I have long despised Pat Buchanan for views like these: [1], [2].

“Great nations,” Pat Buchanan avers in [1], “do not have trade partners. They have trade competitors and rivals.” Nonsense, all of it.

1. Nations have neither partners nor competitors nor rivals. In fact, nations do not trade at all; only individuals and firms do. (Governments, too, trade sometimes, in stolen goods and monstrous weapons, and I’d agree that this trade should indeed be discouraged.)

2. Each firm has (i) customers, (ii) suppliers, and (iii) competitors. In a global market we should expect all three of these to be located both within the firm’s country of incorporation and abroad.

3. For Buchanan, a nation’s “greatness” consists in its government’s becoming powerful enough to destroy anything and anyone. Even he should realize that the cause of a nation’s becoming “great” is that its people are wealthy; and the more wealth is out there, the more there is for the government to plunder and spend on the military; and the cause of the people’s becoming wealthy is free trade. So, by sabotaging free trade, from the point of view of his own valuations, Buchanan only causes America to become less “great.”

4. Economic “independence” or national autarky is a direct and most efficient cause of wars. This is because “nations” lay claim on easily contestable resources. If the international market, wherein the consumers in each nation benefit from the use of scarce resources by producers in each nation, is not allowed to develop, then “Iraq’s” claiming oil, say, for “its own” use immediately and obviously harms Americans. And vice versa. Under autarky that Buchanan praises, Americans aren’t allowed to profit from the development of Iraq’s economy. In fact, since economic progress allows the capture and more efficient utilization of increasingly more resources, as Iraq grows, so America shrinks. And, again, vice versa. He should see that the temptation of each nation to subjugate the other and establish a global empire under such conditions is irresistible.

And that empire will have free trade within its newly expanded borders, anyway!

Buchanan cannot be so naive as to fail to recognize considerations so elementary. Despite his protestations, he must be pining for a global war. Who cares about jus ad bellum!

In [2], Buchanan says:

Well, what hurts in the PR war is that it was exposed. The battle for the hearts and minds of Iraqis is part of this war. And the Pentagon and our guys over there have got every right to have good news put into the media and get to the people of Iraq, even if it’s got to be planted or bought. …

I mean, deception, misinformation, disinformation, deceit, propaganda, these are all instruments of war. We sent out guys over there to fight and die and you’re telling me we can’t put stories that put a good light on what’s being done there to try to bring the Iraqi people toward us? The crime here, Chris, if there is one, is the exposure of this thing and the damage done. …

For heaven sake’s, maybe we shouldn’t have gone to war, but if you go to war, you back up your troops with everything you can, and that includes propaganda.

So, the love that the Iraqi people “should” feel for “us” in their “hearts and minds” may as well, for Buchanan, be based on lies. What a firm foundation for international order! Buchanan shall assure the Iraqis, that, as they are being killed, it’s all in fact for their own good!

But it’s the last sentence in the quote that’s key to understanding Buchanan’s argument. For him, apparently, there is no such thing as jus in bello, or lawful ways of conducting a war once it has been declared, either! You “back up your troops with everything you can.” Propaganda is one thing; Buchanan announces that he does not mind being deceived “during wartime.” (It follows that he would not mind being the deceiver, the propagandist, either. Now tell me why I should believe anything he says.)

Well, how about nukes? If they are needed to ensure victory, do the troops deserve being backed by their use? I further propose for his consideration extermination of women and children, if it serves the same purpose, such as by breaking the spirit of the enemy. It seems that even if Buchanan is not always eager to start wars — and as we have seen he may be lying about his peaceful intentions — if he were to start one, then it would have to be total, with no limitations on the power of the state to kill and destroy. And lie.

Buchanan is worthless both in his economics and in his ethics. For shame.

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