- Hardcover: 437 pages
- Publisher: Regnery Publishing; 1 edition (September 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 089526272X
- ISBN-13: 978-0895262721
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 202 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Republic, Not an Empire Hardcover – September 1, 1999
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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
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.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Agree or not, the Founding Fathers' concept of enlightened nationalism is a credo that only went into eclipse following Europe's collapse during WWII. At that point, a philosophy of globalism became the only realistic strategy for America in the face of a mounting Cold War. As a result of Cold War necessity, the US became actively involved in the affairs of other nations, contrary to the precepts of the older Founding Fathers America First tradition. The trouble is that the Cold War is long over, while a continuing globalism has sucked the republic into an interventionist role the nation cannot possibly fulfill. Worse, such demands are destroying the foundations of the republic as the ill-conceived Patriot Act shows. Hence, the time is ripe to take another look at that older counsel that counts domestic strength as the strongest defense in an unstable world.
Like any opinionated book, there are aspects to gainsay, but the thrust should not be overlooked. In short, the volume's overriding value is to revive an older tradition at a time when foreign policy elites are concocting ever more overseas commitments. I think Buchanan is right-- in fact, the time is ripe for a revival. The last ten years have confirmed the direction of this book. The republic simply cannot survive more debacles rooted in overseas meddling like 9-11 and Iraq. In addition, the economy has been driven into the ground big-time, thanks in large part to international policies that have shifted manufacture overseas. However, there are two aspects of foreign policy determination that I think the author needs to deal with more forthrightly.
First is the question of empire. Despite the book's title, Buchanan can't seem to bring himself to call a spade a spade. But Americans need to know that what has arisen since WWII is an American overseas empire, anchored by 700+ military bases and a series of US-controlled financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank. Whether it's also a "free world" is a separate question, but it is an empire as any number of interventions over the past 60 years demonstrate. By facing up to this, we situate a disengagement more clearly within the anti-imperial tradition Buchanan seeks to vindicate.
Second is the more serious question of how economically workable a return to America-first would be. I'm no economist, but several money-driven facts seem clear. Capital has no nationality. Investments go where they earn the biggest profit regardless of the human damage. According to orthodox theory, as I understand it, this all ultimately works out for the best because of the invisible hand of the marketplace. But that's theory. The fact is that free trade agreements like NAFTA have hollowed out the economy, such that we don't even manufacture our own diapers anymore, while our working people are being driven into low-wage penury. And if we complain, Repubocrat elites tell us globalization represents an irresistible force beyond challenge, and that the only alternative is a dreaded "isolationism"-- a charge, incidentally, the author is at pains to rebut in the book.
But these are basically the same people whose allegiance is to empire-first and the trade agreements that further those aims. Seems to me that reviving an enlightened nationalism would require re-industrializing our economy ahead of such trade agreements, and that such a step, in turn, would require reviving a system of tariffs and an active role for government in directing economic policy. Now, just how feasible and what the consequences of such an overhaul would be is, I think, a paramount question whose time has nevertheless come. Buchanan has shown himself willing to break from the Washington pack and take on fresh thinking. I hope he and others pursue it. As a result of this seminal book, the historical basis for such a re-direction is laid.
The book explains very clearly how our current policies are earning us eternal war NOT peace.
Buchanan is wrongly smeared for his account of the America First movement, which opposed WWII. For one thing, FDR did much to antagonize the Japanese in the Phillipines. (See the New Dealer's War and Day of Deceit.) Though, Hitler always posed a long-term threat to his Western neighbors including the U.S. Most importantly, however, the assent of Hitler could have been avoiding altogether were it not for U.S. intervention in WWI. The U.S. should have heeded the wisdom of the founders and avoided European entanglements in the Great War. To substantiate this point, I recommend reading _The Myth of the Great War_ by John Mosier and _The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I_ by Thomas Fleming. These books make convincing cases that were it not for American intervention in WWI, Germany would probably have won the Great War after a long stalemate. France and Britain would sue for peace, and perhaps France would have had to make some minor territorial concessions. If this was the case, Germany would not likely have been so destabilized economically and politically. Moreover, politics in Weimar Germany during the 1920's would have never turned so extreme; it tediously bounced between the prospects of a Communist Red Revolution which happened for a short time in Bavaria and the Brown Revolution of Nazism which eventually swept the nation. Hitler flew in on a red carpet with his demagogic rhetoric, which appealed to Germany's bitterness and anti-Versailles sentiment. Critics can snear should have, could have, would have... but they're just missing the point. So, the proverbial wisdom goes, if we do not learn from history, we're doomed to repeat it.
Buchanan is hardly offering a pacifistic tome, but rather makes it clear America needs a strong defense based on policy of strategic independence. This was the foreign policy that the founding fathers envisioned. Putting America First has become apparently unfashionable and immoral, which explains why Buchanan has so many vehement critics. The most outspoken of which have probably never read his book. President George Washington avowed, "Honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none, I deem [one of the] essential principles of our government and, consequently, [one] which ought to shape its administration," and this is the embodiment of the foreign policy advocated by Buchanan. Buchanan articulates and substantiates the need for realigning America's foreign policy with that of the founders. The Federalists set the decorum with the Neutrality Act of 1798. Buchanan makes a compelling case for adhering to armed neutrality and stategic independence. This would include the following: 1) disentangling ourselves from the UN, NATO and various globalist commitments; 2) strengthening our military and defending America First with the bulk of our troops on our border and in our hemisphere; 3) and avoiding the 20th century's obsession with reckless intervention abroad; 4) stripping the Presidency of war powers usurped from Congress and codified in the War Powers Act of 1973, which sought to limit the Presidency's abuses, but at the same time codified and legitimized past unconstitutional precedent.