Scoffing at dreamy internationalism (e.g., Woodrow Wilson's na?ve desire to make the world "safe for democracy" and George Bush's trumpeting of a "new world order"), he invokes George Washington's Farewell Address warning against foreign entanglements and John Quincy Adams's dictum that it is not America's destiny "to go abroad in search of monsters to destroy." At issue, argues Buchanan, is America's sovereignty: the country should not make commitments to the U.N. or even NATO that will exact a price of blood and treasure where no vital national interest is at stake. As Buchanan ranges widely through American history, historians will find ample opportunity to sling analytical darts. But readers who can stomach the author's more outrageous fits of polemical bile (e.g., claiming that Joseph McCarthy "did nothing to... compare to what was done to the patriots of America First") will have to admit that Buchanan makes a stirring and entertaining argumentAeven if, as U.S. intervention in Kosovo and NATO expansion illustrate, it is, for the foreseeable future, a losing argument. (Sept.)
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