Rethinking Buchanan ... Well, maybe just on foreign policy
Daytime channel surfers who paused to watch CSPAN-2 Thursday morning were in for quite a surprise. The man at the podium speaking to the Center for Strategic and International Studies was Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. But the words coming from his mouth were anything but the typical fire and brimstone rhetoric to which the public has become accustomed. It was a kinder, gentler Buchanan. Has the Reform Party reformed him?
The title of Buchanan's speech was "Toward a More Moral Foreign Policy." And the thrust of his talk was the unequivocal condemnation of U.S. sanctions currently in place around the world. From Iraq to North Korea, Buchanan lambasted U.S. policy as being morally shameful and ineffectual. But although his speech often took an empathetic tone towards those enduring under U.S. or U.S.-led sanctions, it was also clear that his "America first" stance remains solidly intact: if it doesn't serve American interests, scrap it.
What is encouraging though, is Buchanan's perception of American foreign policy interests. In many respects, he brings a sense of logic to the often-convoluted game of strategic policy. He understands that it is not in America's best interests to alienate the Muslim world via lopsided alliances and strangling sanctions. He supports not only a Palestinian state, but an enclave in Jerusalem as that state's capital. He favors an engagement with Iran and other Muslim countries typically kept at arms length by the United States. And he is one of the few more critical voices of the United States' relationship with Israel.
Unlike many of his political contemporaries, Buchanan also recognizes the roots of conflict and shapes his proposals based on striking at the core of the problem. On the issue of sanctions he said Thursday, "Our sanctions are sowing seeds of hatred that will one day flower in acts of terrorism against us, years after these sanctions expire." With reference to so-called rogue states, Buchanan pointed out the double standard in American policy: "Are the regimes in North Korea and Vietnam morally superior to Iran's? Are those countries more strategically important? If we believe the cause of peace is advanced when Israelis talk to Arafat, and British talk to the IRA, why should we not talk to Teheran?
So what is his answer to the mismanagement of U.S. foreign policy? Says Buchanan, "Among my first acts as President will be to declare an end to all sanctions on the sale or transfer of U.S. food, medicine, or goods essential to a decent life or a civilian economy now in force against Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Sudan, and all the other targeted nations of U.S. sanctions policy."
This is indeed the type of policy statement Muslims want to hear. The only problem is that Buchanan's stances on so many other issues easily disqualify him as an acceptable candidate. But given that he is now operating within the fold of the Reform Party, there is a chance that he could make some modifications to his more controversial perspectives on issues such as multiculturalism and entitlement programs. Stay tuned.
Ali Asadullah is the Editor of iviews.com
Topics: Foreign Policy, Government And Politics, North Korea