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PAT BUCHANAN, POSTER BOY FOR WHAT AILS AMERICA

John Chuckman

Pat Buchanan recently called Canada “a haven for terrorists,” a place with lax security. His words struck me as a bit odd considering that not one of the Gang of Nineteen involved in 9/11 came from, or even through, Canada. They all entered the United States from other places, and they all had American-issued visas.

It would be hard to imagine a more grotesque example of lax security than an attack on America’s temple to the military, the Pentagon. Letting that happen when you spend $30 billion a year on intelligence and hundreds of billions on defense surely qualifies as world-class laxness, probably good enough to claim a place in the Guinness Book of Records, if it weren’t just so downright embarrassing.

The military drum-beat crowd likes to ignore that little fact as they harangue those who don’t agree that police-state measures, or for that matter, blowing up women and children in Baghdad, just naturally follow from the events of 9/11.

Pat’s crowd also ignores the fact that after decades of hijackings and threats to commercial aircraft in America, and despite clear warnings there were people out there with some very unpleasant intentions (recall Mr. Clinton’s fleet of cruise missiles hurled at camps in Afghanistan), the American Congress never bothered with such elementary new security measures as strengthening cockpit doors or improving the professionalism of airport-security staff.

Yes, the entire horror of 9/11 could have been avoided by a Congress that had just done its job. But that’s not the approach Pat’s political crowd is comfortable with. Sensible preparations? “Why, boy, that sounds distinctly like interferin’ in private enterprise, maybe even some of that there socialism!”

No, Pat’s crowd waits for disaster and then responds by shoveling tens of billions at idiotic, irrelevant military schemes and working overtime to unravel the very parchment of the Bill of Rights. Any resemblance to fascism is strictly coincidental.

Pat contemptuously refers to Canada as “Soviet Canukistan.” He never pauses to explain what that goofy epithet means, but it does reveal something about his thinking. You could fairly deduce that in Pat’s mental atlas America then assumes the relative position of Soviet Russia.

But what’s meaning to a guy like Pat? You go for the cheap wisecrack and race on to make the next one. The phrase, of course, has the earmarks of Rush Limbaugh’s pimply-teenager-at-camp, self-satisfied snickering, but that’s all you require for success in America’s television politics. No wonder Americans are so poorly informed: fraternity-boy acts pass for political commentary.

Canada is a “freeloading” country according to Pat, lapping up luxurious security courtesy of the U.S. defense budget, a regular hog at the trough. People like Pat never explain what it is that Canada is being defended from.

If it makes Americans feel good, Canadians are willing to say they are grateful for being defended, but, in secret, many scratch their heads about what it is they are supposed to be grateful for. Canada does not have a serious enemy in the world. The only country in a good position to threaten Canada is, in fact, the United States, but that does make a convincing argument to keep right on saying thanks for all that defense, especially with Pat’s crowd running the place.

The world, quite correctly, does not regard Canada as a partner in America’s uglier plots and stunts, and Canada enjoys a significant margin of safety from terror simply by virtue of that fact.

America makes a lot of enemies pushing people around, claiming high ideals all the while. Nobody likes a bully, and most people are repelled by noisy hypocrisy. America maintains its bloated, costly, and increasingly-dangerous armed forces precisely to do all that pushing and protect itself from the consequences.

Looked at in this way, calls by Americans like Buchanan – or for that matter America’s current, intrusive Ambassador to Ottawa, Mr. Cellucci – for Canada to spend a great deal more on defense really amount to demands that Canada subsidize America’s efforts to impose its often poorly-informed and generally-selfish notions on the world.

I once read an article written by a man who grew up with Buchanan. He described what an unpleasant street-tough Pat was, a bare-knuckles troublemaker who roamed his neighborhood territory, always ready for an argument and a fight – a regular backyard brown shirt.

That story might not be worth relating so many years later, had Pat demonstrated some capacity for growth, but he hasn’t, not a bit. He’s too old and puffy to use his fists now, so he’s substituted his mouth. And if you listen carefully to what he says and the way he says it, you just might recognize the shrill and painful sounds of a badly-abused child

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