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A Republic, Not an Empire: Reclaiming America's Destiny

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2003

    Buchanan as Moderate

    ¿At the opening of the twentieth century there were five great western empires-the British, French, Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian and two emerging great powers: Japan and the United States. By Century¿s end, all of the empires had disappeared. How did they perish? By war-all of them.¿ (page3) Thus Pat Buchanan begins his book, A Republic, Not An Empire. The book is Buchanan¿s way of redefining himself and to broaden his appeal. When it first came out the media trashed it. Both the conservative as well as the liberal reviews panned in on the World War II chapter and found the book unacceptable. On the heels of Brokaw¿s The Greatest Generation, Buchanan¿s book making a case that there was no need for the United States to have gotten involved in the war took away from the egotistical, feel good , self aggrandizing mood. The media spoke about nothing else except this chapter, which argued Russia and England had already stopped the Nazi advance and that Japan was pushed into the war by the U.S. oil embargo. He says the embargo was already a declaration of ¿economic war against an oil-starved nation,¿ a nation simply looking out for its ¿national interests,¿ which was empire building in Asia. To Buchanan this all makes sense because he has just prior to this, for over 285 pages made the case that America¿s own empire building was perfectly justified. Only he does not call the continental encroachment empire building, but uses the more traditional term ¿manifest destiny,¿ insisting that they are not the same thing. Buchanan almost pulls it off. His depiction of American history, bolstered by quotes from historians, presidents, and other major political figures separates American history into a more or less isolationist camp identified with George Washington and a later empire stage begun by McKinley and advanced by Woodrow Wilson. This hair splitting even seems sensible to a point, if only because it is not quite as mad as the present policy which is in a new war each time you blink. I appreciate the effort Buchanan has made here. He recognizes that it is war and over extension that is the primary problem. He recognizes that when it comes to building an empire there is really no place for a Democratic Republic. These are not realizations that are easy to come by for many people who think of themselves as Conservatives. But Buchanan is wrong. It is not the national interest that¿s important but the conscience of each individual, the dream of true liberty which is to free the mind from the umbilical cord of one¿s own making. The national interest is the great lie, the first rationalization made by the power mad, a cloak for the drive toward conquest and empire. It is an age old story, the attempt to convince people to find answers in the words of their leaders rather than in the depths of our own hearts and souls.

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